Chobham, located in the northwest corner of Surrey, is an attractive old-worldy village with a population of about 5000.

The village has a remarkably long history; there is evidence of local human occupation stretching back to pre-historic times. Round Bronze Age (about 3500 years ago) burial mounds can be found near Sunningdale, Longcross and West End. The light sandy soils were easy for prehistoric peoples to clear of trees but once cleared the light soil became impoverished as nutrients were easily washed out. These areas of poor sandy soil became the heathlands that surround Chobham today.

After the Romans, invading north-German Saxon warrior-farmers rowed their longboats up the Thames and established settlements in Surrey. It is believed that one of their chieftains called Ceabba established a settlement on the ridge of dry ground between two rivers (the Bournes). It became known as Ceabba’s Ham (ham meaning settlement). The place name evolved through the centuries to Chobham.

The Pope sent missionaries to convert the heathen Saxons and in 666 AD a minster of missionary priests was established at Chertsey. Shortly afterwards, in exchange for the eternal existence of his soul, the local Saxon prince gave most of the lands of northwest Surrey to this minster. The minster and subsequently the Abbey became the lord of the manor for the next 900 years.

After the Norman Conquest, Chobham, being under Chertsey Abbey, was probably spared the worst excesses of the Norman barons and the King’s demands. Nevertheless, the villagers were forced by the Abbot to perform many duties on the Abbot’s land and to pay many taxes. Chertsey Abbey was abolished during the Reformation in 1537, but right up to the 19th century the villagers were still expected to pay a tithe (one-tenth) of their produce to the vicar.

Chobham, village scene, c.1886. Photographic Record and Survey of Surrey no. 2272

Chobham, village scene, c.1886.
Photographic Record and Survey of Surrey no. 2272

Lordship of the manor of Chobham was sold to private individuals and eventually to the Onslow family. Many of Chobham’s fine old houses were built between 1550-1600 and that perhaps indicates a period of freedom and prosperity for our farmers.

Chobham has remained largely undeveloped: bypassed by every new trend. The Romans hurried past to fight their battles in the North and West. The turnpike road developments of the 17th and 18th centuries brought prosperity to Bagshot (A30) and Ripley (A3), but they missed Chobham. The canal developments went too far to the south. The railways brought massive growth to nearby Woking and Sunningdale, but the planned railway line to Chobham was never built.

Chobham High Street. Image: David Stokes

Chobham High Street.
Image: David Stokes

The centre of the village is a conservation area and contains many listed buildings including St Lawrence Church (click the link to see the Historic Environment Record for the church) which dates from Norman times.

Click here to see the catalogue of the St Lawrence, Chobham, Parish Records (1624-1950) held at the Surrey History Centre.

Click here to see the catalogue of the St Lawrence, Chobham, Parish Records (1635-1954) held at the Surrey History Centre.

Chobham Common, the 1500 acres of heathland to the north of the village, is a National Nature Reserve.

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7 Responses to Chobham

  1. Jim Williams says:

    Very interesting. I was born and raised here, till emigrating, and I never knew most of this. Very well researched. Well done.

  2. Vivienne Arnot says:

    My great grandfather, Herald Rowland was born in Chobham in 1874 and lived at 85 High Street. I would like to know if the house still exists.

  3. sallie says:

    Have just spoken to the person who lives at No 85. She says the houses were re-numbered relatively recently and that what is now 85 used to be No 2. However, there is a 96 year old still alive who used to live in the village (from the Devonshire family) who may know which 85 used to be. I’ll let you know if she knows!

    • Vivienne Arnot says:

      Hello Sallie

      Thank you for your kind assistance. I have been notified that the house in which they lived no longer exists, but have been fortunate to find a picture of it on a Chobham page. I was wondering if anyone from that family still resides in Chobham?

  4. S Boiteux-Buchanan says:

    Looking at the photographic evidence, and discussing it with the 96 year old, I do not think the house was destroyed. I have found a no of mentions of Rowlands in the minutes for the vestry between 1850 – 1900 and some on the tithe map. No one knows of any Rowlands still here but They may be having lost the name as a result of marriage. If you can provide the names, I can check.

  5. Martha Thomas says:

    Looking for information about a cottage on Burrow Hill were my grandmother and her family grew up. It was called Wesley Cottage, the Colton family lived there from about 1870 till about 1923 or so. Information about the the house or family would be most appreciated . Thank you

  6. Tony Wilcox says:

    This is fascinating. Just before my mother died in 1951, I was sent (as a 10-year-old) to stay for the summer with the family who lived at Focklesbrook Farm. I have always thought that they were simply friends of my cousin; but that cousin’s mother was a Rowland. Evelyn Rowland married my uncle Edwin (Wilcox) in 1924 (I think – I haven’t checked). So perhaps they were relatives …..

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