Independent spirit

You might have heard it before, but we’re very proud of our independent spirit here in Dorking. The town has a unique vibe because of our inhabitants, their visions, their creativity, and their passion for making their own dreams come true.

If you like a little of the unique yourself, then you’ve come to the right place. Dorking is the perfect match of small town, big ideas. Let us share some of the best of our ongoing and annual independent events…

Coming with the family? Pippfest is a free annual festival that takes place each Summer at Pippbrook House. There’s live local music, an artist’s colony, healing fields, craft stalls, plus some exquisite food stalls (as well as some bars for the adults).  It’s fun for the whole family, with children’s games aplenty, and you don’t even need a ticket.

More of an independent film buff? The Dorking Radical Film Festival is your chance to revel in some lesser known masterpieces in the Green Room Theatre in the heart of our town. Often the screenings are accompanied by poetry readings, or a topical guest speaker joins the evening, or the organisers will link the event with the work of local charities. Supporting this festival is high on our list.

If racing cars and motorsports are more your thing, we hope you didn’t miss the Rob Walker Centenary Festival this autumn! We celebrated this local racing legend, who was based with his team at the local Pippbrook House in the 50’s & 60’s, by showcasing nine of his historic racing cars for the day. The town was a bustle of activity, with book launches, automotive tours, family activities and Johnnie Walker RaceDay cocktails (lucky us – Rob is heir to the Johnnie Walker whisky fortune).  But the finale beat it all, when the cars were taken on a noisy but fabulous parade lap of the town. Unmissable.

And we haven’t even described our independent family-run shops yet. Families build businesses, and businesses build towns, and we’ve got them all; from S C Fuller, est. 1892 and still run by descendants of the original man, through to Mullins Coffee shop which is  in the ancestral home of Williams Mullins, one of North America’s Pilgrim Fathers via his daughter Pricillia Mullins Alden…visit Dorking and there’s a treasure around every corner.

Finally, we can’t let you go without mentioning Ralph Vaughan Williams, a former resident of Leith Hill Place and a composer with a conscience. Dorking Nursery School and Children’s Centre is located in Ralph Vauahan Williams’s House and it is fitting that the school was founded in 1939 to serve children evacuated from London during the Blitz – it still serves children and families today. It’s no coincidence Williams’s famously beautiful ‘Lark Ascending’ (1920) composition was suggested by a poem by George Meredith of nearby Box Hill. If you visit on a quiet day, you might even see one yourself.

Be sure to check out our Visitor Attractions, Events, and Heritage and History pages as Dorking has something for everyone.

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