A Ripley in time

“THE roaring, rushing Ripley road is known to every motorist, and the old houses lining the village  street witness a never-ending procession of traffic.”

These words were first published in 1938 in Arthur Mee’s Surrey, part of a series of county guidebooks under the title of The King’s England.

TRAFFIC FREE: Ripley High Street looking towards the church in the early 1900s

There was no bypass then, and during the era of the horse-drawn stagecoach, Ripley was a convenient stopping point on the road from London to Portsmouth.

The Talbot Hotel has a fine brick frontage dating back to the 18th-century. The name is of a white hunting dog, a breed now extinct.

Some parts of the building may date back to the 1450, although most of it is likely to be from the 16th-century and is of a timber-frame construction.

ONCE A COACHING INN: The Talbot Hotel pictured in about 1930

The inn benefitted when sections of the road were turnpike after an Act of Parliament in 1749. Roads were improved and tolls charged for those using them. The golden age of the stagecoach was between 1800 and 1830. But as early as 1769 the Talbot had become a receiving office of the postal service with the Royal Mail coach calling regularly.

Unmissable at the south-west end of the High Street is the parish church of St Mary Magdalen. Its chancel dates to the 12th-century, while its current nave and aisle were built in 1846 and 1869, respectively.

YEW AVENUE: The path to the west door of the church in about 1910

In his guidebook Arthur Mee wrote: “A gloomy yew tunnel leads to the west door of the church, and cobbles form a patterned path to the porch. The chancel is one of the best pieces of Norman work in Surrey, enriched inside by a beautiful band of carved leaves and flowers running round the wall.”

If  you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call me, David Rose, on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at: davidrosemedia@gmail.com

For the full Peep into the Past, see the 9 January edition of the News & Mail

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