History

Chertsey itself is situated midway between Weybridge and Egham, and the town centre lies close to the site of the old Abbey.

Chertsey seems to have been a marshy island surrounded by the River Thames and its tributaries before the monks of the Benedictine abbey embanked the water. According to its 13th Century Cartulary, the abbey was founded in AD 666 by St Erkenwald, who became its first abbot, and it was mentioned by the Bede writing in the 8th century.

The Abbey was destroyed by the Danes during the 9th century but was refounded in the 10th century and rebuilt c1110, to become the wealthiest house in Surrey. The Abbey had recovered by the time of the Doomsday Book and the records also show that by the Middle Ages the Abbey held over 50,000 acres of lands in Thorpe, Egham, Weybridge and elsewhere. At the time of the Domesday Survey the abbey held a number of manors including Chertsey, which appears to have been a fairly prosperous agricultural community.

It was frequently visited by the Plantaganet Kings, and in 1471 Henry VI was buried there after his murder during the Wars of the Roses. The Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII.

A market and a fair in Chertsey (see page: Annual Events – The Black Cherry Fair) was granted to the abbey by Henry I in 1135 and confirmed in 1249 and 1281 iChertsey was originally an island, surrounded by the Thames with its tributary systems and undrained marshland.

The Abbey survived two pillaging attacks by Vikings in the 9th century, to become the wealthiest house in Surrey. The Abbey had recovered by the time of the Doomsday Book and the records also show that by the Middle Ages the Abbey held over 50,000 acres of lands in Thorpe, Egham, Weybridge and elsewhere. It was frequently visited by the Plantaganet Kings, and in 1471 Henry VI was buried there after his murder during the Wars of the Roses. The Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII.

The poet, Abraham Cowley, spent the last two years of his life in Chertsey  (1665-1667) after an adventurous period serving the exiled Royalists during Cromwell’s rule. However, he failed to gain Royal preferment at the Restoration  and had to rely on the largesse of the Earl of St Albans and the Duke of Buckingham who found him £300 a year and a place to live at Chertsey.   He is buried at Westminster Abbey but his name is remembered locally at Cowley Avenue and the Abraham Cowley Unit, St Peter’s hospital.   Chertsey  was possibly still a damp place in his time because he caught a terrible cold the first night he arrived, and it is alleged that he literally caught his death of cold after locking himself out of his house following a night  of revelry. His self-composed Latin epitaph is pithy. It concludes – “He feels not penury’s chilling hand / nor slave to indolence and pleasure  lies / the snares of wealth he firmly can withstand / and what the world enjoys, he can despise”. Cowley’s fame as a poet diminished rapidly  in the 18th century but he is still celebrated for his Essays which were written during his retirement at Chertsey.

Historic Listed Building in Chertsey

There are over 200 historic listed buildings in Chertsey and its associated villages.

Botleys Park Hospital
Grade II*
Chertsey, Surrey

Manor Farm Cottages
Grade II
Willow Walk, Chertsey, Surrey

Pyrcroft House
Grade II*
Pyrcroft Road, Chertsey, Surrey

Sareth Cottage
Grade II
Bridge Road, Chertsey, Surrey

Silverlands
Grade II
B386, Chertsey, Surrey

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