THORPE LEA: history of a community over 3000 years on 26th July 2018 by Jill Williams

Thorpe Lea is unusual locally having major changes in settlement. In the Iron Age/Romano-British period numerous small farms ranged between (present day) Thorpe village & Egham, followed by c1500 years of no discernible settlement.  By the 14th century the name of lea is used – East Lea, West Lea & North Lea (later Thorpe Lea). Personal names include North & Thorpe ley. Parts of Homestead Cottage date from the 14thC; Milton Place & Great Fosters existed. The first map, made of the Manor of Milton, was in 1659 & includes the (now) Goose Green House (it has had several names). Around 1716 probably the original Thorpe Lee House (corner of Vicarage & Thorpe Lea Rds) was built. Perhaps these large houses encouraged settlement as by the late 1700s a small hamlet clustered either side of the road from Egham to Thorpe. Then  the road ran south from Vicarage Rd crossing Clockhouse Lane (the King’s Highway).

Drastic change came in 1794 when a branch of the Blackett family bought Thorpe Lee House followed by the cottages/land. They built a new house, also called Thorpe Lea House (I will call it new), diverting the road to its present route & keeping the old road for their drive. Some 15 years later the Enclosure Act changed farming practices-open fields were re-allocated as blocks of land. Goose Green House became freehold in 1877 & just before WW1 Daily Mail Editor, Mr Hamilton-Fyfe, was the owner. In 1940 King Peter & Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia lived there. Across the Meadlake Ditch three new beer (later public) houses appeared along Thorpe Lea Rd in the 1860s, at Frogs Island.  Thomas Eyre bought new Thorpe Lea House from the Blacketts in 1897.  Nursery men began to own land – Thomas Mason, William Sherwood & the Egham-based W Parsons. Boscombe was built c.1900 for Mr Allistone as was, later, Strathcona & Rose Cottage was the ‘holiday’ home of Jean Allistone & her husband Tommy Handley (ITMA). The Allistones 26 acres of land became Warwick (complete by 1937), Asheigh, Clandon & Wavendene Avenues. Warwick Avenue  Hall was built 1949/50. Boscombe was split into flats & then replaced by The Lea (1961) & Boscombe Close (1984). Mayflower Fur Farm appeared, later Mayflower Nursery. The old Thorpe Lee house became a Guest House then a ‘nightclub’ & then offices.  In the 1970s the M25 caused road changes, cutting through Clockhouse & Wickham Lanes. In 1985 the old nursery site from Wavenden Avenue to Ayebridge’s corner, owned  by Express Dairy in the 1950s & 60s, was sold for building land & the ‘Lakes Estate’ created, built by Crest Homes starting in October 1985.

 

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