Ockham is a parish on the east side of the Wey Valley, 7 miles north-east from Guildford. It appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Bocheham. There was a church in Ockham manor at this time. The tower arch of the present church, All Saints is Norman, the chancel dates to the 13th century. The nave dates to the 13th and 14th century, the aisle to the 13th and 15th centuries. The tower itself dates to the 15th century. A chapel was built to the north in 1735, and the whole building was restored and the aisle was extended in 1875.

Ockham Parsonage, 1823, John Hassell watercolour, (SHC ref 4348/3/83/1)

Ockham Parsonage, 1823, John Hassell watercolour
(SHC ref 4348/3/83/1)

Ockham Church, south side, 1823, John Hassell watercolour, (SHC ref: 4348/3/83/3)

Ockham Church, south side, 1823,
John Hassell watercolour
(SHC ref: 4348/3/83/3)

The “Fullingadic”, a long-distance Saxon boundary bank stretching from the Thames to Blackheath and Wotton, passes through Wisley and Ockham Commons. It possibly follows the line of the old Ockham/Cobham parish boundary for much of its length.

It’s claimed that the philosopher William of Ockham was born in the village around 1285. His ideas on human freedom and the nature of reality influenced Thomas Hobbes and helped fuel the Reformation. During a turbulent career he managed to offend the Chancellor of Oxford University, disagree with his own ecclesiastical order and get excommunicated by the Pope. He also declared that the authority of rulers derives from the people they govern and was one of the first people so to do. Occams razor is the idea that philosophical arguments should be kept as simple as possible. He is believed to have died in a convent in Munich in 1349, a victim of the Black Death.

Ockham House, the seat of Lord King, 1823, John Hassell watercolour, (SHC ref: 4348/3/83/2)

Ockham House, the seat of Lord King, 1823,
John Hassell watercolour
(SHC ref: 4348/3/83/2)

Ada Lovelace lived at Ockham Park. Ada, born in 1815, was the only legitimate child of the Romantic poet, George Gordon, Lord Byron. She was a genius for math from an early age and met Charles Babbage in 1833. She became interested in a model he had constructed of a mechanical device to compute values of quadratic functions, the Difference Engine. Ada translated an article by an Italian engineer Manabrea (later Italy’s prime minister) that described Babbage’s Analytical Engine. As she was familiar with Babbage’s work she added notes of her own which showed how the Analytical Engine would work including a set of instructions for using the Engine to calculate Bernoulli numbers. In 1835 Ada married William King, later the first Earl of Lovelace. Click here to read more about the Lovelace village and buildings. Ada died in 1852 but in 1953 her notes on Babbage’s Analytical Engine were republished. The computer revolution was just beginning and the Engine was recognized as a model for a computer. Adas notes described a computer and software.

A 2009 re-enactment of Lady Harberton's bicycle ride

A 2009 re-enactment of Lady Harberton’s bicycle ride

In 1880 Lady Harberton led the Rational Dress Society, which promoted health, comfort, and sense in dress. It condemned tight lacing, high heels and all garments that hindered movement. On the 27th of October 1898, Lady Harberton arrived on her bicycle at the Hautboy Hotel in Ockham wearing exceedingly baggy knickerbockers (a divided skirt) she asked for some lunch, but the landlady is said to have replied I do not admit people in that dress and Lady Harberton went on to Cobham. The case was taken up by the Cyclists’ Touring Club, founded in 1878, but lost. By 1933, caravanning was a popular pastime and the very first national Caravan Club meet was held in a field opposite the Hautboy Hotel.

Ockham Common, to the north east of the village, is the site of the disused Wisley Airfield. Up until 1972 this was used as a satellite fit-out and test centre for Vickers, linked to their main plant at Brooklands. The 2-km (1.25 miles) runway was capable of taking aircraft as large as the VC10.

4 Responses to Ockham

  1. rosemary young says:

    I was wondering when the Hautboy Hotel was originally built, I note that it is referred to on a map c.1872 as the Hautboy and Fiddle but have seen mention that it was build by Lovelace as a banqueting hall for the staff of the Horsley estate. I can find very little else regarding its construction date and original purpose. It seems unlikely that it was originally built as a hotel or inn.

  2. Garry Walton says:

    Early maps show ‘The Fiddle’ pub at Bridge End in Ockham village. William The 1st Earl of Lovelace was flush with cash from his marriage to the wealthy Ada Byron, Lord Byron’s daughter (who became1st Countess Lovelace and the worlds first computer programmer ) He bought over 50 local properties and built a hotel which he named ‘The Hautboy’ presumably to match the local pub musical instrument theme. (A French musical woodwind instrument of the period was called the Haut Bois this phonetically transitioned to Hautboy in England and ended up as the Oh-boe. or Oboe)
    When the pub went bust William bought the property and moved the license to The Hautboy which now had a bar and became ‘The Hautboy & Fiddle’

  3. Garry Walton says:

    William moved into East Horsley Towers in 1846. It has been said that tenants came to the Hautboy to pay their tithes in the vaulted banqueting Hall. A rather grand room for a workers canteen!

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