Chertsey (All Saints)

CHERTSEY (All Saints), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the Second division of the hundred of Godley, W. division of Surrey, 13 miles (N. N. E.) from Guildford, and 20 (W. S. W.) from London; containing 5347 inhabitants. During the heptarchy, the South Saxon kings had their residence in this town; and it became noted for a Benedictine monastery, founded in 666 by Erkenwald, afterwards Bishop of London, and which, having been burnt to the ground in the war with the Danes, was refounded by King Edgar, and dedicated to St. Peter. In this abbey Henry VI. was privately interred; but his remains were subsequently removed, and deposited, with appropriate solemnities, in the royal chapel at Windsor. At the Dissolution, its revenue was £774. 13. 6.: some portions of the outer walls remain, and on the site, and with part of the materials, of the abbey, a private mansion, called the Abbey House, was erected, but this was pulled down some years ago.

The town is pleasantly situated upon the Thames, over which is a handsome stone bridge of seven arches, built in 1785, at an expense of £13,000, defrayed jointly by the counties of Surrey and Middlesex: the houses are in general neatly built of brick; the streets are partially paved, and lighted, and the inhabitants are plentifully supplied with water from springs. A neat building, of which the first stone was laid in November, 1838, by the high sheriff of the county, has been erected for a literary and scientific institution. The trade is principally in malt and flour; the manufacture of coarse thread, and the making of iron-hoops and brooms, are carried on to a considerable extent; and a great quantity of bricks is also made in the neighbourhood. The town is about three miles from the Weybridge station of the South-Western railway; and an act was passed in 1846 for a branch railway from that station to Chertsey and to Egham. The river Wey navigation and canal passes within two miles, and joins the Thames a little to the north of Weybridge, affording facility of conveyance for the several articles of manufacture, and for large quantities of vegetables, which are cultivated in the environs for the London market. The market, chartered by Queen Elizabeth in 1559, is on Wednesday: the fairs are on the first Monday and Tuesday in Lent, for cattle; May 14th, for sheep; and August 6th and September 25th, for toys and pedlery. A court of pie-poudre is attached to the fair in Lent. The county magistrates hold a meeting for the division on the first and third Wednesdays in every month; and headboroughs and other officers are appointed on Tuesday in Whitsun-week, at the court leet of the lord of the manor, who also holds a court baron on the following day at Hardwick Court, now a farmhouse, but once the manorial mansion, in which Henry VI. resided when a child. The powers of the county debt-court of Chertsey, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Chertsey, and part of the districts of Staines and Windsor.

The parish comprises about 10,020 acres. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £13. 12. 4.; net income, £307; patrons, alternately, the Haberdashers' Company, and the Governors of Christ's Hospital; impropriators, the landowners. The church, a handsome structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower, was built with money raised on annuities, in 1808; it contains a tablet to the memory of the celebrated orator and statesman, Charles James Fox, and several monuments to the Mawbey family. A church has been built at Addlestone (which see); and there are places of worship for Independents and Methodists. A school was founded in 1725, by Sir William Perkins, who endowed it with £3000 Bank stock, which sum, augmented by an accumulating annual surplus, produces at present nearly £400 per annum; the school has been extended upon the national plan. The tolls and profits arising from stallage in the market and fairs were granted by Queen Elizabeth to the poor, for whose benefit there are various other charitable benefactions, among them a sum of nearly £4000, left by Miss Mary Giles, who died in 1841. The union of Chertsey comprises 9 parishes or places, and contains a population of 14,929. Near the town is St. Anne's Hill, commanding an extensive prospect, formerly the residence of Charles James Fox, and in which are some tessellated pavements, collected from the ruins of the abbey: the water of St. Anne's Well was once in repute for its efficacy in curing diseases of the eye. The poet Cowley lived for some time in an ancient house in the town, called Cowley House, in which he died; and Mr. Day, author of Sandford and Merton, resided in the vicinity.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.