Stoneleigh is a small-to-medium-sized suburb of south-westLondon, occupying most of the northern part of the borough ofEpsom and Ewell in Surrey, England, with a population of almost 9,000 residents. It is situated 11 miles (18 km) from the centre of London with a few streets in the London Borough of Sutton.[n 1] In the traditional parish system it was part of Ewell and Cuddingtonuntil the building of its church, St John's the Baptist, in 1939.
Stoneleigh, retaining small parks, playing fields and playgrounds, was extensively developed from fields into a low rise network of homes in the 1930s, spurred by the building of its railway stationand most of the houses are semi-detached. Stoneleigh has the central amenities of the station and Stoneleigh Broadway being its high street with a post office and some chains of retailers. Its area, in the angle between the A240 and the A24, compromises the wards of Stoneleigh and Auriol and a nominal part of the Ewell Court ward of Ewell.
1805 map of the area. Stoneleigh is now around "Cold Harbour" and "Sparrow" farms (just left of centre).
The Roman road Stane Street passed along the eastern boundary of what is now Stoneleigh (the modern day London Road/A24) on its way from London to Chichester via the nearby spring at Ewell. In the 17th century, the area where Stoneleigh now lies was part of the Great Park ofNonsuch Palace. In 1731 the Nonsuch estate was sold off and the Great Park, by then known as Worcester Park was divided up and turned into farmland.
Bowling Green and Coldharbour farms in the north of the park were run jointly and in 1860 were acquired by John Jeffries Stone. He had a large house he called 'Stoneleigh', close to the Bowling Green Farmhouse, which gave its name to the district.
In 1859 the London and South Western Railway opened the Wimbledon and Epsom Line, passing through Stoneleigh, although no commuter station was opened for a further 60 years. Farming was at its peak at the start of the 20th century when there were nearly twenty farms, but the number reduced rapidly after the First World War, as there was great demand for housing it became profitable to sell off the farmland for development.
Between the world wars, demand for houses on commuter routes into London meant the area grew rapidly. Maps from 1931 show the land was mainly "Meadowland and Permanent Grass" with patches of "Forest and Woodland" and "Heathland, Moorland, Commons and rough pasture".Stoneleigh railway station was opened in 1932 and the residential areas in Stoneleigh were developed around it during the remainder of the 1930s. The first parade of shops on Stoneleigh Broadway opened in November 1933 and the Stoneleigh Hotel, now a pub, opened in November 1935.
Stoneleigh railway station was originally to be named 'Stoneleigh Park' to denote that it was an area of market gardening, but this did not happen, probably due to the next three stations on the line north all being called 'Park' (Worcester Park, Motspur Park andRaynes Park). In 1938 the Rembrandt cinema was opened, next to the railway line on the Kingston Road and operated for 60 years until its closure in April 1998. It was subsequently demolished and replaced by flats.
The postal system along the London border here respects very inaccurately parish borders, which are of enduring relevance ecclesiastically in the Church of England but of little secular relevance given the demise of the vestries, groups of parishioners who would determine most local services from roads and education to poor relief. The red-brick Anglican church of St John the Baptist, next to the station, was built in 1939.
From 1847 until c.1939 many commuter homes to London and Kingston were being built in Stoneleigh Park, on market gardens and small farms, occupying what was the northern part of the parish of Ewell and part ofCuddington (which contributed most of adjoining Worcester Park), economically accompanied by in parts of the Ewell parish by "extensive brick, tile, and pottery works, called the Nonsuch Works, and two flour mills worked by water and steam".
Stoneleigh comprises the residential areas either side of the Mole Valley Line including Stoneleigh Broadway towards its midpoint which is centred 2.8 miles (4.5 km) from Epsom town centre. The suburb has no high risebuildings. It contains or borders two mostly dual carriageway A-roads; the northeast side of the A240 Kingston Road and Ewell Bypass in the Ewell Court, Auriol and Stoneleigh wards, and the A24 from near the Organ Crossroads to the traffic lights with Sparrow Farm Road, via a hill beside Nonsuch Park with two entrances to the park near where Stane Street used to be.
Stoneleigh's traditional bounds were much smaller but it has become associated with an area extending as far as the Kingston Road (A240) in the west to the south, The Organ Crossroads to the south, the A24 by Nonsuch Park in the south to east, Sparrow Farm Road to the northeast, Timbercroft and Auriol Park to the northwest. Auriol Park, for example is in the Auriol Ward but is in the KT4 Worcester Park post town. The area of the Ewell Court Ward east of Kingston road in the KT19 postcode is considered to be in Stoneleigh.
Stoneleigh has one main shopping and eating/drinking out area: The Broadway. It is about 260 metres in length and has around 40 retail units including some chains and restaurants as well as a post office and two pubs. The biggest shops are Budgens on the north side of the Broadway as well as Co-Op and chemist on the south side. Also on the north side of The Broadway is Stoneleigh Library, which opened in 1966. It was set to be replaced by the volunteer-run Stoneleigh Community Library from 19 March 2012, delayed by legal challenges, until the volunteers took over in February 2013. Stoneleigh does not have any banks, but it also contains several smaller parades of shops:
The Organ Inn was a landmark pub located on the southern boundary junction of Stoneleigh where the A24, A240 and B2200 intersect. It opened in the 1780s as the drinking place of workmen who fitted the Father Willis organ in St Mary’s Church in Ewell. It was later converted into a bar/restaurant, firstly under the name of Jim Thompsons and finally as The Organ and Dragon. The pub closed on 18 July 2012 after around 230 years of business and the building was demolished in June 2014.
In August 2012, global fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken bought the site and applied for planning permission to convert the former pub into a restaurant. Many locals, led by the Stoneleigh and Auriol Residents Association, were unhappy at KFC's application and a Facebook campaign group called No to KFC at site of Organ and Dragon gained over 650 "Likes". Epsom & Ewell Borough Council refused the application in December 2012 as well as the revised plans in March 2013.
In a September 2013 statement, a KFC spokesman said, "We are obviously disappointed that our appeal for theOrgan and Dragon site has not been successful as we believe that the restaurant would be a positive addition to the community in Ewell." The inspector, Angela Fairclough, concluded that the scheme would "not harm the living conditions of neighbours and residents nearby in terms of issues they had raised, including noise, disturbance, litter or antisocial behaviour," but she raised concerns regarding the anticipated increase in traffic, saying that the proposal would "significantly exacerbate the existing significant queuing problems"
In February 2014, supermarket chain Lidl bought the defunct site from KFC. Lidl's aim is to create a larger site for their proposed store and have approached two homeowners in Elmwood Drive, in a bid to buy their land, as well as some houses in London Road. Residents in Elmwood Drive have refused to sell and say they are "confused and irritated" at the lack of information about Lidl's plans and that 10% above the asking price is not enough
At the time of the 2001 Census Stoneleigh Ward had a population of 4,700,an increase of 3.6% from 1991, with 2,378 females and 2,322 males. Auriol Ward is the smallest in the Borough with a population of 3,687 in the 2001 Census,a decrease of 19% from 1991, with 1,858 females and 1,829 males. This decrease in population is because of the area lost to the Ewell Court ward, where the population increased by 19%.
Playwright John Osborne lived at 68 Stoneleigh Park Road. His grandparents lived at the end of Clandon Close. He recounts extensively his experiences as an adolescent living in 1930s and 1940s Stoneleigh and Ewell in his 1981 autobiography, A Better Class Of Person.
Writer Jane Wilson-Howarth spent her childhood and began her education in Stoneleigh.