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Chertsey History

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The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

CHERTSEY, a parish and market town in the second division of the hundred of Godley, in the county of Surrey, 21¾ miles by the South-Western railway from London. It is situated on the banks of the Thames, and was a place of considerable importance in the early Saxon times, being a seat of the South Saxon kings. It is called by Bede Ceortesei, or Ceroti insula, which would seem to imply that it was at this period surrounded by the Thames, and must since have undergone a considerable geological change, as at present it has no appearance of having been an island.

Much of its importance was derived from a Benedictine abbey, which was founded in 666 by Frithwold, governor of Surrey, under Wulphere, King of Mercia, whose original grant is still in existence, and curiously illustrates the intellectual condition of the highest nobility of that time "I Frithwold, who am the giver, together with the Abbot Erkenwald, on account of my ignorance of letters, have expressed my consent with the sign of the cross." The abbey was dedicated to St. Peter, but was pillaged and burnt by the Danes. Some ruins of the abbey, refounded by King Edgar about 964, on the site of the former one, still remain, being part of a wall which forms the boundary of an orchard.

The chief trade of Chertsey is in malt and flour, but silk, coarse thread, iron-hoops, and brooms arc manufactured in the town, which also carries on a considerable traffic in the agricultural produce of the surrounding district.

The population of Chertsey in 1851, including the hamlets of Addlestone, Botleys with Lyne, and Longcross, was 5,755, which in 1861 had increased to 6,589, distributed in the following proportion:-the town of Chertsey 3,066, inhabiting 578 houses; Addlestone, 2,896; Botleys and Lyne, 494; and Longcross, 133.

Chertsey stands on a slip of land between the Thames and a small stream which issues from Virginia Water. A stone bridge, built in 1785 at a cost of £13,000, here connects the counties of Surrey and Middlesex. The town is irregularly built; the streets are paved and lighted with gas; and the curfew bell tolls from Michaelmas to Lady Day at 8 o'clock.

Chertsey is governed by a bailiff, under letters patent from the Exchequer, and exercises a separate jurisdiction extending over the hundred. It is, a polling place for the county and a petty sessions town, and contains a handsome townhall, completed in 1851, a literary and scientific institution, two banks, and a savings-bank. An agricultural society is kept up, and County Court is regularly held in the town. The lord of the manor holds a court-leet on Whit Tuesday, when headboroughs and other officers are appointed; and a court-baron is held on the following day. It is also the head of a Poor-law Union of 9 parishes and townships.

The living is a vicarage* in the archdeaconry of Surrey, and diocese of Winchester, value £250, in the patronage of the Haberdashers' Company and the Governors of Christ's Hospital alternately. The vicarage-house was rebuilt in 1857. The parish church is a handsome structure, situated in the centre of the town, and, with the exception of the chancel and tower, was rebuilt in 1808. The tower contains a fine peal of eight bells, one of which belonged to the abbey, and has this inscription on it "Ora mente pia pro nobis virgo Maria." The church contains monuments to the Mawbeys of Botleys Park, and a cenotaph of the great statesman and orator, Charles James Fox, and his widow, whose seat was at St. Anne's Hill, which commands a beautiful view of the valley of the Thames as far as Richmond, and has a holy well and the remains of a chapel near it.

There are also three district churches, the livings of which are perpetual curacies: that at Addlestone, value £150; Botley and Lyne, value £100, in the patronage of the Bishop of Winchester; and that of Longcross, in the patronage of W. Tringham, Esq. The Wesleyans, Baptists, Independents, and Presbyterians have chapels. There are likewise National schools, founded by Sir William Perkins, and several almshouses-one founded by Cowley, the poet, who died in Porch House, in Guildford-street, in 1667, on which is inscribed the line, "Here the last accents flowed from Cowley's tongue." Hardwick House, now a farm, was the residence of Henry VI. in his infancy, who was buried in the abbey, but afterwards removed to Windsor.

The mansions and villas of the gentry around Chertsey are numerous; among the principal are Lyne Grove, Fox Hill, Botleys Park, Ottershawe Park, and St. Anne's Hill. The market is held on Wednesdays, and fairs on the first Monday in Lent for cattle, the 14th May for sheep, and two general fairs on August 6th, and September 25th,-the former was granted by Henry VI., and is known as Black Cherry Fair.

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003] These pages are intended for personal use only, so please respect the conditions of use.