Lingfield is recorded as 'Laencan felda' in the late 9th century, but the origins of the name are obscure. One suggestion for a meaning is that it comes from 'Hlaencafeld', 'open land of (or with) terraces'. A scatter of prehistoric material has been found in the area and nearby there are the remains of an Iron Age fort at Dry Hill. Much of Lingfield was held by Hyde, or St Peter's, Abbey at Winchester until the abbey was dissolved in the late 1530s. It had been given to the abbey by Ethelflaed, wife of King Edgar (973-975) and mother of King Edward the Martyr (975-978).
Lingfield is not recorded in the Domesday Survey of 1086, perhaps because it was attached to the abbey's holding at Sanderstead near Croydon.
By the 14th century Lingfield was held from the abbey by the Cobham family and it was Reginald de Cobham who was licensed by Edward III in 1341 to fortify Starborough Castle near Lingfield. Little remains of the medieval castle today, apart from the moat, but it originally had four towers and a gate not unlike the surviving castle at Bodiam in Sussex. The Duke of Orleans, captured at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, was brought briefly to Starborough. The castle survived relatively intact until 1648, when it was dismantled by Parliamentary forces during the Second Civil War.
In 1431 a college of priests was founded at Lingfield and the church of St Peter and St Paul was rebuilt by Sir Reginald Cobham as the collegiate church at the same time. According to John Aubrey, writing in the late 17th century, much of the college buildings still stood intact in his time, but most were demolished in the next century. The college guest house, a 15th century timber-framed hall house, now known as the 'Old Guest House' has, however, survived and houses Lingfield Library.
Lingfield has many other fine timber-framed buildings dating from the 15th to the 17th centuries and there is also a curious looking little building, the Old Cage and St Peter's Cross. The cross is supposed to be 15th century and the cage or village lock-up was added in 1773. The cage was last used to house poachers in 1882.
Lingfield boasts a racecourse opened in 1890. which is set in attractive surroundings, where the facilities include an all-weather flat racing track.
The railway came to Lingfield in 1884 and soon the village was being promoted as a leafy and secluded residential area. Development began at Dormans Park in the same year. It was first called 'Bellagio' and consists of what the architectural historians, Nairn and Pevsner, described as 'pleasant examples of 19th century housing'.