A visit to the Market Town of Dorking in Surrey, England

In Counties, Mini Breaks, Our Journeys, Surrey, Trip-Types, UK Travel by Janis4 Comments

Antiques, Cockerels and a Thespian all in the lush Surrey Hills

We were staying in the heart of Dorking nestled in the Surrey Hills and home to one of southern England’s largest vineyards.  

Welcome to Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Welcome to Dorking

Dorking sits along the ancient Roman Road of Stane Street built by the Romans to connect London with Chichester.

Dorking’s history doesn’t stop there; however, it has tales of a Pilgrim Father, a Dickensian coaching inn and is the birthplace of a thespian of note, to mention just a few. 

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The Pickwick Papers

We were staying at The White Horse on the High Street as guests of “bespoke Hotels”.

This former 18th-century coaching inn is where Charles Dickens is said to have scribed some of “The Pickwick Papers” that was, in part, set in Dorking.

A Pickwick Papers Triptych, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

A Pickwick Papers Triptych in the White Horse Hotel

The papers originally selling for one shilling an instalment then became Dickens first novel.

Pickwick Papers, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Pickwick's Papers from the the White Horse Hotel

Pickwick Papers artwork in the White Horse Hotel, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Pickwick Papers artwork in the White Horse Hotel

Heritage trail

So, to discover a little more of what the ancient market town of Dorking had to offer, Gary and I just took a couple of steps from the coaching inn, and we were on Dorking’s Heritage Trail

The Dorking Heritage Trail, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

The Dorking Heritage Trail

Just so you know, there are two self-guided trails signposted around the town.

As you stroll through Dorking, you’ll come across the informative plaques that give you a little bit more of the local history.

Also, an insight into who would have frequented these streets and lanes in years gone by.  

A little more reading

To find out even more about the historic town of Dorking take a journey around the Visit Dorking website.

St Martin's Church, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

St Martin's Church

We found out that Dorking has a cockerel named after it, and not just any old cockerel, this one has five toes.

It also seems to be a theme that runs throughout the town, you’ll see chicken references pop up everywhere.

The Dorking Cockerel, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

The Dorking Cockerel

Our favourite travel reads

Dorking Museum & Heritage Centre

For just a couple of pounds take a wander around the Dorking Museum & Heritage Centre.

It may look relatively small, but it is full of plenty of local history, interactive exhibits and great insight into the folk of Dorking.

Dorking Museum & Heritage Centre, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Dorking Museum & Heritage Centre

We didn't know prior to visiting Dorking's museum that one of the original Pilgrim Fathers, William Mullins was born in the town.

A Blue Plaque to William Mullins, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

A Blue Plaque to William Mullins - A Pilgrim Father

He set sail with his family on the historic “Mayflower” voyage over to America in 1620. Unfortunately, his story was short lived as he perished in the first winter of arriving in the New World. Keep a look out for the blue plaque on his house in West Street.

Antiques Quarter

Now, if you like antiques, you’ll enjoy visiting Dorking. It even has its own little antiques quarter along West Street. You’ll find a fantastic mixture of art, furniture, jewellery and curios. You may even be able to pick yourself up something cockerel related.

In the Antiques Quarter, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

In the Antiques Quarter

This a charming part of Dorking to stroll around, as it has lots of quirky shops, boutiques and plenty of tea rooms.

Westcott & Williams, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Westcott & Williams

Where have you been?

Have you visited any of England’s old market towns, drop a comment below to tell us where you enjoyed visiting?


What can’t have gone unnoticed as you wander through the town, is the fantastic blend of architecture. This is what really stood out for us. 

Let there be light, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Let there be light

Interesting Architecture, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Interesting architecture

Different periods in time, seamlessly mixing together. Make sure you keep looking up, there so many interesting little points of detail along the rooftops and skyline. 

Robert Dyas - Hardware store, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Robert Dyas - Hardware store

So often shopfronts mask what’s hidden behind them; however, Dorking has made an effort to keep its unique charm where it can. Incorporating modern stores into characterful buildings.

The Dorking Butchery, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

The Dorking Butchery

Something to make your travels easier?

  • 6-Port Desktop USB Charging Station

  • Mini Dual USB Car Adapter

  • Portable Charger 2 USB Ports Power Bank

  • Bose SoundLink Revolve, Portable Bluetooth Speaker

  • USB rechargeable LED Flashlight

  • Collapsible Water Bottle


One intriguing doorway that caught our eye was the Oddfellows Hall. 

The hall is still being used today for local events, dance classes and just a pleasant place for friends to come together and enjoy each other’s company.

Oddfellows Hall, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Oddfellows Hall

Famous locals 

Talking of friends of the town, another famous resident of Dorking was the thespian Laurence Olivier. And they don’t really come more well-known than “Larry” in the theatre and silver screen world. You’ll find another blue plaque along Wathen Road, where Mr Olivier was born in 1907.

Laurence Olivier's Blue Plaque, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Laurence Olivier's Blue Plaque in Wathen Road 

Laurence Olivier portrait at the White Horse Hotel, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Laurence Olivier portrait at the White Horse Hotel

Amongst other local people of prominence was the architect Thomas Cubitt.

Notable for the building and design of some of London’s historical and beautiful squares, around Bloomsbury and Belgravia.

A monument to Thomas Cubitt, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

A monument to Thomas Cubitt

Just opposite the statue for Thomas Cubitt stands a sculpture of Ralph Vaughn Williams, the English composer and conductor.

The figure takes pride of place outside Dorking Halls Theatre, where Ralph Vaughn Williams staged some of his performances.


A statue to Ralph Vaughn Williams

The Dorking Halls was originally built in 1931 in Art Deco style, although it has recently been refurbished; the original Art Deco lines are still kept.

Dorking Halls, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

The Dorking Halls

Take a rest

What Dorking certainly doesn’t lack are restaurants, bars and traditional pubs. There are so many to choose from. Along West Street, once you’ve grabbed yourself that rare antique, take the weight off of your feet and enjoy a local ale.

The Star Public House, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

The Star Public House

Or if you’re in the heart of the High Street pop into The Dozen bar in the White Horse coaching inn.

Themed with all things equine and a nod to Charles Dickens ”Pickwick Papers”.

Saddle up at the bar, The White Horse, bespoke hotels, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Saddle up at the bar

Out of town

Whether you’ve driven to Dorking or you’ve arrived by public transport, you wouldn’t have failed to have noticed the rolling Surrey Hills. This area of southern England is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). 

The vineyards of Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

The vineyards of Denbies Wine Estate

It’s delightful for all levels of rambling and hiking. Also, budding cyclists will have heard of Box Hill, which was used as part of the course in the 2012 London summer Olympics. You’ll regularly see lycra-clad bodies taking to the route.

A short ride to Box Hill, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

A short ride to Box Hill

If cycling isn’t your thing then perhaps wine is. As I mentioned previously, England’s largest vineyard Denbies Wine Estate is located within this rich countryside. Acres of rolling vines are just a couple of miles outside Dorking town.

Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Denbies Wine Estate

How to get there?

You can catch a train from London Victoria or Waterloo direct to Dorking (Main) Station, which takes around 50 to 55 minutes. 

Our chosen transport option was to drive, as it gave us the freedom to tour around. Take a look at the car hire comparison website Carrentals.co.uk   covers all budgets and allows you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

Something for the Traveller

  • Children's World Globe 3D Jigsaw Puzzle

  • Travel-Size Laundry Bag

  • Metallic World Globe

  • RFID Blocking Cards

  • The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World

Inspired to visit Dorking?

Why not stay at The White Horse, check out one of their mini-break offers

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About the Author


Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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  1. I lived there as a kid from 1937 to 1957 in Rothes road,just off what we used to call the rec which was home to the surrey senior football club called “The chicks”.It hasn’t changed a jot and,as a kid in the war there are not many parts of Dorking I do not know,the market place on monday was memorable ad there were some pipes you could crawl into which featured waterfalls and the waterfall was a swimming pool past pixham lane.Ah,at 83 I still miss it.

    1. Author

      Ahh you have such fond memories, that’s wonderful. There are so many fascinating stories that we hear with kids growing up through WWII, we’re from Kent and have heard some great exploits from our relatives.
      Kids didn’t seem to have any fear clambering over bombsights or going off in search of some memorabilia.
      We only spent a day in Dorking and found it really interesting. It isn’t until you dig a little deeper into a location that you discover more and more.
      Where do you live now?

  2. Your mention of bombsites remind me of those halcyon days when we actually used to count down to when bombs fell.The missile would come over,the engine would stop and then fall to earth as we counted.Strangely enough I spent some time in the army attached to the gurkhas and never suffered an accident but,during the war managed somehow to embed myself on some spikes.Still got the scars but it’s a small reminder.
    I live with my wife in Eastbourne now but unfortunately she is very poorly and I have certainly seen better days but my memories will always be with me of which there are plenty.Ciao.mike savell

    1. Author

      I can’t imagine what it must have been like during that time. When I hear people chat about it, there are so often tales of folks coming together and a sense of a strong community and such fond memories too.
      I bet you have some incredible stories from your time with the Gurkhas, my grandfather was in the 8th Army around north Africa and Italy. He used to relay some fascinating encounters.
      Thanks for sharing your memories, take care Mike and to your wife.

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