Introduction

Horley is a small but busy town of over 20,000 people situated almost half way between London and Brighton on the south coast. It is mainly residential and sits astride both the main line railway and the A23 main road, between the two locations, close by London Gatwick Airport.

Horley lies on what is known as the Weald that consists mainly of heavy clay soil, a few miles south of high chalk Downs. The local area was thought to have been at one time densely forested so early settlers preferred to live on the drier North Downs. They only penetrated the muddy and overgrown Weald during dry summer months to feed their animals and to forage. When Christianity first came to southern England during Saxon times, Horley and its Manor came under the control of the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter at Chertsey, close by the River Thames. The Abbey also controlled many other manors on the North Downs, who in turn had claims on parts of Horley from earlier use of its land.