Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Surrey / Sutherge: A Place in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series ****

Surrey (pronounced /ˈsʌri/) is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire, and Berkshire.
The historic county town is Guildford.

Guildford High Street

Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of Greater London since 1965.

Surrey is divided into 11 boroughs and districts: 1.Elmbridge, 2.Epsom and Ewell, 3.Guildford, 4.Mole Valley, 5.Reigate and Banstead, 6.Runnymede, 7.Spelthorne, 8.Surrey Heath, 9.Tandridge, 10.Waverley, 11.Woking.
After the elections of 1 May 2008, the Conservatives are in control of 10 out of 11 councils in Surrey, with Epsom and Ewell in Residents Association control. The Conservatives hold all 11 Parliamentary constituencies within the county borders.

Settlements and communications

The tower on the top of Leith Hill the highest point in Surrey.

Surrey has a population of approximately 1.1 million people. The historic county town is Guildford, although the county administration was moved to Newington in 1791 and to Kingston upon Thames in 1893. The county council's headquarters have been outside the county's boundaries since 1 April 1965 when Kingston and other areas were included within Greater London by the London Government Act 1963. Recent plans to move the offices to a new site in Woking have now been abandoned.

Due to its proximity to London there are many commuter towns and villages in Surrey, the population density is high and the area is more affluent than other parts of the UK. Surrey is the most densely populated county after Greater London, the metropolitan counties and Bristol. Much of the north east of the county is an urban area contiguous to Greater London. In the west, there is a conurbation straddling the Hampshire/Surrey border, including in Surrey Camberley and Farnham.

Surrey Map showing borders

Most English counties have nicknames for people from that county, such as a Tyke from Yorkshire and a Yellowbelly from Lincolnshire; the traditional nickname for people from Surrey is 'Surrey Capon', as it was well known in the later Middle Ages as the county where chickens were fattened up for the London meat markets.

Physical geography

Box Hill

Surrey contains a good deal of mature woodland (reflected in the official logo of Surrey County Council, a pair of interlocking oak leaves). Among its many notable beauty spots are Box Hill, Leith Hill, Frensham Ponds, Newlands Corner and Puttenham & Crooksbury Commons.

Leith Hill

It is the most wooded county in Great Britain, with 22.4% coverage compared to a national average of 11.8% and as such is one of the few counties not to include new woodlands in their strategic plans. Box Hill has the oldest untouched area of natural woodland in the UK, one of the oldest in Europe.

North Downs looking from Puttenham towards the hogs back

Much of Surrey is in the Green Belt and is rolling downland, the county's geology being dominated by the chalk hills of the North Downs. Agriculture not being intensive, there are many commons and access lands, together with an extensive network of footpaths and bridleways including the North Downs Way, a scenic long-distance path. Accordingly, Surrey provides much in the way of rural leisure activities, with a very large horse population. Towards the north of the county, the land is largely flat around Staines and borders the River Thames.
The highest elevation in Surrey is Leith Hill near Dorking at 965 ft (294 m) above sea level, which is also the highest point in southeastern England with the exception of Walbury Hill in West Berkshire.

British and Roman Surrey

The Roman Stane or Stone Street runs through Surrey

Before Roman times the area today known as Surrey was very probably occupied by the Atrebates tribe centred at Calleva Atrebatum in the modern county of Hampshire.

Calleva Atrebatum

They are known to have controlled the southern bank of the Thames from Roman documents describing the tribal relations between them and the powerful Catuvellauni on the north bank.

In about 42AD King Cunobelinus or Cynfelin ap Tegfan of the Catuvellauni died and war broke out between his sons and King Verica of the Atrebates. The Atrebates were defeated in the conflict, their capital captured and their lands made subject to the Catuvellauni now led by Togodumnus ruling from Camulodunum. Verica fled to Gaul and appealed for Roman aid. The Atrebates were allies with Rome during their invasion of Britain in 43AD. The territory of Surrey was traversed by Stane Street and other less well known Roman roads. There was a Roman temple in Farley Green.
After the Romans left Britain in c.410AD the territory of modern Surrey was officially part of Britannia Prima but was probably ruled by the successor realm of the Atrebates tribe. It has long been speculated that Guildford may have been the Astolat of Arthurian renown, however the legendary city is more likely to have been Calleva (modern day Silchester), the capital of the Atrebates, which resisted the Anglo-Saxons for many years.

The Saxon tribes and the sub-kingdom
From around 480 AD Saxons from the south and Jutes from the east invaded and began to settle in the area and establish a sub-kingdom probably with Middle Saxon overlords. The name Surrey is Saxon, and is a corrupted form (with r replacing the sound ð) of "Suuð-ye" meaning "South Ridge" or more probably "south administrative unit" (the Old Germanic district "Gau" like those that were established by Charlemagne; earlier German spellings were Gowe, Gouwe), referring to its position on the South bank of the Thames. At this time the Surrey area was sparsely populated and almost entirely forested. There was a local truce recorded in c.500 (possibly as a result of the Battle of Badon Hill) and only north and east Surrey were retained by the Anglo-Saxons. The westward expansion into British territory continued from c.550AD with some local British communities becoming marooned within the confines of Saxon Surrey, probably around Walton-on-Thames. From 568 the eastern border of Surrey with Kent was agreed and marked by a ditch. Local tribes named Æschingas, Godhelmingas (around Godalming), Tetingas (around Tooting), Woccingas (between Woking and Wokingham), Basingas (the Blackwater Valley) and Sonningas (around Sonning) are known to have existed.

The Thames at Sonning

In 661 the sub-kingdom took Mercia as its overlord. In 675 Surrey became one of the last portions of England to convert to Christianity when its sub-King Frithuwold and his son were baptised. The name of the area at this time is recorded as Sudergeona or "southern region". In 685 Surrey changed allegiance and took Wessex as its overlord. In 690 the western border of Surrey was settled with Wessex; the tribal territories of the Sonningas became part of Berkshire and the Basingas became part of Hampshire. In 705 Surrey was transferred from the Middle Saxon diocese of London to the West Saxon diocese of Winchester. After 771 Surrey came under the rule of Offa of Mercia and was so until 823 when Surrey reverted to Wessex and so remained. Some historians have also speculated that the Nox gaga and the Oht gaga tribes listed in the Mercian Tribal Hidage refer to two distinct groups living in Surrey. They were valued together at 7,000 hides.
Sub kings and ealdormen of Surrey
subreguli (Latin for "sub-kings"):
Frithuwold (c.673 - 675)
Frithuric (675 - c.686)
a series of unknown subreguli until:
Brorda (c.775)
a series of unknown ealdormen until:
Wulfherd (c.823)
Huda (c.853)
a series of unknown ealdormen until:
Æðelwerd (late 10th century)
Æðelmær (? - 1016) son

The West Saxon shire
The territory of Surrey was formally annexed by Wessex in 860 and became a Shire under the same model as the other counties of Wessex. It is around this time that the wars between the Ænglecynn and the Danes reach their height with Surrey becoming the arena for a number of key battles; most notably at the Battle of Ockley in 851 and the Battle of Farnham in 894.

Coronation Stone

After the death of King Alfred the Great in 899 his son, King Eadweard I was crowned on the King's Stone at Kingston upon Thames. The use of this stone before 902 is unknown but it seems likely that it would have been something of ancient spiritual or political significance. After him another six kings of England from the House of Wessex were crowned here, the last being Ethelred in 978.
In 1011 it is recorded that Surrey was over-run by Danish forces led by Canute the Great before all of England submitted to them in 1016.
In 1035, Canute died and during the uncertainty that followed the heirs of former Anglo-Saxon rulers attempted to restore the House of Wessex to the throne of England. Alfred Aetheling, the younger of the two heirs (his older brother being the future Edward the Confessor) landed on the coast of Sussex with a Norman mercenary bodyguard and attempted to make his way to London. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle there is an account of this fateful encounter:
"As Ælfred and his men approached the town of Guildford in Surrey, thirty miles south-west of London, they were met by the powerful Earl Godwin of Wessex, who professed loyalty to the young prince and procured lodgings for him and his men in the town. The next morning, Godwin said to Ælfred: "I will safely and securely conduct you to London, where the great men of the kingdom are awaiting your coming, that they may raise you to the throne." This he said in spite of the fact that the throne was already occupied by the son of Knud, Harold Harefoot, and he was actually in league with King Harold to lure the young prince to his death.

Hogs back (A31) Climbs the ridge and follows the curving contours of the land

Picture of the Hogs Back showing the ridges contours

Then the earl led the prince and his men over the hill of Guildown" (called today The Hog's Back and the route of the A31), "which is to the west of Guildford, on the road to Winchester, not London. Perhaps the prince had insisted on continuing his journey to his original destination, his mother’s court in Winchester, in any case, Godwin repeated his tempting offer; showing the prince the magnificent panorama from the hill both to the north and to the south, he said: Look around on the right hand and on the left, and behold what a realm will be subject to your dominion. Ælfred then gave thanks to God and promised that if he should ever be crowned king, he would institute such laws as would be pleasing and acceptable to God and men. At that moment, however, he was seized and bound together with all his men. Nine tenths of them were then murdered. And since the remaining tenth was still so numerous, they, too, were decimated." "Ælfred was tied to a horse and then conveyed by boat to the monastery of Ely. As the boat reached land, his eyes were put out. For a while he was looked after by the monks, who were fond of him, but soon after he died, probably on February 5, 1036." Interestingly, during the 1920s the remains of several hundred soldiers, probably Normans, were found to the west of Guildford. They were bound and had been executed. The grave was dated to c.1040. It is likely that they were the guards of poor Prince Ælfred.
After the Anglo-Saxon restoration through the accession of Eadweard III in 1042 Surrey remained unmolested until the Norman Conquest in 1066.
Few remains of the ancient British, the Roman, or the Saxon periods in Surrey exist. There is an Iron Age hillfort at Holmbury Hill, and only remnants of the Roman roads Stane Street and Ermine Street remain. Roman and Celtic relics, of no great significance, have been found at various locations.

Medieval Surrey

Hundreds of Surrey c.825 - 1889

In 1088, William II granted William de Warenne the title of Earl of Surrey as reward for Warenne's loyalty during the rebellion that followed the death of William I of England.
The chief subsequent event connected with it was the signing of the great charter at Runnymede, and other public events were mostly intertwined with the history of the metropolis. However, Guildford Castle was captured by forces supporting Prince Louis of France in 1216, and in June 1497 the county was overrun by as many as 15,000 Cornish rebels heading for London. This would have been the first Brythonic army to move through Surrey for nearly 900 years. There was a brief battle just outside Guildford at Gil Down before the Cornish rebels marched north east through Banstead and right across Wallington and Brixton Hundreds as far as Blackheath in Kent where they were eventually routed by an English army.

Drawing of Chertsey Abbey

Ruined Wall of Chertsey Abbey

Specimens of monastic buildings of early English date occur in Chertsey Abbey, Waverley Abbey and Newark Priory. These were all destroyed during the Reformation. It was also the home of the Merton Priory from 1114 until 1538. From the Saxon period up until Victorian times Surrey was divided into the 14 hundreds of Blackheath, Brixton, Copthorne, Effingham Half-Hundred, Elmbridge, Farnham, Godalming, Godley, Kingston, Reigate, Tandridge, Wallington, Woking and Wotton.

Modern history

Kingston upon Thames

The Local Government Act 1888 reorganised county-level local government throughout England and Wales. Accordingly, the administrative county of Surrey was formed in 1889 when the Provisional Surrey County Council first met, consisting of 19 aldermen and 57 councillors. The county council assumed the administrative responsibilities previously exercised by the county's justices in quarter sessions. The county had revised boundaries, with the north east of the historic county bordering the City of London becoming part of a new County of London. These areas now form the London Boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth, and the Penge area of the London Borough of Bromley. At the same time, the borough of Croydon became a county borough, outside the jurisdiction of the county council.

Surrey Ceremonial Flag

For purposes other than local government the administrative county of Surrey and county borough of Croydon continued to form a "county of Surrey" to which a Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum (Chief Magistrate) and a High Sheriff were appointed.
Surrey had been administered from Newington since the 1790s, and the county council was initially based in the sessions house there. As Newington was included in the County of London it lay outside the area administered by the council, and a site for a new county hall within the administrative county was sought. By 1890 six towns were being considered: Epsom, Guildford, Kingston, Redhill, Surbiton and Wimbledon. A decision to build the new County Hall at Kingston was made in 1891, (the building opened in 1893) but this site would also became overtaken by the growing London conurbation and by the 1930s most of the north of the county had been built over, becoming outer suburbs of London, although continuing to form part of Surrey administratively.
In 1960 the report of the Herbert Commission recommended that much of north Surrey (including Kingston and Croydon) be included in a new "Greater London". The recommendations of the report were enacted in highly modified form in 1965 by the London Government Act 1963. The areas that now form the London Boroughs of Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Sutton and that part of Richmond south of the River Thames were transferred from Surrey to Greater London. At the same time part of the county of Middlesex, which had been abolished by the legislation, was added to Surrey. This area now forms the borough of Spelthorne.
Further local government reform under the Local Government Act 1972 took place in 1974. The 1972 Act abolished administrative counties and introduced non-metropolitan counties in their place. The boundaries of the non-metropolitan county of Surrey were similar to those of the administrative county with the exception of Gatwick Airport and some surrounding land which was transferred to West Sussex. It was originally proposed that the parishes of Horley and Charlwood would become part of West Sussex, however fierce local opposition led to a reversal of this under the Charlwood and Horley Act 1974.
On 3 August 2007 it was announced that foot-and-mouth disease had been discovered near Guildford. This was the first outbreak in the UK since 2001.
Surrey is an affluent county with a service based economy closely tied to that of London. Surrey has the highest GDP per capita of any county in the UK and the highest cost of living in the UK outside of London. Surrey is credited with having the highest proportion of millionaires in the UK. The average wage in Surrey is bolstered by the high number of residents who work in financial services.

Surrey Suburbia

Surrey’s proximity to London and strategic location within South East England has resulted in it becoming one of the most affluent and successful counties in the UK. Surrey’s enduring popularity explains why it dominated the top 10 best places to live in Phil & Kirsty’s 2007 list. Surrey’s affluence is further shown by it having the highest concentration of Waitrose supermarkets outside of London. The busiest single runway airport in the world (Gatwick) was historically in Surrey, but is now part of West Sussex.
Surrey is also renowned for gardening, with the RHS’s flagship RHS Garden, Wisley, along with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in Greater London. The National Archives for England & Wales are also in Kew. NGOs including WWF UK & Compassion in World Farming are based here.
Surrey has more organisation and company headquarters than any other county in the UK. Electronic giants Nikon, Whirlpool, Canon, Toshiba, Samsung and Philips are housed here. Kia Motors and Toyota UK also have their HQs in Surrey. Some of the largest FMCG multinationals in the world have their UK and/or European headquarters here, including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Superdrug, Nestle, SC Johnson, Kimberly-Clark and Colgate-Palmolive.
Government Quangos such as SEEDA, SEERA and GOSE are headquartered in Guildford. Drug giants Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis house their UK headquarters here, as does oil conglomerate Esso. The racing organisation McLaren is based in Woking, and the once famous Brooklands race track is near Weybridge.
There has been criticism in recent years due to public spending per head being the lowest of any county in the UK.
Major towns
The largest town in Surrey is Guildford with 66,773;

Woking Town Hall

Woking is a close second with a population of 62,796. The third largest town is Ewell with 39,994 people to the north of the county and the fourth is Camberley with 30,155 people in the west of the county. Towns with between 25,000 and 30,000 are Ashford, Epsom, Farnham, Staines and Redhill.

Castle Street Farnham

Places of interest
Significant landscapes in Surrey include Box Hill just north of Dorking; the Devil's Punch Bowl at Hindhead; a natural ampitheatre.

A3 road passes round the Devils Punchbowl

The Devil's Punchbowl is a large hollow of dry sandy heath to the west of Hindhead in southern England.
The hollow is overlooked by the 894 feet Gibbet Hill, the second highest hill in Surrey.
The Punchbowl has a long history and tradition. Legend has it that the devil spent his time tormenting the god Thor by pelting him with enormous handfuls of earth, leaving the great bowl that visitors can see today.
In reality the large depression was created by erosion as water percolated down and hit an impervious layer of clay. A large number of small springs sprung up across the area as the water pressure built up.

Frensham Common, heathland with a variety of plant, animal and birdlife plus the Great Pond and Little Pond dating from the Middle Ages when they were constructed to provide food for the Bishop of Winchester's estate. Leith Hill to the south west of Dorking is the highest point in south-east England. Witley Common, Thursley Common and Elstead Moat are expansive areas of ancient heathland south of Godalming are run by the National Trust and Ministry of Defence. The Surrey Hills are an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

Lawns at RHS Garden, Wisley

More manicured landscapes can be seen at Claremont Landscape Garden, south of Esher (dating from 1715). There is also Winkworth Arboretum south east of Godalming which was created in the 20th century. Wisley is home to the Royal Horticultural Society gardens.
Surrey has important country houses such as Clandon Park, an 18th century Palladian mansion in West Clandon to the east of Guildford. Nearby there is Hatchlands Park in East Clandon, east of Guildford, was built in 1758 with Robert Adam interiors and a collection of keyboard instruments. Polesden Lacey south of Great Bookham is a regency villa with extensive grounds. On a smaller scale, Oakhurst Cottage in Hambledon near Godalming is a restored 16th century worker's home. There is a museum at Rural Life Centre, Tilford.

The River Wey at its source in Farringdon

The county is linked to the sea by the River Wey and the Wey and Godalming Navigations. Dapdune Wharf in Guildford commemorates this and is home to a restored Wey barge, the Reliance. Furthermore on the River Tillingbourne, Shalford Mill is an 18th century water-mill.
There are many typical English villages including Holmbury St Mary which lies in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, close to the Greensand Way and North Downs Way. It was developed in the 19th century and still has a mainly Victorian character as on the whole no new building is allowed. The youth hostel, constructed in the village in 1935, was the first purpose-built by the Youth Hostels Association.

Runnymede at Egham is the site of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

Waverley and Chertsey Abbeys were very significant in medieval Surrey.

Guildford Cathedral is a post-war cathedral built from bricks made from the clay hill on which it stands.
Brooklands Museum recognises the motoring past of Surrey.
The county is also home to Thorpe Park, & Chessington World of Adventures, sister theme parks of Alton Towers.
In popular music, the "Surrey Delta" produced many of the musicians in 60s British blues movements, notably, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page who all came from south west Surrey. The Rolling Stones developed its music at Crawdaddy Club in Richmond. Paul Weller of the Jam was also brought up in Woking.

film and books
Sculpture of a Wellsian Martian tripod in Woking Surrey has been mentioned in literature: in the Harry Potter series, Harry's only living relatives, the Dursleys, live in Little Whinging, a fictional town located in Surrey.
The character Ford Prefect from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy claimed to be from Guildford in Surrey, but in actuality he was from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelguese. Surrey was mentioned often in Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World. Much of H. G. Wells's 1898 novella The War of the Worlds is set in Surrey with many specific towns and villages identified. The Martians first land on Horsell Common on the north side of Woking, outside the Bleak House pub, now called Sands. In the story the narrator flees in the direction of London, first passing Byfleet and then Weybridge before travelling east along the north bank of the Thames. ne Austen's novel Emma is set in Surrey and the famous picnic where Emma embarrasses Miss Bates takes place on Box Hill.
In The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (novel) by Sophie Kinsella, Rebecca Bloomwood's parents live in Oxshott, Surrey.
Atonement (novel) is also set in the Surrey lands. st famous for his role as Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, lives in Surrey with his mum and three brothers.
Non-wellsian Tripods were also seen in Surrey in the village of Friday Street ("Friday Street". Retrieved 2009-01-12. )
The late Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman mentions Camberley in his poem "A Subaltern's Lovesong".
In contrast, Carshalton forms the literary backdrop to many of the poems by James Farrar.
The county has also been used as a film location. Part of the movie The Holiday was filmed in Surrey: Kate Winslet's character Iris lived there and Cameron Diaz's character Amanda switched houses with her as part of a home exchange.
The final scene of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason uses the village church in Shere, as does the movie The Wedding Date.
In the 1976 film The Omen, the scenes at the cathedral were filmed at Guildford Cathedral.
The film I Want Candy follows two hopeful lads from Leatherhead trying to break into the movies.
Surrey woodland represented Germany in the opening scene of Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe; it was filmed at The Bourne Woods near Farnham in Surrey.
Surrey has been also mentioned in Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic books
Surrey is the location for Lara Croft's mansion in the Tomb Raider game series.

1 comment:

  1. Bit of a misunderstanding about Surrey's early status, I think. It didn't 'take as its overlord' anyone. It didn't have a say in the choice of overlord. More detail can be found here: