Hall of fame

Woking is evidently an inspirational place, as many famous people were born, raised or now live in the Borough.

  • One hundred years ago H.G. Wells was living in Woking and writing The War of the Worlds.
  • Superstar Eric Clapton comes from nearby Ripley.
  • Jam members Paul Weller (25 May 1958), Rick Buckler (6 December 1955) and Bruce Foxton (1 September 1955) were all born in Woking and went to school here.
  • Actor Peter Davison went to school at Winston Churchill Secondary School in St. Johns.
  • Ken Wood, who made a fortune by producing the Kenwood Mixer, started his company in Woking. Ken launched the electronic equipment firm whose products bear his name from a small lock-up in Goldsworth Road, Woking, 50 years ago. He set the business up with capital of just £800.
  • Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, lived at what is now Woking Palace from 1466 to 1471. The Woking Coat of Arms is made up of extracts from the arms of past holders of the Royal Manor of Woking (now Woking Palace). The fleur-de-lis in the first and fourth quarters is taken from the Beaufort coat of arms. The Beaufort name continues to this day in Woking in Beaufort Community Primary School in Kirkland Avenue in Goldsworth Park.
  • Well-known composer Dame Ethel Smyth, once resident in Hook Heath Avenue, was also a suffragette and friend of concert pianist Adelina de Lara, who lived and worked in Woking from the late 1930's onwards. She played in public for over sixty years, broadcast frequently and appeared on BBC television on her 82 Birthday. In 1951, she was awarded the OBE and was able to proudly count Sir Adrian Boult and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother amongst her friends.
  • The writer George Bernard Shaw, lived at Maybury Knowle around 1905.
  • The Spice Girls started their careers at a Knaphill-based studio after being picked from an audition of hundreds in June 1994.
  • Peter Gabriel originally founded the rock group Genesis and went on to become a renowed solo artist, including writing all the music to the Millennium Festival at the Dome. He lived in Chobham and went to St Andrews school in Horsell in the 50's and 60's.
  • Status Quo's Rick Parfitt went to school in Sheerwater and still has family links with the area.
  • World War II heroines Lilian Rolfe and Sonya Butt.
  • Cricketing twins, Sir Alec and Eric Bedser, who played for Surrey and England, live in Horsell, and it is rumoured that they first played cricket against the wall of the Bleak House pub.
  • John Paul Getty, American oil tycoon and recluse, was the recent occupier of Sutton Place, the 16th Century manor house in the south of the Borough.
  • Royal connections include King Henry VIII, who was a frequent visitor to Woking Palace when he came for hunting on the Common.
  • Queen Elizabeth I used to worship in the ancient Norman Church of St. Nicholas' in Pyrford.
  • Lady Emma Hamilton, lover of Lord Nelson, used to live in Pyrford.
  • John Donne, poet, spent some time at the summer house on the Wey Navigation, where he wrote his famous poem 'Fear not for whom the bell tolls', believed to refer to the bells of St. Nicholas' church, Pyrford.
  • Harry Hill, famous comedy writer and stand-up comedian, was born in Woking on 1st October 1964 and lived here for 18 months before moving to Hong Kong.
  • Also born in Woking, actor and entertainer Derek Griffiths became one of the UK's best-loved children's TV presenters in the mid to late 70s, appearing in Play School and narrating Bod, and Heads and Tails.
  • Hilary Mantel, novelist and critic who has lived in Knaphill for several years.
  • Ron Dennis, the boss of the TAG McLaren Group.
  • Children's author and artist Molly Brett lived in Horsell.
  • André De Toth, the Hungarian-born film director, lived in St.Johns for a number of years. Toth made more than 40 pictures, including the 3-D cult horror House of Wax, The Gunfighter (for which he was nominated for an Oscar) and Lion of the Desert, starring Omar Sharif. He was once married to the 1940's movie star Veronica Lake, and during his long and illustrious career worked with other Hollywood luminaries, such as David Lean and Alexander Korda.
  • James Cracknell is the winner of two Olympic gold medals, firstly in Sydney 2000 and more recently in Athens 2004. James, from Pyrford, helped Steve Redgrave and the coxless four to victory in the finals of their competition in 2000.
  • Kieran West, from Woodham, also triumphed at Sydney 2000, when he pulled out all the stops with his team mates to win gold for the rowing eight.
  • Goldsworth Park resident, Sam Lowe, won a Gold Medal in the Judo event at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
  • Brian Hooper, six-times pole vaulting champion between 1982 and 1984, hails from Sheerwater. He was more recently seen on the BBC series Superstars.
  • On 18 June, 1941, Delia Smith - whose cookbooks have now sold over 16 million copies - was born in Woking.
  • Woking-born Graham Wilmott, better known as author Albert Jack, stormed into the best-seller lists at the end of 2004. His book, 'Red Herrings and White Elephants' explains the origins of hundreds of common phrases from the English language.
  • Booker prize winning author, Kazuo Ishiguro, attended Woking County Grammar School for Boys from 1966 to 1973). His book, 'The Remains of the Day', was an international bestseller and adapted into a film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. In 1995 he won an OBE for his services to literature.
  • Plantsman and horticultural writer, Graham Stuart Thomas, lived in Horsell until his death in 2003. He was world-renowned for his classic books on roses, perenials and ornamental shrubs. Amongst his recognitions is the Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honour.
  • DJ Darren Price was born in Woking in 1970. He has had a busy career, including being the official DJ for Underworld's 1996 World Tour.
  • Prime Minister 1902-1905, Arthur James Balfour, died in Fisher's Hill, Woking in 1930.
  • Sir Samuel Morton Peto, the Victorian contractor responsible for the building of Nelson's Column, was born at Whitmoor House, Sutton Green, in August 1809, and baptised at St Peter's church in Old Woking. Peto was also one of the main contractors involved in the re-building of the Houses of Parliament from 1840 to 1852.
  • Comedian Sean Lock was born in Woking on 22 April 1963.
  • Tessa Wyatt, actress and first wife of Tony Blackburn, was born in Woking on 23 April 1948.
  • British kickboxer and martial artist, Gary Daniels, was born in Woking.
  • Matt Willis, former member of the punk pop group Busted and winner of 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here 2006', attended Woking High School.
  • Terry Hand, British theatre director and producer for the Royal Shakespeare Company, attended Woking County Grammar School for Boys.
  • Leslie 'Les' Reed O.B.E. was born on July 24, 1935 in Woking. As an English composer and musician, he has written many hits including 'Delilah' for Tom Jones and 'The Last Waltz' for Engelbert Humperdinck.
  • Former Woking Grammar School boys, David Sproxton and Peter Lord , are co-creators of Aardman Animations Ltd. 'Wallace and Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' was Aardman Animations' Oscar-winning film.

  • Author Paolo Hewitt grew up in the childrens home in Woking, and has gone on to write books on music and football, as well as articles for the likes of NME and Melody Maker.

  • Danny Hall, three times GB Hockey Olympian (1996,2000,2004), was born in nearby Chertsey in 1974 and is currently a resident of Woking.

  • Marguerite Howarth, Surrey artist (1908-2001) lived in Woking from the outbreak of World War II until she retired to Grassington in Yorkshire in 1973. Her works included pen and ink drawings, and water colours of Surrey, particularly Woking.

Many famous names can also be found at Brookwood Cemetery in Woking. Take a look at Woking's Hidden Treasures to find out more.

If you know of any more famous people who have connections with Woking Borough, do contact us.