A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Windlesham is a parish on the north-west border of the county, 25 miles from London. It contains 5,672 acres, and measures 5 miles from north-east to south-west, and 3 miles from north-west to southeast. It is bounded on the north-west by Berkshire, on the east and south by Chobham, on the west by Frimley. It is in Woking Hundred, (fn. 1) but is isolated in Godley Hundred, to which Chobham and Frimley belong. This corner of the county appears, from absence of notice in Domesday, to have been very sparsely inhabited. Godley Hundred was the land of the abbey of Chertsey, and when Chertsey early acquired property the hundred was extended. Windlesham and Bagshot, never belonging to Chertsey, were never incorporated into the hundred. But the boundary between Surrey and Berkshire was known, and was delineated as the boundary of Windsor Forest by the perambulations of 1226 and 1327. (fn. 2)
The village of Windlesham is a scattered one, and though almost entirely modern, is picturesquely situated in rolling and well-wooded country. The church is some distance from the village, on high ground. The plan of the village defies analysis, and is of very recent growth. A few examples of late 18th-century work remain, but these are rapidly giving place to modern cottages and villas. The roads and lanes by which the parish is traversed, though erratic in their course, are picturesque in the extreme, with magnificent hedges and well shaded by fine timber.
The soil of Windlesham and Bagshot is the barren Bagshot sand, with extensive peat beds. Digging in the peat reveals the former existence of a forest of small oaks. The peat produces the only important industry of to-day, the raising of rhododendrons, azaleas, and so on, in nursery gardens—those of Messrs. Fromow and Messrs. Waterer employing a great deal of labour. Bagshot Heath, part of which was called Windlesham Heath, covered a great deal of the parish; there is still some uncultivated land, and the heaths extend beyond the parish. The great south-western road from London passes through the parish. The London and South Western Wokingham and Reading line cuts its extreme end, and the Ascot, Aldershot, and Farnham branch runs through it for some distance, with a station at Bagshot, opened in 1878. Sunningdale station, on the Wokingham branch, is just inside the parish. It was opened in 1856.
The old road had been the source of great prosperity in Bagshot till it was superseded by the railway. Thirty coaches a day passed through, and there were many inns, since closed. The most interesting history of the place is in connexion with Windsor Forest, and its bailiwick in Surrey. The tenure of Bagshot in the Red Book of the Exchequer is per serjentiam veltrariae, i.e. providing a leash of hounds. The later history is full of the exploits of highwaymen, who found the wild country hereabouts specially favourable for their purposes.
The Inclosure Act of 1812 inclosed much of Bagshot Heath, and also inclosed the common fields of Windlesham. (fn. 3) Inclosure had begun before, for in 1768 the lords of the manors and the freeholders gave land inclosed from the waste for charitable purposes. (fn. 4)
There are a considerable number of gentlemen's houses about Windlesham. The Camp is the residence of Sir Joseph Hooker, F.R.S., &c., &c.; Ribsden, of Mrs. Christie; The Towers, of Lady Elvey. Woodcote House is a boys' school.
There are an Institute and Reading-room built in 1880, and enlarged in 1901; the Institute and Reading-room at Bagshot were founded in 1862. The schools (built as National Schools in 1825, now Provided) were taken over by a board in 1871. They were enlarged in 1889.
The manor of WINDLESHAM (Winlesham, xiii cent.; Winsham, xvii cent.) belonged in the Middle Ages to the small convent of Broomhall in Berkshire. Land in Bagshot was granted to the Prioress of Broomhall by Henry III in 1228. (fn. 5) But Windlesham appears among the manors granted to Westminster by Edward the Confessor in his foundation charter. It was apparently transferred to Broomhall at an unknown date.
Joan Rawlyns, Prioress of Broomhall, made a voluntary surrender of the property of her house in 1522. (fn. 8) In the next year Windlesham was granted to St. John's College, Cambridge, (fn. 9) who still hold it.
There are traces of two distinct holdings in Bagshot. About 1211 one Hoppeschort held 30s. worth of land in Bagshot, (fn. 10) which, according to Testa de Nevill, (fn. 11) had been granted by Henry II out of his demesne lands to a certain Ralph. This land was bought from Hoppeschort by Robert de Basing. (fn. 12) In 1218 Geoffrey Aurifaber sued Robert de Basing for the possession of 3½ hides of land in Bagshot, but judgement was entered for Basing. (fn. 13) Some three years later, however, Robert de Bagshot, evidently the same person as Basing, granted the 3½ hides to Geoffrey with the consent of Hoppeschort. (fn. 14) But this grant was only of a temporary nature, for at the time of the Testa de Nevill (fn. 15) Robert son of Robert de Basing was holding, and in 1365 Geoffrey de Bagshot died holding the manor. (fn. 16)
The other part of Bagshot was granted to John Belet by Henry III, and descended to his son Michael. (fn. 17) Both these holdings seem to have reverted to the Crown early in the 14th century, and from that date Bagshot followed the descent of Sutton in Woking (q.v.).
The return for the aid taken for marrying of Blanche daughter of Henry IV states that 'Mantell tenet terras et tenementa que quondam fuerunt Hoppesort.' (fn. 18) Unfortunately the name is torn off, but it seems probable that the reference is to Bagshot.
The reputed manor of FOSTERS in Windlesham appears first in 1557, when Alan Fryday and Margaret his wife released one-seventh of it to John Taylor. (fn. 19) In 1603 George Evelyn at his death was reported to have been in possession of three-fifths of it. (fn. 20) This portion passed under the terms of a settlement made before his death to George second son of his second son John. (fn. 21) The whole manor was in the possession of the Evelyns in 1637, (fn. 22) but apparently was sold in the year that George died to James Lynch, (fn. 23) who died seised of it in 1648, (fn. 24) and in 1650 his nephew James Lynch conveyed it to John Lovibond. (fn. 25) Heneage Finch, Lord Guernsey, held a court here in 1714. (fn. 26) In 1717 Mr. John Walter bought it, (fn. 27) and his son Abel Walter sold it in 1752 to Sir More Molyneux. (fn. 28) He was a trustee of the Onslow property, (fn. 29) and probably purchased in that capacity, for it belonged to Lord Onslow later. (fn. 30)
There is mention in 1650 of a 'manor' in Windlesham which was held by the Dean and Canons of Windsor. (fn. 31) They were said to have received it of the gift of Queen Elizabeth, and to have shortly afterwards leased it to Edward Harward. 'Those entrusted with the abolishing of the Deans and Chapters' granted it to Walter Harward, possibly the son of Edward. (fn. 32)
The so-called manor of FREEMANTLES in Windlesham had its origin in land held by Richard Freemantle in the time of Edward II. (fn. 33) His grandson Richard, son of John, released to William Skrene and Robert Hewlett all his right in the manor of Windlesham. (fn. 34) In 1467 Edmund Skrene, probably son of William, quitclaimed his right to Robert Hewlett, (fn. 35) and from that time until the Dissolution the manor apparently formed part of the endowment of Hewlett's gild in this parish. (fn. 36)
After the dissolution of gilds and chantries the manor seems to have been granted out in two parts. In 1549 George Molyneux was in possession of one moiety, (fn. 37) and in 1561 William Molyneux released it to John Attefield. (fn. 38) During the next hundred and fifty years it passed successively through the Whitfield, (fn. 39) Quinby, and other families, (fn. 40) none of whom, however, retained possession for any length of time. Finally it came into the hands of Francis Bartholomew, (fn. 41) who conveyed it to Leonard Child, an attorney in Guildford, in 1719. (fn. 42)
The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, Windlesham, consists of a modern chancel with a north vestry and south chapel, a nave with north and south aisles, a south porch, and a south-western tower. The south chapel and aisle are the chancel and nave of a small church, the date of which is given on a board in the tower, which bears the inscription: 'Burnt by lightning in 1676. Rebuilt 1680 John Atfield Richard Cotherell.' The tower dates from 1838, and, like the rest of the church, is of brick. The 17th-century walls are faced with a chequer of black and red bricks; the aisles have projecting stone quoins. In the south wall of the old nave are four windows of Gothic style, two of three lights in 15th-century style with square heads, and two of late 13th-century style with a quatrefoiled circle over the trefoiled lights. They are in part modern, in part old work reset. The porch has small balustered openings on either side.
The roofs, seating, and fittings throughout are modern, and of no particular interest. The sanctuary has been somewhat elaborately decorated in recent years, and has a high dado of marble and mosaic. Preserved in a glass case in the nave is a chained copy of Jewel's Apology, found in the floor of the tower at the time of the enlargement of the church. There are no monuments of any interest.
The church plate is a silver-gilt set given by H.R.H. the Duchess of Gloucester in 1841, and consists of two cups with paten covers of 1841, a paten of 1840, a flagon of the same date, an almsdish undated, but part of the set, and a cup of 1896.
The first book of the registers contains baptisms from 1677 to 1689; a second, all entries from 1695 to 1747; a third, baptisms and burials from 1749 to 1783, and marriages from 1749 to 1753; a fourth, baptisms from 1783 to 1810; a fifth, burials from 1793, and baptisms from 1810 to 1812. There are also two printed marriages and banns books from 1754 to 1802, and from 1802 to 1812.
ST. ANNE'S, BAGSHOT, is red brick with Bath stone dressings, a tower, and spire. The east window, in memory of H.R.H. the Duke of Albany (ob. 1884), was given by King Edward VII and the other brothers and sisters of the late duke.
The earliest mention of the church of Windlesham is in 1230, when it was reported that Hoppeschort, who held land in Bagshot, granted the advowson to Sherborne Priory in the time of Henry II. (fn. 45) The priory's right of presentation, however, was successfully disputed by Newark Priory in 1230, (fn. 46) and in 1262 the living was, it is said, appropriated to Newark. (fn. 47) The advowson was, however, in private hands after that date. In 1443 the church reappears attached to the manor of Freemantles in Windlesham. (fn. 48) It was still so attached in 1539. (fn. 49) In 1536 John Quinby, who held Freemantles, presented. (fn. 50) But on the death of the rector in 1598 the queen presented, (fn. 51) and the patronage has since continued in the Crown.
Presentations were always to Windlesham, cum capella de Bagshot. The chapel at Bagshot was dedicated to Our Lady. Hewlett's or Hulot's chantry was founded in the chapel of Our Lady at Bagshot, and endowed with half the manor of Freemantles. (fn. 52) In 1467 Edmund Skrene released all his rights in the manor of Freemantles to Robert Hewlett. (fn. 53) He, or one of his family, founded the chantry. The chapel at Bagshot probably fell with the chantry in it, though a tradition of its site lingered here in the middle of the 18th century. (fn. 54) In 1820 a new chapel was built. Bagshot became a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1874. In 1884 a new church, that of St. Anne, was built (see above).