Frensham Common

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Coordinates: 51°10′N 00°47′W / 51.167°N 0.783°W / 51.167; -0.783

Hillsides of the common overlooking lower parts, including Frensham Little Pond
Great Pond with beach area
Dinghies covered used for sailing on Frensham Great Pond (November 2009).

Frensham Common is a large Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) heathland of 922 acres (3.73 km2) owned by the National Trust which includes two lakes.

Terrain, plants and animals[edit]

Frensham Common is an English SSSI heathland of 922 acres (3.73 km2) owned by the National Trust which includes two large lakes and is managed by Waverley Borough Council and is almost wholly within Frensham, Surrey which is a nucleated village on alluvial soil narrowly buffered to the north-west, connected by a path. The local road network surrounds the site; the nearest trunk roads are 5 miles (8.0 km) away. The terrain is elevated and undulating — it has few streams due to the permeability of the soil[1] and high points in ridges to the south-east.[2]

Plants and animals[edit]

The site supports the sand lizard, smooth snake, woodlark, Dartford warbler and nightjar.[3]


The expanse includes the largest lake in Surrey until the construction of reservoirs and a gravel extraction-related lake in the north of the county in the early 20th century, Frensham Great Pond (grid reference SU845400) and Frensham Little Pond (SU860415) built during the Middle Ages to provide fish for the Bishop of Winchester's estate, developed by Bishop Henry of Blois also known as Henry of Winchester who established Farnham Castle to the north, who owned this and nearby manors.


A hotel adjoins the south side of the Great Lake by the yachting area. One of the cottages on the common is available to rent. [4] The north of the lake has car parks and picnic areas. North west of the common border is the small village of Frensham, which adjoins two hamlets further across the River Wey.

Less than 5% of the Common is within spurs of the common in Churt to the south or Tilford to the north.

Four prehistoric bowl barrows are in a straight line in the centre-east of the common.[5] Villagers termed these the King's Ridge Barrows.[6]

Notable events[edit]

During the Second World War, tanks based in the Headley area used Frensham Common for training,[7] whilst Canadian soldiers used to gallop across the Common.[8] At this time, Frensham Great and Little Ponds were drained as otherwise they would have provided markers for German bombers.[9]

Scenes in the 1959 film The Hound of the Baskervilles were shot on the common.[10]

Nautical scenes for the 1979 cinema film The Riddle of the Sands were recorded on the Frensham Ponds.

In 1966 the common was used as a stand-in for the Battle of Culloden in the 4 part Doctor Who serial The Highlanders.

The lakes were used as a film location for the 1999 film The Mummy, posing as the river Nile.[11]

In 2010, 86 acres (35 ha) of the common had a fire.[12]


  1. ^ Cranfield University National Soil Resources Institute
  2. ^ Grid square map Ordnance survey website
  3. ^ Farnham online Archived November 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Frensham Common Cottage". National Trust. Retrieved 2012-09-03. 
  5. ^ Scheduled Ancient Monuments Three bowl barrows on Frensham Common Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1008880)". National Heritage List for England. 
    Bowl barrow on Frensham Common Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1013340)". National Heritage List for England. 
  6. ^ Megalithic
  7. ^ BBC WW2 People's War Stories
  8. ^ BBC WW2 People's War Stories
  9. ^ BBC WW2 People's Stories
  10. ^ Barnes, Alan (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-04-8. 
  11. ^ Filming locations for The Mummy from IMDb
  12. ^ BBC - Surrey heath fire brought under control, 12 July 2010

External links[edit]