The first mention we have of the district of Chobham is implied in the 673AD charter granting land to Chertsey Abbey. Listed are Cherot's Eyot (Chertsey), Thorp, Egham and Chobham. We don't know exactly what area the district of Chobham covered in those times. The bounds normally appearing with this charter appear to date from the 9th century and closely agree with the modern boundaries of Chobham and West End parishes together. This places the western boundary of Chobham, along the Ridgeway which forms a natural boundary. It is possible that Godley Hundred only extended to the Ridgeway; and thus did not include the Blackwater Valley (Frimley) or NW to include Windlesham and Bagshot. See the Saxon pages for maps and a discussion on this.
Since King Edgar's charter includes Frimley and Bisley in Chobham, we can assume that by 967 the district of Chobham extended as far west as the natural barrier formed by the Blackwater and as far south as the neighbouring hundred of Woking.
At the time of the Domesday Survey, the vill (administrative district) of Chobham appears to have included West End, Bisley, Horsell and Frimley.
In 1250, and perhaps earlier, the Chertsey Cartulary appears to refer to the Chobham manor as Hesle - see below. Hesle seems to have included the Stanors area and the Chobham Park area. But they appear to have split by 1309.
After this time, Chobham Manor comprised essentially the modern parishes of Chobham and West End, but without the lands held by the sub-manors of Stannards and Pentecost. The common fields, meadows and wasteland made up a large part of it.
Early Lords of the Manor
Domesday records the Abbot himself as the holder of the vill.
After the Norman Conquest, the monasteries had an obligation to provide knights to the King's armies. Abbots found that they had to attract military men of stature. This was commonly achieved by leasing out fairly large estates. In keeping with their status and image, knights were allowed to build residences with the appearance of fortifications.4 p42 It is possible that the moat(s) around Chobham Park were created at this time.
Sometime, before 1250, the Abbot sold an estate in Chobham called Hesle which appears to be the area covered by Chobham Park and Stanners. Hesle seems to be synonymous with Chobham Manor.1 Vol X11 p lxxv For a detailed description of the Hesle see the page describing manors (history by subject). The lord of Hesle was Geoffrey de Bagshot who appears to have held his court at Bagshot.
Sometime during the next half century the knighted family of de Hammes leased Hesle and Ham in Chertsey but gave up to the Abbot part of Hesle in 1309, an area which appears to be centred on modern Chobham Park. After this the remaining land held by the de Hammes appears to be called Stanors.1 Vol XII 758
The Manor House
Phil Stevens has argued, very persuasively, that the abbot originally had his manor house close to the centre of the village, roughly in the area of the town mill, and did not move to Chobham Park before the 14th century. Unfortunately, there are no historical records surviving of this period that throw any light on the subject.
However, sometime between 1272 and 1307, and maybe before, we can deduce that the manor house was in the SE of the parish since the Chertsey Cartulary has an entry in that date range which tells us that the Abbot's manor court lay in the SE of the parish adjacent to Stanners. "Stanorsmed in Chobham lying next the court of the Abbot at Chobham on the southern and eastern part which now belong to the manor of Chobham". 1 Vol XII 634. Assuming that Stanors meadow lies along the Bourne, somewhere between Fairoaks Airfield and Emmetts Mill, then the court could be at Chobham Park, Larkenshaw or Stanors.
By 1421 we can be reasonably certain that Chobham Park was the manor house since there is a reference to land "next to the meadow of the manor of Chobham called Southemoremed" (present-day Sowmoor, on the southern border of Chobham Park) 1 Vol XII 816.
And of course when Henry VIII bought the manor (house) of Chobham there is no argument that it was indeed Chobham Park. A detailed history of Chobham Park can be found in this site in the section on 'houses'.
The Manor Falls into Private Hands
The following is a summary of the relevant sections of the Victoria County History.
In 1537, during the dissolution of Chertsey Abbey, the church, with the rectorial tithes and advowson, were surrendered to the Crown by John Cordrey, Abbot of Chertsey. Later in the same year the rectorial tithes were granted to the same monks in their new monastery at Bisham.
When Bisham in turn was dissolved in 1538, the tithes and advowson of the church were returned to the Crown which granted them to the Dean and Chapter of the cathedral church of St. Paul, London, in exchange for providing one knight to the King, to the use of the chaplains of two chantries in the church of St. Paul.
When chantries were abolished, the rectory tithes and advowson returned to the Crown; an effort made by the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's in 1587 to recover them proved ineffectual, as they remained in the Crown until 1620.
In 1543 Sir Anthony Brown was made keeper of the manor.3 p415
During the reign of Elizabeth, Christopher Heneage appears to have had a grant of the manor.3 p415
In 1614 James I granted the manor, including rents, to Sir George More to be held as of the manor of East Greenwich. 3 p415
In 1620 the advowson was granted with the Manor to Sir Edward Zouch, and it remained in the possession of the lord of the manor until 1752, when some of the Onslow property was sold, including the advowsons of Chobham and Bisley. They passed together for a time (see Bisley), Henry Forster presenting in 1800, and the Thornton family in 1810 and 1833. Ownership eventually passed to the Earl of Onslow who sold the Advowson separately - it came into the gift of the Rev. W. Tringham and eventually to the Bishop of Guildford.
So in the passage of time, the Manor of Chobham had lost its manor house, then tithes and finally advowson. All that was left was ownership of the waste or common land. In 1936, Lord Onslow generously transferred ownership of even this to Surrey County Council.
So there is no longer a lord or manor of Chobham.
1 Chertsey Cartulary, Surrey Record Society
2 Manning & Bray 1811
3 Victoria County History Vol III
4 Monastic Landscapes. James Bond. Pub: Tempus 2004