Dorking in the Great War


A town in time of war

Dorking in the Great War is the story of life on the home front in a typical English market town and its surrounding villages. It follows the people of Dorking from the run up to war in 1913/14, enjoying their village shows, garden parties and women's suffrage debates, through recruitment and enlistment parades, to the installation of memorials in churches, schools and on village greens. It tells the stories of individuals who played a significant part in the war, or who were in themselves significant - like the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, the millionaire Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, and the boy soldier, Valentine 'Joe' Strudwick - and of the experiences of those left behind, the women working in gunpowder factories and at railway stations, the teachers struggling to run schools in the face of freezing conditions and mass sickness, and children out picking conkers for the war effort, as well as of the outsiders who found themselves in a small Surrey town: Belgian refugees, billeted troops and East End refugees from zeppelin raids.

It was a time of loss, shortage, hunger and hardship; of communities working together to preserve their traditional way of life in the face of threatened invasion. But it was also a time of great change. Influxes of refugees and troops brought contact with new people and new ideas. Social attitudes changed as women stepped into more public roles. The influence of the great estates that surrounded the town declined as their wealthy owners lost their heirs as well as their staff. Some refused coercion to enlist; others, like the Pethick-Lawrences of Holmwood, questioned the war and campaigned for peace. The book follows the stories of the people of Dorking and the villages as they went to the front, contributed to the war effort, campaigned for peace, or simply struggled to survive these momentous years.

Fully illustrated with pictures, newspaper cuttings, adverts and memorabilia from the years 1914-1919 and beyond and based on original research in parish, council, and school records, newspapers and society logs, diaries and letters.

Published by Pen & Sword

ISBN 978-1-47382-552-9 Published 2014 192 pages; fully illustrated; £8

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