Thames Ditton shown within Surrey
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||THAMES DITTON|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||Esher and Walton|
Thames Ditton is a village in Surrey, England, almost bordering Greater London. It is on the southern bank of the River Thames, 12.2 miles (19.6 km) south-west of Charing Cross between the towns of Surbiton, Esher and East Molesey. Its clustered village centre and shopping area on a winding High Street is surrounded by suburban housing, schools and sports areas. Its riverside which has one park and two pubs (public houses) which face the Thames Path and the parkland and golf course at Hampton Court Park. Its commercial area is in its conservation area, limited to mainly convenience and niche specialist businesses. Including suburban outskirts, the village is towards the outside of the non-official Greater London Urban Area.
Its railway station is one of two on the Hampton Court Branch Line and is 500m from riverside end of the village centre and the hamlet or village of Weston Green. The village used to include Claygate and Hinchley Wood and today the only named sub-locality or neighbourhood irrefutably in the village is Giggs Hill, which is on the road which used to be the main Portsmouth Road from London, but is a local route, bypassed by long-haul traffic by the A3 to the south and east of Claygate.
- 1 History
- 2 Amenities
- 3 Localities
- 4 Landmarks
- 5 Transport links
- 6 Education
- 7 Flooding
- 8 Sports activities
- 9 Cultural references
- 10 Famous residents
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The first written record of Thames Ditton is in a charter dated 983 when King Æthelred granted to Æthelmær, his minister, nine hides (cassati) at Thames Ditton, Surrey. Furthermore in The Cartulary of the Abbey of Eynsham Transaction, King Æthelred sent to Eynsham Abbey confirmation of the foundation (in 1005) by Æthelmær, the endowment including 20 hides at Esher, Surrey (granted by Beorhthelm, bishop, to Æthelweard, and bequeathed by Æthelweard to his son, Æthelmær); and land at Thames Ditton, Surrey, among several other items.
Two Dittons appear in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Ditone and Ditune. Under the Normans the one now identified with Thames Ditton was held by Wadard from the Bishop of Bayeux. Its Domesday assets were: 2½ hides; part of a mill worth 1s 3d, 1½ ploughs, 4 acres (16,000 m2) of meadow, woodland worth 20 hogs. It rendered £4. There were four households. Other manors that came to form part of Thames Ditton were those of Weston, Imworth (or Imber), and for a while, Claigate (Claygate). From Domesday, the combined population of Thames Ditton (4), Long Ditton (11), Immeworth (2) and Weston (9) was some 26 households of villagers and smallholders.
Later, the manors of both Dittons were reunited when Anne Gould inherited the manor of Thames Ditton and married Thomas Evelyn who had inherited the manor of (Long) Ditton; but by that time the manor of Thames Ditton amounted to little by way of land and to all effects Thames Ditton comprised mainly the manors of Imworth and of Weston, with some lands from Claygate, Long Ditton and even Kingston extending into the present-day boundaries of Thames Ditton and Weston Green.
Under Eynsham Abbey Thames Ditton had been parceled with Esher, and it was in the Saxon's Elmbridge hundred, where its local wealthy, wise and powerful would convene for strategic purposes. Salter's introduction to the Cartulary notes that along with Esher, Eynsham appears to have lost Thames Ditton by the Norman Conquest and the Domesday survey recorded that (before the Conquest) Ditton had been held by Earl Harald (subsequently King until 1066). In Domesday Thames Ditton (as well as adjacent Long Ditton and 'Ember' or Immeworth, later Imber Court) is listed within Kingston Hundred and later is given in Speed's map of Surrey (1611) as being in Kingston Hundred. Subsequent topographical histories record Thames Ditton as in Kingston Hundred: many significant residents of Thames Ditton were also senior figures in the administration of Kingston, and the courts of Kingston held jurisdiction over both Kingston and Elmbridge Hundreds. Thames Ditton came under the Metropolitan Police rather than the Surrey Police until the present millennium; and most other aspects of local administration in the Victorian era - roads, drains, gas, electricity, the Poor Union - came under bodies in Kingston until reform of local government led to the establishment of the Esher and the Dittons Urban District Council in 1894. On the other hand, Thames Ditton always remained clearly outside the area governed by the Corporation of Kingston. Whether Thames Ditton and Long Ditton should be administratively associated more with the Borough of Kingston - and now the greater London metropolitan area - than with Elmbridge and Surrey proper has been a recurrent theme in attempted local government reforms since the 1960s. The residents of the village have opted firmly for Elmbridge and Surrey.
Following the Norman Conquest, part of the land was granted to the monks of Merton Priory by Gilbert the Norman, and a Chapel - now the church - was built, the first recorded incumbent being in 1179. The chapelry of Thames Ditton was subordinate to Kingston Rectory until the late 1700s. By Act of Parliament in 1769 Thames Ditton, which had already from the early 1600s assumed the civilian vestry responsibilities of a parish, became a separate curacy and an ecclesiastical parish in its own right, subsuming Hinchley Wood, Claygate and Weston Green (Long Ditton had remained a separate parish, not within the Kingston Rectory, despite attempts during Cromwell's time to fuse the two). However, the advowson remained in the hands of the Hardinge family of Kingston until Nicholas Hardinge sold it along with the advowson of Kingston and other subordinate chapelries to Kings College, Cambridge, in 1781, subject to a long lease otherwise disposed of. The Hardinges retained the right of presentation for a period (then subsequently leased that too) and Rev Henry Hardinge, Rector of Kingston, was also the incumbent at St Nicholas for a brief and ill-starred time.
Isolated on marshy wetlands, the village seems to have avoided the travails of Kingston (a strategic garrison town often pillaged) and remained a relatively insignificant settlement of farming Manors, although there must have been at least one residence of note, for the Chancery Rolls of 1212 record that King John was entertained at Ditton by Geoffrey Fitz Pierre, the Chief Justice (writes Burchett). This was most likely on the site of Imber Court. Another substantial house was on the site close to the chapel of ease, now the Church. Thames Ditton became more significant with the building of Hampton Court Palace by Thomas Wolsey in the early 16th century. Once the palace was claimed by Henry VIII in 1525, palace officials and other workers took up residence in Thames Ditton, which with Thames Ditton Island was a useful crossing point across the River Thames from Surrey to the palace in Middlesex, before the bridge at Hampton Court was built in 1752-3. However, development in the village suffered greatly when Henry VIII acquired most of the lands and enclosed them within the deer Chase in the Honour of Hampton Court. Following his death, residents of the area successfully petitioned for it to be de-Chased and normal activities resumed. From that time the convenience of Thames Ditton to London - two or three hours by horse or carriage; the cachet of nearby Hampton Court, Claremont and Esher Place, Royal Kingston with its market and coach service, and the still rural aspect of the village prompted many to make their main or second homes there and a richly diverse crop of residents both notable and less so resulted.
During the 18th century, lawlessness grew and the roads around the village were plagued with highwaymen, in particular the turnpike to Portsmouth, and influential voices within the community began to band together to deal with crime. Following a meeting at the Harrow Inn on 26 January 1792 a group of some 80 local men (a significant percentage of the sparse population) formed a group for 'the protection of persons and property' with a list of crimes, fines and rewards (transcript of document in the T. S. Mercer Collection of parish records, Dittons Library)
In 1801, the population of Thames Ditton parish, which at that stage included Weston Green, Hinchley Wood and Claygate, was still small: 1,288 people living in 265 houses; 167 of the workers were occupied in agriculture and 87 in trade, manufacture and handicraft. Due to the large number of mansions and estates in the area, there would have been many domestic and ancillary employees living in the village, some working at Hampton Court Palace.
During the 19th century, the village continued to grow, with the arrival of the London and South Western Railway in 1849 and the building of the first school. Market gardens were established in the fields around the Church to supply the metropolis. By the end of the century, the population had almost doubled but was still fairly sparse. In 1913 a booklet of 'The Suburban and Provincial Development Association' noted: "the population of the district is only about two to the acre" and "some of the trains perform the journey to Waterloo in as little as 24 minutes." And another local booklet of that period commented that "Thames Ditton.....may be said generally to abound in pretty villas whose inhabitants seem to vie with each other in friendly rivugalry to beautify them." Either side of 1900 the convenience to London and boating attractions of the Thames helped to make Thames Ditton a destination of choice for weekenders including a sizeable community from the world of popular entertainment in London. Local life was utterly changed by the expansion of London's suburbs, and in the period between the World Wars most of the farming fields were sold off for housing development, and the big landowners, now richer, decamped.
Around 1812, a school for girls was started thanks to wealthy people such as Baroness de Ros. Some form of National School for girls operated from September 1812, and boys were taught from 1818. At least 60 girls were being educated in 1816-17, some coming from Molesey and Tolworth.
In the 1840s, there was a National School housed near St Nicholas' churchyard. In 1860, the Rev EH Rogers laid the first stone of the schools at the end of Church Walk where generations of Thames Ditton children were educated. It was expanded in 1877.
There had long been a wharf near the Swan Inn on the river and this became a site for local industry. A 'Melting House' between the churchyard and the river became a skilled bronze foundry in 1874, and successively as Cox & Son(1874–80), Drew & Sons (1880–83), Moore & Co (1883–97), Hollinshead & Burton (1897–1902) and A. B. Burton (1902–1933) the foundry was supreme in its field. It produced fine bronze statues exported worldwide, including the statue commonly known as Eros  Piccadilly Circus, Victoria Memorial (London) and the giant Quadriga (Wellington Arch) at Hyde Park Corner. and the Captain James Cook statue in Hyde Park, Sydney. Nearby, at Ferry Works on the river bank, was the factory of Willans and Robinson who in the late 19th century made a high-speed steam engine (the Willans engine)  used for early generation of electric power in places such as the Vienna State Opera. The works is preserved and still in use by a number of commercial companies including a broadcast software developer, an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets, a company specialising in numerically controlled machines and a leading architectural practice..
During 1901 and 1908, John Ernest Hutton of J E Hutton Ltd the Northampton makers of the Hutton light car and agents for Panhard, Panhard-Levassor and Mercedes (car) produced an historic brand of motorcycle called Princeps.
Between 1911 and 1984, the village was home to the AC Cars factory, first at Ferry Works and later located in the High Street at a site since developed into a residential and office complex.
Celestion were also located for some years at Ferry Works and adjacent buildings, producing the famous 'Ditton' Range of loudspeakers. British Rola bought Celestion in 1947 and moved production to Thames Ditton a year later. The name of the company changed to Rola Celestion; with its products sold under the brand name "Celestion". (MPP, later a camera maker, was formed as a subsidiary during the war.)
From its creation in 1933 to its dissolution in 1994 the Milk Marketing Board, a government agency to support milk production and distribution in the United Kingdom was headquartered at Giggs Hill Green in Thames Ditton where it played a significant role in providing local employment and in supporting the Cricket Club and other aspects of village life. Its large site, already licensed for commercial use, was targeted by Tesco for a supermarket and garage in the early 1990s but local action secured it for a housing development with public tennis courts, a recreational area and two acres for community health purposes.
Thames Ditton has a railway link to London serving the large commuter population, local workforce and Esher college student population.
Its High Street is a conservation area that has a mixture of residential housing, office and retail shops in about equal proportion. The village High Street retains a pharmacy, greengrocery, florist, coffee/delicatessen shop, four restaurants (Chinese, Indian, Italian and Thai), a sandwich shop, a photographers and a post-office/convenience store. There are also a hairdressers, estate agents, two gift shops, a silversmith and jewellers, tennis and hockey equipment shop (the latter run by an Olympic gold-medallist), a small modern art gallery, a beauty salon, undertakers and a wedding dress couturier. In nearby Summer Road there is a newsagents, convenience store, dry cleaners and a high end interior designer. There are four pubs in the village, two with riverside frontages.
At Winter's Bridge on the Portsmouth Road there is a small parade of shops that includes a nationally recognised patisserie and chocolatier. There is another off-licence, a pharmacy and newsagent on Thorkhill Road, formerly Workhouse Lane.
The village has an [Residents' Association], which was formed in 1934. The Residents' Association as at 2012 holds all three seats for the ward on Elmbridge Borough Council, and the Surrey County Council seat for the Dittons.
A small United Reformed Church was added in the 19th century. Giggs Hill Green, and the Vera Fletcher Hall. The Vera Fletcher Hall "The Theatre in Thames Ditton" is located on Embercourt Road, near Thames Ditton railway station. The old Victorian Village Hall was built in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee as a gift to the community from local benefactor Hannibal Speer (born Hannibal Sandys) Lord of the Manor of Weston. Over the years the village hall, has been able to attract stars such as Petula Clark (who opened the Hall), Dorothy Tutin, Denis Quilley, Janet Suzman, John Julius Norwich, Susannah York, the English National Opera and the Royal Shakespeare Company with their "Shakespeare Revue". Local drama and music groups present performances at the Hall on a regular basis.
The Rythe is a small river that bisected the south-west of the old parish in running almost along the Portsmouth Road and turns north near Ferry Road to drain into the Thames at which point it formed the old border with Long Ditton, which had a narrow riverside.
Ye Olde Harrow, an historic inn was a base for the local militia in the days of highwaymen (see above) and subsequently hosted one of the oldest bowling greens in the county. It is to be demolished and several houses are to be built on the site.
Further churches and facilities in the arguably independent, contiguous and inchoate locality of Weston Green which is termed by its residents association a 'village' but retains a strong association with Thames Ditton, with three residential roads indistinct as to at which point along them the boundary between the two lies, while other parts of the former parish of Thames Ditton, such as Hinchley Wood and Claygate, have taken on separate identities, and have become part of the Esher post town.
See Giggs Hill Green below.
Boyle Farm was the earlier name of the Home of Compassion, a wide range mansion care home by the River Thames formerly set among fields rather than private houses. The country house replaced the farmhouse of Forde's Farm in 1786 when built by the Honourable Charlotte Boyle Walsingham. Although the estate has been sold and divided into expensive building plots over the past century, some of the farm buildings and outhouses remain. It has river frontage and used to own a small island in the Thames, which the frontage (mooring) overlooks, called Boyle Farm Island. The building is currently a nursing home run by a board of trustees.
St Nicholas Church
The ecclesiastical parish church (since the English Reformation, implying Church of England) was built almost wholly in the early medieval period demonstrates fine architecture and is listed in the highest category of building.
Giggs Hill Green
This triangular village green adjoins Portsmouth Road and gives its name to a locality of the village marked on some maps, but within any official status such as wards, the main secondary parade of shops of the village is here, which also serves that part of Long Ditton on the riverside part of the Portsmouth Road. There is no hill here and its 8 acres (32,000 m2) were purchased in 1901 by the Esher and Dittons Urban District Council for its cricket green and remaining area to put benches as well as to allow picnics and informal sport.
Thames Ditton railway station is on the line from London Waterloo to Hampton Court, Hampton Court railway station is within a ten minute walk. Rail services are provided by South West Trains. Journey time to London Waterloo is approximately 35 minutes (it is also possible to connect with faster trains at Surbiton railway station).
Various buses run through Thames Ditton, including the 515, 515A (Sunday service only), 514, 513, 458 and 459, with the last service leaving at around 7pm.
From Thames Ditton, it is approximately five minutes by road to the A3 (eastbound) or ten minutes to A3 (both ways). It is some 15 minutes to the M3 and M25 and some 35 minutes to Heathrow - these times can be severely affected by racing at Kempton Park Racecourse and/or Sandown Park.
The village was hit by the Great Flood of 1968 when the rivers Ember and Mole burst their banks. The extent of the flooding reached from the River Thames to the Portsmouth Road and caused flood damage to many homes including some in the Embercourt area. The flood water lasted for several days.
On the 30 November 2006 a 48" (1200mm) diameter water main (the pipe that burst was said to be over 150 years old) at the rear of a property in Basingfield Road near the Thames Ditton station burst causing flooding along Station and Speer Roads. The water poured along Speer Road to flood the Infants' School Grounds and along Station Road to the High Street. Villagers were counting the cost to homes and trade. Several shops in the High Street were damaged and applied for compensation. Several householders were forced to find medium-term temporary accommodation, and many more lost furnishings. Two houses at the foot of Boyle Farm Road, on the flood's downwards rush to the Thames, were reportedly also badly hit.
Thames Ditton Cricket Club is the oldest sports club in Thames Ditton. The first recorded match on Giggs Hill Green was in 1833, and the club remains with hundreds of members and a recently built brand new pavilion. They have three Saturday XI's, and one Sunday team. The club celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2008, and in 2009 contracted former West Indies cricket captain Richie Richardson to coach and play for the team for the following four years.
Weston Green Road is the location of Thames Ditton Lawn Tennis Club (TDLTC). The club was ravaged in the 1990s by a protracted legal battle with the owner of the site freehold, who wished to build executive homes on the site. Though TDLTC eventually won the case, it lost the rights to use three courts on the adjoining Esher College site, which were themselves subsequently sold to developers. However, the club still owns six grass and four hard courts, along with one short tennis court. It also has access to a three new hard courts at Esher College, and a weekend arrangement with Kingston Grammar School to use its courts as an overflow for the junior section.
The Thames Ditton Squash Club is now housed at Colets' Health and Fitness Club. It is the strongest club in England, with several national club championships to its name as well as a strong record in the European championships. The same fitness club is also the headquarters of a number of rugby and football teams of the Old Paulines (St. Paul's School alumni) who own the grounds.
In Weston Green there is the Old Cranleighan Rugby Football Club, as well as the Old Cranleighan Hockey Club. Having been formed in 1919 and 1921 respectively, the OCRFC and the OCHC moved to their new clubhouse in a secluded position off Portsmouth Road in 1928. The clubhouse was substantially renovated and enlarged in 1993 and the club now has some of the best facilities for rugby and hockey in Surrey. OC Rugby started a Mini Rugby section in September 2011, which has been very successful in providing a fun and controlled introduction to rugby for local children on Sunday mornings.
The traditional river sports of skiffing and punting are possible at Dittons Skiff and Punting Club located at the end of Queen's Road. The club was formed in 1923 and is involved in various water-based activities including the Great River Race and Thames meanders. It hosts the Hampton Court and Dittons Regatta and has its own annual regatta on the river opposite Hampton Court Palace.
- A very striking instance of your position might be found in the churchyard of Ditton-upon-Thames, if you know such a place. Ditton-upon-Thames has been blessed by the residence of a poet who, for love or money, I do not well know which, has dignified every gravestone for the last few years with brand new verses, all different and all ingenious, with the author's name at the bottom of each. This sweet Swan of Thames has so artfully diversified his strains and his rhymes that the same thought never occurs twice,--more justly, perhaps, as no thought ever occurs at all, there was a physical impossibility that the same thought should recur, It is long since I saw and read these inscriptions; but I remember the impression was of a smug usher at his desk in the intervals of instruction, levelling his pen. Of death, as it consists of dust and worms, and mourners and uncertainty, he had never thought; but the word "death" he had often seen separate and conjunct with other words, till he had learned to speak of all its attributes as glibly as Unitarian Belsham will discuss you the attributes of the word "God" in a pulpit, and will talk of infinity with a tongue that dangles from a skull that never reached in thought and thorough imagination two inches, or farther than from his hand to his mouth, or from the vestry to the sounding-board of the pulpit. But the epitaphs were trim and sprag, and patent, and pleased the survivors of Thames Ditton above the old mumpsimus of Afflictions sore.
In 1834 Theodore Hook composed the following lines while angling in a punt at Thames Ditton:
Here, in a placid waking dream,
I'm free from worldly troubles,
Calm as the rippling silver stream
That in the sunshine baubles;
And when sweet Eden's blissful bowers
Some abler bard has writ on,
Despairing to transcend his powers,
I'll ditto say for Ditton.
He also wrote a poem about The Swan Inn in Ditton in 1834.
The poet Eric Wilson Barker (1905–1973) spent his childhood in Thames Ditton, attending the old church school in Church Walk before his family emigrated to California for health reasons. Barker became a celebrated poet and was offered the laureateship of California, which he declined. He revisited his Thames Ditton birthplace in 1959 and wrote to a friend: 'I visited an ancient pub, The Old Harrow near Weston Green. I always remember the lines on the signboard of that inn when I was a kid.... There it was too and the old weatherworn sign with the letters a bit dim but still legible!' Barker wrote a poem "IN THAMES DITTON" in 'Looking for Water', published by Crighton House Inc. New York, 1964: "In Thames Ditton I remembered a clock....."
Ernest William Hornung wrote about Thames Ditton in The Amateur Cracksman (1899):
- 'I had let my flat in town, and taken inexpensive quarters at Thames Ditton, on the plea of a disinterested passion for the river.'
- 'Imagine my excitement and delight! I managed to pay what I owed at Thames Ditton, to squeeze a small editor for a very small check, and my tailors for one more flannel suit. I remember that I broke my last sovereign to get a box of Sullivan's cigarettes for Raffles to smoke on the voyage.'
Thomas Babington Macaulay spent a year in rented accommodation in Thames Ditton while writing some of his History of England. His nephew and biographer Otto Trevelyan wrote in 1876: "His brother-in-law had taken a house in the village of Esher; and Macaulay accordingly settled himself, with infinite content, exactly in the middle of the only ugly square mile of country which can be found in that delightful neighbourhood. 'I am pretty well pleased,' he says, 'with my ... pleasant, small dwelling, surrounded by geraniums and roses... The only complaint I have to make is that the view from my front windows is blocked by a railway embankment.' Macaulay's cottage, which stood in Ditton Marsh, by the side of the high-road from Kingston to Esher, was called Greenwood Lodge."
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2013)|
- Billy Merson - lived on the Thames Ditton Island in a bungalow called Yakka Hickey Dooley
- Percy Carr 1865 England - 22 Nov 1926 Saranac Lake, New York, USA
- Laurence Naismith born Thames Ditton 1908
- Dick Emery lived in Thames Ditton between 1958-1964
- Charles Heslop - Actor born Thames Ditton 8 June 1883 – 13 April 1966
- Jack Woolgar - Actor born Thames Ditton
- Ronan Keating - pop singer
- Haydn Tanner - Welsh international rugby union player who represented both Wales and the British and Irish Lions
Cesar Picton - a black servant from Senegal lived in Thames Ditton and ran a successful coal business from Kingston. His house is still visible and marked with a plaque and his house, by the river in Kingston is also marked. The dining hall at Kingston University tells his story in murals
- Neighbourhood Statistics. "Census data". Neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
- Surrey Domesday Book
- Footnotes to Salter's 1907 translation of the Cartulary Salter
- A topographical history of Surrey, by E. W. Brayley assisted J. Britton and E.W. Brayley, jun p423 Monuments of Thames Ditton Church
- The Lady's magazine: or, Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex
- Curiosities of Literature by Issac Disraeli p48
- The Absent man; or Life & Singular Eccentricities of George Harvest Parson and Comedian
- Elmbridge Borough Conservation Area Map, Thames Ditton
- "On Line Planning Services". .elmbridge.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-03. - Application Reference: 2012/4550
- Philip J Burchett (1984). A Historical Sketch of THAMES DITTON. Surrey: Thames Ditton and Weston Green Residents' Association. ISBN 0-904811-20-4.
- Actor profile
- Haydn Tanner rugby profile Scrum.com
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thames Ditton.|
- Residents' Association
- AC Car History in Thames Ditton
- Thames Ditton Island
- Thames Ditton Cricket Club
- Thames Ditton Lawn Tennis Club
- Short Video of the Thames Ditton 2007 'Christmas Fayre'
- Thames Ditton Virtual Village
- Theodore Hook poem about The Swan Inn, Thames Ditton
- Billy Merson "The Spaniard who blighted my life"
- Billy Merson at home video
- The Absent Man - George Harvest
- History of Boyle Farm by Rowland Baker (a Surrey historian)
- photos of the Conservation Areas of Thames Ditton and Giggs Hill Green, Autumn 2008