Surrey Towns » Holmbury St Mary

Holmbury St Mary is first recorded as 'Homebery' in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), the victor at Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The Holmbury in question refers to the Iron Age hill-fort nearby, which is marked as 'Holmbery' on Speed's map of Surrey published in 1610. The area which later became known as Holmbury St Mary was a sparsely populated place set in the beautiful, leafy Surrey Hills, mostly in the parish of Shere.

The area once had a much more sinister side for, as one of Surrey's remotest and wildest places, it was allegedly the haunt of smugglers bringing contraband from the coast. Sheep-stealers and poachers also found refuge in this hidden place.

This was all to change in Victorian times. The burgeoning middle classes discovered the area as a suitable location for the secluded country home. Several large houses were built in the area with magnificent views south across the Weald. Some were the work of the best architects of the later Victorian period. 'Hopedene' was designed by Norman Shaw in 1873, 'Joldwyns' by Philip Webb and G.E.Street, who built 'Holmdale' for himself in 1873.

Six years later Street built, at his own expense, the church of St Mary. Soon after, this attractive small village with its tree-clad hillsides and a small triangular green in front of the church, became known as Holmbury St Mary.

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