We have now published Thorpe Lea- the story of change in this part of Thorpe

The price for this illustrated 42 page booklet is £5.50 & if ordering by post will be £7.50.  We have only had 50 printed but might consider a re-print if there is sufficient demand. As Egham Museum is closed for an indefinite period, please contact J Williams on ebrhistsoc@gmail.com about this. We can only take cheques payable to Egham-by-Runnymede Historical Society.

Thorpe Lea book

Members of Egham by Runnymede Historical Society may not be aware we are members of Surrey Archaeological Society and therefore receive their publications & reports.

We have the current edition of Surrey History which has the contents as follows

1. Some thoughts on the early development of Cobham 2. Surrey in the Great war: A County remembers 3. The Tin Tabernacles of surrey, Part 2 4. Accessions received by Surrey History Centre 5. Item 1 although not in the same format as the Surrey Villages in Maps series (of which Thorpe is one) explores some ideas in the same vein. Item 2 gives links to their website for World War 1 references. Item 3 looks at the Outer London boroughs but the Addendum includes an iron mission church in New Road, Egham. This is now Wendover Road. We also have the Surrey Industrial History Group newsletter November 2019 & their programme (see http://www.sigh.org.uk) includes talks for 7 Jan 2020 A drop of the hard stuff a century of brewing & mineral water making in Bury St ,Guildford, 21 Jan The Zeppelin Onslaught, 4 Feb The History of Westland Aircraft, 18 Feb Industrial History at the Mills Archive & 3 Mar Sentinals at Sea – lighthouses. These journals & others we keep in a box on a bookshelf in the Research Room (Egham Museum) and can be looked at on the premises

Good News

The Egham by Runnymede Historical Society project to fund the digitization of three early 20th century local newspaper has been completed.

The papers are October 1908 to 1909, 1910 and 1912 and are available in pdf or tiff format and as notepad. The latter has a word search but due to the delicate state of the paper not every word has been recognised so viewing the other formats is advised.

Having carried out this project the originals need not be used and therefore will not be further degraded.

The images are free to view in the Research Room of the Egham Museum in the Literary Institute, in the High St, when the museum is open to the public.

Guildford in the Second World War by David Rose given on June 20th 2019.

David brought momentoes of World War 2 – shrapnel, bullets, window (radar confusing strip) – & his talk was based on family recollections & research. His career in local newspapers gave him a good grounding & he has written a book on the subject.  He interviewed women who were in the Land Army. Scrapbooks in the Surrey History Centre containing newspaper cuttings annotated with detailed notes were invaluable in adding information to the restrictions imposed on papers. A bomb map for Guildford, helped confirm local opinion. Most bombs were dropped north east to south west & it is thought many were jettisoned randomly.  People lost their lives from bombing but reports of damage were upbeat.

Guildford had barracks, now housing, depot of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment & a training centre. Dennis Brothers made tanks, pumps & fire engines, staff almost doubling to around 6000. David’s mother operated a drilling machine & was a Fire Watcher in her spare time. German air photos showed factories, including Dennis’s,  but it was not bombed. Merrow Home Guard included artist, Ernest Sheppard, who illustrated Winnie The Pooh books. Children collected bits of bombs and bullets which just fell from the skies during air battles.  The infamous raid on Brooklands was one event. Unexploded bombs were another menace: some people charged spectators to look at these to raise money for the RAF. The military build up to D-Day concentrated soldiers along the North Downs. If it failed then this could have been the final battle line for England. In May 1944 Montgomery came to address troops at Aldbury Heath and with persistence from an elderly woman who recalled this event a plaque now records the visit. Just outside Guildford, near the Golf Club, was POW Camp 57; it first housed Italian POWs, who worked locally on farms. The Germans POWs were kindly treated by the British, Bert Trautmann, the well known goal keeper remarked on this. Once the POWs had gone, British people moved in -there was a severe housing shortage. There were VE & VJ Day parties. Survivals – the dragons teeth & pillboxes – are now under threat from re-development: perhaps information plaques could be introduced to tell the story.

Egham by Runnymede Historical Society new project

EbRHS is funding a pilot project to see if some newspapers, which are over 100 years old, can be digitized to allow searching on any subject. Three volumes have been selected and it is hoped to have some results by the end of the summer. The original newspapers are now very fragile and it is hoped the digital images will help researchers into local history find a new source of interest.

The images show how they look today.

DSCF7122                     DSCF7123


Englefield Green War Memorial by John Scott,MBE

Englefield Green War Memorial is in the grounds of Englefield Green Cemetery where originally only a Cross of Sacrifice was erected, without names. There was a board in the British Legion Hall with all those who went to WW1 and the 22 who did not return, all but one coming from the Green. John visited the Egham Museum to begin searching for names in the newspapers & was quickly directed to EbRHS & ex RAF member, Jim Choules, who had been researching, for about five years, all the war dead in the local area. A file of Jim’s work is available in the Museum. The idea of a War Memorial was suggested. By March 2014 99 Englefield Green names from WW1 & 24 from WW2 had been found. 329 men volunteered in WW1 & of the 64 CWG for WW1, 32 were from Canada & 32 from Britain with 12 from Englefield Green. John searched regimental archives to find what their units were doing on the day they died.

There was discussion about location and design: one with columns & seats was trialled, public opinion sought & modifications made finally opting for a seating area surrounding 7 columns. These align on significant points & carry the following- 1 (the tallest) has Services & Canadian flags, 2-Commonwealth War Grave names, 3-two thirds of the WW1 names, 4–remaining WW1 & WW2 names. 5-the 32 Canadian Forestry Corps & 2 infantry men, 6-later used for those decorated in combat, even if not killed & thoughts from local schoolchildren, 7-those who died out of CWGC range of years as a result of injuries & 8-Benjamin Ready, Royal Marine Commando, killed in Afghanistan. There were many contributors, true for many successful projects. Information about the building was deposited on the site in perpetuity. Local schools visit on the Friday before Remembrance Sunday to talk about remembrance. The Opening Ceremony was a busy day with about 300 attending. The columns were unveiled & pupils read out individual stories of the fallen. Details of all the dead were posted on the railings of the Cemetery & these are put in place each year.


Egham Scrapbook coverThis will be available from November 15th price £8

The 68 page book contains 170 illustrations, many of which are in colour, showing the changing face of Egham even into the recent past. These are not illustrations that have been used in the previous ‘Picture Books’ about Egham.

An Egham Scrapbook begins at Staines Bridge and continues along the Causeway into The Avenue and Egham High Street  to finish at the foot of Egham Hill. Some additional illustrations from Englefield Green, Thorpe and Virginia Water are included.

The weight is just over 400g so that postage on this item is £1.74.

Initially it will be for sale in the Egham Museum on the first floor of the Literary Institute and at our November meeting.

Could this be an ideal Christmas present?



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.




Brian’s lecture was adapted from one given to undergraduates at UCL & looked at 10 buildings from the Norman Conquest to the modern day representing stylistic changes & illustrating how architecture reflects society. Two questions were asked of each building – what did it mean when built and what does it mean to us now? The buildings were The Tower of London. It showed the Normans were staying & now reflects the ‘Disney’ aspect of mass tourism. The Holy Trinity Chapel at Canterbury Cathedral in the Romanesque Gothic style housed the Shrine of St Thomas a Becket. It was a success in manipulating beliefs and now marks authenticity even though pilgrims today are tourists. Ightham Moat was a reflection of peace in England. This family building was altered without sentiment but is now preserved rigidly. The Queen’s House, Greenwich in the Italianate Palladian) style was the first in England to reflect classical architecture. It made a splendid backdrop to the equestrian arena for the 2012 Olympics. Danson House, Bexley is a perfect late 18thC Palladian Villa, built for a wealthy London merchant. New mercantile wealth was mingled with sophistication, attributes still shown by those with recent wealth (but possibly less style). St Pancras Station, is industrial Victorian era disguised in High Victorian Gothic Revival. George Gilbert Scott was the architect of the hotel & W H Barlow was responsible for the Station canopy, the largest steel structure in the world. St Pancras was saved from demolition in the 1960s. We now have a more mature view of the past, allowing the new world to function in the old. Royal Holloway College is an an innovative & philanthropic Victorian building. Crossland was a pupil of GG Scott and there are many similarities. Pevsner praised its self confidence & now it reminds us of the stupendous wealth in Victorian times. The Royal Festival Hall is the only surviving part of the Festival of Britain. Then it was a statement about optimism – brave new world- & still a good cultural experience in spite of what might be seen a paternalism. Bankside Power Station (1955-1981) – then utilities were built by distinguished English architects, maybe a cathedral of modern times, especially now it is Tate Modern. 5 million people view ‘modern relics’ & it is busiest on Sunday. The Great Court at British Museum was opened in 2000 to solve the lack of exhibition space. Foster & Partners covered over 2 acres with a glass roof releasing qualities not seen before.


This talk showed a local view of attitudes to the right to vote for women & set it in the frame work of national debate. In 1866 an alumnus of Bedford College organised a suffrage petition which failed & even at the turn of the 19th century there was a belief that education would harm women’s health. At Royal Holloway College (RHC) there were both Old Students & Current Students Suffrage Societies. Debates, often heated, were held and there was division within, a vote in 1906 had 109 for but 40 against. Nationally there were the NUWSS (National Union of women’s Suffage Societies) and the WSPU (Women’s Social & Political Union) formed in Woking. Both contained Suffragists (law abiding) and Suffragettes (non law abiding). In 1913 the Picture gallery had to close due to Suffragette disturbances and Lady White’s (empty) house in Englefield Green was burnt down in an arson attack. There is well known footage of Emily W Davison being killed as a result of stepping onto the Derby course during the famous race – she had briefly studied at RHC following the loss of incmoe on her father’s death. The First world War meant that women took the places of many men & strenghtened their claim to be recognised. A conference on electoral reform in 1916/17 recommended limited women’s suffrage but cautious approval to the 1918 Act (women over 30 allowed to vote) indicated there was further to go. Full voting rights were only granted in 1928.

A synopsis of January’s talk will follow shortly.


Addlestone’s different geology to Egham, a more varied topography & less flood plain, influenced development. Archaeology includes hand axes & microliths, crafted from imported Salisbury Plain flint & a Paleolithic kill site which also had Bronze & Iron Age, Roman & early Saxon occupation items.

The wooden Wey Bridge(s) were replaced by the 1865 stone bridge carrying this major route which was also the Addlestone/Weybridge boundary. Crockford Bridge’s name is thought to be associated with potters, rather than crooked & its medieval village was later deserted There was also a causewayed camp of similar dimensions to the Yeoveney Camp near Staines/Egham. These occupation sites surrounded by triple, interrupted, ditches (about 90 country-wide) were continental There is another at Eton and (if the spacing is regular) may suggest another existed near Penton Hook

Two Magna Carta barons, Henry de Bohun & Geoffrey de Say, & their descendant families were associated with Addlestone. Sayes Court, painted by Hassell, was one of the principal houses. In the 1450s Addlestone had a white wine growing vineyard owned by William de Saye. The records of Manors of Walton Leigh & Chertsey Beomund & Pyrford mention the Crockford family. Oatlands Palace was close by (the bricks may have come from Chertsey Abbey) as were other local palaces like Hampton Court & Byfleet.  Victory Park, opposite the c1600 George Inn, contains sites associated with tile making c1575 to c1630. Addlestone remained sparsely populated until the Wey Navigation (1650s) and the later railway (14 Feb 1848) arrived. Crockford Mill began as an iron mill later a corn & adjacent silk mill. By the 19thC Addlestone was a separate parish & St Paul’s Church built (after the Baptist Chapel of 1812). Private houses were built & industry moved in – the Bleriot factory produced biplanes for WWI and later cars & buses. In its heyday some 7000 people were employed and the modern town developed.