The Parish of Chobham is remarkably rich in old and beautiful houses. No fewer than forty-seven are included in the Certified Statutory List published by Surrey County Council as buildings of special architectural or historic interest. These are in addition to some twenty falling within the Conservation Area in the centre of the village. Indeed Chobham can be considered as much a repository of yeoman dwellings as are many of the famous Kent Wealden villages.
Naturally extensions and alterations have taken place to all houses and cottages down the centuries, but in general have not masked nor spoiled the basic characteristics of their oldest portions.
Click on a title on the left for detailed information on a selection of Chobham houses and a list of medieval houses.
The following selection of houses and cottages around Chobham has been chosen as being good examples of particular architectural styles with reasonable visibility from the road.
Perhaps the oldest style still evident today is the ‘open-hall’ type of house. From medieval times until the middle 16th C, a farmer’s house would often be a simple single-storey single-roomed house somewhat in the style of a barn – an open-hall house. The farmer’s family would live at one end of the room, the servants at the other. In the middle was an open hearth without a chimney, the smoke from which escaped through vents (gablets) in the roof ends.
Gracious Pond Farm is an example of a house which has been developed from an original open-hall house of this period. A floor has been inserted half way up the original hall to create two storeys.
In the South-east, open hall houses with open hearths had been generally abandoned by the end of the fifteenth century to be replaced with houses of two storeys throughout.p261 However, in a poor heathland village such as Chobham this process appears to have taken half a century longer. Old Pound Cottage, a hall house, has been dendro dated to 1540; this is the most latest construction date found for any hall house identified by the Surrey Dendrochronology Project.
The introduction of two storeys throughout meant that an open hearth became impractical. It became normal practice to partition off a part the first floor of the house – the ‘smoke bay’ to take the smoke directly up to the roof space.p261 When in the second half of the 16th C chimneys were introduced, they generally were built in the position of the smoke bay and often, as is probably the case with Fowlers Wells, obliterated any evidence for the smoke bay.
After the 16th century, smoke bays developed into chimneys. Gracious Pond Farm appears to have followed all these stages of development, from open-hall to smoke-bay to chimney.
The earliest houses that we have were made by constructing a timber box-frame and then filling the wall spaces with wattle and daub. Unfortunately the wattle tended to rot and little has survived in external walls. Brick nogging has been the usual replacement, as in Gracious Pond Farm.
Buckstone Farm, Windlesham Road is one of the most visually impressive ‘black and white’ timber framed houses around Chobham. The spaces between the external frame timbers have been filled with brick and then plastered over to retain the original impression of wattle and daub.
Steep Acre.GIF (12897 bytes)Steep Acre, Windlesham Road is a superb example of an early two-storey four-bay house with a narrow central smoke-bay (where the new chimney rises); all dating originally from the sixteenth century. The Windlesham Road has many fine old farmhouses.
Brooklands House.GIF (10751 bytes)
By the early 18th century, timber framing had given way to brick construction.
Brooklands House, Philpot Lane shows the development of the brick house, yet retaining the timber framing for the internal partition walls. It is an eighteenth century brick built house of handsome and dignified proportions with the symmetry expected in Georgian homes.
Little Heath Farm.GIF (15076 bytes) As confidence in the use of brick increased there was a corresponding decline in skill in the use of timber.
Little Heath Farm represents a transition between the two periods. It is a dignified and symmetrical cross-passage farmhouse built on the edge of the common, probably in the late 17th C. The building is of rich coloured brick set mainly in Flemish bond.
Brook Place.GIF (12047 bytes)Brook Place is an example of confident building in brick. It is an interesting 17th century house on the Bagshot Road about a mile to the west of Chobham village. The house is built of red brick with tiled roof, and has a fine stack of square chimneys. The main front faces towards the road and has an ogee shaped Dutch gable at its west portion which displays a panel inscribed “WB 1656”. On the south and east fronts are similar gables but without panels; on the west a later timber and plaster wing has been added.
Whilst farmhouses developed in style and size to match the growing prosperity of Chobham’s yeoman farmers, the cottages of the poor remained humble. Turf-walled single-roomed huts were common amongst the poorest families. These dwellings were very simple indeed – a hanging blanket served for the door and usually there were no windows at all. Fortunately, perhaps, none have survived in their original state. Another simple method of building was ‘cob’ – a mixture of clay and some binding material such as heather was used to form the walls. It is said that the walls of these simple single-storey cottages could be put up in a single day. Two cottages believed to be of cob construction can still be found on the southern edge of the Common.