Services for Weybridge
General Information for Weybridge
The name comes from the bridge on the highway to Chertsey, of which there is evidence as early as 1235. Weybridge, part of the Manor of Byfleet, was of small importance during the Middle Ages and, even as late as the 16th century, the inhabitants asked to be excused from conveying the royal baggage as they only had one cart! The royal baggage in question was that intended for Oatlands Palace, constructed in 1537 by Henry VIII. The palace was demolished around 1650 and many of the bricks were used to build the lock walls on the Wey Navigation. This was one of the earliest canalised rivers in England.
In the late 1670's, another great house was built by the Duke of Norfolk to the design of the celebrated architect, William Talman. It later came into the possession of Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester, whose husband, the Earl of Portmore, gave it his name. The Third Earl let the house fall into ruin and all that remains now is a pair of gate piers at the end of Portmore Park Road. Nearby, Monument Green is a tiny grassy triangle at the east end of the HIgh Street, named after the tall stone column that commemorates the Duchess of York who died in 1820. Adjacent to the Green is The Ship Inn, which still maintains its late 17th century facade.
During the eighteenth century, Weybridge had many famous residents:- The Earl of Torrington at Oatlands Park, Admiral Sir Thomas Hopson (the hero of Vigo Bay), the Hon. George Clinton at Clinton House (now part of St. Maur), Sir Thomas Riggs Popham, the inventor of the Naval semaphore, John Austin, author, Fanny Kemble, actress and Mrs. Gwyn and Mrs. Bunbury (Goldsmith's 'Jessamy Bridge' and 'Little Comedy').
In 1800 Enclosure Acts were passed for Walton & Weybrige. The main beneficiary in Weybridge being the Duke of York who greatly enlarged his Oatlands estate. In 1838, the first section of the London & Southampton Railway was opened as far as Woking and this began the transformation of Weybridge from a quiet rural backwater. Many villas belonging to wealthy city men were soon lining the slopes above Broadwater in Oatlands and those of St. George's Hill.
Behind the Roman Catholic Church of St. Charles Borromeo in Heath Road is the original chapel built in 1834/36 by James Taylor. A curious building with a dome between four embattled turrets, it was used by the exiled French King Louis Phillipe and his Queen who drove over from Claremont, Esher. Later, it was to shelter their graves and those of some of their Court, until the removal of the bodies to Dreux in France. Only the tomb of the Duchess of Nemours now remains there.
In 1907, in the fields bordering the river Wey, Hugh Locke-King, the owner of Brooklands House,built the first motor racing track in England. Here, for thirty-two years, until its destruction in the Second World War,
the most famous drivers in the world competed for victory.
Part of the track is still preserved and an interesting and thriving museum of motor racing and aviation stands at the site, utilising the restored Clubhouse.
The oldest air booking office in the world still survives and the airfield, in the
centre of the race track, saw some of the earliest flights in England. Vickers established an aircraft factory adjacent to the site which was later taken over by British Aerospace, formerly the British Aircraft Corporation. The factory built many legends including the 'Wellington Bomber', the 'Dambusters' bomb and Concorde (which now can be seen in Brooklands Museum).
Weybridge grew into a commuter town with the advent of the fast train link into London Waterloo and a lot of 'new' houses have been built around the Oatlands Park and Broadwater Lake area.
The estate at St. George's Hill still remains exclusive but the old mansions have been replaced with large private residencies, one being owned by Sir Cliff Richard, who is often seen around the Weybridge area.
Behind the High Street, where the Library and Elmbridge Museum reside, is a large, well-maintained park.