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MARKET TOWNS OF SURREY (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Chertsey in 1842

Chertsey is in Godley hundred, on the bank of the Thames, 22 miles from the General Post-office, London, by Brentford, Twickenham, and Shepperton, and 11 miles west of Kingston through Hampton Court and East Moulsey. The area of the parish is 10,020 acres. The name of the place is written by Bede Ceortesei, and in the Saxon Chronicle Ceortes-ege and indicates the situation of the place, in a peninsula, which was perhaps once an island formed by the Thames, the Bourn brook, and the stream from Virginia Water. The town was known in ancient times by its mitred Benedictine abbey, founded in the times of the Heptarchy. The yearly revenues of the abbey at the dissolution were £744, 18 shillings, 6¾ pence gross, or £659, 15 shillings, 8¾ pence clear. The body of Henry VI was for a time deposited in this is abbey.

The town is irregularly laid out ; the principal street runs east and west, the streets are partially paved and lighted with gas, and the houses are for the most part neatly built of brick. There is scarcely a fragment left of the abbey, which stood on the north side of the town, between it and the river, in a very low flat, now forming fertile meadows. The church is in the centre of the town, and is a modern brick building faced with stone, in what is described as the florid Gothic style. The market-house is also a modern building. An old house in the town possesses some interest as having been the residence of the poet Cowley. East of the town is Chertsey bridge, a handsome stone-bridge over the Thames, erected in the latter part of the last century. There are places of worship for Dissenters. There is a building for the Literary and Scientific Society, with theatre, lectue, and reading rooms.

The population of the parish, in 1831, was 4,795, about one-third agricultural : the population of the town is not given separately. The chief trade of the town is in malt and flour : a considerable quantity of vegetables are raised in the neighbourhood for the supply of London, and a great number of bricks are made. The market is on Wednesday for corn and provisions ; it is a considerable market for poultry : there are four yearly fairs.

The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £307, with a glebe-house, in the rural deanery of Stoke, in the archdeaconry of Surrey, and diocese of Winchester. There were in the parish, in 1833, two national schools, endowed, with 262 children, namely, 157 boys and 105 girls ; eleven other day-schools of all kinds, with 196 children, namely, 68 boys and 128 girls ; two other day-schools, from which there was no return ; and two Sunday-schools, with about 100 children of both sexes.

Near Chertsey, on St. Anne’s Hill, is the residence of Charles James Fox, commanding an extensive prospect. There is a tablet in Chertsey church, erected by his widow, with an inscription to his memory.