Egham has been a settlement for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence shows that this area, especially along the Thames, was inhabited during prehistoric times. Evidence of Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements have been found, including evidence from Petter’s Field which show many postholes, possible evidence of up to 6 circular huts.
With the Roman occupation of Britain in the 1st century AD, Egham was on the Roman Road which stretched from London to Silchester, via Staines. Although there are limited Roman finds from Egham, as with the rest of the Borough, those which were uncovered date from the latter half of the 1st century AD. Occupation of the site continued after the Romans left Britain, and a Medieval ditch was excavated with pottery finds dating from 12th century.
With the founding of Chertsey Abbey in 666 AD the land of Egham or “Ecga’s Ham” (Ecga’s farm) became Abbey land under the control of the Abbot. With the Dissolution of Chertsey Abbey in 1537 the manor of Egham was granted by Henry VIII to Lord Windsor, but was reclaimed in 1542. It remained in Royal hands until 1650 when it was sold by Parliament during the Civil War, although it reverted to Crown property with the restoration of the monarchy.
The Magna Carta
It was during the reign of King John that Egham would achieve fame when it was a field site near to Egham at Runnymede that was chosen as the meeting place for the monarch and the Barons when Magna Carta was sealed in 1215. This world famous event was staged here because of the proximity to Windsor Castle where King John had taken refuge when war had broken out. Runnymede was close enough to his base to make it a safe meeting place for him.
From coaches to railways
During the 17th and 18th centuries Egham became an important coaching town, and as a result many coaching inns were built, although with the coming of the railways in 1856 the town declined slightly and many of the older building were replaced with modern ones.