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Merstham Church - - 1296447.jpg
St Katharine's Church
Grid reference: TQ295535
Location: 51°15’50"N, 0°9’11"W
Population: 8,123  (2011)
Post town: Redhill
Postcode: RH1
Dialling code: 01737
Local Government
Council: Reigate and Banstead

Merstham is a town in Surrey, to the north of Redhill and contiguous with it. Part of the North Downs Way runs along the northern boundary of the town. It is within the county's Reigate Hundred.

Old Merstham

Old Merstham

Old Merstham forms the north and north-west of modern Merstham and is the original village centre. There is a small day school by the railway station, a pub, a few barbershops and a small number of other shops.

The Merstham Estate/New Merstham

After Second World War the London County Council built the Merstham Estate,[1] originally entirely public housing, was built to a geometric layout in the eastern fields. This area has its own parade of shops, the Brook recreation ground, three schools, and a youth/community centre along Radstock Way. Oakley, a small country house, is listed and has Victorian gothic architecture features.[2]

South Merstham

South Merstham is made up of mainly Victorian and Edwardian terraces. It provided a workforce for Albury Manor and nearby chalk quarrying and brickworking.[3] Nutfield Road has a long parade of shops.


A piece of the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway near Quality Street

The area has been settled since pre-Roman times.

The village is recorded by name in 947 as Mearsætham: it has been suggested that this is from the Old English Mearþ sæt ham, meaning 'Homestead near a trap set for martens or weasels".

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 851 states that a Viking army 'went south over the Thames into Surrey; and [[Æthelwulf, King of the West Saxons and his son Aethelbald fought against them at Aclea, and there made the greatest slaughter of a heathen raiding-army that we have heard tell of up to the present day, and there took the victory.'[4] According to Stenton, the name Aclea nearly always appears in modern times as 'Oakley'.[5] There is an Oakley in Merstham close to 'Old Way' prehistoric trackway. There is also a Battlebridge Lane in Merstham.[6] The identification of the battle of Aclea with the site at Oakley in Merstham rather than Ockley further south in Surrey was in an article published in the Surrey Archaeological Collection for 1912.[7]

Merstham appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Merstan. It was held by Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury. Its Domesday assets were: 5 hides; 1 church, 1 mill worth 2s 6d, 10 ploughs, 8 acres of meadow, woodland and herbage worth 41 hogs. It rendered £12.[8]

The area has long been known for its quarries, with the first mines at Merstham recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, and 'Reigate stone' quarried there used to build parts of Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle and Henry VIII's Nonsuch Palace.[9] It was to serve the quarries that the village became the terminus of the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway, an extension of the horse-drawn Surrey Iron Railway of 1803, the world's first public railway,[10] albeit only for goods. A small section of the railway is on display at the entrance to Quality Street, Old Merstham. Unfortunately, this section has now been taken.

The use of dynamite was first publicly demonstrated by Alfred Nobel in Price's Grey-lime Stone chalk quarry in July 1868.[11] The site is now partly covered by the route of the M23 motorway just east of where it passes under the Shepherd's Hill bridge.

The east end of the church

The original parish church, St Katharine's, dates from around 1220; it replaced an earlier church built c. 1100, although it is believed there has been a church of some form on the site since c. 675 AD.

Merstham's conservation area is centred on its High Street which winds in the village centre to the northwest, forms part of the A23 road and includes many listed buildings; the street with the greatest number, Quality Street, arcs off at a tangent from this curve of the High Street. This was named after J.M. Barrie's play of the same name, not after the chocolate selection, in honour of two of the actors in the play, Ellaline Terriss and Seymour Hicks, who for a time lived in the Old Forge at the end of the street.[12] 1 High Street partly dates to the 17th century.[13]

The earlier of the two Merstham railway tunnels was the scene of a murder on 24 September 1905. The mutilated body of Mary Sophia Money was found in the tunnel and was first thought to be a case of suicide. On inspection, however, a scarf was found in the victim's throat, and marks on the tunnel wall showed that she had been thrown from a moving train. The crime was never solved, but suspicion rested on her brother, Robert Money.

In 1943 a petroleum pipeline was constructed from the Thames through to Dungeness (designated the T/D pipeline) to supply fuel to the PLUTO cross-channel pipelines that were to run from Dungeness to Boulogne, code named DUMBO. A section of the T/D pipeline ran through Merstham and the T/D was part of the then secret government pipeline network later known as the Government Pipeline and Storage System (GPSS).[14]

After the Second World War, the Merstham Estate was gradually built over a period spanning to the early 1970s. The old village thus became generally known as Old Merstham, and is occasionally known as 'Top Merstham'.

Rockshaw Road, on the hilltop above the conservation area of Old Merstham, was developed at the very end of the 19th century, and between the World Wars was home to many nationally notable people, among them senior Army and Navy figures, financiers and politicians.[15]

All Saints' Church

At the junction of Battlebridge Lane and Nutfield Road is All Saints' Church. The original building was destroyed in Second World War: volunteers from the Canadian Army worked to build a temporary church for the village, which became known as Canada Hall and is used as a village hall and weekly meeting hall for some Merstham branches of the Girl Guides.

Sport and leisure

  • Football: Merstham F.C., which plays at the Moatside
  • Cricket: Merstham Cricket Club

Merstham Mines, an abandoned mine, is a popular caving destination.[16]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Merstham)


  1. Debate on the LCC Estate, Merstham in Hansard, 13 February 1951
  2. National Heritage List 1241672: Oakley (Grade II listing)
  3. A History of the County of Surrey - Volume 3 pp 213-221: Parishes: Merstham (Victoria County History)
  4. Michael Swanton (ed): The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. ISBN 9781842120033
  5. Frank Stenton: Anglo-Saxon England. ISBN 9780192801395
  6. Surrey Street Atlas. ISBN 9781843485124
  7. "Surrey Archaeological Collection Volume 25 1912: The Battle of Ockley, AD852". Archaeology Data Service website. 
  8. Merstham in the Domesday Book
  9. The Exploitation, Distribution and Use in Buildings of Reigate Stone pt2 by Martin Hatton: Croydon Caving Club, March 2010
  10. "Surrey Iron Railway 200th". Stephenson Locomotive Society. 
  11. Fant, Keane (2006). Alfred Nobel, a Biography. London: Arcade Publishing. p. 140. ISBN 1559703288. 
  12. National Heritage List 1188930: The Old Forge (Grade II listing)
  13. National Heritage List 1294683: 1, High Street (Grade II listing)
  14. Tim Whittle: Fuelling the Wars - PLUTO and the Secret Pipeline Network 1936 to 2015; published 2017; p. 62. ISBN 9780992855468
  15. Rockshaw Road
  16. "Caving at Merstham Mines". 3rd Banstead Scout Group. 20 September 2014.