The history of Bletchingley dates back a long way – we used to be able to trace a continuous history for nearly two thousand years but with more recent findings we can now go back 10,000 years to the Mesolithic Age. A rather large claim you may think but it really is true! The importance of the Village was reflected in the fact that Bletchingley was one of the original constituencies when the Parliament of England was established 800 years ago and we had personal representatives at the Signing of the Magna Carta. The Village has been making headlines ever since.
For a good overview of the Village History have a look at our Timeline pages
There have been some very influential people making their mark on our Village History – from William the Conqueror through Henry VIII and his Queen to future Prime Ministers (x2 no less) to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. See our People and Places page for insights into some of these people’s lives – you may be surprised at some of the names covered. Of course, the real backbone of any community are the working families that live there – some local family names crop up over and over again. We hope to bring some of these people “alive” through these pages – please get in touch if you would like to see something on this. We have lots of photographs of people going about their everyday business but we don’t always know who they are. You could help!
Bletchingley has a remarkable recorded history – some of the earliest records at the Surrey History Centre are about this Village. In some circumstances these records have been continuous to the present day. The historian, Uvedale Lambert, very ably brought a lot of the disparate information together in his "Bletchingley: A Parish History" so we are able to make a lot more sense of the information we hold than a lot of other villages (and towns and cities) can do.
The other type of “record” we have locally are the actual buildings. Bletchingley has one of the highest number of Listed Buildings in Surrey. We have some very important places in the Village – Brewer Street Farmhouse is perhaps the oldest still standing and we do of course have a Castle, a Norman Church, an ex Royal Palace and a Secret Wartime Factory to name but a few. For more information see our People and Places page. A new Sports and Leisure page covering some of the institutions that make the Village such a nice place to live in will be included in due course.
Of course, with a very long History, names get changed a bit either deliberately or perhaps through ignorance of the correct spelling. The name of the Village is no exception. Have a look at “What's in a Name?” below for an idea of what historians are up against.
The Historic Association has a huge catalogue of information. We are currently archiving and, where possible, digitising the material. About a quarter of the papers have been recorded so far and already we have over a thousand items.
This archive is mainly in the form of photographs which have been given to the Society over the years – some of these are copies where the originals are held elsewhere (such as at the Surrey History Centre) but we also hold copies of maps and other documents (for example newspaper cuttings or Sales Particulars for local properties). We also hold a small library of books covering all aspects of the village: we hope to show a full listing on this website in due course.
The Speakers at our regular monthly meetings kindly allow us to write up a precis of their talks for the Village Magazine. See our Archive page (under development) for some of the articles – they cover a very wide range of subjects.
Picture under copyright: taken from "Bletchingley" by Uvedale HH Lambert
(Longer article coming soon)
That's the worst spell of Bletchingley I've ever seen: the number of different spellings of Bletchingley found in Uvedale Lambert's history of the Village is: 47!
Spellings include Blecchingleleye (1366), Blechynlygh (1543) as well as the version preferred by him, Blechingley. He notes: "But the “t,” it will be noticed, appears late and sparingly till eighteenth century days, and it may be truthfully said that the natives did not use it".
Perhaps we ought to encourage more use of the various historical forms, as long as confusion can be avoided! At the risk of courting controversy, we use the form with the 't' on this site, but hope that the magic of Internet search engines will be able to direct people looking for the history of 'Blechingley' here also.
(note: the timeline pages are written with a PC or Tablet in mind and may not display well on a mobile phone)
There are four Conservation Areas listed by Tandridge District Council in the Bletchingley area:
Please see the Tandridge District Council website for more details, including precise geographical areas covered plus the rules and regulations regarding any development
Historic England has 80 listed buildings in Bletchingley, three of which are Grade I. The telephone box and the Whyte Harte pub sign (with the bunch of grapes) in the High Street are both listed Grade II.
There are also 26 Buildings of Character listed by TandridgeDistrict Council.
Defined as a borough that was able to elect an MP despite having very few voters, the choice of MP typically being in the hands of one person or family.
In Bletchingley’s case it was particularly rotten as it was able to return two MPs to Parliament even though there were only a small number of electors; the actual number has varied over the years. However, it should be noted that Bletchingley was not as rotten as Gatton (west of Merstham) whose two MPs were at one time elected by just seven voters.
The electors in Bletchingley were made up of the burgage owners or tenants in the village. Many of the houses in the High Street have long narrow gardens which is very typical of a burgage plot. Most of the village was owned by a single landlord (the Lord of the Manor) who “encouraged” their tenants to vote for their nominated candidates; without secret ballots this was a fairly easy undertaking. However, Bletchingley was involved in a famous Parliamentary event in 1624 when the seventeen burgage voters went against the wishes of the then Lord, Lady Howard. See History Page for more information (work in progress).
Bletchingley returned Members of Parliament continuously from 1295 to 1832 when the Great Reform Act abolished “rotten boroughs”; Bletchingley now comes under the constituency of East Surrey.
1898 picture of Brewer Street Farmhouse, one of the three Grade 1 buildings listed in the Parish. Author unknown