Box Hill, Surrey

Box Hill, Surrey

Infobox Mountain
Name = Box Hill
Photo = Boxhill_surrey_viewfromtop.jpg
Caption = View from the summit of Box Hill
Elevation = 172 metres (564 ft)
Location = North Downs, England
Range =
Prominence = "c." 0 m
Coordinates = coord|51|15|18|N|0|18|31|W|
OS "Landranger" 187
Type =
Age =
Last eruption =
First ascent =
Easiest route =
Grid_ref_UK = TQ179511
Grid_ref_Ireland =
Listing = ("none")
Translation =
Language =
Pronunciation =

Box Hill is a well known beauty spot in the North Downs of Surrey, England, close to the southern outskirts of London, overlooking Dorking to the south-west. There is a small village of the same name about 1.5 km to the east. Confusingly, Box Hill School is located in the village of Mickleham about 1.5 km to the north, and is between the towns of Dorking and Leatherhead.

The hill is named after the box trees which can be found on its steep southern and western flanks, notably around the "Whites", chalk cliffs cut by the River Mole.

Geography and environment

The Box Hill site occupies approximately 490 hectares of wooded downland. ["Welcome To Box Hill", National Trust pamphlet, 2008] It is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, affording it a level of legislative protection against planning applications. The chalk downland environment supports a number of notable populations of bats, lepidoptera, orchids and its namesake the box tree. [ [ Box Hill Community Website] accessed 4th February 2008]

Public access

Box Hill was given to the nation by Leopold Salomons in 1914.

A country park, owned by the National Trust, now provides for public access to Box Hill, and the Pilgrims' Way long distance footpath runs about 1 km to the south.

At the "top" of the hill there is a car park and viewpoint, from where the entire town of Dorking can be viewed. However, this location is not actually the true summit of the hill. To the east, the ridge ascends, and most of the village of Box Hill is higher, at an altitude of around 200 m. The Ordnance Survey mark a spot height of 224 m at the radio mast at oscoor|TQ20405175|TQ20405175.

Box Hill is served by local and London bus routes [ "Getting there"] from The National Trust website. Accessed 12 February 2008] providing access to both the visitor centre [ [ Surrey County Council — 516 bus timetable via Box Hill visitor centre] ] and the foot of the hill [ [ Surrey County Council — 465 bus timetable via foot of Box Hill] ] where there exists another car park (adjoining Rykers Cafe) that is frequented by motorcyclists.

The route to the top car park from the A24, known as the Zig Zag Road, is very narrow and is a popular test of fitness by road cyclists, and occasionally causes congestion if cars cannot pass. There is another small car park half way up this, with room for only around 10 cars.

Notable sights

A Major Peter Labellière is buried on the hill just west of the viewpoint at Burford slope. He was buried (on July 11 1800) head downwards, and according to some sources he reasoned for this by saying "the world is topsy turvy, and I'll be the right way in the end"; other sources indicate that he merely wished to emulate the example of St. Peter, who was apocryphally (in the Acts of Peter) crucified upside down. [ [ Box Hill, Surrey sur Flickr : partage de photos ! ] ]

John Logie Baird, the inventor of the first working television system, conducted some of his experiments on Box Hill, [ [ National Trust | South East | Box Hill & Headley Heath ] ] including his Noctovisor, [ [ Baird ] ] an infra-red viewing device.

References in literature and music

An important passage of Jane Austen's novel "Emma" is set at Box Hill.

In "England: A Nation", (London: R. Brimley Johnson, 1904), edited by Lucian Oldershaw, and in a chapter entitled "The Patriotic Idea" written by G. K. Chesterton, the beauty of Box Hill violated by an invading army is used to express a healthy patriot's love for his nation is opposed to the jingoistic nationalism of tabloid newspapers: "But just as a man who has been in love will find it difficult to write a whole frantic epic about a flirtation, so all that kind of rhetoric about the Union Jack and the Anglo-Saxon blood, which has made amusing the journalism of this country for the last six years, will be merely impossible to the man who has for one moment called up before himself what would be the real sensation of hearing that a foreign army was encamped on Box Hill."

British biker rock band, Dumpy's Rusty Nuts, released a single called 'Boxhill or Bust' in the early 1980s. The song is something of a cult anthem for bikers, and reflects the popularity of Box Hill amongst the biking community.

Musician Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl wrote a song called "On Box Hill", released as B side of the single "Some Things Don't Matter" (Cherry Red Records) in 1983. This song about a sunny day on Box Hill also appears on his debut album "North Marine Drive".

In Richard Thompson's song "1952 Vincent Black Lightning", Box Hill is the location to which James and Red Molly ride on James' motorcycle.


External links

* [ Box Hill information at the National Trust]
* [ Photograph showing the upside down burial on Box Hill]
* [ Article by Robert Greenham about George Meredith and his home on Box Hill, with reference to his friendship with J. M. Barrie]

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