The origin of the name Reigate is uncertain, but appears to derive from Roe-deer Gate, as the town was situated near to the entrance to the de Warenne’s deer park.
The medieval town is centred on a north—south road of some antiquity as it incorporates the pre-Conquest road pattern. The story of the Pilgrim’s Way passing through Reigate is a myth, although in the 13th century a chapel to St Thomas was built in the town centre for use by Canterbury pilgrims.
Areas of the town have been the subject of extensive archaeological investigation. Bell Street was certainly in existence by the middle of the 12th century and Mesolithic implements have been found here. Much of High Street is of slightly later date, although there appear to have been buildings along its south side, near to the junction with Bell Street, by the 13th century at the latest. The market place was originally around Slipshoe Street, at the junction of West Street, but infilled houses encroached on it and it had been moved to the east end of the High Street by the end of the 16th century. Many of the finds from the excavations are held in the museum of the Holmesdale Natural History Club in Croydon Road.
Present & Future
Prosecco, paintings and antiques will be on offer alongside fruit, flowers and a smattering of exotic food, when Reigate‘s new market opens at the end of May.
Reigate Artisan Food & Craft Market will open in Tunnel Road on Saturday, May 26 from 10am to 6pm and run for an initial trial period of four weeks.
A far cry from the medieval market that once served the town, the modern version will feature a Prosecco bar and seating area for 40 people. Jerk chicken, Vietnamese food and Brazilian sweets are among the fare on offer.
The market currently has 20 stalls signed up but the operators believe it could blossom into a permanent 100-stall success story and there are big hopes and plans – including adding Sundays and operating a ‘twilight’ shift on Fridays, staying open late into the evening.
Director Danny Watson said the two towns will offer different things.
“It [the Reigate market] won’t be a market where you can buy mobile phone covers or bin liners or a suitcase for £5,” he said. “It’s going to be more home furnishings and street food. We are going to have a Prosecco bar and jazz on the opening day.
“We do want to make sure it is more of a high-end market. In Redhill, you have got smoking accessories which is not great, but it’s something we inherited. You won’t get any of that down there [in Reigate].”
The operator is investing a lot in plans for the town, with 9,000 fliers set to be sent out over the next week.
“I ran Kingston market a year or so ago,” said Mr Watson. “That was a market that was really failing. Now you have got a lot of high-end street food there, lots of tables and chairs, and before you know it, you’ve created a buzz, a meeting point, a destination.”