at the foot of the North Downs which make a wonderful backdrop
to the town. Although
Reigate is only 21 miles from London, the presence of the
North Downs means that the busy market town remains separate.
a few things to see here - both in the town and out and about.
settlement dates from from Saxon times. Following the Norman
Invasion of 1066, the area was granted to William de Warene
(later Ist Earl of Surrey) by William the Conqueror.
Castle was built by the 2nd Earl of Surrey, and in 1150 the
de Warene family constructed a new town beneath the castle.
By 1441 the castle was described as 'ruinous' and was demolished
Reigate Caves lie beneath the remains of the castle and were excavated
to connect the Castle Keep with the town below. The Reigate
Castle Tunnel, constructed under the grounds of Reigate Castle
in 1823, is believed to be Europe's first road tunnel. Today
the castle grounds form an attractive public park.
Old Town Hall, dating from 1708, is in a prominent position
at one end of the High Street, on the site of the original
of the town centre is designated a Conservation Area and there
are specialist shops including crafts, antiques, furniture
and clothing. Reigate also has a reputation as a gourmet
area with a range of restaurants, cafés and pubs.
walk from the town centre lies Reigate Priory, founded in
the early 13th century. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries
in 1536, Henry VIII granted the estate to Lord William Howard
who converted the building into a residence for his family.
It's elegant Palladian façade seen today dates from 1779.
I listed Priory now houses both Reigate Priory School and
Reigate Priory Museum. The museum's collection of local history
artifacts, domestic items and period costumes are displayed
in atmospheric settings. Reigate Priory stands in Priory
Park, a 200 acre area, overlooked by the North Downs with
a lake, beautiful gardens, woodland and recreational facilities.
the town is Reigate Hill, owned by the National Trust, a place for walking,
with spectacular views over Weald and South Downs. Standing
on the hill is Reigate Fort, one of 13 mobilisation centres
established in the 1890's to protect London from invasion.
Reigate Hill lies Gatton Park, the core 250 acres of a manor and park. In the 1760's
the park was landscaped by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. The
park comprises grasslands, woodland, ponds and a large lake
and there are also formal gardens, including a Japanese Garden,
added by Sir Jeremiah Coleman (of mustard fame). Gatton Park
is now home to the Royal Alexandra and Albert School but the
grounds are open to the public on the first Sunday of each
west is lies Reigate Heath, 130 acres of sandy heathland -
a Site of Special Scientific Interest - and a Local Nature
the club house of Reigate Heath Golf Club stands the recently
restored Reigate Heath Windmill. Also known as the Heath
Church, this is probably the only windmill in the world to
have been consecrated as a church. The wooden windmill,
dating from at least 1765, was mounted on a post which rotated
on a stone base, allowing the sails to face the wind. In
1880 the brick roundhouse of the disused post mill was converted
into a chapel. Services are still held in the tiny church.
From the hill where the windmill stands there are views of
the North Downs, including the chalk face at Betchworth.