History of Leatherhead

Read this interesting Leatherhead history, revealing the story of the Surrey town from its earliest days.

A Concise History of Leatherhead

The history of Leatherhead stretches back into the mists of time, and Neolithic flints found on Leatherhead Downs, together with numerous Roman coins and mosaics unearthed in the area, give evidence of early settlement.

The first recorded settlement though is of Anglo-Saxon origin, when it had the name Leodridan and was left by King Alfred in his will to his son Edward. The name meant "place where people can cross the river" and refers to a ford on the River Mole, where later a bridge was built.

Leatherhead appears in the Domeday Book as Leret, other versions of its name over the centuries include Leddrede, Lereda, Lerred, Ledred, Leddered, Lethered and Letherhead. The original village consisted of one long street, with one cross-street running down to the bridge over the River Mole.

Leatherhead's history as a market town goes back to 1248 when Henry III granted to the town an annual fair and a weekly market.

One of the oldest surviving buildings in Leatherhead is the Running Horse pub, dating from 1403. It is mentioned in a poem by Henry VIII's poet laureate Skelton, it is also said that Queen Elizabeth I once stayed there whilst waiting to cross a flooded River Mole.

Leatherhead was also home to several notables during the Elizabethan and Stuart periods, in particular Edmund Tylney (Master of the Revels) and Sir Thomas Bloodworth (Lord Mayor of London).

The church of St Nicholas dates from the 12th century with additions in the 13th and 16th centuries, the private St John's School, was built by a group of clergeymen in the 1870's.

The Swan Hotel in Leatherhead was an important coaching station for over 300 years, welcoming horse drawn carraiges as they stopped beside the River Mole (it is now the site of a Travelodge).

Leatherhead history continued into the 19th century when the arrival of the railway resulted in significant growth for the town (it has over the years had no less than 4 railway stations), this growth continued into the 20th century, when the M25 motorway was built improving road communications for the town.

(We shall be hoping to add more to this Leatherhead history as new facts are gathered about the town).

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