This view of Village Road, Thorpe, c.1920s, was apparently taken from an upper room in Thorpe Farm, now in Giles Travers Close. It shows from the right The Cottage, Longhurst’s smithy since demolished and now the side of the Red Lion.

Egham-by-Runnymede Historical Society member and resident of Thorpe, Jill Williams, gives us an overview of the village:

 

Thorpe is a compact village and parish between Egham and Chertsey with local areas of Village, Thorpe Green, Eastley End and Thorpe Lea. It was densely populated in the Iron Age and features in the Domesday Book when it had an estimated population of 150/200. By 1901 this had risen to 500 and has increased steeply since.

Chertsey Abbey owned Thorpe until the Reformation of 1558, followed by family ownership of about half the parish until the 1930s. Economically Thorpe depended on agriculture until the 20th century provided alternatives of light industry, gravel extraction, leisure and commuters.

Thorpe retains some 38 listed buildings and  structures including several fine brick walls. There are two historic public house/restaurants (both in 17th century buildings), a Church of England school, an American school, and a village shop in the former 19th century  village school building. There is a large village green of 16 hectares (40 acres). A border onto the River Thames and to the Great Western Road (A30) to London allowed access to the wider world and the proximity to London provided a country home near Windsor and the City for the wealthy, goldsmiths and lawyers among them. In the 19th century three artists of national standing lived in the parish and in 1910 the ‘Thorpe War’ was among events in the religious disputes of the time. Two memorials commemorate World War 1 – an inscribed cross and the Cemetery Gates – but nothing for the Second World War exists. The Village Hall is in a 17th century barn but two modern halls have been recently built. Changes to planning laws mean that Thorpe has recently set up the Thorpe Neighbourhood Forum to consider future  housing plans.

There is a good range of historic records in The Egham Museum, the Surrey History Centre, London Metropolitan Archives and National Archives including manor records, rating surveys, wills, census returns and newspapers.

Thorpe can be explored using Thorpe Village Trail (£1), Thorpe: A Surrey Village in Maps (£5.00) and Thorpe Picture Book (£5.50) from The Egham Museum (p&p extra) or enquire via the Egham-by-Runnymede Historical Society on ebrhs.enquiries@gmail.com.  View more details about the Society here: www.eghammuseum.org/ebrhs.

The History Society celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, find out more here: www.eghammuseum.org/historical-society-50-anniversary.


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