Hersham – A History!
Hersham – A History!
Hersham was originally called Heverisham, a name derived from Hauerichesham or Haeferic’s Hamlet, the name given to the small piece of woodland on the banks of the River Mole by the first permanent Saxon settlers.
For the majority of its history, Hersham has been regarded as part of Walton on Thames, but in 1272, it had its own court, held by Reginald de Imworth, who held land throughout Elmbridge. The only recorded manor in Hersham was Morehall, otherwise known as Sylkesmore, or Southwood, which was in the possession of John Carleton until 1540, when it was acquired, along with much of the rest of Hersham, by Henry VIII. Two years earlier, the king had raided Southwood, (the South Wood) for 80 loads of timber in for the building of Nonsuch Palace, so possibly there wasn’t a great deal left of the wood to purchase, which maybe why in 1579, the wood was described as a coppice!
The manor passed out of Crown hands in the reign of Henry’s daughter Mary, first to the Vincent family and then to the Frederick family, until it vanished completely in the early 19th century, when the village began to acquire an identity of its own, becoming a separate parish in 1851.
The village’s first church, a “Chapel of Ease” was built in 1839 on the Burwood Road. It served the village for 50 years before being demolished two years after the building of the parish church of St. Peter immediately behind it. A commemorative stone in the churchyard marks the approximate position of the chapel’s altar. St. Peter’s lych gate was gifted in 1896 by Mrs. Courtenay Terry, of Shrublands, Burwood Road, as a memorial to her husband, Major Courtenay Forbes Terry, and salvaged bricks from the demolition of Shrublands in 1931 have been used to make the path from the gate to the church.
Barley Mow roundabout
A distinctive, circular Congregational Chapel was built in 1844 on the Esher Road, only demolished for road widening in 1961, to be replaced by the petrol station on the Barley Mow roundabout.
Adjoining St.Peter’s church, a small piece of land was requisitioned to become the village Memorial Garden, starting with the Wayside Cross that was erected in 1920 to commemorate the 115 Hersham men who lost their lives in the First World War. The pond on the site was filled in and gradually a peaceful and pleasant garden was established, that was recently awarded Centenary Field status.
In 1842, the village school was built almost opposite the old chapel and this still stands as a Nursery School, though obviously much altered and developed.
The cerebral heart of Hersham, if not the geographical centre, is the Village Green, which is one of the few remaining acres of the village’s ancient commonland and was the site of the village pump. The adjacent Queens Road, named after Queen Victoria, who passed through Hersham on her way to Claremont, had previously been called Common Road.
Frederick Vaux & William Whiteley
Hersham is lucky to have had the help of philanthropists, whose generosity is still evident in the village today. Churchwarden Frederick Vaux not only bequeathed the field Vauxmead to the parish on his death in 1933, but during his lifetime, he provided, among other things, St. Peter’s church hall and the church bells.
William Whiteley, though not a Hersham resident, in 1907 bequeathed a million pounds for the erection of “buildings to be used and occupied by aged poor persons of either sex as homes in their old age.” In 1920 the iconic Whiteley village welcomed its first resident, Elizabeth Palmer.
Though still largely agricultural, the early 20th century saw the beginning of Hersham’s small, but significant, industrial history. The ABC motor company was established on the Molesey Road from 1914 until the 1950s when it was taken over by Vickers until 1971. On the opposite side of the road, the Hackbridge Electric Construction Company was in business from 1923, followed by Hewettic in 1924. These two companies amalgamated in 1947, and until 1972, created some of the biggest transformers that had ever been made. The abattoir by the Green, which closed for business in the 1970s is of course, now the Hersham shopping centre.
By the 1980s the face of Hersham was changing rapidly. The few grand old houses, such as Hersham Lodge had gone and the factories were being replaced by office blocks.
On September 28th 1936, Hersham railway station opened, though I’m sure most people then (and probably still do!) wished it was actually slightly closer to the village itself!
Hersham is served by four long-established public houses – the Barley Mow, the Bricklayers Arms and the Watermans Arms in the village centre – all three presumably testaments to the ancient professions of the villagers and now demolished Old House at Home, near to the station. Less ancient, but now consigned to history, how many of us were part of the heyday of the Hersham Hop ……………..?
This article was very kindly written for us by the members of:
– along with its partner, The Kingston, Surbiton, Tolworth, Memories, Local History and Genealogy facebook page are a friendly and eclectic mix of local history photographs, combined with research of the wide area, as well as family history and genealogy.
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