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Visiting the Old Town Hall, Reigate, Surrey, England: former market town municipal building dating from 1728/29

Updated on September 10, 2013
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Old Town Hall, Market Square, Reigate
Old Town Hall, Market Square, Reigate | Source
Old Town Hall, Reigate
Old Town Hall, Reigate | Source
Reigate Town Centre; features visible include the clock tower of the Old Town Hall, and Box Hill in the North Downs
Reigate Town Centre; features visible include the clock tower of the Old Town Hall, and Box Hill in the North Downs | Source

Small and sedate, with some centuries of memories

This fine, small, two storey building, located in the Market Place at Reigate, in England's county of Surrey, formerly served as the town's municipal headquarters and is known as the Old Town Hall, having given place in its previous function to new buildings in 1901.

The Old Town Hall, executed in brick, was built in 1728/29. While not particularly large, it is still a dominant landmark in the Downtown area of Reigate, partly because of its detached situation in the Market Place and partly also because of its conspicous cupola and clock, dating from 1811, which can be seen from surrounding, higher ground at a distance. The third photo (right, below) shows a vista of the town, in which, on a close look, the white cupola of the Old Town Hall can be seen in the centre of the photo (as can Box Hill, a regional landmark and among the highest points in south-east England).

An unusual feature of the building is the conical shape of the western side of the building, which in its other three side is rectangular. The conical shape of the western side links stylistically with the Syrian arching which recurs around the building: in places above the lower storey windows, but also in the archways on the eastern side of the structure.

In the past, the Old Town Hall was also used variously as a market hall and as a courthouse. During the 20th century it continued to be used by the local council for various purposes, including exhibitions, but it has more recently passed into private business use, albeit governed still by preservation regulations. The building has undergone a program of restoration.

The town forms part of the Borough of Reigate and Banstead. While the Bandstead end of the Borought is virtually part of Greater London, yet Reigate itself has preserved a county, small town feel to it, evoking a time two or three centuries ago when London was a relatively distant Metropolis.

September 11, 2013

Map location of Reigate, Surrey
Map location of Reigate, Surrey | Source

Also worth seeing

In Reigate itself, its Castle ruins, dating from the 11th century, stand in the aptly named Castle Grounds near the High Street; nearby Box Hill (see also above) is a much visited local landmark.

Mickleham (distance: 16 kilometres) has an old parish church in the churchyard in which is situated the grave site of Canadian Prime Minister Richard Bennett ('Viscount Bennett of Mickleham in the County of Surrey and of Hopewell and Calgary in the Dominion of Canada', 1870-1947)

How to get there : Various airlines fly from New York airports and other North American destinations to London Gatwick Airport, where car rental is available. Distance from Gatwick Airport to Reigate is 10 kilometres. (Please note that, while Reigate is considerably nearer to London Gatwick than to London Heathrow, many of the major North American airlines tend to seek prime slots at London Heathrow.) Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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