Since first starting to investigate the history
of Deerings Road, a number of interesting things have come to light about the
street. I am indebted to various people and websites so far in my search: The Holmesdale Natural History Museum
on Croydon Road in Reigate who lovingly maintain a huge amount of local
historical information as well as hundreds of excellent stuffed birds!; Alan
Moore who maintains the excellent Redhill History; Paul Walters, who
has gathered together a huge amount of fascinating historical photos of the area
at the Old Reigate
website. Then there is Sean Hawkins who until his retirement in 2007 (greatly
missed!) ran the wonderful Ancient House Bookshop in Bell Street. Sean is
a font of local knowledge and archiver of historic literature and documents.
Most recently, I would like to extend thanks to Phil Deering who contacted me
via this site to help ignite the debate on the origins of the Deerings Road name
and to Jeremy Greenwood who took up the baton to go a few steps
The rest of the information here comes from street hearsay and
the historical deeds which date back to the time when Great Doods Estate was
released for development in 1898.
I promise to put more information here
as I research it! Anyone who has any nuggets, please email them to me via the
contact page. Thanks!
Please use the
spamproof email on the contact page to submit any other information you can
about the street. The more the merrier!
- Deerings Road lies on the line of a ditch or path that used to run
across the Great Doods estate. Great Doods - a magnificent 18 bedroomed mansion
- was built in the mid-1600s. In those days, it was the home of one Edward
Thurland. Its history - for such an imposing place - is not as thoroughly
documented as we would hope (although investigations are always ongoing and many
local historians have tried to piece bits togetrer!). Great Doods was an
imposing house with a wonderful frontage and extensive woodlands stretching up
what is now Reigate road. It also had a lodge, a fountain which was around the
corner of Eversfield Road and Reigate Road, many greenhouses and an ice bunker.
Its Billiards Room remains today as the Holmesdale Natural History Museum.
- In Victorian times, houses such as Great Doods - for all their splendour -
started to become less desirable. Their scale was more of a liability than an
asset. People wanted smaller houses that were easier to maintain. Consequently,
around the turn of the century, the area to the east of the centre of the
Reigate started to become more developed with the mixture of large detached and
semi-detached properties that make the area so beautiful today. In 1897, a
complicated series of transactions was set in train to break up the land of the
Great Doods Estate. Firstly, Isabella Waterlow signed over the land that
comprised the Estate to Samuel Barrow (the Esquire of the Great Doods Estate) in
an indenture that also involved Beatrice Jameson Hutchison, John Hill and
Alexander Sowerby Hay (of Hampstead). Shortly after in 1899, Samuel Barrow who
lived at Lorne House, Redhill, sold on portions of what was to become Deerings
original plans for the sale of land and the creation of Deerings
Road, a separate new road was proposed branching as a cul de sac off the
eastern corner. This is roughly where the Almshouses stand now. It was to be
called Sandrock Gardens with a total of 19 plots. Click the thumbnail on the
right to see the plans. Clearly, this never quite came to pass.
Another ageing plan of the
Great Doods estate development proposals lies within a folder of the Natural
History Museum. Although it dates from the turn of the last century it looks
like it could be ancient egyptian as the tracing paper it was drawn on has
yellowed dramatically with age. This plan shows the names of the buyers who
reserved the first plots on Deerings Road. The names Wallis, Foster and Ince
were among those snapping up several of the first plots on our lovely street.
The Ince was Geoffrey Ince, the Mayor of Reigate in 1913, who then lived at 61
and presumably rented his other plots.
- We know from an estate
agent's ledgerthat during the early 1900s several properties in
the street were on offer for rent or sale. Some of the names of the houses seem
sadly to have been lost over the years, but the exorbitant going rate for a
year's rental at the time was around £30 per annum!
- We also know that one of the first purchasers was Percy Craven Knight - of
the Knight family famous for their erstwhile shop in Bell Street - who bought
the Land that is now 55/57 Deerings Road. He bought the plot for £137.
My, if he had seen what that would be worth today! This picture shows a horse
and cart (we know the horse's name is Rufus) and some of the Knight family outside
number 57 in 1910.
- Great Doods was still standing in 1906 because an estate
agent's details describe the property and its 18 bedrooms, two
bathrooms, billiard room etc. We know that at this time, many of the houses
in Deerings Road had been built so it seems the "great house" was
ringfenced off while development went on in its former grounds. Attempts to
either rent or sell the main house clearly failed by the end of the first decade
of the 1900s and the whole edifice was destroyed. A heartbreaking loss to the
town... if anyone, anywhere has pictures of Great Doods or even artefacts that
you believe were once from the house, please get in touch. Thankfully, it is
still with us in places. Apart from the Holmesdale Natural History museum which
lives in the old billiard room there are reports of an icebunker in the cellar
of a house on Croydon Road as well as bits of old wall dotted around. Any
insights, photos or documentation would be gratefully received.
- The name Deerings Road is subject to vigorous debate and even the author of
the history of Reigate, Wilfred Hooper, does not cast any light on it. Recently,
an emailto this site by Phil Deering reignited the debate but his suggestion has
now been superceded by an explanation that takes the mystery even deeper. I
will leave the latest account to the words of the historian who uncovered it,
Jeremy Greenwood, but the original page of discussion HERE if you'd like to read more:
- "Why is Deerings
Road so called?
- Ever since it was built, the reason
for naming Deerings Road as such eluded even the Hoopers (ed - the famous
Reigate historians). The answer lies in the small print in the 1897 sale
particulars of the building plots on the Great Doods estate. These mention, as a
caveat, that there is a parcel of land, called Deerings Hill and opposite the
Friend's Meeting House, for which quit rents are due to the manor although
there was no record of such ever having been paid.As the top part of what was to
become Deerings Road already existed as a farm access road from Grammar School
Hill the name Deerings was applied to the new road.
- This derivation is only partially correct. Deerings Hill was
actually in Colley manor to which it paid quit rents. At the time of its
earliest recording in 1513, it was in the possession of John Skynner. He also
owned the Doods (or Dowdes) estate so that it would appear that a stray document
relating to this survived in the title deeds of the Great Doods estate purchased
by Alfred James Waterlow in 1863 thus causing the confusion.
- This still leaves the question of why Deerings Hill was so called.
There is no known connection with the well known Kentish family of Dering. It is
a very rare placename with no obvious derivation.
the mystery remains unsolved!"
- There are many different house styles in the street - with two or three
houses the same and then a shift of style. This is mainly due to the houses
being designed and built at different times but there is also a theory that this
was because in the first decade of the 20th century, Deerings Road was a
'showcasing' street for local residents and builders... effectively, a
road where different designs could be shown off, but this is not supported by P
J Geoffrey Knight, a local resident and estate agent. There is however an
extraordinarily broad range of details in the Road's houses: window sizes,
window positions, roof styles etc all differ. A number of the houses on the
street are also 'Hooper Houses' designed by an architect relation of
Wilfrid Hooper, the author of 'Reigate: its story through the
ages'. The Hooper family contained three generations of architects and
we believe it was Thomas Rowland Hooper, the father of Wilfrid, who desgined the
Hooper houses in Reigate and Redhill recognisable by their small circular
windows at the upper levels, and the corner windows at ground floor, often
giving rooms a triple aspect.
- The 16th Mayor of the Borough of Reigate, Henry Ongley (Mayor from 1895 to
1897) subsequently lived at 56 Deerings Road. He was apparently a vendor of
poultry game and fish and was Mayor during Queen Victoria's jubilee. He had
a shop in Bell Street, Reigate, the next property south from Knights.
- The Knight family (of Bell Street soft furnishings fame) built and lived in
No 57 from 1900 onwards. Strangely, 55 Deerings Road was never built and the
numbering today jumps from 53 to 57. The lawn behind where 55 should have been
was the Knights' croquet lawn. The house was called Clovernook because of
the plentiful clover around the estate at the time.
- The 24th Mayor of the Borough of Reigate, George Alfred Reynolds Ince,
(Mayor from 1913 to 1916) Lived at number 61 Deerings Road. He was a solicitor
and apparently opposed the granting of a licence to the Griffin public house at
- On May 18th, 1919, Margarget Hookham - who later became Dame
Margot Fonteyn de Arias - was born at No.42 London Road. There have been (unsubtantiated) rumours that she lived in Deerings Road so if anyone can cast any light we'd be grateful. It would be nice to connect the great Prima Ballerina Assoluta to the road. We know than in the mid-1990s one of her biographers put a letter through everyone's door on the street asking for any information or keepsakes that street residents might have but I'm not sure that
anything turned up. Dame Margot's statue now
graces the front of the Watson Wyatt building on Castlefield Road. She made her
debut in 1934 with the Vic-Wells theatre and went on to become the UK's most
distinguished ballerina ever. She died far from Reigate in Panama City.
- In the 1930s, a local poet and critic named Hermann Peschmann lived on
Rushworth Road. Mr Peshmann was a member of the Fitzrovia poetry and arts
circle in London and used to hold get togethers and reading at his house in
Rushworth Road. Apparently, poet Dylan Thomas visited twice for such a weekend.
Unfortunately, he (Thomas) never visited Deerings Road but Mr Peschmann
subsequently moved here (Number 67 apparently) and remained in the road into the
1980s. He published a volume of work called "The Voice of Poetry 1930 - 1950"
devoted to many of the poets he loved including Auden, Betjeman and Vita
- Thanks to Alan Moore for unearthing an article in the Surrey Mirror of June
8th 1945 about the death of a Mrs Fanny Eadon Harley. She was the daughter of
William Blackwell Horner, who lived at 'Grassmead', Reigate Road,
Reigate, and was the proprietor of Horner's Penny Stories. In 1908 Mr Horner
and his wife moved to Bristol. She wrote stories under the pen name of Fanny
Eadon and contributed largely (the article said) to the popularity of
Horner's Penny Stories in Victorian days. It also said that at one time she
lived in 'Edenholme', Deerings Road, Reigate. The funeral took place at
Reigate Cemetery and (we think) she is buried there.
- Thanks to Heather Williams for pointing out that Jean Metcalfe, beloved
presenter of Two-way Family Favourites along with Cliff Michelmore (another
Reigate resident), used to live in the street with her family. Also, the
information that Fred Streeter of Gardeners' Question Time fame used to
attend Holmesdale School which was at that time still in Holmesdale Road. It
has now moved to a modern building near the top of Alma Road and provides a
wonderful education to many of the street's children.