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Ottershaw Village History

Ottershaw, used as the name of the present village, came into general use in the mid-19th. C. when it was formed from the hamlets of Chertsey Lane End (the Guildford, Chobham and Foxhills Roads area), Brox (around the Brox Lane area) and Spratts (Lane). Previously 'Ottershaw' had referred only to the Ottershaw Park farm/estate. The name is nothing to do with otters, (we have no river in the village), but is likely to be derived from the medieval 'outer' and 'shaw' meaning a small wood, therefore 'outer wood'.


Church Hill now known as Guildford Road in c 1908, showing The Otter, opened in 1803. The first victualler was Samuel Neville.

Administratively much of N.W. Surrey was in the Hundred of Godley which was granted by Edward the Confessor to the Abbot of Chertsey. After the dissolution of Chertsey Abbey in 1537 it passed to the Crown who granted it to various persons.


Land and housing were administered by the Manor of Walton Leigh, with the Manor House at Walton-on Thames still standing. But originally the area around Ottershaw Farm (Park) was in the Manor of Walton-on Thames, and the east of Foxhills Road in the Manor of Chertsey Beomond.

The earliest settlements occurred along the River Bourne in the Durnford Bridge/Anningsley Park area. In the Middle Ages it was spelt as Annynggelagh meaning a clearing (in the woods) of the people of Anna and is mentioned as such at the time of Richard I, (1189-1199).


All of the Ottershaw area was also in Chertsey Common, now existing only north of Lyne, all of which was part of Windsor Forest and, being a royal hunting forest, the deer were protected even if they ate the farmers` crops. The Crown’s interests were looked after by keepers who worked under the supervision of outrangers. One of these was the Lord Onslow of Clandon Park, (whose family owned Horsell and Chobham Commons until the 20th.C).


On the left is the original Roakes blacksmiths in c 1910, now Anvilautos on the right, essentially unchanged today. 

The present village was 'waste of the manor' ....resembling the present Horsell and Chobham Commons of heathland and woods.  Farmers and cottagers paid the usual copyhold rents to the Lord of the Manor; in return they had the right of grazing, turf cutting, taking heather and wood, for their own use, from the waste land. By the mid-16th C. there were the first recorded small farms of Bousley and Spratts built in the waste and woods. The earliest listed cottages are in Manorial records of 1623.


Two other farms were established in the waste, Great Grove and Brox. Like most of the centre of the village they were converted into market nurseries to supply the growing London market in the 18th and 19th C. under the families of the Mansells, Fullers, Grays, Fletchers, Tilliers, Burrees, Lemons and Mandry`s. But a lot of this land was sold for the development of the village from the beginning of the 20th C., particularly after World War 2. Farms around the periphery were acquired by London merchants in the 18 and 19th C to have new large houses built with fashionable parks laid out around them to replace the farmland: Ottershaw Farm became Ottershaw Park, Potters Park Farm became Queenwood House, Anningsley Farm became Anningsley Park, Bottles became Botleys Park.

To quench the thirst of the farm labourers and nurserymen, by 1850 there were 4 pubs, Otter, Castle, Plough and the Gardeners Arms, the latter 2 now being the sites of the garages of Trident and Shell on the Guildford Road.

Ottershaw originally had been part of the parish of Chertsey. It was briefly in the new parish of Addlestone. Christ Church, the parish church (consecrated in 1864) was built and endowed by Sir Edward Colebrooke on the edge of whose Ottershaw Park estate the church and original vicarage were built. The architect was Sir George Gilbert Scott. The building is one of the 9 Nationally Listed Buildings in Ottershaw. The original vicarage on the Guildford Road was demolished and Beech Hall is now on the site. The second vicarage was in Cross Lane and the present one is in Slade Road.


Church Hill now known as Guildford Road, with Coach Road, showing the Gardeners Arms, open by 1861 to sell Ale only. After 1931 it became a petrol filling station. It is now the site of Trident Garage. Christ Church can be seen up the hill.

Junior and Infants schools were built on the Guildford Road at the chief expense of Sir Edward Colebrooke, and on his land, and opened as a Church of England school in 1870 with 128 pupils including, in due course, those from the Meath Homes and Trelawn Orphanages. In 1906 a new infants school opened in Brox Road, now the Toad Hall Nursery. This is one of the 18 Locally Listed Buildings/Monuments in the area. By the mid 1960`s, with the increase in the size of the village, two new schools were built in Fletcher Road/Close. The original building on the Guildford Road was converted into houses and named after Colebrooke. Meath School was an orphanage founded by the Countess of Meath in 1884, and is now run by the charity, I Can, as a specialist school for children with complex speech and communication needs.

The 1st shop was opened in 1839 at No. 2 Chobham Road by Richard Colebrook, now Curchods.  The 1st Post Office was established in 1844, moving to its present building in Brox Road in 1850.


The First Otter "Roundabout"  in c 1919, with The Grove Dairy, now Curchods, to the right of the picture.

The Post Office c 1932.  Notice the elongated first floor “window”. This was goods delivery access to the upstairs bakery.

The other two parades of shops followed in the 1930`s and 1960`s. The 1st district nurse arrived in 1925. The 1st doctor was Dr. Armstrong-Dash living in St. Aubyns, one of the 2 large houses built by the Fletcher family of nurserymen where the flats of Moat Court are now. The second doctor, Dr. Stevenson established his surgery at Eriskay in Southwood Avenue in 1960. It was moved to its present location in Bousley Rise on his retirement in 1992.

The Working Men`s Club was founded in 1883 on the Guildford Road. The present building on Brox Road was paid for by 18 village landowners and was built in 1885, now much enlarged, as a Reading Room to teach men and boys to read. No alcohol was to be sold and no gambling at all or games on Sundays. But as education improved, it became the present Social Club, but women were not admitted until 1962.

The Village Hall was built in 1930, on the site of an old thatched cottage. It was financed through a benefaction left to the church by Miss Lilian Brook in memory of her parents who had lived at Crofton House, hence its original name 'Brook Hall'. It is owned by the Church, but run by a separate charity as a tenant. This charity has raised a considerable amount of money in the last 15 years to completely refurbish the hall and to add the new Runnymede Room, kitchen, toilets and a new dressing room for dance and drama events.

In Murray Road the original Poor Law Institution (Chertsey Union) or Workhouse for Chertsey and all the surrounding area, was built on nursey land in 1836. In 1930 it became Murray House, a hospital for 'mental defectives'. By 1986, now under the NHS, it was no longer fit for purpose and it was sold and demolished for housing, but the original facade is still there as the front of one of the rows of terraced houses on this road. Next door was the Isolation Hospital, built in 1881, again serving most of NW Surrey for scarlet fever, diphtheria, small pox, typhoid etc. After becoming part of the NHS in 1948, it had one of the 1st iron lungs for polio. But then, with medicine starting to eliminate the old infectious diseases, it became a centre for older and long stay patients. It was also demolished for housing, Clarendon Gate, in 1995.


The Garden View of the Isolation Hospital, now Clarendon Gate. Murray Road, once called Weybridge Road, is located to the rear of these buildings.

Important Open Spaces are the Memorial Fields, on Foxhills Road, given to the old Chertsey Urban District Council in 1952 by 2 landowners in memory of their sons killed in the Second World War. Timber Hill/The Common was saved from development by a long fight by the residents, including going to the High Court in 1984, resulting in Runnymede Council buying it in 1992. Plus, we have the most other Open Spaces in the Borough, all owned by Runnymede Borough Council.

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