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.
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.
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.
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.