Visiting Dorking

Dorking is a hidden gem in the heart of the Surrey Hills, a quintessentially English town home to Mayflower passenger William Mullins and his family - their home still stands in the town today.

Hike Dorkings' hills, shop its quirky, independent shops, and partake in its locally sourced farm-to-fork restaurants and cafes to get a taste of truly English experience.

Visit and take tea at the only remaining Pilgrim home in the United Kingdom - the Mullins family house is now home to the wonderful Mullins tea shop. Six passengers from Dorking travelled on the Mayflower and American presidents claim ancestry to the Mullins family via William's daughter Priscilla Alden.

Dorking boasts incredible outdoor spaces that draw those with an independent, free spirit to our town. With access from the M25, Guildford, London Heathrow and Gatwick, and an easy train ride from London by train (and with three train stations), Dorking is an easy get-away.

It also satisfies the appetite of the weekend cyclist who craves a bit of the wild outdoors or the collector who’s been searching for the perfect miniature George III mahogany chest of drawers on our Antique Row in West Street.

Dorking is renowned for its independent spirit and heritage – just visit the Dorking Museum, noted by BBC Surrey as one of their ‘Things to Do’ in Surrey.

Make time to explore a little further afield too. Visit neighbouring villages for picture-perfect village greens, quaint churches, country pubs and coffee shops. Watch cricket, football, rugby or bowls. Follow the meandering river. Or climb out of the valley on foot or a bicycle for far-reaching views that are simply too good to miss.

Dorking's Mayflower 400 programme

You can browse Dorking's programme events and activities linked to the Mayflower 400 commemorations with the town's detailed visitor brochure here.

Dorking and the Mayflower story

Dorking is the original home of six Mayflower passengers - William Mullins, his wife Alice, their children Joseph and Priscilla plus their servant Robert Carter and a family friend called Peter Browne.

Built in about 1590, the Mullins family home is a handsome jettied building that stands proudly in the middle of Dorking’s West Street, not far from Pump Corner. It is the only home of a ‘Pilgrim Father’ that is known to have survived into the 21st century.

The life of its owner, William Mullins, a shoemaker, is celebrated by a blue plaque on the front of the building. William Mullins was just one of six Dorking residents to travel to America on the Mayflower; at least three more later joined them in the colony.

William bought his home in 1612 and sold it seven years later to invest in the Mayflower enterprise. We may never know why he decided to leave Dorking such a perilous adventure with his wife Alice and two of his four children - teenage daughter Priscilla and young son Joseph.

Was it for religious or economic or both? We do know, however, that shoe-maker William intended to establish a business in the new colony, taking 265 pairs of shoes and boots with him!

He may have been responding to both positive and negative economic pressures when he decided to try his luck in the thriving colony of Virginia.

At 50 years old, William was one of the financiers of the 1620 Mayflower journey and he and his family joined the ship in Rotherhithe in July 1620.

Tragically, William, Alice and Joseph all died in the first harsh winter. Only the teenage daughter, Priscilla, survived and she was the only unmarried woman of child-bearing age in the colony in early 1621.

She went on to marry John Alden, a young cooper - despite his master Myles Standish originally proposing to her.

A young, healthy couple, John and Priscilla and the children they would go on to produce were vital to the long-term viability of the colony and later, the town of Duxbury, Massachusetts, where they brought up their children. Their first child, Elizabeth, was born in 1623. She is thought to have been the first European child to be born in what became known as New England. She was followed by nine siblings.

Of all the Mayflower families, the Mullins/Aldens are thought to have the greatest number of descendants living today.

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