Chertsey is one of the oldest market towns in England. Its Church of England parish church dates to the 12th century (see below) and the farmhouse of the ‘Hardwick’ in the elevated south-west is of 16th century construction. It grew to all sides but the north around Chertsey Abbey, founded in 666 A.D by Eorcenwald, Bishop of London on a donation by Frithwald. Chertsey appears in the Domesday Book as Certesi.
The Abbey grew to become one of the largest Benedictine abbeys in England, supported by large fiefs in the northwest corner of Sussex and Surrey until it was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536. The King took stone from the Abbey to construct his palace at Oatlands Palace; the villagers also used stone for raising the streets. By the late 17th century, only some outer walls of the Abbey remained. During this period until at least 1911 a wider area was included in Chertsey: Ottershaw (and Brox) was an ecclesiastical district; whose church-sponsored (first built) schools were built in 1870, so too was Addlestone.
The eighteenth-century Chertsey Bridge provides an important cross-river link, and Chertsey Lock is a short distance above it on the opposite side. On the south west corner of the bridge is a bronze statue of local heroine Blanche Heriot striking the bell to save her lover.
The original Chertsey railway station was built by the London and Southampton Railway and opened on the 14 February 1848. The present station, across the level crossing from the site of the original one, was opened on 10 October 1866 by the London and South Western Railway. The Southern Railway completed electrification of the line on 3 January 1937.
Aside from being a London “commuter town”, Chertsey is home to the head office of Compass Group and the UK head office and European headquarters of Samsung Electronics.
Thorpe Park, part of Merlin Entertainments PLC, is on the northern boundary, connected by frequent buses from Staines-upon-Thames and Chertsey station.
Museum and Events
Chertsey has an admission-free museum on Windsor Street, which provides considerable information about the history of Chertsey. It features clocks by two local makers, James Douglass and Henry Wale Cartwright.
The Black Cherry Fair is an annual event which the Museum hosts. It includes live music and refreshments in the museum garden.
The Chertsey Show is held annually each year at Chertsey Meads. It is the oldest agricultural show in the UK, established in 1440.
Chertsey has a Non-League football club, Chertsey Town F.C. who play at Alwyns Lane.
Chertsey Regatta has been held on the river for over 150 years, which is in the non-Olympic regional sport of skiffing which has a club on this reach of river. Similarly the Olympic sport of rowing (in racing shells) has an annual Burway Regatta above Chertsey Lock, an area of former flood meadow, reservoirs and golf course.
In the 18th century Chertsey Cricket Club was one of the strongest in the country and beat the rest of England (excluding Hampshire) by more than an innings in 1778. The Duke of Dorset, (who played cricket for Chertsey), was appointed Ambassador to France in 1784. He arranged to have the Chertsey cricket team travel to France in 1789 to introduce cricket to the French nobility. However, the team, on arriving at Dover, met the Ambassador returning from France at the outset of the French Revolution and the opportunity was missed.
Vince Clarke of pop bands Yazoo, Depeche Mode and Erasure lived in Chertsey and recorded much of the Erasure material in the studio adjacent to his home.
The England cricketer Ashley Giles was born in Chertsey in the 1970s.
Robert Green, the Queens Park Rangers and England goalkeeper, was born in Chertsey.
Chesney Hawkes, pop singer and songwriter, lives in Chertsey with his wife and three children.
Justin Hawkins, lead singer of The Darkness rock group, was born in Chertsey in 1975.
Rufus Hound, the comedian, was born in Chertsey in 1979.
Keith Moon, drummer with the rock band The Who, lived in the town in the 1970s.
Vivian Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and his wife Ki Longfellow, the American novelist, lived on a houseboat moored on the Thames from 1977.
Richard Steere, the colonial American poet and merchant, was born in Chertsey in 1643.
Musician Doug Walker was born in Chertsey in the 1970s.
Bobby Whitlock, keyboardist with Derek & the Dominos, lived in Chertsey in the 1970s.