Bisley, Surrey

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Bisley Parish Church - - 1598144.jpg
St John the Baptist Church
Bisley Clock Tower - - 59395.jpg
Bisley Camp
Bisley is located in Surrey
Location within Surrey
Area3.66 km2 (1.41 sq mi)
Population3,965 (Civil Parish)[1]
• Density1,083/km2 (2,800/sq mi)
OS grid referenceSU9560
Civil parish
  • Bisley
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townWoking
Postcode districtGU24
Dialling code01483
AmbulanceSouth East Coast
UK Parliament
List of places
51°19′48″N 0°38′24″W / 51.330°N 0.640°W / 51.330; -0.640Coordinates: 51°19′48″N 0°38′24″W / 51.330°N 0.640°W / 51.330; -0.640

Bisley /ˈbɪzl/ is a village and civil parish in the Borough of Surrey Heath in Surrey, England, approximately 25 miles (40 km) southwest of central London. It is midway between Woking (to the east) and Camberley (to the west). The village had a population of 3,965 in the 2011 Census.

Much of the west of the parish is covered by an acidic heath, which is used by the Ministry of Defence. The National Shooting Centre, headquarters of the National Rifle Association of the United Kingdom, is within the historic bounds. Coldingley Men's Prison is also in the village.

The village is close to junction 3 of the M3 motorway. The nearest railway station is at Brookwood, on the South West Main Line.


The name 'Bisley' was first recorded in the 10th century as 'Busseleghe'. Its manor was from earliest written records under the feudal lordship of Chertsey Abbey as part of Godley Hundred. It is derived from the old English words 'Bysc', meaning bushes, and 'Leah', a clearing. Therefore, it means clearing where bushes grow or in the bushes.[2] The versions recorded in the 13th century were Busheley and Bussley, from such Westminster and Lambeth Palace rolls as the Assize Rolls.[3]

In medieval times, the village continued to be the southern holding of the Chertsey Abbey estate. The late 12th century church (much of its nave), St John the Baptist, was invested as a proper church in the village by the Abbey monks in the 15th century, who built its mixed brick and timber chancel, since replaced.[3] The church features a medieval bell and a 15th-century porch which is said to have been built from a single oak tree. A nearby spring was once known as the 'Holy Well of St John the Baptist', and was said to have medicinal powers. Its waters were used for local baptisms until the early 20th century.[4] The building is Grade II* listed.[5]

A late Tudor monarch granted the manorial lands and revenues of Woking, Chobham, and Bagshot, having dissolved Chertsey Abbey, to Sir Edward Zouch. Henceforth the descent of Bisley was identical to the other two, and all were by 1911 in the possession of the Earl of Onslow, heirs to many of the lands of the original Earldom of Surrey and Arundel.[3]

Actor Barry Evans attended Bisley boys' school, which was an orphanage run by Shaftesbury Homes.[6]


Coldingley Prison[edit]

Coldingley Prison – a Category C prison. Several streets were laid out and built-up to house prison officers.


School and shops[edit]

The village has Bisley C of E Primary School in the core of the developed part of the village close to its parade of shops, two nursery and a Scout and Guide headquarters. The school's 2013 Ofsted report awarded it a rating of Good.[7]

Playing field[edit]

In the latter half of the 20th century, the Flowers Estate of homes was built, named after flowers of each letter of the alphabet. This adjoins the village's largest playing field. The village football club is the academy and training part of Farnborough Town F.C.

National Shooting Centre[edit]

In 1890, the village became the location for the National Rifle Association of the United Kingdom's Imperial Meeting (the Association's National Championship), which moved there from Wimbledon.[8] The competition is hosted on the ranges at Bisley Camp having outgrown the Wimbledon Common ranges which had previously been used. The NRA of the UK also moved its headquarters from London to Bisley Camp.[9]


Bisley is home to Bisley All Stars FC, who are currently a Sunday League club playing in the Surrey & Hants Border League Division 1. They play their home matches at Bisley Recreation Ground. Bisley All Stars currently hold the Isley Cup from their rivals Wisley. It is however highly unlikely it will ever be surrendered given that Wisley F.C. folded at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Despite Bisley All Stars FC finishing the 2017-18 season in 6th place they continue to air their official club song 'Believe' by Cher before and after every game, honouring their 10 year licensing agreement.

At the Lord Roberts Centre indoors is a purpose-built Inline Hockey Rink which is used for league and national events by BiSHA and BiPHA.

Demography and housing[edit]

2011 Census Homes
Output area Detached Semi-detached Terraced Flats and apartments Caravans/temporary/mobile homes shared between households[1]
(Civil Parish) 676 343 201 89 1 0

The average level of accommodation in the region composed of detached houses was 28%, the average that was apartments was 22.6%.

2011 Census Key Statistics
Output area Population Households % Owned outright % Owned with a loan hectares[1]
(Civil Parish) 3,965 1,310 36.3% 51.7% 366

The proportion of households in the civil parish who owned their home outright compares to the regional average of 35.1%. The proportion who owned their home with a loan compares to the regional average of 32.5%. The remaining % is made up of rented dwellings (plus a negligible % of households living rent-free).



The nearest railway station is Brookwood, which has adjoining car parks and fast and slow tracks and a part-non-segregated cycle link. City destinations from Brookwood include Salisbury and Winchester and most popular destination is London.


The entire parish is bisected by one main road, the A322 road, which develops a dualled status further north where it joins the M3. Its serves as the main link from western Woking to the motorway network and an alternative link for the Guildford area to western destinations.

Further reading[edit]

  • Tim Price: " A Hundred Years Behind The Times: The History of Bisley In Surrey"
  • Rosemary F. Cooper: St. John the Baptist Church, Bisley: A Guide and Short History


  1. ^ a b c Key Statistics; Quick Statistics: Population Density United Kingdom Census 2011 Office for National Statistics Retrieved 21 November 2013
  2. ^ History
  3. ^ a b c H. E. Malden, ed. (1911). "Parishes: Bisley". A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  4. ^ Barbara Aitken, "Holy Wells in Surrey" Folklore 64.2 (June 1953), p. 350.
  5. ^ St John the Baptist, Bisley – Grade II* – Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1030064)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  6. ^ Barry Evans Archived 5 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Find an inspection report and registered childcare". 8 October 2020.
  8. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bisley" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 5.
  9. ^ NRA Official History Archived 31 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

  • Bisley 'Parishes: Bisley', A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3 (1911), pp. 398–399.
  • Surrey County Council. "Bisley". Exploring Surrey's Past. Retrieved 30 May 2017.