Old Woking: Church Cottages

No.1 Church Cottages.  Image: Phillip Arnold

No.1 Church Cottages.
Image: Phillip Arnold

What is described as Church Cottage is today three separate cottages, Nos. 1, 2 and 3 Church Cottages. The listed building entry as recorded on the Historic Environment Record is:

House. 16th century. Timber framed, encased in whitewashed incised render; plain tiled roofs; 2 gables fronting the street; rendered stack in roof valley, and ridge stack to right. 2 storeys quoined corners; 2 glazing bar sash windows in strap- work surrounds across the first floor (one in each gable); ground floor windows with raised keystones. 4 panel door to left of centre under flat porch with tuscan piers on pedestals having dentilled cornice above. 20th century extensions to rear Interior: Timber framing visible.

(See the record here)

The listing is applied separately to each of the three cottages but seems mainly to describe No. 1, the apparent sole reference to Nos. 2 and 3 being C20 extensions to the rear and perhaps the chimneys.

1 Church Cottages, Church Street, Old Woking, Woking, Surrey, GU22 9JF
TQ021569 LBII C16, C20 DBRG mid C15 AOS C19 or earlier WBC

A DBRG survey in 2006 found No.1 to be mid C15 with later alterations. The right hand gable was added after 1830 and the building is almost certainly a cross wing to a small hall house now long demolished.

Church Cottages map. Image: Surrey History Centre (5337/2/1)

Church Cottages map. Image: Surrey History Centre (5337/2/1)

The extract of the John Holmes map of 1709 shows Church Street in the early part of the 18th century. The church and the churchyard are easily distinguishable with the churchyard as it is today, a rectangular plot with an extension to where the 1936 lychgate now stands. Strangely Weylea is also shown even though it was referred to as newly built in 1749. Immediately outside the gate is a building which is probably the original hall house of which 1 Church Street was part. The next building must be the hall house now split into Wey and Lea Cottages. Being a pictorial representation on a map the perspective is somewhat out of line.

The house is probably that described in the Court Rolls 1547-53 as a cottage with garden called Synacles near the church. A will made in 1540 mentioned two houses at one end of the street with High Cross, which would have been in the Market Place, at the other end. The two houses are probably the long demolished hall house by the church, of which 1 Church Cottages was part, and the house next door now split into Wey and Lea Cottages. Although referred to as a cottage according to the will, the house had both a little parlour and a hall so it was very likely the missing hall house.

If 1 Church Cottages is, in fact, what remains of Synacles then, according to wills left by them, the likely occupiers or copyholders were Alice Synacle d1489, her son Richard d1536, his daughter Margery Clerke d1540 and her husband William and their daughter Anne and her husband William Spenser.

Robert Harvest, gentleman, in his will made 19th March 1739/40 refers to his messuage near churchyard and new buildings called the High Buildings lately erected in Town Street Woking and two parcels of copyhold land Hollydoles, Broadmead, Woking in occupation of me and Henry Walden. This is almost the same description as is given to Church Cottages and Weylea, including Holy Doles, in the particulars for the sale of 31st August 1908. It is likely, therefore, that Robert Harvest was the owner of, what is now Church Cottages, in 1740. This possibility is strengthened by the fact that he was the copyholder of property around the church in 1719 according to the John Remnant map of that date.

2 Church Cottages, Church Street, Old Woking, Woking, Surrey, GU22 9JFTQ021569 LBII C20
No.2 Church Cottages, Image: Phillip Arnold

No.2 Church Cottages, Image: Phillip Arnold

3 Church Cottages, Church Street, Old Woking, Woking, Surrey, GU22 9JFTQ021569 LBII C20 DBRG C16
No.3 Church Cottages, Image: Phillip Arnold

No.3 Church Cottages, Image: Phillip Arnold

TM159 Owner and occupiers for all three cottages owner Sophia Groves Occupiers herself and Benjamin Bensley

The cottages were possibly used as outbuildings in connection with Weylea at one time, including the printing business operated from there.


Peter Groves, agricultural labourer, his sister Sophia, her son Robert and Thomas Walters surgeon.


Thomas Walters, surgeon, Sophia Groves housekeeper, her son Robert and a visitor, William Kidd gentleman

Ann Jackman, widow and her sons, James, Henry and Joseph


Thomas Walters, surgeon and Alice Grove widow and domestic servant

1871 12 Church Street

Robert McCormack, scripture reader, his wife Anne and their children William and Adelaide.

13 Church Street

David Scott, retired inland revenue supervisor, his wife Jane, their daughters, Leonora Steel, master mariners wife, Margaret and Jessie and Walter Steel, grandson.

An entry in Edward Rydes diary for 20th March 1873 reads, Call on Arnold (see The Grange). He walks with me to the Polling Place in Church Cottage where I vote for the School Board. An earlier note of 9th August 1870 mentions Mr and Mrs McCormack of Church Cottage.

1901 Church Street

John Bonner, bricklayers labourer and his wife, Sarah and their children, George, Ethel, Blanche, Frederick and Sidney.

Church Cottage was used as the infirmary for Woking College (see The Grange) and this may explain why there is no entry for the cottage in the 1881-91 Censuses.

The censuses confirm that all three cottages have been tenanted from the Victorian era. However, at least up to 1949, all three cottages had a single owner.

At the sale of the three cottages on 31st August 1908 at the White Hart Hotel, the cottages were described as three old-fashioned cottages let to Messrs Bonner, Weaver and McGee and producing 37 14s 0d per Annum, owner paying rates. A more detailed description given was:

No.1 has a Portico Entrance and contains
Front parlour fitted with Register Stove
Kitchen with Range
Scullery with Copper, Sink and Range
Coal Cellar and
Five bedrooms three having fireplaces
Let to Mr Bonner at 7/- per Week.

Nos 2 and 3 contain Three Rooms

and are let to Messrs Weaver and McGee at 3/6 and 4/- per Week respectively.

There is a Washhouse with Copper and Sink in the yard for the joint use of Nos. 2 and 3.

There is also a Chaise House and Pony Stable together with a paved Yard which is not included in the above Rentals.

When the cottages changed hands in 1909 following the death of Ellen Carter the conveyance noted that the cottages were formerly in the respective occupations of Charles Welch Ann Jackman James Irwin and Sophia Grove then of the Rev. F. Wilson and his under tenants and then were or late were in the respective occupations of Messrs Bonner, Weaver and McGee. The Rev. Francis Wilson was the proprietor of Woking College see above.

Blanche Lilian and Ellen, domestic servant daughters of John Bonner, labourer married William Michael Jones and Charles Henry Hill from Church Cottage in 1918 and 1921 respectively. PR

The premises appear to have been at one time called 12-14 Church Street after their position in Church Street but subsequently the cottages were referred to as Nos.1-3 Church Cottages. The details from the Woking News and Mail directories did not always state in which cottage individual occupants lived as distinct from owners as can be seen from the following entries from those directories.

No numbers quoted

1919-27 John Bonner 1919-27 George Hampton 1919-21 I Stonard 1924-35 S Bonner 1928-30 P Perrier 1931 T Hardy 1932 RMV Perrier

No.1 (12 Church Street)
1935-7 12 Church Street J Bonner 1937 12 Church Street CH Hill 1948 Church Cottages 1 CH Hill

No.2 (13 Church Street)
1935-7 13 Church Street V Bowles 1939 2 Church Street J Bonner 1948 Church Cottages 2 Miss FA Hobbs

No.3 (14 Church Street)
1937 14 Church Street JE Croucher 1948 Church Cottages 3 Mrs ER Stillwell

No numbers quoted
1949 Miss FA Hobbs, Mrs ER Stillwell 1957 Church Cottages VC Yates, EJ Eidings, R Grover 1964 Church Cottages CC Williams, JD Kelly, SAV Staples 1969 SE Lake

For more information about Old Woking visit www.oldwoking.org.


  • AOS the building is included in Surrey County Council’s List of Antiquities and Conservation Areas in the Administrative County of Surrey of 1976. The date shown is that which appears in that volume
  • DBRG the building has been inspected by the Domestic Buildings Research Group (Surrey) and their estimate of age is given
  • LBII the building is listed Grade II
  • PR parish registers of St Peters Old Woking
  • WBC the building appears in Woking Borough Council’s Compendium The Heritage of Woking
  • WNM Directories published by Woking News and Mail

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