Ewhurst History Society

About Ewhurst

Ewhurst is a village about 35 miles south west of London on the Surrey Sussex border. Close by is the larger village of Cranleigh and the nearest towns of Guildford, Dorking and Horsham, are each about 10 miles away.

The parish of Ewhurst, like many in the southern part of Surrey, is long and thin, stretching some six miles from Pitch Hill in the north to the hamlet of Ellen's Green on the Sussex border in the south, but is less than two miles from east to west and covers an area of approximately 5,400 acres . Above the village Pitch Hill stands out from the Greensand escarpment with commanding views over the Weald to the South Downs. Extending northwards is the Hurtwood, a large area of woodland and common land forming part of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Much of the parish, however, is on the Weald Clay, which in ancient times was a vast forest and is still one of the most densely wooded areas of Britain.

The name Ewhurst* derives from the Old English 'hyrst', meaning 'wooded-hill', and 'iw' meaning 'yew tree'. In the Natural History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey published in 1719 the antiquarian, John Aubrey notes "the vast quantities of yew trees that formerly abounded here". The first recorded spelling is "Iuherst" in 1179. However, the name is also popularly (but incorrectly) believed to have derived from the word ewe, for a female sheep and the village sign shows a both a ewe-sheep and a yew tree.  The sign was erected to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and also incorporates the Royal Insignia and the date 1953.

*There are two other villages called Ewhurst – one in East Sussex near Bodiam (church - St James) and one near Basingstoke in Hampshire (church - St Mary the Virgin). There is also a Ewhurst Manor in the parish of Coneyhurst, West Sussex, which is particularly confusing as there is a Coneyhurst Manor in the parish of Ewhurst, Surrey.