Chelsham is a village in Surrey that lies 5 miles south-west of Croydon in the borough of Tandridge. The area has been lived in since Prehistoric times. Flint tools from the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic ages have been found together with a possible flint mine near Worms Heath. Archaeological excavations have also uncovered Neolithic tools.

Worms Heath Gravel Pits Chelsham Caterham and District Local History Centre image CVL01437

Worms Heath Gravel Pits Chelsham
Caterham and District Local History Centre image CVL01437

There is evidence of a Bronze Age earthwork in Chelsham and in 1890 a hoard of Bronze objects was found. Archaeological finds from the Iron Age and Roman period have also been found at Nore Hill and a Roman Camp has been recorded at Bottle Hill. Circles in the ground at Worms Heath were thought to be further evidence of early hut settlements, however it is now thought that these shapes were caused by the Romans quarrying for quern stones used to grind corn.

The area continued to be settled during the Saxon period and was split into two manors, Chelsham Watevile and Chelsham Court, and Saxon pottery has been found in Henley Wood. The village lay within the Anglo-Saxon area of the Tandridge hundred.

St Leonards Church probably dates back to the 12th century and was originally built using flint and firestone. (Surrey History Centre holds the Parish Records for St Leonard: 1680-1952). The building was restored in 1871 with bath stone and little of the original building remains. The isolated location of the church led some people to believe that it may be the only remaining part of a deserted medieval village. Instead it is now thought the church represents part of a dispersed medieval settlement which are common in woodland across the south-east of England.  A Medieval earthwork has been discovered in the nearby Henley Woods together with 14th century pottery and tile finds.

John Hassell watercolour of Chelsham Court House (SHC Ref 4348/2/16/1)

John Hassell watercolour of Chelsham Court House
(SHC Ref 4348/2/16/1)

In 1556 Henry Dudley came to Chelsham Court to meet Richard Uvedale, owner of Chelsham Court, in order to plan a plot to take Queen Mary Tudor off the throne. The plot failed and Uvedale was executed whilst Dudley managed to escape abroad.

Chelsham is home to Fairchilds farm and house, both named after the Fairchild family who lived in the area in the early 14th century. Medieval wall paintings were recorded before the farm was demolished around 1770. In the early nineteenth century George Smith, director of the East India Company, moved to Chelsham Lodge which had been built on the site of the old Fairchilds House and the building later reverted back to this name.

In 1902 Croydon Asylum for lunatics was built on the borders of the parish at a cost of 200,000. It is recorded as having been a pioneering centre for psychosurgery. The water tower is now all that remains standing.

Interesting sites nearby:

  • Flint implements and possible flint mine (HER 4714)
  • Evidence of quarrying on Worms Heath (HER 1188)
  • Late Bronze Age enclosed settlement, Nore Hill (HER 3082)
  • Possible Roman occupation: Nore Hill (HER 3084)
  • Romano British villa and separate bath house, Chelsham Court Farm (HER 4407)
  • St Leonard’s Church, Chelsham (HER 1204)
  • Possible Deserted Medieval Village Site (HER 2605)
  • Medieval earthwork in Henley Wood, Chelsham (HER 1190)
  • Site of Fairchilds House (HER 14643)
  • Warlingham Park Hospital Water Tower (HER 11618)

Find out more about the Chelsham records held at Surrey History Centre.

3 Responses to Chelsham

  1. Terry Haynes says:

    Any information on Kennel Farm airfield ( bounded by Chelsham Road, Green hillLane, Farleigh Road and Harrow Road )

    All information on this, Hamsey Green and Oxted airfields gratefully received.

    Terry Haynes

    • Terry Morden says:

      Just seen this post and your one on the Pilot site. My parents and I lived on Farleigh Road at the junction with Green Lane from the late 1950s until the late 1980s (I left in 1968). I’m amazed to learn about the airfield – it wasn’t known about in our family. What puzzles me is that you say ‘This has been an open-access unfenced field for as long as anyone can remember’ – it certainly wasn’t open access when I was growing up, it was regularly planted with cereal crops. Until 1961 I was at St. Leonard’s School and my walk to and from would be along Green Lane, never across the fields. I can’t now say when the fields stopped being used – I am fairly sure they were still in use in 1966/7. If you’re happy to share information on the airfield I’d be interested to see it.

      • Terry Haynes says:

        Thanks Terry,

        I was quoting local residents in terms of the field being open access unfenced and I should have made that clearer. However I do have two photo’s that clearly show crop marks that are absolutely 100% indicative of light aircraft runway use, but I can’t see a way to share them here, although I’m happy to if someone can steer me through what to do. TH

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