In the Georgian and Victorian periods six prominent sites in the former parish or on its boundaries became grand country estates: Leith Hill Place, Denbies (today a vineyard/hotel), Norbury Park, Polesden Lacey, Wotton House and Deepdene; five of which along with nearby Box Hill's promontory and chalk grassland slopes belong to the National Trust.Dorking is a commuter and retirement settlement with three railway stations and a few large offices of multinational companies.The town's geography is undulating; for example, the elevation of the southern point of the central one-way system is 76 metres and on its northern side the elevation is 59–60 metres.
Further north is Norbury Park, which contains the Druids Grove, a forest of ancient yew trees.To the south west of the town is Leith Hill, also owned by the National Trust, the second highest point in the south east of England after Walbury Hill.An inn in the centre of Dorking, the White Horse, was developed in the 18th century; previous buildings on this site belonged to the Knights Templar and later the Knights of St John.Dorking held a big wheat and cattle market in the High Street.The design of the terraced houses, three- and four-storey flats and twin eleven-storey tower blocks was praised by architectural historians Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner.
People born in the town include: Laurence Olivier, Lord Olivier, in 1907 – a blue plaque marking his birthplace can be found in Wathen Road. General Sir Lewis Halliday, a Victoria Cross recipient, died in Dorking.Much of the original character survives, whilst accommodating businesses that serve the needs of the 21st century. The town's three main trading streets of High Street, West Street and South Street are complemented by a small open-air shopping centre, St Martin's Walk, which is adjacent to the town's main car park and easily accessed from the High Street.In the late 1990s Dorking Halls was given a huge refit, to make it a cinema and theatre complex.The poultry market was held in the corner of South Street and round Butter Hill. This breed, which has five claws instead of the normal four, was a favourite for 19th century tables, including that of Queen Victoria.Dorking lost its stagecoaches when the railways arrived, but then attracted wealthy residents who built large houses in and around the town, such as Denbies House and Pippbrook House (now with council offices in the grounds).Dorking and nearby Box Hill were chosen as part of the route for the 2012 London Olympics cycling road race and have featured in the FIA-ranked London-Surrey cycle classic every year since.