Pigot’s 1839 directory lists 6 members of the gentry and four clergymen in the parish of Chobham. There are 28 tradesmen and shopkeepers. Apart from the to be expected bakers, drapers, blacksmiths etc, there are two nurserymen; George Jackson who has a nursery at Woking and Michael Waterer who has a nursery at Knaphill. There is a daily post and two carriages a week to London. Click on ‘directories’ in the left margin for more detail.
Each village was obliged to contribute to the Western Battalion of Militia. It appears that men were chosen by ballot; by 1829 enlistment became voluntary. The parish was responsible for conveying the pressed men, and their women, to the barracks at Bridewell.2 p199
Poverty was always a problem. Unemployment practically unknown, except in the Winter when a third of the labourers and boys might be laid off. The period 1830-40 was one of depression and unrest all over the country. There were many cases of arson in 1831-32. A government scheme for the emigration of poor families to Australia and New Zealand was inaugurated, but there were many restrictions as to age, etc.2 p240 Consequently there is a ‘Chobham’ in Australia!
In 1831, an Act of Parliament, The Allotments Act, was passed to allow enclosure of common and waste land to provide allotments to supplement the income of poor labourers of the parish. It appears that sometime between 1830 and 1840, Onslow, the lord of the manor, made land available – probably to the Parish. The allotments and there income was managed by the Poor Allotments Charity (which is still active in Chobham). Successful applicants were given half acre plots at the rent of two shillings an acre – the rent being given to others in need. The men were given seed to start them off and the first year’s rent was free. There were 44 applicants. p8 The plots along the north side of Red Lion Road appears to be in regular half acre parcels and may well have formed the part of the allowance. Allotments were also made available in Donkey Town. Jubilee Mount was one of the first allotments; Big and Little Portobello came a little later. Marlake (the scrap motor yard by Clearmount) may have been enclosed at this time.
In 1848, Onslow leased 100 acres of the common wasteland to the working poor at a shilling an acre.
Many children went into apprenticeships; usually to a trade in London. The overseers of the poor were particularly keen to apprentice their charges out of the parish.2 p200
The two main industries in this area were brick making and white sand extraction. Where clay seems were found in the Bracklesham Beds then brick and tile works sprung up. Bricks were made at Brick Hill and Castle Grove. The very fine white sand was quarried at Burrowhill; at the Metco site.
Chobham had its streets lit by gas from its own gas works by Leslie Road. But the accountant absconded with the money and the works were forced to close.
The Staines-Woking branch of the railway which passed through the north of Chohbam Common to avoid the Portnall Estate was built in 1853. Before then the station at new Woking was used. Travel to London was apparently very quick and it was feasible to go to London and back before lunch. Edward Ryde’s diaries give a insight.
There was a scheme for a light railway linking Woking with Sunningdale, and the Castle Grove was to have been the railway hotel. The two promoters took the scheme to the House of Lords, but later found that they had insufficient money to carry it out.
Tracing the history of Chobham in the 19th C becomes much easier due to the detailed maps and surveys produced. In 1844 and 1865, the surveyor Edward Ryde produced beautifully detailed maps of the Parish. Follow the Ryde hyperlink in the left navigation bar to learn more about Ryde’s surveys and to read the diary he wrote whilst in Chobham. Click on the hyperlinks below to read or download his catalogue of fields surveyed during each survey:-
1845 Tithe Apportionments Book
1865 Parish Map Book
The last common fields in Chobham were enclosed in 1842 and 1855 1 This was relatively late compared with other villages and unlike most villages the Common was not enclosed. The soil was perhaps regarded as too poor to make enclosure worthwhile.
In 1853, in preparation for the Crimea war, the army held the Great Camp on Chobham Common. A detailed description of this camp can be read in the ‘By Subject’ history section.
In 1871 the detailed 1:2500 Ordnance Survey maps were produced. These allow us to trace the existence of almost every house, field, stream, etc in Chobham. They can be viewed in the Surrey History Centre in Woking or downloaded from the link in the navigation bar top left.
From the 18th C onwards several historians toured Surrey and included detailed descriptions of Chobham – see the Sources page.
The following is extracted from Joy Mason’s book “CEBBA’S HAM; THE STORY OF CHOBHAM”.
“Chobham’s heyday was from about 1780 until the railway came and Woking Station, as the new town was first called, became established. At this time many old houses in the village were replaced by the modern slate-roofed villas which we see today. By 1850 Chobham’s isolation ceased and it began to be a dormitory, in consequence of which land values increased, properties were split up and the land developed.
It is interesting to note that from about 1870 the old farmhouses were being modernised. The old front and back kitchens became parlour and kitchen, the open hearths were bricked up and either small grates or ranges were fitted. The bread ovens disappeared and with them went the home baking of bread heralding the arrival of bread deliveries and an increase of baker’s shops. Here we are one hundred years later reopening the old hearths and once more baking bread at home.
Gradually the old farms were sold to non-farmers until today there is scarcely a working farm left in the parish. During this period there was a great deal of buying, selling and mortgaging of land and property. If a man had enough money saved the only way he had to make that saving increase was to invest in bricks and mortar or land. Thus most of the trades people owned property, the amount depending on how they prospered.
Three wealthy families — the Abdys, the Caldwells and the Le Marchants, who were all related by marriage, did a great deal of property speculating. The Abdys lived at Chobham Place and were responsible for building the main block of the house as we see it today, using an old site called Ruden or Radium; it was there that the Abbot built his rabbit house in 1335.
The next family, the Caldwells, were extremely wealthy, owning large properties in Ireland and two mansions in London; there were six of them, all of whom owned or rented property in Chobham at one time or another. In 1869 William Charles bought at auction Old Chobham House; he demolished this in 1870, building the present house more or less on the same site. His sister, Mary Catherine, owned The Ford at the time of her death; it was then called by its old name of St. Julyans.
The third family, the Le Marchants, made their home at Chobham Place, although they also had large properties in Norfolk. They were a military family and were responsible for the building of Sandhurst at Camberley. The great Duke of Wellington was a frequent visitor to Chobham Place and was godfather to one of the Le Marchant boys. He too was involved in land and property speculating in Chobham. The last of the family to live in Chobham died in 1954; the contents of the mansion were then auctioned on the premises and included among the sale items was a doll’s house replica of Chobham Place. It was made for two little Le Marchant girls and with it was a letter to them written by the aunt who had commissioned the doll’s house. In the letter she asks them how the news of “the Great Victory”, Waterloo, was celebrated in Chobham. How nice it would have been to have had their reply.
Another family who were large land owners in Chobham were the Mumfords. William Mumford was valet to Sir Anthony Thomas Abdy who, on his death in 1775 left to his valet some property in Chobham. In 1791 Samuel Mumford, son of William, and described as a yeoman of Chobham, married Sarah Chitty at St. Margaret’s Westminster. She was said to be twenty three, but his age is not mentioned although they were both accounted for as minors. They were married by license and had six children , three boys and three girls; Sarah died at the birth of the youngest child in 1799. Samuel Mumford junior, third child and eldest son of the six died in 1870. On his death his extensive property, in Chobham, was sold at auction at the Sun Inn, Chobham on 8th February 1870 by a Mr. Wetherall. The particulars and posters were printed by Medhurst and Son, machine printers of Chobham. The property mostly in the Grantbourne area, was sold in fourteen lots which included:— Grants House, now called Granthourne, and Grants Farmhouse which lay beside the river and fronted the Guildford road; Lukes plat cottage and garden now called Flexlands Farmhouse, and the Saw Pit field on which stands the Village Hall and the shops beside it. Also included in the sale was Buckshotstone Farm, now Buckstone, lots 18 and 14. Thirteen acres of fields along the Windlesham road were bought by William Caldwell for £700, a high price for those days.”
Population and Area
Males 701, females 628. Total 1325.
Inhabited houses 259 occupied by 265 families. Uninhabited 3.
Families employed in agriculture 194, in trade 48, others 21.
1937 inhabitants (Pigot’s directory)
In 1866 Edward Ryde surveyed the parish of Chobham for the Parochial Assessment for its contribution to the Chertsey Union Poor House. Ryde surveyed it as having 9,448 acres of which 5000 was enclosed (2658 arable and 1672 grass, 61 woodland, 47 homesteads and gardens). There were 270 proprietors upon the enclosed lands. There were 4500 acres of common lands.
There were 462 houses (206 cottages, 78 farm houses and 128 other houses and shops).
1 Surrey Archaeological Collections XLVIII
2 Egham. Frederick Turner. 1926