Witley

This is a very typical Surrey village in the proportion of tile-hung, half-timber and brick houses, although not in any distinct style.

The parish church of All Saints forms a picturesque group with some cottages at the approach from The Street. It has a Saxon window of the mid-11th century and is noted for its fine, if faded, wall paintings of the Virgin, probably dating from about 1120.

Witley vicarage and church, by John Hassell, 1822 Surrey History Centre ref. 4348/3/51/2

Witley vicarage and church, by John Hassell, 1822
Surrey History Centre ref. 4348/3/51/2

John Hassell and Edward Hassell painted various views of All Saints. Use this link to see some examples.

The village is 4-5 miles south of Godalming and remained a small community until the mid 19th century. A village school was built in 1870 and a Village Institute nearby in 1883. Some houses at the northern end of the village are dated 1881 and there has been little new construction in the conservation area.

On the west side of The Street is the 18th century Witley Manor and its high brick wall which immediately abuts the road and faces a very attractive group of cottages.

Witley, the White Hart, 1906 Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Lea Park was the home of the wealthy financier J Whitaker Wright from 1890. He spent vast sums on the house and built a domed ballroom under the artificial lakes. After his business empire collapsed he was sentenced to 7 years in prison in 1904 and promptly committed suicide. He is buried in the churchyard of All Saints, Witley. When the estate was sold the Devil’s Punchbowl and Hindhead Commons were acquired by the newly formed National Trust. In 1909 the house was bought by William Pirrie, 1st Viscount Pirrie, chairman of the Harland and Wolff shipyard, builders of the SS Titanic. Sadly Lea Park burnt down in 1952.

Witley Camp, once a bustling military camp home to 20,000 British and Canadian soldiers and a veterinary hospital in the First World War, has today returned to woodland with little trace of any remains. Read about a community archaeology project at the camp and some of the finds.

Click here to see the catalogue of the Witley Civil Parish Records (1894-1949) held at the Surrey History Centre.

Further information

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19 thoughts on “Witley”

  1. Mary Redgwell says:

    Was there an Army camp in Witley/Milford/Elstead area in World War 1? Would there have been employment for a trooper in the Life Guards involving looking after horses?

  2. Dean Armond says:

    Mary Redgwell,

    There was an extensive military camp at Witley during WWI, it housed predominantly Canadian troops.

  3. tony hardy says:

    I am looking to contact any hardys from whitley.

    1. Roy Pitchford says:

      Hi Tony and greetings from Australia, Whilst not directly a Hardy, my paternal grandmother Ida Charlotte Hardy was born in Witley in 1885 and her parents were Daniel and Ellen Hardy who lived at 2 Downs View Villas, Ash Road, Ash. Prior to that, the Hardy’s lived at Crossways. If you wish to contact me for any reason regarding the Hardy’s, please feel free to do so. Best regards.

  4. Ian Oliver says:

    I would like to get in contact with anyone linked to the Oliver family of Witley I am research my families history. Thanks.

    1. Simon Oliver says:

      x3 years after the fact Ian, I am an Oliver, and George Oliver 1665 witley surrey is great grandad x7 .

      1. Ian Oliver says:

        Hi Simon,
        I’m trying to explore the relatives around and descendants of William Oliver brn 1732 (Witley) and Sarah Roe his wife, brn 1738 in Frensham. I believe William is my 4th great grandfather. Thanks

        1. Stephen Oliver (L S Oliver) says:

          Hello Ian
          I’m Stephen Oliver, and William Oliver and Sarah Roe are my 4th great grandparents too ! I have a fairly extensive family tree of the William Oliver’s descendants on Ancestry. If you are still exploring, I can answer your questions or I could make you a guest on my Ancestry account. What do you reckon ?
          Stephen

      2. Libby McCaffrey says:

        Hi, My I’m Libby and although my name was never Oliver, my grandmother was and I have scant info for a George but the record says born before 1665 and married Margaret Hurst 6-1-1689. The info I have is more about his great, great grandson who emigrated to Australia in 1887 aged 12 with one of his brothers. If our George’s are the same person, happy to share with you as we would love to get more info on the English side.

        1. simon says:

          Hello Libby , it sounds like the same george oliver I have Him recorded to margaret Hurst, which great grandson emigrated to Australia. im happy for you to get in touch to discuss more

          1. Libby says:

            Ok I have a day off work this Wednesday I can go into more detail as to what I’ve got and can copy/send.

          2. Libby says:

            Hi, my email address is [email protected] if you can mail me yours I will pass on some info. Thanks, Libby

  5. David Smith says:

    i would like to contact anyone related to the Smith, blacksmith Family
    from Witley & surrounding areas dating back to 1760’s
    John Smith & Beatrice Richardson would have been the main ancestors

    1. Mary Smith says:

      I am descended from John and Beatrice – twice, through my paternal grandparents!

      1. David Smith says:

        Hi Mary, i am also related through my paternal grandfather, there was a ling line of Alfred Shadrach Smith’s from John & Beatrice Smith
        then My Grangfather Archibald Augusus Smith, who were frpm Hayling Island in Hampshire
        please do not hesitate to contact me, as i would like to find out as much as i can, from any relations in the Witley area
        bye for now

  6. Jan Owen says:

    I am looking for information relating to a Baby boy born on 01/08/1920 possibly to a woman with the surname Booker.

  7. Bill Yeates says:

    I grew up in Witley, and was told once that the village and surrounding lands were a gift from William the Conquerer to his father. I have never been able to confirm this, but would appreciate any information on the subject.

  8. fay McElligott says:

    Looking for a William Ernest Raynsford, born 1910 and died 1912, from Witley surrey England. I believe he was too ill to travel to Australia with his family in 1912, April 17. Any information about him, where is he buried or what family took him in. Thank you Fay McElligott, relative of the Raynsford family.

  9. judy jerkins says:

    I am interested in the Lovelace family who owned (I presume) Milford House at Witley in 1777 and perhaps longer. My main man of interest is Robert Lovelace b 1777 who died 1823. [email protected] will find me any time.

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