Surrey Archaeological Society Research Volumes

Surrey Archaeological Society, 2016

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Surrey Archaeological Society (2016) Surrey Archaeological Society Research Volumes [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

Surrey Archaeological Society Research Volumes (1977) Volume 5.

Historic Towns in Surrey, by Martin O'Connell.

Table of Contents

Title pages and contents
Anon. (pp. i-v)
PDF 117 Kb
Key to Town Maps
PDF 30 Kb



The recent increase in the pace of development within many of Britain’s historic towns has given rise to concern for the survival of the physical evidence of the past. In 1965 the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) issued a select list of historic towns and suggested that the inclusion of a town on the list was sufficient argument for preparing for that town a comprehensive survey of the historic environment as an aid to making planning decisions. Only one of the towns among those studied in this report was included in the CBA's select list, namely Farnham.

In 1966 the CBA published a further memorandum on the preparation of archaeological surveys for towns and, in the same year, the first survey on these lines appeared – that for Oxford. This survey became a model for a series of reports on individual towns, including York, Tewkesbury, Gloucester, Banbury, Abingdon, and Hull. Often the preparation of the report was associated with the formation of an excavation committee to organise the recovery of archaeological evidence in advance of redevelopment, a problem highlighted by the report in every case. In Surrey, reports were prepared for Reigate and Dorking, on behalf of the Surrey Archaeological Society, but these were only given limited circulation.

In 1972 the CBA published The erosion of history, a study of historic towns affected by modern development in England, Wales and Scotland. Since then, surveys of certain historic towns in other counties have been published and surveys of historic towns in other areas are being prepared.

The nine historic towns studied in this report (Blechingley, Chertsey, Dorking, Farnham, Godalming, Guildford, Haslemere, Leatherhead and Reigate) were included in the list for Surrey published in The erosion of history and each of them satisfied at least three of the twelve criteria for urban status presented in that document. These may be summarised as:

  1. Defences: wall, bank or ditch
  2. Internal street plan: deliberate planning or provision for a market place
  3. Market: perhaps the only indispensable criterion, but insufficient in itself. The date of the market charter has usually been taken in this report as an indication of the date by which the place had become a town
  4. Mint: the existence of a mint often signifies a town
  5. Legal: the date of a borough charter, records of taxation as a borough or parliamentary franchise may provide a date by which a place may be called a town
  6. Position: its central position in a network of communications. This involves a knowledge of the age of the road system, past navigability of rivers and other related problems
  7. Population: high density and size compared with surrounding area
  8. Diversified economy
  9. Types of house and shape of plot
  10. Social differentiation: including especially a middle class
  11. Complex religious organisation: more than one parish church; a monastic building
  12. The holding of a court: assizes, quarter or petty sessions.

PDF 491 Kb
Blechingley, Chertsey, Dorking and Farnham
PDF 3 Mb
Godalming, Guildford, Haslemere, Leatherhead and Reigate
MARTIN O'CONNELL (pp. 25-48)
PDF 5 Mb
MARTIN O'CONNELL (pp. 49-50)
PDF 171 Kb

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