There has been settlement in Ashtead since at least Roman times, with a Roman villa excavated in what is now Ashtead common. Ashtead within a few hundred years of the foundations of Anglo-Saxon England lay within the Copthorne hundred.
Ashtead appears in the Domesday Book as Stede. It was held by the Canons of Bayeux from the Bishop of Bayeux. Its Domesday Assets were: 3 hides and 1 virgate; 16 ploughs, 4 acres (1.6 ha) of meadow, woodland worth 7 hogs. Its people rendered £12 in total to its feudal system overlords per year. Its main source of water at the time seems to have been the Rye.
St Giles Church in Ashtead Park dates from the 12th century, and Ashtead is mentioned twice in Samuel Pepys' diaries. Part of his entry for 25 July 1663 reads:
Towards the evening we bade them adieu and took horse, being resolved that, instead of the race which fails us, we would go to Epsom When we come there we could hear of no lodging, the town so full, but which was better, I went towards Ashsted, and there we got a lodging in a little hole we could not stand upright in While supper was getting I walked up and down behind my cosen [cousin] Pepys's house that was, which I find comes little short of what I took it to be when I was a little boy.
Even after the Victorian general harmonisation of spelling, accelerated by the mass distribution of the maps and the printed press, the name of the village has at times been spelt differently with its most lasting variants being "Ashsted" and "Ashtead". The suffix '-stead' also written '-sted' is used to form the meaning behind and pronunciation of the place name, as in Sanderstead, Bearsted, Oxted and East Grinstead, and following the spelling of Oxted has settled on minimal instances of 's', it being deemed implicit in English place name pronunciation. However, while it may have been implicit in 1967, as with Cheshunt and Wrotham it is an example of a London satellite area with slightly counterintuitive pronunciation. 'Stede' is the earliest spelling, without any first syllable, from the 11th century, see the Domesday Book above.
Elevations range from the south west crest of the village at 100m AOD (above mean sea level) to 45m AOD at the Leatherhead border outflow of The Rye that rises at a pond at Little Park Farm, Farm Lane, Ashtead. The Rye forms Ashtead's eastern border then turns west, so forms a half-square around the village.
Marked on Ordnance Survey maps are three of the four named neighbourhoods of Ashtead: Lower Ashtead, rural Ashtead Common and Ashtead Park. At its centre is the most historic part architecturally with many listed buildings, along Rectory Lane and the slightly bendy thoroughfare, The Street.
The fourth area is Ashtead Village which is contiguous with the rest but at its heart. This is the oldest part of Ashtead and has the main shopping and social area of the village, with two pubs and the Ashtead Village Club which is a C&IU affiliate. It has a small southern conservation area, however outside of this has eight listed brick buildings, each more than two centuries old, including the Old Rectory which has been subdivided (built 1777) and so too has Ashtead Lodge (built 1765 – divided into five) Forge Cottage with Wisteria Cottage here are dated to approximately the 17th century and are also Grade II listed.
The area north of the railway line is Ashtead Common, managed by the City of London Corporation subject to a long-standing preservation order, and is a national nature reserve.
Lower Ashtead is a relatively flat area leading to Ashtead Common that has a recreation ground, a youth club and skate park, a pub, and a number of shops all built near the preserved large square of wood in front of the railway station.
Ashtead Park contains three large listed buildings and four lakes/ponds.St Georges Church, Ashtead – Anglican Church. Also known as 'St Georges Christian Centre' which includes a Café.
St Giles Church, Ashtead – Anglican Church.
St Michael's Catholic Church, Ashtead
Ashtead Baptist Church
Ashtead Pottery was produced in the village from 1923 until the company ceased trading in 1935.
The construction company Longcross has its head office in Ashtead.
The Ashtead Residents' Association founded in 1945 aims to represent the views of all who live in Ashtead through a network of 142 Road Stewards and regular meetings.
Ashtead Players, established for over 50 years, has two distinct elements:
- Adult Ashtead Players, presenting a range of popular theatrical productions.
- Young Ashtead Players (12–18 years), offering a real performance experience for younger members.
1st Ashtead Scout Group was incorporated on 21 June 1920 and is still offering adventurous and educational programmes to young people between the ages of 6 and 18. It has its own headquarters in Lower Ashtead near Ashtead Common. The group has over 250 members including young people, adult leaders and supporters.
The Ashtead Psalms were commissioned by Ashtead Choral Society to mark their fiftieth anniversary in the year 2000 from composer Robert Steadman.
In 1887 Ashtead Cricket Club was founded and since then they have progressed into the Premier league of the Surrey Championship.
The Old Freemen's Cricket Club also play cricket in Ashtead, with home fixtures split between the grounds of the City of London Freemen's School in Ashtead Park and at Headley Cricket Club http://www.oldfreemenscricket.co.uk to work around term time use by the School.
Ashtead Football Club's ground is at The Recreation Ground along the high street, next to Ashtead Youth Centre.
In terms of Rugby Union, rugby has been played in Ashtead Park since 1930 as the home of the Old Freemen's RFC http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/oldfreemens/ former pupils of the City of London Freemen's School make up a large percentage of the player base, but parents, staff and guests are welcome – OFRFC have won numerous cups and division titles over the last 30 years and play in the Surrey league and conference. They train on a Tuesday night from 7:30pm in Ashtead Park and also run a touch rugby session open to all on Thursdays at 7:30pm. In addition there are six other clubs that are between five and ten miles away, the senior level local ones being Esher RFC and Dorking RFC.
Hockey – The Old Freemen's Ladies play on the astro-turf in Ashtead Park every Saturday, with training in Clapham. http://www.ofhc.co.uk/
Ashtead Golf Club (now defunct) first appeared in the late 1890s. The club had ceased to exist by 1904/5.Footpaths and Cycle Routes
A footpath from the centre of the village leads to a hilltop intersection of paths along Pebble Lane/Stane Street south of the village. From here accessible from two routes south is the North Downs Way that spans the Mole Gap to Reigate Escarpment SSSI and Box Hill to the south of the village, which can also be accessed via Leatherhead and part of the Mole Gap Trail – which in turn provides cycle and access by foot to a scenic north-south route from Leatherhead to Dorking and beyond. A new Cycleway has been built alongside the A24 between Ashtead and Leatherhead.
Ashtead's schools include:Barnett Wood Infant School
City of London Freemen's School – associated with City of London Corporation
St. Giles' (Church of England) Infant School
The Greville Primary School
West Ashtead Primary School
Ashtead Lodge Division
Parsons Mead School was a former school in the village.
Ashtead has a small modern railway station with direct services to London Waterloo, London Victoria, Clapham Junction, Wimbledon, Sutton, Epsom, Dorking, Guildford and Horsham. It is served by both Southern and South West Trains services. Construction of a new station building began in November 2012 and the new station building has now opened to business. A number of other jobs are still required to be finished to complete the project. In total £2m will have been spent on upgrading the station. This is now the third station building that Ashtead Station has had since the railways arrived.
The London to Worthing road, the A24, runs through the village.
The average level of accommodation in the region composed of detached houses was 28%, the average that was apartments was 22.6%.
The proportion of households who owned their home outright compares to the regional average of 35.1%. The proportion who owned their home with a loan compares to the regional average of 32.5%. The remaining % is made up of rented dwellings (plus a negligible % of households living rent-free).
Ashtead is served by these emergency services:Surrey Police
South East Coast Ambulance Service
Surrey Fire & Rescue Service
Ashtead Hospital, a small private hospital run by Ramsay Health Care UK with no A&E department. The nearest general hospital with an A&E department is in Epsom.
Evan Davis, presenter of Dragons' Den
Samuel Pepys, visited Ashtead in the 17th century and spent some time living there as a boy.
Alec Stewart, the former England cricketer and wicketkeeper lives in the village.
Sara Jeannette Duncan (Mrs Everard Cotes)