Beautiful England - photos of England and the UK

Friday Street, Dorking

Friday Street is a small hamlet, a few miles east of Guildford, set on the north-west slopes of Leith Hill in Surrey. It can be reached down narrow lanes from the A25 road. There is a car park a short distance from the hamlet. Footpaths lead through the woods up onto Leith Hill, much of which is in the care of the National Trust.

The most notable feature of Friday Street, is the large man-made pond which, in the Autumn, displays glorious golden reflections of the surrounding woods. This pond was probably a hammer pond, which was used to power bellows to smelt iron ore with charcoal from the local woods and to power hammers to beat hot metal into shape. This large scale industrial process died out here in the 18th century, when Abraham Darby, at Ironbridge in Shropshire, started to use coke instead of charcoal to generate heat. Coal was plentiful in the north of England, but not in the south-east, so the industry moved away. Friday Street's hammer pond remains as an impressive memorial to the ironworks which existed in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

The name Friday Street is believed to be derived from Scandinavian mythology, but there is not an obvious reason for this. However, in 851 AD, Leith Hill was the site of a battle when the Saxons defeated the Viking invaders.

A short distance from the pond is the renowned inn, The Stephan Langton, named after the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was an important member of the barons' council, which made King John sign the Magna Carta in 1215 at Runnymede. In a book written by Martin Tupper in 1858, it is claimed that Stephan Langton was born in Friday Street. This claim may be lacking in historical evidence, but it was good for the tourist trade, which was developing in the late 19th century.