Chertsey Abbey

Chertsey Abbey, dedicated to St Peter, was a Benedictine monastery located at Chertsey in the English county of Surrey.[1][2]

It was founded in 666 AD by Saint Erkenwald who was the first abbot, and from 675 AD the Bishop of London. At the same time he founded the abbey at Chertsey, Erkenwald founded Barking Abbey, on the Thames east of London, where his sister Saint Ethelburga was the first abbess.

Most of north-west Surrey was granted to the abbey by King Frithuwald of Surrey. Dark Age saints buried here include Saint Beocca, a Dark Ages Catholic Saint from Anglo-Saxon England buried here around 870 AD, and ninth century Saint Edor of Chertsey.

In the 9th century it was sacked by the Danes and refounded from Abingdon Abbey by King Edgar of England in 964. In the eleventh century the monks engineered the Abbey River as an offshoot of the River Thames to supply power to the abbey's watermill. In late medieval times, the Abbey became famous as the burial place of King Henry VI (whose body was later transferred to St George's Chapel, Windsor). The abbey was dissolved by the commissioners of King Henry VIII in 1537, but the community moved to Bisham.

Chertsey Abbey
Stained glass in the Burrell CollectionDSCF0487 14
Medieval stained glass with the arms of the abbey, a sword and the keys of St Peter
Monastery information
refounded: 964
Dedicated toSt Peter
Founder(s)Saint Erkenwald
Important associated figuresKing Frithuwald of Surrey
King Henry VI
Surrey, England
Coordinates51°23′42″N 0°30′11″W / 51.3950°N 0.5031°WCoordinates: 51°23′42″N 0°30′11″W / 51.3950°N 0.5031°W
Visible remainsYes
Public accessYes


The site was given to Sir William Fitzwilliam and now only slight traces remain amongst later buildings, although the abbey is remembered in many local names (for example: Abbey River, Monk's Walk, Abbey Fields). Some very fine medieval tiles from the abbey, some depicting the legend of Tristan and Iseult, may be seen in the British Museum.[3] From the ruins of the abbey, individual letter tiles dating to the second half of the 13th century were recovered.[4] They were assembled to form religious inscription texts on the floor and can be considered a forerunner of movable type printing.[5]

One of the Abbey's bells, cast by a Wokingham foundry circa 1380 and weighing just over half a ton is still in use as the 5th of the ring of eight at St Peter's church, Chertsey, and is one of the oldest bells in current use in Surrey.

A medieval stained glass panel with the abbey's coat of arms is displayed in the Burrell Collection near Glasgow, and the two crossed keys (of Saint Peter) from the arms are also in the official Banner of Arms of Surrey County Council. Some illuminated manuscripts from the abbey survive in various collections. The Chertsey Breviary, c. 1300, is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford (Bodley Ms Lat. liturg. d. 42).

Chertsey Abbey is mentioned in William Shakespeare's Richard III, Act I, Scene 2, Line 27, where Lady Anne says, "Come now towards Chertsey with your holy load", referring to the body of Henry VI.

The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers holds the advowson of St Peter's, Chertsey nowadays.

Later history of the site

After Sir William Fitzwilliam, Chertsey Abbey was owned Dr John Hammond (c. 1555–1617), physician to the royal household under James I, who purchased the site of Chertsey Abbey in Surrey in 1602. Dr Hammond's son, Lt.Col. Thomas Hammond of Cromwell's New Model Army, was named as a Commissioner at the High Court of Justice for the trial of Charles I, and despite attending no fewer than fourteen of its sittings, he did not sign the death warrant.

In the mid-19th century the site of the abbey was excavated under the supervision of the architect and archaeologist Samuel Angell, who published an account of the investigations, accompanied by a ground plan of the abbey church, in 1862.[6]

Known Abbots of Chertsey

  • Erkenwald founder and first Abbot of Chertsey Abbey.
  • Abbot Beocca, monastery sacked 875 by Vikings[7]
  • Ordbert of Chertsey 964.
  • Wulfwold, Abbot of Chertsey, died 1084.
  • John de Rutherwyk, 1307-46.
  • John Corderoy, 1537.



Ruined wall of Chertsey Abbey (165892 0994f2f8)

Ruined wall of Chertsey Abbey

Chertsey Breviary - St. Erkenwald

Erkenwald teaching in the Chertsey Breviary (c.1300)

Breviary of Chertsey Abbey (folio 6r)

Folio 6r of the Chertsey Breviary


Saladin tiles in the British Museum

The Conventual Seal, Chertsey Abbey (Surrey Archaeological Collections)

Conventual seal

Plan of Chertsey Abbey (Surrey Archaeological Collections)

Chertsey Abbey, plan of the Demesne from the Exchequer Leiger

Plan of Chertsey Abbey, showing walls, &c., excavated in 1855 (Surrey Archaeological Collections)

Plan of Chertsey Abbey, showing walls, &c., excavated in 1855

Stone coffins excavated on site of Chertsey Abbey (Surrey Archaeological Collections)

Stone coffins excavated on site of Chertsey Abbey


  1. ^ Herbert E. Brekle, Das typographische Prinzip. Versuch einer Begriffsklärung in Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 1997 vol72, p58–63 (61f.)
  2. ^ Hellmut Lehmann-Haupt, Englische Holzstempelalphabete des XIII. Jahrhunderts in Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 1940 p93–97.
  3. ^ Richard and Saladin; Combat Series; Chertsey tiles, British Museum page
  4. ^ Lehmann-Haupt 1940, pp. 96f.
  5. ^ Brekle 1997, pp. 61f.
  6. ^ "Proceedings at Meetings of the Archaeological Institute". The Archaeological Journal. 19: 167–8. 1862.
  7. ^ Chertsey Abbey history.

Further reading


Year 666 (DCLXVI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 666 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Bisley, Surrey

Bisley is a village and civil parish in the borough of Surrey Heath in Surrey, England. It is centred 3.4 miles (5.5 km) west of Woking. It was a medieval creation. Neighbouring Bisley is the 19th-century West End, centred 900 metres north, across the Windle Brook. According to the 2011 Census, the population of Bisley was 3,965, which is largely within a focal area – the surrounding green and heather-and-gorse heath buffer land running into other parishes is lightly populated – in contrast to Knaphill which is contiguous to Woking, 1 mile (1.6 km) east.

Much of the west of the parish is covered by a high acidic heath near-plateau, relative to the Windle Brook area, which is owned and used or leased by the Ministry of Defence and is noted for its rifle shooting ranges. The National Shooting Centre, the headquarters of the National Rifle Association of the United Kingdom, is within the historic bounds. Other large buildings are Coldingley men's prison and the former factory of Bisley Office Furniture, a large office furniture manufacturer.

Blanche Heriot

Blanche Heriot was a legendary heroine from Chertsey, Surrey, whose story was brought to a wider public in two works by the Chertsey-born early Victorian writer Albert Smith.

Botleys Mansion

Botleys Mansion is a Palladian mansion house in the south of Chertsey, Surrey, England. The house was built in the 1760s by builders funded by Joseph Mawbey and to designs by Kenton Couse. The elevated site once bore a 14th-century manor house seized along with all the other manors of Chertsey from Chertsey Abbey, a very rich abbey, under Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries and today much of its land is owned by two hospitals, one public, one private and the local authority. The remaining mansion and the near park surrounding were used for some decades as a colony hospital and as a private care home. The building is owned and used by Bijou Wedding Venues Limited.

It is a Grade II* listed building.

Cardigan Priory

Cardigan Priory (formally: The Priory Church of Our Lady of Cardigan; alternative: Cardigan Cell) was a priory located in Cardigan, Ceredigion, mid-west Wales. The St. Mary's Church, Cardigan and the priory were two separate buildings.

Chertsey Bridge

Chertsey Bridge is a road bridge across the River Thames in England, connecting Chertsey to low-lying riverside meadows in Laleham, Surrey. It is situated 550 yards (500 m) downstream from the M3 motorway bridge over the Thames and is close to Chertsey Lock on the reach above Shepperton Lock.The bridge is a seven-arch tied arch white stone bridge built 1783–85 and is a Grade II* listed building. It has a weight restriction of 18 tonnes for LGVs.

The first bridge on the site was built some time after 1299 as in that year the king and his family were carried over the river by a ferry-woman called Sibille. The first reference to a bridge at Chertsey is in 1530, then a "goodly Bridg of Timber newly repaird. By 1580 it was dilapidated and the Crown, who had acquired responsibility from Chertsey Abbey, was trying to find someone on whom they could pin the bill for repairs. The documents record the dimensions as "210 feet in length and 15 feet in breadth". In 1632 the bridge, which was slanted upwards from Middlesex to Surrey, was described as like the work of a left-handed man. The slant was more annoying to navigation and passage was reported in 1774 to be very inconvenient and dangerous.The present stone bridge was first considered in 1780 and replacement of the old one began in 1783. There were 184 piles for the old bridge, which were cut off six feet below high-water mark, and the materials of the old bridge fetched £120 at auction in August 1784. The architect of the new bridge was James Paine and the surveyor was Kenton Couse. It was built at a cost of £6813 4s 11d. In an early example of contract dispute, the contractor built the number of arches specified, but as they did not reach the shore, the counties had to pay, at extra expense, for linking the bridge to the banks.On the Middlesex bank, cows graze downstream in Dumsey Meadow, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and upstream is Laleham Park. On the Surrey bank are the outskirts of Chertsey with Abbey Chase house on the river bank. At the south east end of the bridge is a late-19th-century square cast-iron coal-tax post with cornice and capping, and the City of London shield on one face. It is grade II listed.


Coulsdon (, traditionally pronounced ) is a town in south London, mainly within the London Borough of Croydon, with parts of Coulsdon also falling under the London Borough of Sutton and Reigate & Banstead. It is south of Croydon's historic boundaries at Purley and is approximately 13 miles (20.9 km) from Charing Cross.

East Clandon

East Clandon is a village and civil parish in Surrey, England on the A246 between the towns of Guildford to the west and Leatherhead to the east. Neighbouring villages include West Clandon and West Horsley.

In 2011 it had a population of 268 in 109 households clustered around three buildings, the church of St Thomas of Canterbury, The Queen's Head pub and the village hall. Centred 4 miles (6 km) east of Guildford, the parish landscape includes a large farm and Hatchlands Park, a similar but National Trust estate and including a great mansion, which replaced the manor house. There are arable and livestock farmland and woodlands along the North Downs and a golf course in East Clandon.


Egham ( EG-əm) is a town in the Runnymede borough of Surrey, in the south-east of England. It is part of the London commuter belt and has its own railway station. It adjoins, narrowly, junction 13 of the M25 motorway and is situated 19 miles (31 km) WSW of London. It can be considered a university town as it has on its higher part, Egham Hill, the campus of Royal Holloway, University of London.

Not far from this town, at Runnymede, Magna Carta was sealed.

Godley Hundred

Godley was a hundred in what is now Surrey, England. Egham, Thorpe, Chertsey and Chobham are all mentioned in the Chertsey Abbey charter of 673 AD due to a donation by Frithuwold. Chobham manor needed to be large to have a reasonable economic importance as it covered very poor quality heathland. Most of the population of the hundred would have settled on the more fertile alluvial soil bordering the River Thames.

Godley appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Godelie. Godley was a hundred (these are not marked on the Surrey map, which shows only Domesday manors) an administrative area, where local leaders met about once a month. It included the manors of Chobham, Egham, Thorpe, Chertsey, Pyrford and Byfleet. Pyrford is within the Godley hundred but unusually lies within the Woking parish.The hundred was probably bounded to the west by the River Blackwater and to the north by the River Thames. To the north was the Land of Sunningas; to the south Woking (hundred) and then the Land of Godhelmingas, to the west the Land of Basingas.In the Godley hundred, in Saxon times, the heriot, death duties, usually consisted of the tenants' best beast.

John Bourchier, 1st Baron Berners

John Bourchier, 1st Baron Berners, KG (died May 1474) was an English peer.

Bourchier was the fourth son of William Bourchier, 1st Count of Eu, and his wife Anne of Woodstock, Countess of Buckingham, daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester. Henry Bourchier, 1st Earl of Essex, and William Bourchier, 9th Baron FitzWarin jure uxoris, were his elder brothers. He was knighted in 1426 and in 1455 he was summoned to the House of Lords as John Bourchier de Berners, which created the title of Baron Berners. In 1459 he was further honoured when he was made a Knight of the Garter. He also served as Constable of Windsor Castle from 1461 to 1474.

Lord Berners married Margery, daughter of Sir Richard Berners. He died in May 1474 and was succeeded in the barony by his grandson John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners, his son Sir Humphrey Bourchier having been killed at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. Margery, Lady Berners, died in 1475. His daughter Joan Bourchier married Sir Henry Neville (d. 26 July 1469), son of George Neville, 1st Baron Latimer and Elizabeth Beauchamp, and had issue which included Richard Neville, 2nd Baron Latimer, father of John Nevill, 3rd Baron Latimer.John Bourchier was buried at Chertsey Abbey, in the Runnymede borough of Surrey

Laleham Burway

Laleham Burway is a 1.6-square-kilometre (0.62 sq mi) tract of water-meadow and former water-meadow between the River Thames and Abbey River in the far north of Chertsey in Surrey. Its uses are varied. Part is Laleham Golf Club. Part, raised trailer/park homes towards its west, forms residential development; similarly a brief row of houses with private gardens against the Thames. A reservoir and water works is on the island.

From at least the year 1278 its historic bulky northern definition formed part of the dominant estate of Laleham across the river, its manor, to which it was linked by a ferry until the early 20th century. Accordingly, as to this section its owner in period from the mid-19th until the early 20th century was the Earl of Lucan; however when its manor house was sold to become Laleham Abbey, a short-lived nunnery, its tenants had taken it over or it was sold for public works. The southern greater part of the land commonly marked today as the Burway or Laleham Burway was the Abbey Mead, kept since the seventh century among many square miles of land and other institutions such as priories, chantries and churches of Chertsey Abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Part of it was a cricket venue in the 18th century and the home of Chertsey Cricket Club. Where not considered for former land ownership reasons with Abbey Mead (being together a large mill-race island with a broad corollary of the river beside them), the old definition of Laleham Burway, in 1911, comprised 200 acres (81 ha) which were largely for horse and cow pasture.

List of monastic houses in Surrey

The following is a list of monastic houses in Surrey, England.

Alien houses are included, as are smaller establishments such as cells and notable monastic granges (particularly those with resident monks), and also camerae of the military orders of monks (Knights Templars and Knights Hospitaller). The numerous monastic hospitals per se are not included here unless at some time the foundation had, or was purported to have the status or function of an abbey, priory, friary or preceptor/commandery.

The name of the county is given where there is reference to an establishment in another county. Where the county has changed since the foundation's dissolution the modern county is given in parentheses, and in instances where the referenced foundation ceased to exist before the unification of England, the kingdom is given, followed by the modern county in parentheses.

Lyfing (Archbishop of Canterbury)

Lyfing (died 12 June 1020) was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Wells and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Medieval letter tile

Medieval letter tiles are one-letter ceramic tiles that were employed in monasteries and churches of the late Middle Ages for the creation of Christian inscriptions on floors and walls. They were created by pressing stamps bearing a reverse image into soft clay, which was then baked hard, and they were used to form words by assembling single-letter tiles in the desired order.The decoration technique is notable for being an early form of movable type printing which essentially is nothing but the stringing together of identically created individual letters for the purpose of producing an image. Compared to the conventional printing technique later established by Johannes Gutenberg, though, medieval tile alphabets were created in an inverse order: In a first step, the (im)printing was done, and only then the process of typesetting occurred, by spreading out the individual letter tiles onto the floor and composing them into words and lines of text.The use of such movable letter tiles is documented for the English Chertsey Abbey, from whose ruins specimens dating to the second half of the 13th century were recovered, as well as for the early 14th‑century flooring of the Dutch Aduard Abbey. In Zinna Abbey south of Berlin, there is an extant Ave Maria embedded in the floor before the altar. Each letter appears as a relief print on an unglazed, red-brown terracotta tile measuring 14 x 14 cm. The Latin inscription dates to the 13th or 14th century and was composed in Gothic majuscule.The Prüfening dedicatory inscription is a Latin church inscription on a single clay tablet using a different principle, apparently made by stamping out the words with individual letter stamps or types.

Municipal Borough of Sutton and Cheam

Sutton and Cheam was a local government district in north east Surrey, England from 1882 to 1965.

Sutton Local Government District was formed on 20 December 1882, when the parish of Sutton adopted the Local Government Act 1858. Sutton Local Board was formed to govern the area.The Local Government Act 1894 reconstituted the local government district as Sutton Urban District and an urban district council replaced the local board.

In 1928 the urban district was expanded to take in the parish of Cheam from the neighbouring Epsom Rural District to become Sutton and Cheam Urban District. It was expanded slightly in 1933 when a county review order abolished Epsom Rural District. The urban district council successfully petitioned for a charter of incorporation and the town became a municipal borough in 1934. Charter Day was celebrated on 12 September 1934 with local festivities, including a quarter peal on the bells of All Saints, Benhilton.The borough was granted a coat of arms on incorporation. The shield represented the ancient ecclesiastical landowners of the area. The crosses came from the arms of the Archdiocese of Canterbury, the manor of Cheam having been granted to Christchurch, Canterbury in 1018. The keys of St Peter came from the arms of Chertsey Abbey who held Sutton at the time of the Domesday Book. The crest above the shield was a popinjay (parrot) from the arms of the Lumley family. The motto was that of Bishop John Hacket, rector of Cheam from 1624 - 1662.In 1965, under the London Government Act 1963, the borough was abolished and its former area was transferred to Greater London, along with the Carshalton Urban District and the Municipal Borough of Beddington and Wallington, to form the present-day London Borough of Sutton.


Shoshannim (Hebrew ששנים, 'lilies') is mentioned in Psalm 45 and Psalm 69. Its meaning in these Psalms in uncertain. Some believe it to be a kind of lily-shaped straight trumpet, a six-stringed instrument, a word commencing a song or the melody to which these psalms were to be sung.The Hebrew root word used is Psalm 45 and 69 according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is Strong's #7799 defined as "probably any lily-like flower".

The tenor bell of St Peter's Church, Chertsey (England), cast in 1670 by Bryan(?) Eldridge of Chertsey (maybe in itself a recasting of an earlier Chertsey Abbey bell), was recast in 1859 by George Mears of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry at the expense of Angela Burdett-Coutts, and by her specially named "Shoshannim".

Siward (bishop of Rochester)

Siward (or Sigweard) was a medieval Bishop of Rochester.

Thorpe, Surrey

Thorpe is a village in Surrey, England, between Egham, Virginia Water and Chertsey. It is centred 20 miles (32 km) WSW of Charing Cross and its land adjoins the circle of the M25, near the M3 — its ward covers 856 hectares (3.3 sq mi). Its traditional area with natural boundaries covers one square mile less.

Thorpe has been a manor since at least 1066 and has had a Christian place of worship since at least the 7th century. It has never had a civil parish nor major industry and relies for much of its amenities on its two main adjoining towns.

The River Bourne or Chertsey Bourne flows through its far south. In the south-east of the ward is Thorpe Park, one of England's largest theme parks, which is also a watersports centre. Its second-tier local authority, Runnymede, is a largely suburban area.

Benedictine abbeys and priories in medieval England and Wales
(inc. Canons Regular)
Crutched Friars
villages and
Notable parks
and structures
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