Hall of fame
Woking is evidently an inspirational place, as many famous people were born, schooled or worked in the Borough.
Former Woking Grammar School boys, David Sproxton and Peter Lord, are co-creators of Aardman Animations Ltd, responsible for Oscar-winning film 'The Curse of the Were-Rabbit'.
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.
Artist Molly Brett illustrated a large number of her own books for children, including poetry and stories.
- In 1895, Herbert George (H. G.) Wells (1866-1946) was living in Woking and writing The War of the Worlds.
- The dramatist George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), lived at Maybury Knowle around 1905.
- Hilary Mantel, novelist and critic, lived in Knaphill for many years.
- Robert Bolt (1924-1995), dramatist.
- On 18 June 1941, Delia Smith - whose cookbooks have now sold over 16 million copies - was born in Woking.
- 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.
- 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 was awarded an OBE for his services to literature.
- Horticulturalist, Graham Stuart Thomas (1909-2003), lived in Horsell and 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.
- 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.
- Ken Wood (1916-1997), 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, in 1947. He set the business up with capital of just £800.
- John Paul Getty (1892-1976), businessman and art collector, once lived at Sutton Place, the 16th Century manor house in the south of the Borough.
- Ron Dennis, the boss of the McLaren Group.
- Sir Richard Weston (1591-1652) was an agricultural pioneer, based in Woking.
- Chris Ingram, businessman and art collector, was born and schooled in Woking, and frequently loans parts of his entensive collection to The Lightbox.
- Status Quo's Rick Parfitt (1948) went to Goldsworth School in Woking. Rick sadly passed away on Christmas Eve 2016.
- Members of The Jam, Paul Weller (1958), Rick Buckler (1955) and Bruce Foxton (1955) were all born in Woking and went to school here.
- Well-known composer Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), once resident in Hook Heath Avenue, was also a suffragette.
- Composer, concert pianist, and friend of Dame Ethel Smyth, Adelina de Lara (1872-1961), lived and worked in Woking from the late 1930s onwards. She played in public for over 60 years, broadcast frequently and appeared on the BBC on her 82nd 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 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 50s and 60s.
- 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.
- Leslie 'Les' Reed OBE 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.
People of note
- Lady Emma Hamilton, lover of Lord Nelson, used to live in Pyrford.
- Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), Britain's Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905, and 1st Earl of Balfour, died in Fisher's Hill, Woking.
- Gerald Balfour (1853-1945), 2nd earl of Balfour.
- Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din (1870-1932) was the first Imam of the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking.
- Joyce Pearce (1915-1985), was a humanitarian and founder of the Ockenden Venture in Woking.
- Politician, Sir Charles Dilke (1843-1911).
- Sir Samuel Morton Peto (1809-1889), 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.
- Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner (1840-1899), was an orientalist and designed England's first purpose-built mosque - The Shah Jahan in Woking.
- Royal connections include King Henry VIII, who was a frequent visitor to Woking Palace when he came for hunting on the Common.
- Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, and Countess fo Richmond and Derby (1443-1509) lived at what is now the ruins of 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, Goldsworth Park.
- Queen Elizabeth I used to worship in the ancient Norman Church of St. Nicholas' in Pyrford.
- Actor Peter Davison went to school at Winston Churchill Secondary School in St Johns.
- Harry Hill, famous comedy writer and stand-up comedian, was born in Woking on 1 October 1964 and lived here for 18 months before moving to Hong Kong.
- Comedian Sean Lock was born in Woking on 22 April 1963 and went to school here.
- Actress, Sarah Miles, lived in Woking.
- Comedian and actor Rufus Hound went to school in Woking.
- 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 3D 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 1940s movie star Veronica Lake, and during his long and illustrious career worked with other Hollywood luminaries, such as David Lean and Alexander Korda.
- Terry Hands, British theatre director and producer for the Royal Shakespeare Company, attended Woking County Grammar School for Boys.
- Cricketing twins, Sir Alec and Eric Bedser (1918-2010, and 1918-2006) who played for Surrey and England, lived in Horsell. It is rumoured that they first played cricket against the wall of the Bleak House pub.
- James Cracknell is the winner of two Olympic gold medals (Sydney 2000 and 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.
Danny Hall, three times GB Hockey Olympian (1996,2000,2004), was born in nearby Chertsey in 1974 and is currently a resident of Woking.
British kickboxer and martial artist, Gary Daniels, was born in 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.