in the heart of Surrey, Dorking grew up at the crossing
of the Roman road Stane Street (now the A24) and the ancient
Pilgrim's Way (now the A25).
town is centred around West Street, a lovely thoroughfare
with an international reputation as a centre for antique dealers.
One of the houses in West Street was once owned by William
Mullins, one of the Pilgrim Fathers, who sailed in the Mayflower
of Dorking's 19th century Parish Church, St Martin's is one
of the tallest in the country and is a landmark that can be
seen from some distance away rising above the surrounding
most famous resident, the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams,
lived at Leith Hill Place. Known for his particularly English
music, Vaughan Williams was the first conductor of the Leith
Hill Music Festival. Since 1931 the festival has been held
at the Dorking Halls, an amenity that Vaugham Williams helped create in the town. Today the Dorking Halls presents a varied programme of arts and entertainment.
beneath Dorking's historic streets and houses are the Dorking Caves. This facinating labyrinth, excavated from the
Greensand Hills in the 17th century, was sometimes used by
smugglers. Currently not open to the public.
The Dorking Museum houses memorabilia associated with Vaughan Williams,
together with a wide range of intriguing artefacts and beautiful
paintings of local scenes.
stands on the River Mole, a tributary of the River Thames
and one of the most attractive waterways in the South East
of England. The Visitor Information Centre at the Dorking
Halls provides lots of details on the Mole Valley Trail.
narrow valley between the North Downs and Greensand Hills,
Dorking is at the very heart of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding
Leith Hill, to the south-west of the town, reaches 968 ft above sea level and is the highest point in Surrey (and on the North Downs). On its summit stands Leith Hill Tower, dating from
1765. The tower was built by Richard Hull with the intention
of raising the hill to over 1,000 ft. When Hull died in 1772
the tower fell into ruin but in 1984 it was restored by the
National Trust. Visitors can now climb the tower and admire
the panoramic views. On a clear day 12 counties can be seen
from the tower (open at weekends, and on Wednesday and Fridays
in the summer).
north and north-east of Dorking lie Box Hill and Ranmore Common, both owned by the National Trust.
These scenic areas provide attractive walks and boast spectacular
views over Dorking and the surrounding countryside.
The Surrey Hills Explorer Bus (operated by the National Trust) takes visitors to many beautiful parts of the district. Download a brochure with all the details.
are many tourist attractions around Dorking. Norbury Park, set in the Mole Gap between Dorking and
Leatherhead, is known for its diversity of habitats, including
downland, woodland and farmland. The estate is mostly owned
by Surrey County Council but the house is in private hands.
This is a wonderful area for walking and there is also a family
stands Polesden Lacey.
The Denbies Wine Estate, set in 265 acres of vineyards, is England's
largest working winery.
south of Dorking at Ockley stands the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Gallery. Surrounding a 16th century
house in a secluded valley in the Surrey Hills, this long-established
garden has a wide range of beautiful sculptures by leading
British and international artists.