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Cranleigh has long been associated with the unprovable title of "England's largest village": this settlement is part of the Waverley district of Surrey, and was until late Victorian times "Cranley". The Post Office insisted on changing the spelling to avoid confusion with nearby Crawley in West Sussex.

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(1991 census), figures given for the civil parish[?]:

Working pop.

Overall, the resident population of the Waverley district increased by 2.4% in the ten years to 2001.

Economic activity

Cranleigh lies near the main route between Guildford and Horsham, and was also a station on the railway line which connected them until the Beeching axe. Despite having been deprived of a rail link, Cranleigh has prospered both as a satellite of Guildford, and as a service and light engineering centre in its own right.It is also a retail centre for the surrounding smaller villages.

Cranleigh supports a small hospital, a cinema and a large public (fee-paying) school.


Cranleigh is in the Waverley district of Surrey county council, and is in the Guildford Westminster constituency.


The Anglican parish church of St Nicolas dates the first building on its site from around 1170, and the building was in its present form by the mid Fourteenth century. The parish is in the Diocese of Guildford.

There is a Roman Catholic church (in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundel & Brighton) and churches of the Protestant denominations.


Situated in the Weald, a forested area not densely populated until the Nineteenth century, Cranleigh has little of prehistoric or Roman interest. A spur of the Roman road between London and Chichester runs north west to Guildford past nearby Farley Heath[?], a temple site.

The village goes without a mention in the Domesday Book of 1085, although a population must have existed a century later large enough to warrant the building of the church. In common with other parts of the Weald, the forests supplied the timber which fuelled the ironworking which, apart from peasant agriculture, was the only employment.

Any growth could only come by improvements in transport; in 1813 the Wey and Arun canal[?] was authorised, passing a few miles to the west of the village. This route linked London (via the Thames and the Wey with Littlehampton (via the Arun[?]). However, the canal traffic was completely eclipsed by the railway in 1865, and the canal fell into disuse. A turnpike road was also built between Guildford and Horsham, the opening of which is commemorated by an obelisk near the church.

This growth in transportation provided the initial stimulus for the typical Surrey village pattern of commuting, followed by the growth of a local service sector, except that Cranleigh was big enough to generate a good deal of employment itself.

More Information

  • See Cranleigh: A History of Wealden Settlement by Christopher Budgen ISBN 0953308804

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