The name ‘Ottershaw’ only came into use during the mid 19th century when the current parish was created from the hamlet of Chertsey Lane End (the Guildford, Chobham and Foxhills Roads area), Brox and Spratts. Previously the name ‘Ottershaw’ was only used in relation to the Ottershaw Park estate area.
Administratively the area, along with much of North West Surrey, came into the Hundred of Godley, granted by Edward the Confessor to the Abbot of Chertsey. After the dissolution of Chertsey Abbey in 1537 administration was passed to the Crown who granted it to various persons.
The Manor of Walton-on-Thames administered land and housing for much of the Chertsey Lane End and Ottershaw Park areas. The Manor of Walton Lea administered the rest of the area. During the 18th century these manors came into the hands of the Palmer family of the Manor of Walton-on-Thames. A descendant mortgaged this manor to William Clark, a solicitor of Guildford Street, Chertsey. The Lordship remained with the solicitor’s firm (later Paine and Brettell) into the 20th century.
The first settlements were along the river Bourne in the Durnford Bridge area. By the mid 16th century there were also small farms located at Bousley and Spratts. The farmers and cottagers paid copyhold rents to the Lord of the Manor and in return they were allowed to graze their animals, cut turf and take heather and wood for their own use from the waste land.
The entire Ottershaw area was in Chertsey Common, which was part of Windsor Forest; a royal hunting forest where the deer were protected by two Crown appointed keepers who were supervised by outrangers. Trees were deemed to be a valuable commodity, and were not to be felled without permission from the authorities. Ottershaw continued to have this status until early 19th century.
Growth in the 19th Century
The Village grew significantly during the 19th century. The 1819 enclosure map shows the different hamlets with only a small number of dwellings, but by 1871 this had increased dramatically, and the separate hamlets had joined to become Ottershaw village.
Junior and Infant schools were built in Guildford Road, at the expense of Sir Edward Colebrook. They opened as one school, run by the Church of England, in 1870, but school records show there was frequent absenteeism. Reasons for this are given as going to local fairs, circuses and working as beaters in local shoots. The local agricultural economy also relied on the work of children, and so there were often absentees for the acorn and chestnut harvest in November, furze collecting for the bonfire in November and hay and corn harvests, as well as fruit and mangel-wurzel picking in summer.
There were also many epidemics, which affected attendance levels, often causing the school to be closed for significant periods. The worst was in 1865-1866 when there was a serious smallpox outbreak.
From the late 19th century the school steadily improved, offering a higher standard of education with a greater number of subjects being taught. These included gardening and bee keeping. Football and cricket were played at Botleys Park, and swimming lessons were held in the Thames at Chertsey.
In 1905 a separate Infants’ school was opened in Brox Road, and so the over crowding of the main school was eased. The Junior and Infants’ schools were closed in 1967 when the First and Middle schools were opened at Bousley Rise. The old Junior school was converted into seven houses by 1985 and named Colebrook Place. The Infants’ school became a restaurant in the early 1980s.
Communications and comfort
Ottershaw did not have a post office until 1844, but instead, from 1839 it relied upon a foot messenger taking the mail from Chertsey to receivers at St Ann’s Hill, Botleys and Ottershaw. A telegraph line to Chertsey was authorised in 1895, but the telephone service took another 15 years to come into use.
In 1893, gas was introduced to the area, but electric light was not available until the 1920s. Mains drainage reached Church Hill and Brox Road between 1920 and 1935, and Mains water arrived by 1934. Until then everyone accessed water from wells, which sometimes became contaminated.