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Surrey ( ) is a county in the South East of Englandmarker and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater Londonmarker, Kentmarker, East Sussexmarker, West Sussexmarker, Hampshire, and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildfordmarker. Surrey County Councilmarker sits at Kingston upon Thamesmarker, although this has been part of Greater Londonmarker since 1965.

Surrey is divided into 11 boroughs and districts: Elmbridgemarker, Epsom and Ewellmarker, Guildfordmarker, Mole Valley, Reigate and Bansteadmarker, Runnymedemarker, Spelthorne, Surrey Heathmarker, Tandridgemarker, Waverley, Wokingmarker. After the elections of 1 May 2008, the Conservatives are in control of 10 out of 11 councils in Surrey, with Epsom and Ewell in Residents Association control. The Conservatives hold all 11 Parliamentary constituencies within the county borders.

Settlements and communications

See also list of places in Surrey.
Surrey has a population of approximately 1.1 million people. The historic county town is Guildfordmarker, although the county administration was moved to Newingtonmarker in 1791 and to Kingston upon Thamesmarker in 1893. The county council's headquarters have been outside the county's boundaries since 1 April 1965 when Kingston and other areas were included within Greater Londonmarker by the London Government Act 1963. Recent plans to move the offices to a new site in Wokingmarker have now been abandoned. Due to its proximity to London there are many commuter towns and villages in Surrey, the population density is high and the area is more affluent than other parts of the UKmarker. Surrey is the most densely populated county after Greater London, the metropolitan counties and Bristol. Much of the north east of the county is an urban area contiguous to Greater Londonmarker. In the west, there is a conurbation straddling the Hampshire/Surrey border, including in Surrey Camberleymarker and Farnhammarker.

Most English counties have nicknames for people from that county, such as a Tykemarker from Yorkshiremarker and a Yellowbelly from Lincolnshiremarker; the traditional nickname for people from Surrey is 'Surrey Capon', as it was well known in the later Middle Ages as the county where chickens were fattened up for the London meat markets.

Physical geography

Surrey contains a good deal of mature woodland (reflected in the official logo of Surrey County Council, a pair of interlocking oak leaves). Among its many notable beauty spots are Box Hillmarker, Leith Hillmarker, Frensham Pondsmarker, Newlands Cornermarker and Puttenham & Crooksbury Commonsmarker. It is the most wooded county in Great Britain, with 22.4% coverage compared to a national average of 11.8% and as such is one of the few counties not to include new woodlands in their strategic plans. Box Hill has the oldest untouched area of natural woodland in the UK, one of the oldest in Europe.

Much of Surrey is in the Green Belt and is rolling downland, the county's geology being dominated by the chalk hills of the North Downsmarker. Agriculture not being intensive, there are many commons and access lands, together with an extensive network of footpaths and bridleways including the North Downs Waymarker, a scenic long-distance path. Accordingly, Surrey provides much in the way of rural leisure activities, with a very large horse population. Towards the north of the county, the land is largely flat around Stainesmarker and borders the River Thames.

The highest elevation in Surrey is Leith Hillmarker near Dorkingmarker at 965 ft (294 m) above sea level, which is also the highest point in southeastern England with the exception of Walbury Hillmarker in West Berkshire.


British and Roman Surrey

Before Roman times the area today known as Surrey was very probably occupied by the Atrebates tribe centred at Calleva Atrebatummarker in the modern county of Hampshire. They are known to have controlled the southern bank of the Thames from Roman documents describing the tribal relations between them and the powerful Catuvellauni on the north bank. In about 42AD King Cunobelinus or Cynfelin ap Tegfan of the Catuvellauni died and war broke out between his sons and King Verica of the Atrebates. The Atrebates were defeated in the conflict, their capital captured and their lands made subject to the Catuvellauni now led by Togodumnus ruling from Camulodunummarker. Verica fled to Gaul and appealed for Roman aid. The Atrebates were allies with Romemarker during their invasion of Britain in 43AD. The territory of Surrey was traversed by Stane Street and other less well known Roman roads. There was a Roman temple in Farley Greenmarker.

After the Romans left Britain in c.410AD the territory of modern Surrey was officially part of Britannia Prima but was probably ruled by the successor realm of the Atrebates tribe. It has long been speculated that Guildfordmarker may have been the Astolat of Arthurian renown, however the legendary city is more likely to have been Calleva (modern day Silchestermarker), the capital of the Atrebates, which resisted the Anglo-Saxons for many years.

The Saxon tribes and the sub-kingdom

From around 480 AD Saxons from the south and Jutes from the east invaded and began to settle in the area and establish a sub-kingdom probably with Middle Saxonmarker overlords. The name Surrey is Saxon, and is a corrupted form (with r replacing the sound ð) of "Suuð-ye" meaning "South Ridge" or more probably "south administrative unit" (the Old Germanic district "Gau" like those that were established by Charlemagne; earlier German spellings were Gowe, Gouwe), referring to its position on the South bank of the Thames. At this time the Surrey area was sparsely populated and almost entirely forested. There was a local truce recorded in c.500 (possibly as a result of the Battle of Badon Hill) and only north and east Surrey were retained by the Anglo-Saxons. The westward expansion into British territory continued from c.550AD with some local British communities becoming marooned within the confines of Saxon Surrey, probably around Walton-on-Thamesmarker. From 568 the eastern border of Surrey with Kent was agreed and marked by a ditch. Local tribes named Æschingas, Godhelmingas (around Godalming), Tetingas (around Tootingmarker), Woccingas (between Wokingmarker and Wokinghammarker), Basingas (the Blackwater Valleymarker) and Sonningas (around Sonningmarker) are known to have existed.

In 661 the sub-kingdom took Merciamarker as its overlord. In 675 Surrey became one of the last portions of Englandmarker to convert to Christianity when its sub-King Frithuwold and his son were baptised. The name of the area at this time is recorded as Sudergeona or "southern region". In 685 Surrey changed allegiance and took Wessexmarker as its overlord. In 690 the western border of Surrey was settled with Wessexmarker; the tribal territories of the Sonningas became part of Berkshire and the Basingas became part of Hampshire. In 705 Surrey was transferred from the Middle Saxon diocese of Londonmarker to the West Saxon diocese of Winchestermarker. After 771 Surrey came under the rule of Offa of Mercia and was so until 823 when Surrey reverted to Wessexmarker and so remained. Some historians have also speculated that the Nox gaga and the Oht gaga tribes listed in the Mercian Tribal Hidage refer to two distinct groups living in Surrey. They were valued together at 7,000 hides.

Sub kings and ealdormen of Surrey

subreguli (Latin for "sub-kings"):
  • Frithuwold (c.673 - 675)
  • Frithuric (675 - c.686)

a series of unknown subreguli until:

  • Brorda (c.775)

a series of unknown ealdormen until:

  • Wulfherd (c.823)
  • Huda (c.853)

a series of unknown ealdormen until:

  • Æðelwerd (late 10th century)
  • Æðelmær (? - 1016) son

The West Saxon shire

The territory of Surrey was formally annexed by Wessex in 860 and became a Shire under the same model as the other counties of Wessex. It is around this time that the wars between the Ænglecynn and the Danes reach their height with Surrey becoming the arena for a number of key battles; most notably at the Battle of Ockley in 851 and the Battle of Farnham in 894.

After the death of King Alfred the Great in 899 his son, King Eadweard I was crowned on the King's Stonemarker at Kingston upon Thamesmarker. The use of this stone before 902 is unknown but it seems likely that it would have been something of ancient spiritual or political significance. After him another six kings of England from the House of Wessex were crowned here, the last being Ethelred in 978.

In 1011 it is recorded that Surrey was over-run by Danish forces led by Canute the Great before all of England submitted to them in 1016.

In 1035, Canute died and during the uncertainty that followed the heirs of former Anglo-Saxon rulers attempted to restore the House of Wessex to the throne of England. Alfred Aetheling, the younger of the two heirs (his older brother being the future Edward the Confessor) landed on the coast of Sussex with a Norman mercenary bodyguard and attempted to make his way to London. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle there is an account of this fateful encounter:

"As Ælfred and his men approached the town of Guildfordmarker in Surrey, thirty miles south-west of London, they were met by the powerful Earl Godwin of Wessex, who professed loyalty to the young prince and procured lodgings for him and his men in the town. The next morning, Godwin said to Ælfred: "I will safely and securely conduct you to London, where the great men of the kingdom are awaiting your coming, that they may raise you to the throne." This he said in spite of the fact that the throne was already occupied by the son of Knud, Harold Harefoot, and he was actually in league with King Harold to lure the young prince to his death."
"Then the earl led the prince and his men over the hill of Guildownmarker" (called today The Hog's Backmarker and the route of the A31), "which is to the west of Guildford, on the road to Winchestermarker, not London. Perhaps the prince had insisted on continuing his journey to his original destination, his mother’s court in Winchester, in any case, Godwin repeated his tempting offer; showing the prince the magnificent panorama from the hill both to the north and to the south, he said: Look around on the right hand and on the left, and behold what a realm will be subject to your dominion. Ælfred then gave thanks to God and promised that if he should ever be crowned king, he would institute such laws as would be pleasing and acceptable to God and men. At that moment, however, he was seized and bound together with all his men. Nine tenths of them were then murdered. And since the remaining tenth was still so numerous, they, too, were decimated."

"Ælfred was tied to a horse and then conveyed by boat to the monastery of Ely. As the boat reached land, his eyes were put out. For a while he was looked after by the monks, who were fond of him, but soon after he died, probably on February 5, 1036."

Interestingly, during the 1920s the remains of several hundred soldiers, probably Normans, were found to the west of Guildford. They were bound and had been executed. The grave was dated to c.1040. It is likely that they were the guards of poor Prince Ælfred.

After the Anglo-Saxon restoration through the accession of Eadweard III in 1042 Surrey remained unmolested until the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Few remains of the ancient British, the Roman, or the Saxon periods in Surrey exist. There is an Iron Age hillfort at Holmbury Hill, and only remnants of the Roman roads Stane Street and Ermine Street remain. Roman and Celtic relics, of no great significance, have been found at various locations.

Medieval Surrey

Hundreds of Surrey c.825 - 1889
In 1088, William II granted William de Warenne the title of Earl of Surrey as reward for Warenne's loyalty during the rebellion that followed the death of William I of England. The chief subsequent event connected with it was the signing of the great charter at Runnymede, and other public events were mostly intertwined with the history of the metropolis. However, Guildford Castle was captured by forces supporting Prince Louis of Francemarker in 1216, and in June 1497 the county was overrun by as many as 15,000 Cornish rebels heading for Londonmarker. This would have been the first Brythonic army to move through Surrey for nearly 900 years. There was a brief battle just outside Guildfordmarker at Gil Down before the Cornish rebels marched north east through Bansteadmarker and right across Wallington and Brixton Hundreds as far as Blackheathmarker in Kentmarker where they were eventually routed by an English army.

Specimens of monastic buildings of early English date occur in Chertsey Abbeymarker, Waverley Abbeymarker and Newark Priorymarker. These were all destroyed during the Reformation. It was also the home of the Merton Priorymarker from 1114 until 1538. From the Saxon period up until Victorian times Surrey was divided into the 14 hundreds of Blackheathmarker, Brixton, Copthornemarker, Effingham Half-Hundredmarker, Elmbridgemarker, Farnhammarker, Godalming, Godley, Kingstonmarker, Reigatemarker, Tandridgemarker, Wallington, Wokingmarker and Wottonmarker.

Modern history

The Local Government Act 1888 reorganised county-level local government throughout England and Wales. Accordingly, the administrative county of Surrey was formed in 1889 when the Provisional Surrey County Councilmarker first met, consisting of 19 aldermen and 57 councillors. The county council assumed the administrative responsibilities previously exercised by the county's justices in quarter sessions. The county had revised boundaries, with the north east of the historic county bordering the City of Londonmarker becoming part of a new County of London. These areas now form the London Boroughs of Lambethmarker, Southwarkmarker and Wandsworthmarker, and the Pengemarker area of the London Borough of Bromleymarker. At the same time, the borough of Croydon became a county borough, outside the jurisdiction of the county council.

For purposes other than local government the administrative county of Surrey and county borough of Croydon continued to form a "county of Surrey" to which a Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum (Chief Magistrate) and a High Sheriff were appointed.

Surrey had been administered from Newingtonmarker since the 1790s, and the county council was initially based in the sessions house there. As Newington was included in the County of London it lay outside the area administered by the council, and a site for a new county hall within the administrative county was sought. By 1890 six towns were being considered: Epsom, Guildford, Kingston, Redhill, Surbitonmarker and Wimbledon. A decision to build the new County Hallmarker at Kingston was made in 1891, (the building opened in 1893) but this site would also became overtaken by the growing London conurbation and by the 1930s most of the north of the county had been built over, becoming outer suburbs of London, although continuing to form part of Surrey administratively.

In 1960 the report of the Herbert Commission recommended that much of north Surrey (including Kingston and Croydon) be included in a new "Greater Londonmarker". The recommendations of the report were enacted in highly modified form in 1965 by the London Government Act 1963. The areas that now form the London Boroughs of Croydonmarker, Kingstonmarker, Mertonmarker, Suttonmarker and that part of Richmondmarker south of the River Thames were transferred from Surrey to Greater London. At the same time part of the county of Middlesexmarker, which had been abolished by the legislation, was added to Surrey. This area now forms the borough of Spelthorne.

Further local government reform under the Local Government Act 1972 took place in 1974. The 1972 Act abolished administrative counties and introduced non-metropolitan counties in their place. The boundaries of the non-metropolitan county of Surrey were similar to those of the administrative county with the exception of Gatwick Airport and some surrounding land which was transferred to West Sussexmarker. It was originally proposed that the parishes of Horleymarker and Charlwoodmarker would become part of West Sussex, however fierce local opposition led to a reversal of this under the Charlwood and Horley Act 1974.

On 3 August 2007 it was announced that foot-and-mouth diseasemarker had been discoveredmarker near Guildford. This was the first outbreak in the UKmarker since 2001.


Surrey is an affluent county with a service based economy closely tied to that of London. Surrey has the highest GDP per capita of any county in the UK and the highest cost of living in the UK outside of London. Surrey is credited with having the highest proportion of millionaires in the UK. The average wage in Surrey is bolstered by the high number of residents who work in financial services.

Surrey’s proximity to London and strategic location within South East England has resulted in it becoming one of the most affluent and successful counties in the UK. Surrey’s enduring popularity explains why it dominated the top 10 best places to live in Phil & Kirsty’s 2007 list. Surrey’s affluence is further shown by it having the highest concentration of Waitrose supermarkets outside of London. The busiest single runway airport in the world (Gatwickmarker) was historically in Surrey, but is now part of West Sussexmarker.

Surrey is also renowned for gardening, with the RHS’s flagship RHS Garden, Wisleymarker, along with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kewmarker in Greater London. The National Archivesmarker for England & Wales are also in Kew. NGOs including WWF UK & Compassion in World Farming are based here.

Surrey has more organisation and company headquarters than any other county in the UK. Electronic giants Nikon, Whirlpool, Canon, Toshiba, Samsung and Philips are housed here. Kia Motors and Toyota UK also have their HQs in Surrey. Some of the largest FMCG multinationals in the world have their UK and/or European headquarters here, including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Superdrug, Nestle, SC Johnson, Kimberly-Clark and Colgate-Palmolive.

Government Quangos such as SEEDA, SEERA and GOSE are headquartered in Guildford. Drug giants Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis house their UK headquarters here, as does oil conglomerate Esso. The racing organisation McLarenmarker is based in Woking, and the once famous Brooklandsmarker race track is near Weybridge.

There has been criticism in recent years due to public spending per head being the lowest of any county in the UK.

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Surrey at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 12,177 116 2,414 9,647
2000 19,811 103 3,288 16,420
2003 22,790 99 3,394 19,297

Waste management

Albury landfill

There are two active landfill sites in Surrey. One is at Alburymarker near Guildfordmarker. This site is managed by SITA.

Major towns

See List of places in Surrey

The largest town in Surrey is Guildfordmarker with 66,773; Wokingmarker is a close second with a population of 62,796. The third largest town is Ewellmarker with 39,994 people to the north of the county and the fourth is Camberleymarker with 30,155 people in the west of the county. Towns with between 25,000 and 30,000 are Ashfordmarker, Epsommarker, Farnhammarker, Stainesmarker and Redhillmarker.



Three major motorways pass through the county. These are the M25marker (London Orbital), M3 and the M23.

The A3 trunk road is another important road and is a major route to the south coast and London.


Surrey is well connected to London by rail and services to Surrey originate from London's Waterloomarker, Victoriamarker or London Bridgemarker stations. Services are operated by Southern and South West Trains.

There are three main lines which pass through Surrey. They are the Brighton Main Line from Victoria or London Bridge, and the South Western Main Line and the Portsmouth Direct Line from Waterloo. However, there are also many other lines which branch off from either of those three.

The main stations in Surrey are Wokingmarker, Guildfordmarker and Redhillmarker.


There are no airports in Surrey although Gatwickmarker (near the Sussex/Surrey border) and Heathrowmarker airports are close at hand and both are connected to Surrey by the modes of transport mentioned above.


Surrey has a comprehensive secondary education system with 53 state schools (not including sixth form colleges), but there are also 41 independent schools including Preparatory schools and Senior schools —a high proportion of school children in Surrey are privately educated. Most have sixth forms although Reigate, Spelthorne, Woking and Waverley districts tend to have separate sixth forms colleges.

Higher education

Places of interest

Significant landscapes in Surrey include Box Hillmarker just north of Dorkingmarker; the Devil's Punch Bowlmarker at Hindheadmarker; Frenshammarker Common, heathland with a variety of plant, animal and birdlife plus the Great Pond and Little Pond dating from the Middle Ages when they were constructed to provide food for the Bishop of Winchester's estate. Leith Hillmarker to the south west of Dorkingmarker is the highest point in south-east England. Witley Commonmarker, Thursley Commonmarker and Elstead Moat are expansive areas of ancient heathland south of Godalmingmarker are run by the National Trust and Ministry of Defence. The Surrey Hillsmarker are an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
More manicured landscapes can be seen at Claremont Landscape Gardenmarker, south of Eshermarker (dating from 1715). There is also Winkworth Arboretummarker south east of Godalmingmarker which was created in the 20th century. Wisleymarker is home to the Royal Horticultural Society gardensmarker.

Surrey has important country houses such as Clandon Parkmarker, an 18th century Palladian mansion in West Clandon to the east of Guildfordmarker. Nearby there is Hatchlands Parkmarker in East Clandonmarker, east of Guildfordmarker, was built in 1758 with Robert Adam interiors and a collection of keyboard instruments. Polesden Laceymarker south of Great Bookhammarker is a regency villa with extensive grounds. On a smaller scale, Oakhurst Cottagemarker in Hambledonmarker near Godalmingmarker is a restored 16th century worker's home. There is a museum at Rural Life Centre, Tilfordmarker.

The county is linked to the sea by the River Weymarker and the Wey and Godalming Navigationsmarker. Dapdune Wharfmarker in Guildfordmarker commemorates this and is home to a restored Wey barge, the Reliance. Furthermore on the River Tillingbourne, Shalford Millmarker is an 18th century water-mill.

There are many typical English villages including Holmbury St Marymarker which lies in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, close to the Greensand Waymarker and North Downs Waymarker. It was developed in the 19th century and still has a mainly Victorian character as on the whole no new building is allowed. The youth hostel, constructed in the village in 1935, was the first purpose-built by the Youth Hostels Association.
Runnymedemarker at Eghammarker is the site of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Waverleymarker and Chertsey Abbeysmarker were very significant in medieval Surrey.

Guildford Cathedralmarker is a post-war cathedral built from bricks made from the clay hill on which it stands.

Brooklandsmarker Museum recognises the motoring past of Surrey. The county is also home to Thorpe Parkmarker, & Chessington World of Adventuresmarker, sister theme parks of Alton Towersmarker.

Culture, arts and sport

The first known record of cricket was in Guildford, Surrey (see History of English cricket to 1696). Currently, the Surrey County Cricket Club represents the historic county of Surrey, although its largest ground, The Ovalmarker in Kenningtonmarker, is now in Greater Londonmarker. The club also uses Whitgift Schoolmarker, South Croydonmarker and Woodbridge Roadmarker, Guildfordmarker for some games. Mitcham Cricket Club, formed in 1685 and the oldest documented club in the game's history, was within Surrey's borders until 1965.

Surrey has numerous football teams. As of the end of the 2008/09 season the top 20 clubs based on their league finishes within the National League System were:

In popular music, the "Surrey Delta" produced many of the musicians in 60s British blues movements, notably, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page who all came from south west Surrey. The Rolling Stones developed its music at Crawdaddy Club in Richmond. Paul Weller of the Jam was also brought up in Woking.

Surrey in film and books

Surrey has been mentioned in literature: in the Harry Potter series, Harry's only living relatives, the Dursleys, live in Little Whinging, a fictional town located in Surrey. The character Ford Prefect from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy claimed to be from Guildford in Surrey, but in actuality he was from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelguese.Surrey was mentioned often in Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World. Much of H. G. Wells's 1898 novella The War of the Worlds is set in Surrey with many specific towns and villages identified. The Martians first land on Horsell Commonmarker on the north side of Woking, outside the Bleak House pub, now called Sands. In the story the narrator flees in the direction of London, first passing Byfleetmarker and then Weybridgemarker before travelling east along the north bank of the Thames. Jane Austen's novel Emma is set in Surrey and the famous picnic where Emma embarrasses Miss Bates takes place on Box Hill. In The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, Rebecca Bloomwood's parents live in Oxshott, Surrey. Atonement is also set in the Surrey lands. Tom Felton, who is most famous for his role as Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, lives in Surrey with his mum and three brothers.

Non-wellsian Tripods were also seen in Surrey in the village of Friday Streetmarker ( )

The late Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman mentions Camberleymarker in his poem "A Subaltern's Lovesong". In contrast, Carshaltonmarker forms the literary backdrop to many of the poems by James Farrar.

The county has also been used as a film location. Part of the movie The Holiday was filmed in Surrey: Kate Winslet's character Iris lived there and Cameron Diaz's character Amanda switched houses with her as part of a home exchange. The final scene of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason uses the village church in Shere, as does the movie The Wedding Date. In the 1976 film The Omen, the scenes at the cathedral were filmed at Guildford Cathedralmarker. The film I Want Candy follows two hopeful lads from Leatherheadmarker trying to break into the movies. Surrey woodland represented Germany in the opening scene of Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe; it was filmed at The Bourne Woods near Farnham in Surrey.Surrey has been also mentioned in Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic books.Scenes for the 2009 BBC production of Emma by Jane Austen, starring Romola Garai and Michael Gambon, were filmed at St Mary the Virgin Church Send near Guildfordmarker and at Loseley House.

Surrey is the location for Lara Croft's mansion in the Tomb Raider game series.

County Emergency Services

Surrey is served by these emergency services.

See also


  1. Surrey County Council press release January 17, 2006
  2. The Times, March 27, 1890
  3. David Robinson, History of County Hall, Surrey County Council
  5. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  6. includes hunting and forestry
  7. includes energy and construction
  8. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  9. Phil Shaw, The Independent, 13 July 2003, Cricket: After 400 years, history is made next to the A323. Retrieved on 6 February 2007. Quote: "Mitcham Green has been in continual use as a cricket venue for 317 years".


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