The Collegiate Church of St. Peter
and St. Paul (pictured right) is one of the most rewarding parish churches in
Surrey. Most of the churches in Wealden Surrey are modest
in scale but Lingfield is grand and stately. Not only is it
impressive as a building but also it contains some of the
finest brasses and monuments in southern England.
The earliest church built on the site
was in the late Saxon period and there are indications of
its existence in the lower part of the west wall. No major
changes were made until the Cobhams arrived in the early to
mid fourteenth century. It was then that the tower and spire
were built. The Cobhams were responsible for many of the improvements
and the building as we see it today.
Since the Reformation the interior has been subject to constant
rearrangement as styles of worship changed. There were also
various improvements to the fabric of the church and for the
comfort of the worshippers during the 19th and 20th centuries.
An excellent book was published by
the church in 2001 updating all previous issues and is well
worth reading. The Society has copies at £3.50 each plus p&p.
Lying in the extreme south eastern corner of Surrey the
ancient parish of Lingfield known to be in existence at the
time of the Domesday book, but for some reason not mentioned
in it. A will made around 960 during the reign of King Edgar
refers to certain lands in Lingfield and the advowson (patronage)
of the church as part of a gift to the Abbey of Hyde, near
It is from the 14th and 15th centuries that more detailed
records of the parish really appeared as the great Wealden
forest was being developed for agriculture and the iron industry,
the latter just over the border in Sussex.
In the early 15th century Reginald de Cobham founded the
college for secular chaplains and rebuilt the church that
is much as we see it today. The church of St. Peter and St.
Paul is an impressive building known as the 'Westminster Abbey'
of the south east. Its collection of brasses and monuments
are amongst the finest in England.
There is evidence of the prosperity of the parish at that
time in the number of fine wealden houses that are still here
in the 21st century. Though somewhat disguised they have retained
many of their original features.
The village originated from two small settlements. The first
was around the church and known as Old Town. It is a collection
of dwellings from circa 1500 to 1800 some of which formed
the first shopping centre. There are some fine examples of
medieval houses and 18th century buildings including the original
'Star' public house.
The second was the area of Playstowe which was first mentioned
in 1332 as the home of William ate Playstowe. It was a scattered
area of fairly prosperous farms also from the 15th and 16th
centuries and is thought to have been the place for play and
sport. The area has been infilled over the centuries but is
remembered by part of the main road leading into the village
from the west - Plaistow Street.
Playstowe also boasts St. Peter's Cross which has been around
for 500 years. The 'Cage', or lock up, was added in 1773 as
a temporary gaol for minor felons and was last used in 1882.
Both are dominated by an enormous oak tree also around 300
years old without its heartwood but still very healthy
The village pond, which is adjacent to the oak tree and the
lock up, is thought to have been created when sandstone was
extracted for road material. Animals from the local farms
were watered there into the 20th century.
Although there were additional dwellings throughout the centuries
it was the building development that followed the arrival
of the railways and the racecourse in the 1880's that linked
these two areas and created the village we see today.
Lingfield is now a very large village with a busy high street
and all essential local amenities. It has a thriving community
spirit in its social and sporting activities.
Local industry includes agriculture and light engineering, and the racecourse.