Reigate - Encyclopedia

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REIGATE, a market town and municipal borough in the Reigate parliamentary division of Surrey, England, 24 m.

S. by W. of London by the South-Eastern & Chatham railway. Pop. (1901) 25,993. It is situated at the head of the long valley of Holmsdale Hollow, beneath the North Downs. A very fine prospect over a great part of Surrey and Sussex, and extending to Hampshire and Kent, is obtained from the neighbouring Reigate Hill. Of the old castle, supposed to have been built before the Conquest to command the pass through the valley, there only remains the entrance to a cave beneath, 1so ft. long and from io to 12 ft. high, excavated in the sandstone, which was used as a guardroom. The grounds are laid out as a public garden. Near the market house is the site of an ancient chapel dedicated to Thomas a Becket. In the chancel of the parish church of St Mary, a building ranging from Transitional Norman to Perpendicular, is buried Lord Howard, the commander of the English navy against the Spanish Armada. Above the vestry there is a library containing choice manuscripts and rare books. The grammar school was founded in 1675. Among the other public buildings are the town hall, the public hall, the market hall, and the working men's institute. The borough includes the township of Redhill, adjacent on the east. The town has some agricultural trade, and in the neighbourhood are quarries for freestone, hearthstone and white sand. The borough is under a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 5994 acres.

Reigate (Cherchefelle, Regat, Reygate) owed its first settlement to its situation at a cross-road on the Pilgrim's Way, at the foot of the North Downs; and its early importance to the castle which was the stronghold of the De Warennes in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. On the death of Edith, the widow of Edward the Confessor, to whom it belonged, William I. secured the manor of Cherchefelle, as it was then called. It was granted by William Rufus to Earl Warenne, through whose family it passed in 1347 to the earls of Arundel. The name Reigate occurs in 1199. Burgesses of Reigate are mentioned in a close roll of 1348, but no early charter is known. The town was incorporated in 1863. It returned two members to parliament from 1295 till 1831, and afterwards one member only until 1867, when it was disfranchised for corruption. In the reign of Edward I. Earl Warenne held a weekly market on Saturdays, and fairs on Tuesday in Whitsun-week, the eve and day of St Lawrence, and the eve and day of the Exaltation of the Cross, by prescriptive right. Edward II. granted a market on Tuesdays, which is still held. The fair days are now Whit-Tuesday and the 9th of December.

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