According to Arthur Locke, the house was previously known as The High House. Pevsner says nothing to notice (in Church Street) except perhaps Weylea .. big plain three storeyed C18 brick. The tiles on the roof show the date 1881 and presumably this is when the roof was re-tiled
Robert Harvest in his will made 19th March 1739 refers to my messuage and tenement near the Church Yard of Woking with the gardens, orchards and courtyard with the new building called the High buildings thereon lately erected in the tything of Towne Street. An advertisement in the London Evening Post in 1749 announced:
At Woking in Surrey near the Church. A New built brick House, sashd, four Rooms on a Floor, good Garrets, a very good Garden walld in, well planted with the best Fruit Trees now in perfection, a very good Summer-house, Stabling for three Horses, with or without ten Acres of Meadow Land in Closes; a navigable River comes to the Town, and a Stage Coach comes within a Mile and a half; four Miles from Guildford, five from Chertsey.
Enquire for further Particulars of Mr. Matthew East, Distiller, the corner of St.
Brides-Alley in Fleet Street; and of Mr George Harvest, brewer, in Woking, or of Mr. Abraham Harvest, brewer, in Old Brentford.
According to the surviving Land Tax records for Woking, the owner of the house between 1780 and 1811 was the East family varyingly described as Mrs or Mr and on one occasion in 1801 as Joseph East. In 1812 the owner appears as Henry Grant but this was probably an error. There is no trace of the East family in the St Peters registers. Occupiers are only shown for the early years, Richard Grant and Briant for 1780/1, just Briant for the next two years and James Farley for 1785/6.
Arthur Locke says Mr Bensley, a London publisher, opened a printing works in Church Street. Alan Crosby confirms a printing business was established there in 1837 opposite St Peters church and transferred to Guildford in 1856. Although both Weylea and Church Cottage were occupied by Benjamin Bensley, the printing business was not conducted from these premises but from a site opposite to St Peters roughly in the area subsequently occupied by the village school now the Church Centre. Joseph Billing, a subsequent owner of the business, is shown in nearby Shackleford in the 1851 Census.
The house (then High House) is described in the Woking College Regulations as being under the care of the Second Master and containing one class-room and four bedrooms for the elder boys.
The regulations go on to say All boys who desire it, can have gardens in the High House garden. They are under a high south wall and quite sheltered from the north and east winds. These gardens are very popular in the spring and summer months.
According to the census returns 1841-1901 the occupants of the house were
- Benjamin Bensley, printer, his wife Sarah and their children, John James Cook, also a printer, Thomas, Herbert Carke, William Roe, Joseph Browing, Oliver Henry, Elizabeth Ellen, Samuel, Rose and Mary plus three servants Catherine Helme, Sarah Elvert and Anne Styles.
- High House John King, his wife Ann and their daughter Charlotte plus two servants, Ann Windowbank and Eliza Downes and five visiting children, Fanny and William Shaw and Ann, Ellen and Arabella Watson.
- Shackleford Joseph Billing, printer and stereotyper employing 36 persons, his wife Sarah and their children, Joseph and Robert plus Mary Percy house servant.
- Bradshaw Walmsley, fundholder, his wife Agnes and children, Agnes, Flora, Percy, Constance, Eugenie, Ada, Edmund and an unnamed two month old daughter plus Nancy Welch nurse and Sarah Johnson cook.
- RH Seddon, assistant master in school, Edith Kingsley retired hospital nurse and housekeeper, Janette Smith widow and retired housekeeper and Frederick Pope domestic gardener.
- Ernest Warren, living on own means, his wife Lottie, their son Eric and their servants, Thora Michelson, cook and Gertrude New, housemaid
The Woking News and Mail Directories show the occupants as:
1921-1949 AE Garrod 1957 Dr JW Dalgleish, IS Dalgleish 1964-9 Dr JW Dalgleish
For more information about Old Woking visit www.oldwoking.org.