When highwaymen and smugglers prowled the roads - Dorking's fascinating history of crime; Here's a little something for you history nuts about the smugglers and highwaymen of Mole Valley's past.
Mole Valley might look nice now but 200 years ago it was host to one of the most dangerous areas in the country - Holmwood Common.
It was not just highwaymen operating against the law along the toll road built in 1755.
Once againwe have teamed up with Dorking museum's Kathy Arthurton to stand and deliver a little local nostalgia.
The locals at the time were not exactly squeaky clean either.
Smugglers were known to lurk around the areas off the main highway, using the small country roads around Dorking and Holmwood to dodge the authorities as they brought in goods from the coast toward London.
Many locals at the time did quite well hiding contraband for these men and women, who would give them a decent tip for their help.
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The problem being that the better the smuggler, the less likely anyone is to know what you're up to, so the history books are a little thin on the ground on stories about those involved in the trade.
Local historian Kathy Arthurton said: "There is lots of anecdotal evidence linking that inn to smuggling in the memories of people who were writing in the 19th century, including excise officials being attacked there."
"The trouble with smuggling is that in terms of evidence, we are reliant on hearsay for the most part, as if smugglers were successful they never came to trial or entered the official record," she said.
"But local memory would seem to suggest that contraband material did come up from the coast, on the way to London, and those bringing it would want to avoid the main roads where they night be intercepted at toll gates and so on, so they would have used out of the way tracks, farms and barns.
"It has been speculated that the Tilt family in Holmwood had a number of isolated houses in the area and left a suspiciously large amount of money for lowly farmers, so might have been engaged in the trade."
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These romanticised road-pirates terrorised travellers on the road to London.
According to the history of the Holly & Laurel onits website: "Even after a toll road was built in 1755, linking Horsham and Dorking and increasing the level of policing in the area, this criminal behaviour continued although it is known that with the presence of so many highwaymen in the area, they were often disappointed, more likely to chance upon a fellow criminal than a traveller with gold in his pocket."
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This left the humble locals leaving home with pistols loaded as they went about their business. Petty theft was rife and the law was scarce as highwaymen roamed as far north as Leatherhead.
Kathy said: "Surrey History Centre have the log books of the Dorking's first police constable in the early 1840s and his records for Holmwood show a litany of petty thefts, arson attempts, fights at places like the Norfolk Arms etc. So altogether these roadside inns were not pleasant places."
"It is certain that the area south of Dorking was regarded as pretty lawless until the mid 19th century - the post coach did not leave Dorking without pistols loaded and people feared theft of and from their cases and trunks on the back of coaches," she said.
"Petty theft at local inns or from coaches and armed robbery were not unusual. In fact pretty much anything left on Holmwood Common at this time was liable to go missing - horses, geese, ducks, whatever.
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"As shown by the records of the Beare Green Prosecuting Society which raised funds to prosecute these people in the days before a police force and where individuals had to pay prosecution costs."
Kathy has debunked the rumour that there was a nearby gallows to dispatch these robbers.
She said: "There was briefly a gallows just outside Dorking on Coldharbour lane but that was much earlier - in the 17th century - and only in use when the travelling assizes came to town, and criminals tried there had not necessarily committed crimes locally nor were local.
"But there was never any gallows on the road out towards Holmwood."
Either way we're glad that all the riff-raff have been cleared up.
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Credit: Kathy Arthurton
A flyer for a wagon business which travelled from Dorking and the villages up to London in the early 1800's
Credit: Original Artwork: After S C Walker (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A highwayman holding up a man for his money on the King's Highway
Credit: Kathy Arthurton
A flyer relating to an incident between Dorking and Leatherhead in 1827