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In addition to the local services, our Living In Cranleigh guide will give you a sense of what life is like in the area – its history, its culture and its recreational activities.
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What Is Life Like In Cranleigh?
In the heart of Sussex Weald, between Guildford and Horsham, lies the bustling village of Cranleigh. Self-proclaimed as ‘England’s largest village’, Cranleigh has retained its charming character amidst phenomenal growth over the last three decades.
Cranleigh’s population of over 11,000 and prosperous business community have made it a regional hotspot and a retail centre for surrounding smaller villages, such as Alfold, Bramley and Ewhurst. Potential plans to build hundreds of new homes in the area mean that the village’s residential options are also increasing. With a rich history, frequent cultural events, excellent schools and a wealth of English countryside to explore, Cranleigh has something for everyone.
History Of Cranleigh
Cranleigh is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, but the parish church of Cranleigh, St. Nicolas, was first built in 1170, indicating a sizable population even at that time. Traces of Roman roads have also been found in the village, suggesting a longer history. The village is part of the Weald (Old English for ‘woodland’), an area encompassing parts of Sussex, Hampshire, Kent and Surrey that was originally covered in forest. Typical of villages in the Weald, timber was plentiful and fuelled the ironwork trade.
In later years, Cranleigh became more known for hawking and hunting. The village transformed with the arrival of the railway in 1865, which boosted local trade and nearly doubled the village’s population by the end of the 19th century. This created such a large volume of post that the village’s name was re-spelt from Cranley to Cranleigh to avoid confusion with the nearby town of Crawley.
The name Cranleigh is commonly thought to be a combination of ‘cran’, referring to the historical presence of plentiful local crane breeding grounds, and ‘legh’, an Old Saxon word for a clearing in the woods.
Days Out In Cranleigh
Cranleigh is full of great options for a fun day out. Antique and collectors’ shows are frequent and the year is full of festive events, including Spring into Cranleigh, Cranleigh Carnival and the Cranleigh Bonfire. The annual Cranleigh Show is one of the village’s most popular events, with usually over 10,000 people attending. It’s a showcase for the agricultural and farming talent in the area, with livestock competitions, motorcycle stunts and equine events. Wings & Wheels, a motoring and air show, takes place every August. The UK’s premiere medieval festival, the Loxwood Joust, is only 15 minutes’ drive away and makes a wonderful day trip.
Cranleigh Arts Centre is a small but well-curated venue, offering year-round music, comedy, theatre, dance and cinema events. It also hosts an annual Food and Music Festival and offers weekly yoga classes. Cranleigh’s countryside location also means that it has lots of opportunities for outdoor activities. The village has several well-known cycling routes leading through beautiful greenery and there are lovely walking paths and picnic spots available.
Things To Do In Cranleigh
Part of Cranleigh’s charm is that it manages to retain the village feel despite its growth. This is evident on the high street, where shop fronts still have individual character whether they’re local brands or multinational chains. The street’s architecture ranges from 16th century half-timbered buildings to much more modern ones, but nothing looks out of place. The Co-op, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s all have supermarkets here. Boots and WH Smith have shops as well, and there are five national bank branches. Amidst it all, there are local businesses like bakeries, butchers, and hairdressers, many of which have been around for generations. There is also a farmer’s market on the first Friday of every month.
Chain restaurants are available, including Subway and Pizza Express, as well as a wealth of delicious local restaurants. Highlights include One Forty Café, Truffles Bakery and Tearoom, The Three Horseshoes Pub, Cromwell Coffee House, Restaurant 107 and Rania Indian Restaurant.
The Cranleigh Library is open Tuesday to Saturday and provides a host of community events in addition to books and DVDs. For sports lovers, there are many local clubs covering sports from angling and karate to badminton and netball. There is also a football club, Cranleigh F.C that plays in the Surrey Elite West Division. Cranleigh Leisure Centre is open seven days a week and offers a pool, a full gym and many fitness classes.
Schools In Cranleigh
Cranleigh offers several exceptional schools and educational facilities.
Pre-schools and nurseries include:
- Knowle Nursery School
- The Acorn Nursery School
- Cranleigh Pre-school
- Cranleigh Nursery School
- Duke of Kent Nursery
Primary schools include:
- Cranleigh C of E Primary School
- Park Mead Primary School
- St Cuthbert Mayne Catholic Primary School
Secondary schools include:
- Glebelands Secondary School
- Cranleigh School
Transport In Cranleigh
Cranleigh is connected to nearby towns and major cities via a network of transport links.
Cranleigh does not have its own train station, but is served by several nearby ones: Chilworth Railway Station, Gomshall Railway Station and Shalford Railway Station in Guilford (all within 6 miles), Ockley Railway Station in Dorking and Farncombe Railway Station in Godalming (both about 6.5 miles away).
Buses and coaches
Cranleigh is on several bus routes, connecting it to Guildford, Horsham, Godalming and Ewhurst. The main operator is Arriva. Private coaches can be hired from local companies, Dorking Coaches and Gastonia Coaches.
Gatwick Airport is the nearest international airport, about 24 miles away and Heathrow Airport is 29 miles away. Blackbushe Airport and Redhill Aerodrome are nearby, providing service for chartered and private flights.
Cranleigh is located to the east of the A281, between Guildford and Horsham.