Culture and the Arts
Dorking and the Surrey Hills are rooted in an arts and cultural tradition that goes back several generations. The 17th century is associated with the literary figures of John Evelyn of Wotton and Daniel Defoe. The 17th century is dominated by Richard Sheridan of Polesden Lacey and Fanny Burney of Mickleham. But it was in the 19th century that local artistic traditions met their zenith. The great novelists of Charles Dicken, and Jane Austen visited the Surrey Hills and it influenced their writings. Queen Victoria's favourite poet, George Meredith, lived under the shadow of Box Hill.
The 20th century is not devoid of great artistic figures. E. M. Forster wrote affectionately of the Surrey Hills in his novel 'A Room With A View':
'in the Surrey hills. About 5 miles from Dorking looking over the Weald. Miss Lavish seemed interested and slackened her trot. 'What a delightful part; I know it so well. It is full of the very nicest people'.
Musically, Dorking provided a physical and spiritual home for one of the greatest of 20th century composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Perhaps it is these traditions that explain why a modest sized town so close to London has such a rich and varied cultural life today. Music, literature and the visual arts are celebrated in festivals, concerts and exhibitions throughout the year. There is plenty from which the visitor can choose. The pages in this part of the web site give a flavour of what is on offer.