Living in Dorking
What is life like in Dorking
Dorking is a small town in Surrey, around 20 miles from central London, known for its market history and excellent rail links to the capital. It is quiet and peaceful, while remaining full of character and intrigue.
Set between the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge, Dorking is located in one of the most beautiful areas in the country. The Surrey Hills are a renowned area of outstanding natural beauty, making towns in this region among the most sought-after in the south-east.
A trio of railway stations help Dorking to live up to its reputation as a commuter stronghold, with many of its residents working in London while opting to live in more relaxed and aesthetically pleasing surroundings.
Dorking also has a strong reputation for festivals, events, music and literature and visual arts. These functions help to bring the community together and there is a strong spirit and level of pride among local people.
The earliest settlement in Dorking probably arrived in the Roman period, although the name of the town itself comes from the Saxon 'Dorchingas'.
In later years, Dorking became a renowned market town and people from the surrounding villages would flock there. It is also remembered for its Dorking fowl, which was a five-clawed species for which the market soon became famous.
It was not only 1755, when the Horsham to Epsom turnpike arrived, that Dorking really began to grow. For starters, it made the clean air and wonderful scenery of the nearby countryside accessible to the local population for the first time.
Londoners soon realised the potential of the area and would visit Box Hill for a day out, and some even decided to move to Dorking and the surrounding area. The railway lines appeared in 1849 and 1867 and these made Dorking even more accessible and popular.
Several famous people were born in Dorking, mainly in centuries gone by. For example, Laurence Olivier hails from the town and a blue plaque marks his childhood home Wathen Road.
Entertainment, sport and days out
The number one cultural venue in Dorking is the Dorking Halls, which provides a range of facilities, including cinema and theatre. It also contains a swimming pool and leisure centre. For those who wish to catch a show or the latest film, it is the place to head to.
Residents will want to look out for the annual Arts Alive Festival, which is scheduled for each October. Elsewhere in the town there is a museum and a library, so there is always an option when it comes to filling an hour or two or spare time.
Dorking has a strong sporting reputation and the Dorking Sports Centre is the ideal place for residents who fancy a workout, a run or a game of badminton, football or squash.
When it comes to picking the destination for a day out, the Surrey Hills will feature prominently on many people's lists. Some of the most spectacular scenery in the south can be found in this area, and it includes Box Hill, where the London 2012 Olympics cycling road race passed through.
There are also two high-profile racecourses in the local area – Ascot and Epsom. Both of these host plenty of glamorous racing days and can be great fun for all the family.
Eating, drinking & shopping
Approximately 30 pubs are located in Dorking, which means it has an impressive choice for a relatively small town. Many of these are traditional inns and serve a selection of delicious pub grub, while there are also a number of restaurants.
Most of the restaurants in Dorking are independently owned, so there is plenty of choice and a variety of tastes and cuisines. Little Dudley House and Café Rialto are just two it is worth keeping an eye out for.
St Martin's Walk shopping centre is the best bet for all those seeking a spot of retail therapy in Dorking, with a number of high street stores based in the mall. The town is renowned for being a hub of antiques shops, and there are many of these found in its streets, usually run by experts in the subject.
Schools & healthcare
There are a handful of schools in Dorking and in the surrounding area. In the town itself, the most popular options include St Pauls C of E Primary School and Ashcombe School, which is for pupils at secondary level.
Although there is not a college with its headquarters in Dorking, East Surrey College runs some of its courses from the town, and there are plenty more further education centres around the county.
Dorking Community Hospital is the main medical facility in the town and is ready to offer expert and emergency care in any situation. Several other options are open to those with less serious problems, such as the Medwyn Surgery and the New House Surgery.
As a commuter town, Dorking is incredibly well served by both public transport and road links. The town's three stations – Dorking, Dorking West and Dorking Deepdene – offer access to London and many other towns and cities in the south-east.
Dorking is located on the A24, just a few miles south of the junction with the M25. This makes it easy for drivers to head into London or towards the south coast, while Gatwick and Heathrow airports are around 15 miles and 30 miles away respectively.