Services for Walton-On-Thames
General Information for Walton-On-Thames
Although many prehistoric finds have been made in the neighbourhood of Walton, especially along the riverside, the town seems to have been a Saxon settlement.
At the end of Queen Elizabeth I's reign it gained some modest notoriety by being identified by William Camden, the Antiquary, as the place where Caesar forded the Thames during his second invasion of Britain. As Caesar recorded that the crossing was defended by stakes driven into its bed, Camden chose for the site Coway Stakes. Camden's view still lingers though historical opinion now favours other places
In the Doomsday Survey "Waletona", as the place was written, (derived from the Old English: Wealh = Welshman, Briton, Serf and Tun = enclosure, settlement, town) was described as having a church, two mills and a fishery. In 1516 Henry VIII granted the people two fairs a year which continued until 1878.
In 1583 Walton, like the rest of the neighbourhood, was incorporated with Henry VIII's Chase of Hampton Court. Although the village was outside the park fence, local cultivation suffered and everybody was inconvenienced by the imposition of forest law. When the King died the deer park was discontinued and life gradually returned to normal.
Until 1750 the river could only be crossed by ford or ferry. In that year Samuel Dicker, the wealthy owner of the land on the Walton side, built a wooden toll bridge which was replaced in 1786 by a brick structure. This collapsed in 1859 and was replaced by an iron bridge in 1864. The toll rights were bought out in 1870.
Damaged during the last war, the iron bridge was declared unsafe for traffic in 1955, and a "temporary" Bailey-bridge (seen above) added for use of traffic. On the Shepperton side one of the toll houses can still be seen. A new "temporary" bridge has just been built and opened just before the turn of the century. This is because the Bailey-bridge had become unsafe and no County Council funding was available for a permanent bridge. The temporary bridge only has planning permission for 10 years, so Walton should see a new permanent one towards the end of that period.
Until 1800 Walton was a tiny village surrounded by the parks and open common lands.There was hardly any industry and the population mostly lived by agriculture, market gardening and servicing the big estates. Between 1800 and 1804 the commons were enclosed and communal fields divided up into individual farms. In 1838 the railway came to Walton and in the 1840's, Oatlands Park was sold for residential development. In 1895 Walton was constituted an Urban District and its population has continued to grow ever since.
St. Mary's Church stands on the highest point of the town. Of Saxon origins, parts date from the 12th to 15th centuries. The square flint tower supported by 19th century angle buttresses in brick, contains a peal of eight bells, the oldest of which bears the date 1606. The church contains many monuments. The most notable, in the north aisle, is to Field Marshal Viscount Shannon who died in 1740. It is one of the best works of the sculptor Francois Roubiliac. The Field Marshal is shown standing before a tent surrounded by the accoutrements of war.
Also in the north aisle is a palimpsest brass to John Selwyn, once keeper of the Royal Park at Oatlands, who died in 1587. In the chancel floor is a black marble slab commemorating the death in 1681 of William Lilly, one of the most notorious astrologers of his day. There is a replica of a 17th century scold's bridle (the original was stolen in 1965) and in the gallery, a late 17th century organ case. The churchyard contains some fine tombstones among them a stone to Edward "Lumpy" Stevens, a notable cricketer who died in 1821 and whose bowling led indirectly to the third stump.
On a clear day, from atop the church tower (which is open to the public on one or two days per year), landmarks from Canary Wharf to Windsor castle can be identified.
There were several large country estates surrounding the town. Ashley Park, once part of Oatlands, formerly ran down to Walton town, with a fine avenue of trees terminating in the High Street. Its distinguished occupants included Christopher Villiers, Earl of Anglesey, brother of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, Charles I's favourite who was murdered at Portsmouth. The Fletchers owned it in the 18th century and the Sassons from the middle of the last century, before selling it for development in 1924. The mansion, dating from the early 17th century with Tudor origins, was demolished and the numbered parts sold to an American purchaser. New Zealand Avenue was developed across the northern part of the park.
Until recently Mount Felix mansion occupied the high ground on the Walton side of the bridge. This was the home of Samuel Dicker, the builder of the first Walton bridge. The house was rebuilt on a monumental scale in the middle of the last century by Sir Charles Barry for the Earl of Tankerville. During the 1914-18 war it became a military hospital for the New Zealand troops. The mansion was demolished in 1967 but an imposing stable block remains, having been restored by Wacker Chemicals.
At the northern end of the parish the pre-conquest manor of Apps was excavated for reservoirs at the end of the last century. Other great houses were Walton Lodge, believed to have been the home of Sir John Vanbrugh's parents, and the Grove, a house dating back to mediaeval times. Elm Grove estate, a gracious brick mansion built about 1812, survives in the hands of the Council. In front stands a magnificent evergreen oak. Occupied by Prince Louis of Battenburg, in the summer of 1894 the last Czar of Russia, Nicholas, then Czarovitch, stayed here for several weeks with his future bride, Princess Alix of Hess-Darmstadt.
Numbers 23 to 27 in Church Street date from the 17th century and were formerly the White Hart Inn, closed down in 1905 but known to have been in business here as early as 1700. Number 47 in High Street with a Dutch gable end is traditionally said to have been home for a time of General Ireton, who married Oliver Cromwell's daughter Bridget. In the 19th century Sir Arthur Sullivan lived at River House, Manor Road, now Council property.
In Manor Road stands the Manor House of Walton Leigh, a long timber-framed and brick building dating far back into the middle ages. Old books record a tradition that John Bradshaw, president of the Court which sentenced Charles I to death, lodged here.
Walton's affairs have long been associated with the river. There was an ancient wharf not far from the Swan Inn from at least 1485. Regattas were held on the river from the 18th century and they continue to be held. The stretch of water from Walton backwater to the main weir at Sunbury Lock is known as the Walton Mile.
In the last few years the popularity of small boats on the river has increased enormously and there is a marina at Walton.
Elmbridge councillors have given the go-ahead for a new shopping centre to be built in Walton. Called the Heart, it is planned to have about 40 shops together with a food superstore. The scheme will include a new glass covered walkway from New Zealand Avenue and an entrance from the High Street to the town square and a four storey car park for 770 cars. The first phase of the shopping centre is nearing completion and is due to be fully open in Autumn 2006. Beales department store has been demolished and is being replaced by a 'Sail' building.
Hersham - Walton Village
Hersham Local History
Hersham began as a small hamlet on the edge of what used to be Walton Common, at a point where the Molesey-Cobham and Esher-Chertsey roads intersected. The name almost certainly goes back to Saxon times.
Henry VIII's conversion of the district into a deer park in 1539 totally engulfed Hersham. Forest laws protected the game and local tenants were inconvenienced. Although, theoretically the tenants rights were protected, it was impossible to stop the deer devastating their crops. Complaints were innumerable and, in despair, cultivation was neglected and cottagers began to leave the district. It was not until after the King's death in 1548 that the Chase of Hampton Court was discontinued and the Crown released the land to a much smaller number of 'farmers'.
Until 1804 much of the land between Hersham Green and St. George's Hill consisted of open heathland known as Hersham Common. In 1804 it was enclosed by Act of Parliament and the present straight roads laid down. Many of the fine oak trees which survive, date from this period when they were planted as boundary marks.
In the 1820's, Hersham developed as a country retreat for prosperous Londoners who began building villas on the newly enclosed land. For their convenience, a chapel of ease, dedicated to the Holy Trinity and served from Walton, was erected in 1839 on a site to the north east of the present church.
With the arrival of the railway at Walton in 1838, the population began to increase. In 1851, Hersham, hitherto part of the parish of Walton, was established as a separate ecclesiastical parish.
In the 1880's, the old chapel became too small and the present church was erected and dedicated to St. Peter, the consecration taking place in 1887.
In 1895, Hersham became one of the three original wards of the newly formed Walton Urban District.Since 1918, Hersham has changed from a small country village depending on the large houses and local market gardening into a network of roads and industries. The centre of Hersham was redeveloped around 1985 to provide a shopping complex, 'The Hersham Centre', a new village hall and a day centre for the elderly. These developments have been skilfully sited so as to fit in with a lot of the original buildings and the village green thus maintaining Hersham's old village charm.
Local car dealership, Withams in Hersham Road, took a Skoda franchise in 1974 and have been appointed a Centre of Quality and Technical Expertise (one of only seven in the UK).