Most of Banstead sits atop the chalk of the North Downs between 400 and 600 feet above sea level. There is evidence of human activity in this area going back to the Stone Age and here there are the remains of several Bronze Age burial mounds, but many more are now unfortunately obscured. Nearby, remains have been found which prove that the Romans were also active in the area.
'Benestede', 'the place where beans are grown', is mentioned in a grant of Caedwalla, King of Wessex, in 680 A.D. In the time of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) it was held by Alnod, a Saxon. In the Domesday Survey of 1086 the manor of Banstead was listed as being the property of the Bishop of Bayeux, but in 1274 it passed to King Edward I.
Edward is known to have visited Banstead soon after and surviving documents record that a substantial amount of money was spent preparing the Manor House for its royal owner. The house is thought to have been situated near to the parish church. Much of the church of All Saints which survives today would have already existed by the time of the king's visit, dating as it does to the late 12th and early 13th centuries.
Henry VIII gave Banstead to his first queen, Catherine of Aragon, and she continued to hold it even after her divorce from the king. In 1532 she leased it to Sir Nicholas Carew. Catherine died in January 1536 and Banstead was then granted by Henry VIII to Sir Nicholas, but he was declared a traitor and beheaded on Tower Hill in 1539. However, Banstead was returned to the Carew family by Edward VI in 1549 and it continued to be held by them until 1762.
Sheep once roamed the Downs here in great numbers and in Medieval times wool for weaving into cloth was a very important commodity. From the 17th century the Downs also became a centre for the increasingly popular sport of horse-racing and at one time a four mile course started near Banstead village and ran into what is now the straight of Epsom Racecourse. Hunting on Banstead Downs was also well patronised by the aristocracy and it is known that King Charles II hunted with hawks here in 1669.
Banstead Downs was designated as the rendezvous for Royalist troops in 1648 during what became known as the Second Civil War. The Royalist forces were led by the indecisive Earl of Holland and, after much dithering, they retreated towards Kingston. They were eventually caught by the chasing Parliamentarians at Surbiton, where they were routed. Holland was captured and later executed.
By the 18th century the clear air of Banstead had attracted the well off, who came to build their country houses here on the Downs. There were a number of estates based round fine houses such as Court House, Banstead Hall, The Larches and Banstead Place.
Banstead Station opened in 1865 and it was not long before houses suitable for those who wished to commute to London began to be built. With its lovely position high on the Downs, Banstead continues to be a popular place in which to live.