The large proportion of “outsiders” to Dorking is explained largely by the town’s proximity to London. Men and women already eminent in their own fields often had the means to live some distance from the capital. Before the 18th century the literati choose to live in rural retreats in places such as Betchworth, Leith Hill and Westcott. Sheridan in 1797 thought the area “The nicest place, within a prudent distance of a town, in England.”
Improvements in communications in the last century led to a rapid growth in both permanent and summer residences in the area.