St Nicolas' Church
Great Bookham shown within Surrey
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Great Bookham is a village in Surrey, England one of six semi-rural spring line settlements between the towns of Leatherhead and Guildford. The Bookhams – Great and Little Bookham – are part of the Saxon settlement of Bocham, "the village by the beeches", the latter being a very narrow strip parish. They are surrounded by common land. Little Bookham in the west has the Bookham railway station.
The villages are astride the A246 which is the non-motorway and direct route between the two towns. Once two distinct villages, the Bookhams have long been interconnected with residential roads that give the impression of one large village.
The village is well known as the location of Polesden Lacey, a country house on the southern edge of the village, surrounded by over 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of grounds, now owned by the National Trust and open to the public.
According to a charter c.675, the original of which is lost but which exists in a later form, there were granted to the Abbey twenty dwellings at Bocham cum Effingham. This was confirmed by four Saxon kings; King Offa of Mercia and of the nations roundabout in 787; King Athelstan who was King and ruler of the whole island of Britain in 933 confirmed the privileges to the monastery; King Edgar, Emperor of all Britain in 967 confirmed "twelve mansiones" in Bocham, and King Edward the Confessor, King of the English in 1062 confirmed twenty mansae at Bocham cum Effingham, Driteham and Pechingeorde.
The Domesday Book 1086, which was a survey for taxation purposes, makes the first known distinction between the parishes of Great and Little Bookham, if it is assumed that there was no separate parish at the time of the charter of Edward the Confessor in 1062. Driteham and Pechingeorde are both referred to in the Domesday Book and appear to have been absorbed into the manors of Effingham and Effingham East Court. Great Bookham appears in Domesday Book as Bocheham. It was held by St Peter's Abbey, Chertsey. Its Domesday Assets were: 13 hides; 1 church, 1 mill worth 10s, 20 ploughs, 6 acres (24,000 m2) of meadow, woodland and herbage worth 110 hogs. It rendered (in total): £15.
It seems probable, as the number of cottages in Bocham cum Effingham remained constant, that the later charters must have been copies of earlier charters which were not revised to accord with the actual number of cottages at any one time.
C. S. Lewis studied privately with W. T. Kirkpatrick in Great Bookham between September 1914 and April 1917.
A regency villa on the southern edge of the village, Polesden Lacey has been the site of a house since at least 1336. The current house dates from the 17th century, and was bequeathed by its last owner, the hon. Mrs Greville, a legendary Edwardian hostess, to the National Trust in 1942. When the Greville's purchased the property in 1906, they extensively remodelled the house with the help of Mewes and Davis, architects of the Ritz Hotel. There are large walled and formal gardens, an orchard and croquet lawn, as well as extensive farmland. The property and its 1400 acre estate are open to the public, being one of the National Trust's most visited properties.
The house is also the National Trust's Southern Region head office.
The poet and playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan was a previous owner of the property from 1804.
To the south side of the High Street stands Bookham Grove Manor, built in the early 18th century, once owned by the Dawnay family. It is now converted into apartments, with coach houses built in its now 1-acre (4,000 m2) grounds. The manor's original large estate covered the surrounding roads up to Dorking Road, and Groveside, and had grounds to the front, running down to the Guildford Road. When the land was sold for development in 1947, the shops and car park were built in the grounds to the front of the house. Another surviving part of the estate is the stables, on the corner of Dorking Road.
Sadly, Eastwick Park, a beautiful manor in the village, was lost in 1958. The house stood within the area of roads now known as the 'Eastwick area', and its very large private estate included Great Bookham Commons, which were saved by the village and given to the National Trust. Since being used as a private house, the manor was used by Canadian military in the second world war, and was also a school called Southey Hall, before being demolished for redevelopment. The original gates to the house stand just west of Eastwick Park Avenue on Lower Road. A full history of Eastwick Park, Southey Hall Prep School and the Canadian Artillery who were stationed there during WW2 can be found in the Bookham Residents Association website. Go to www.bookhamresidents.org.uk and then select the Blue square button in the right column which says A History of Bookham. Image courtesy of M. Beckett http://lh.matthewbeckett.com/houses/lh_surrey_eastwickpark_info_gallery.html.
To the west of the Bookhams lies the village of Effingham; further west on the road to Guildford lie the similar villages of East and West Horsley and East and West Clandon. To the north-east lie Fetcham and Leatherhead, north of which the area becomes increasingly urban heading towards central London, which is only 23 miles (37 km) away. To the south-east, across the North Downs, is the village of Westhumble and the market town of Dorking.
The village has a short high street in its centre which has two butchers, a family run fishmongers and two traditional greengrocers. The beautiful Rayleigh House at the top of the high street, originally built as the Victoria Temperance Hotel by Mary Chrystie, now contains Henshaws Estate Agents and a healthcare practice.
Three pubs are in Great Bookham: The Anchor, The Royal Oak, The Old Crown and one in Little Bookham, Ye Olde Windsor Castle. A loose association with the latter is that the Ranger of Windsor Great Park was often appointed from the area by King Henry VIII's which was more than five times larger, stretching as far as Guildford. The village has a curry house. The Old Barn Hall is the main community centre, regularly used for staging amateur dramatics productions and hosting parties and receptions. There is a new kebab place on the high street 10/10 would kebab again.
There are 2 successful primary schools in the village, which makes the area very sought after with families: Eastwick Junior School in Eastwick Drive and The Dawnay School in Griffin Way. There are 3 infant schools in Great Bookham: the Polesden Lacey School in Oakfield Close, Eastwick Infant School in Eastwick Drive, and The Dawnay Infant School in Griffin Way.
Sport and leisure
Bookham Commons includes the two commons in Great Bookham and Little Bookham. Great Bookham Common was bought by local residents in 1923 to save the oak woodlands, then given to the National Trust. Little Bookham Common was given to the Trust in 1924 by Mr H Willock-Pollen, then Banks Common in 1925 by Mr R Calburn.
The London Natural History Society has been surveying Bookham Commons for over 50 years, making it one of the best recorded sites for wildlife in south east England.
The common land consist of grassland (wet, low-lying meadows), woodland, scrub and twelve ponds. The ponds are home to all three British species of newt, including the rare Great Crested Newt. The five largest ponds are man-made, formed for fish-production in the 17th-century.
Great Bookham is served by these emergency services:
- Surrey Police. From Leatherhead Police Station is only used for minor issues now; everything else is handled from Dorking Police Station.
- South East Coast Ambulance Service as of 1 July 2006, is the local NHS Ambulance Services Trust. The Surrey Ambulance Service, Sussex, and Kent Ambulance services have all merged, and have now ceased to exist.
- Surrey Fire & Rescue Service, Actually in Fetcham, but called Leatherhead Fire Station. With a full-time crew.
- 1 x Water tender ladder
- 1 x Water carrier
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