The Surrey Diggers Trail


An overview of the Surrey Diggers Trail route.An overview of the Surrey Diggers Trail route.

Route Overview

This map shows the points on the Diggers Trail, which spans across Cobham, Weybridge and Walton-on-Thames.

Each of the pinpointed locations played a key part in the Digger Movement as it unfolded across what is now the borough of Elmbridge. Track the story of the Diggers from their humble beginnings in Cobham to their eventual end by following the 5-part route. You can find trail boards at each location telling the story piece-by-piece.

On this page, you can find explanatory videos, maps, articles and extra resources for each stop along the way:

1. Cobham High Street

2. Redhill Road

3. St Mary’s Church

4. Littleheath Lane

5. Cobbetts Hill

Stop 1

2A High Street

Cobham

War and Winstanley: The origins of the Diggers

In the particularly turbulent years after the execution of Charles I, the Diggers attempted to re-establish their rights to farm commonland, a right that had been removed by the medieval feudal system. The ideas about equality held by their leader, Gerrard Winstanley, are still regarded today as one of the roots of modern day Communist thought.

In our first video, we introduce Gerrard Winstanley, the civil war radical who led the Digger movement.

Want to know more about Winstanley? Read our Academic in Residence's fascinating blogpost

Stop 2

Redhill Road

Weybridge

The Diggers arrive at St. George's Hill

The Diggers first broke the ground at St. George’s Hill on 1st April 1649 as they set out to make the earth a ‘common treasury for all’. The Hill is the place usually associated with their project and ideas, and it is from here that their influence, and the practice of Digging, spread to many parts of England.

In our second video, the Diggers set up their camp in Weybridge.

Learn about how the Diggers expressed their ideas through print in our Academic in Residence's blogpost

Stop 3

Church Street

Walton

St. Mary's Church, Protests and Prison

The Diggers attracted much opposition from local landowners. Following one attack on their crops and animals, some of them were arrested and imprisoned in the church where they were beaten up by the ‘rude multitude’. Although parts have been restored and rebuilt, St Mary’s Church today is substantially as the Diggers would have known it in 1649.

In our third video, we hear about the role played by St Mary’s Church in the Diggers’ story, from a site of protest to a makeshift prison.

Read more about the reaction to Diggers' occupation of St. George's Hill in our Academic in Residence's blogpost

Stop 4

Littleheath Lane

Cobham

Big trouble on Little Heath

The Diggers are usually remembered for their action on St. George’s Hill, but after being violently evicted they moved back to Cobham. Here, the group enjoyed much more success, although if they had hoped for less hostility they were disappointed. In April, landowners drove the remaining Diggers from Little Heath in a final series of attacks.

In our fourth video, we follow Winstanley and the Diggers’ second attempt to establish their commune at Little Heath.

Stop 5

Cobbetts Hill

Diggers memorial stone on Brooklands Road

The significance and legacy of the Diggers

After being driven out of both St. George’s Hill and Little Heath, attempts to start up new Digger settlements in other counties like Hertfordshire also failed. Contemporaries, no doubt, viewed the movement as a dismal failure, yet, the persistence of the Diggers’ story in local, national and international memory certainly proves otherwise.

In our fifth and final video, we examine the legacy and significance of the Diggers in the modern day.

Explore Further

The Diggers Project Discover our ongoing work to investigate the historical story and international significance of the 17th century Surrey Diggers.

read more
The Diggers Blog Series Delve into the latest research on the Diggers in our Academic in Residence's monthly blogs.

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The Diggers Learning Resources Explore the learning resources we have created to accompany our video and trail!

read more
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