War of the Worlds – A Level Literature Students Invade Woking

English & Media

In this 150th anniversary of H.G. Wells’ birth, A Level English Literature students landed in Woking ready to discover the sights that had inspired Wells’ classic sci-fi adventure ‘War of the Worlds’. 

In May 1895 HG Wells, author of ‘The Time Machine’ and ‘The Invisible Man’, moved from London to Woking.  In Woking he wrote and planned possibly his most celebrated novel, ‘The War of the Worlds’.  The narrative was inspired by Wells’ surroundings and it is possible to visit places which served as inspiration for key events in the book in and around Woking. 

We were delighted to follow ‘The Wells in Woking Heritage Trail’ by Woking Borough Council, which takes in some of the landmarks from the novel.

We were able to see his house on Maybury Road and we could see the ‘Maybury Arch’ over which the novel’s protagonist watches a steam train pass.  Then on to the main event:  Horsell Common - fictional landing site of the Martians!  Today, the sandpits on the common are tranquil and beautiful but it is easy to see why Wells saw it as a good setting for the start of the Martian invasion – a secluded and peaceful spot where people would be slow to appreciate the significant danger of the arrival of the ‘cylinder’. 

When we returned to the centre of Woking we were confronted by the contents of the cylinder.  The council have built an iconic seven metre high tripod machine powered by a Martian.  It is an impressive sight but on close inspection you can see, on the stones underneath the tripod, an artistic representation of the bacteria responsible for the Martians’ ultimate defeat.

Luckily, we escaped a similar fate and wound our way back to Southampton after an interesting and enjoyable day out.

If you would like to find out more about Wells in Woking, click here.