Claygate from Telegraph Hill
|Esher and Walton|
Claygate is a large village in Surrey within the Metropolitan Green Belt. Claygate is primarily a residential area but with offices, farms and two shopping areas with a supermarket, five pubs and numerous restaurants. There are a number of schools and churches of several denominations and a wide range of social and sporting clubs and societies.
Claygate is in the Elmbridge hundred.
Claygate is regarded by its residents as a village, and has its own parish council. Apart from a street overlap to Esher, Claygate is surrounded by woodlands and open countryside, including Claygate Common, Princes Covert, Winney Hill, Surbiton Golf Course, Telegraph Hill, Littleworth Common and Arbrook Common. Much of the intervening farmland is used for grazing ponies, but there are two active farms. The Rythe is a small river running through Claygate, and as an important drainage channel has been implicated in issues of flooding in the village. A major flood alleviation scheme was initiated in 2002.
Many of Claygate's residents commute to the capital using the direct train service from Claygate station; the journey to central London takes 29 minutes. Claygate is also very close to the M25 M25 and to Kingston upon Thames as the nearest big shopping town. Constrained by the green belt, this has resulted in Claygate being subject to extensive in-fill and back-garden development.
How Claygate got its name is clear to anyone who walks in the woods here, and finds the heavy clay clinging to his boots. The village used to have many clay pits which provided bricks for a large surrounding area including most of Hampton Court Palace. The village lies at the start of the broad belt of clay deposits around London. Claygate's relative isolation has been attributed to historical conditions when through roads became impassible in wet weather because of the clay.
For many centuries Claygate was a largely agricultural area, and part of the parish of Thames Ditton. Significant commercial development began in the late nineteenth century with the coming of the railway. In 1885 a branch known as the New Guildford Line between Guildford (the county town of Surrey) and London passed through Claygate, ensuring its rapid growth over the following years. There was significant house-building particularly during the 1930s and 1960s.
Claygate is dominated on one side by Ruxley Towers, a Victorian edifice constructed by Lord Foley who owned a considerable amount of land in the 19th Century. On the other side on Telegraph Hill is a semaphore station built in 1822 to transmit messages between the Admiralty and Portsmouth.
In about 1822 the Claygate Pearmain apple was discovered by John Braddick, growing in a hedge at Claygate.
Claygate School was established in Elm Road in 1885. The old school was closed shortly after its centenary and the Firs, formerly just the middle school, became the new single site. The original school building has been redeveloped as a Youth Centre and the Community Centre and Capelfield surgery were built on part of the site.
The biggest employer in Claygate is the retail sector and there is a large and diverse selection of shops and restaurants, with two main centres known as "The Parade" and "The Old Village". The village has a very active Chamber of Commerce which funds the annual Christmas decorations in the parade and supports the Claygate Flower Show. The Parade is the larger shopping area, being adjacent to Claygate railway station and extending to shops in St Leonards Road and Hare Lane. Claygate has its own supermarket, a Post Office, two newsagents, four estate agents and a number of specialist shops. Many of the shops in Claygate are family-run, independent businesses with long histories. One of the oldest is likely to be "The Game Larder", which opened in the early 1960s as a butcher's shop called R.E. Grimes.
Claygate has five public houses, and one of the annual village traditions is a Boxing Day tour of all the pubs by Morris Dancers.
As well as the pubs, there are several restaurants in Claygate, in particular in the "Old Village".
There are several small farms in Claygate, the most known being Horringdon Farm, at the end of Vale road. Some of the farms are horseriding centres.
The parish church is "Holy Trinity", built in 1840, which is of architectural significance for having two spires.
There are a large number of local clubs, community groups and sports teams. One of the biggest annual events is the Claygate Flower Show which takes place on the Recreation Ground in late July each year.
- Malcolm W H Peebles The Claygate Book: a History of a Surrey Village (1983) and Millennium edition (1999)
- Claygate Village Residents Association Claygate Village: Enquire Within (1983)
- Malcolm W H Peebles The Claygate Book: a History of a Surrey Village (1983)
- Surrey Domesday Book