The Prehistoric Period

Evidence for the use of the Common by prehistoric man has to be based on the sites and finds at present known in the area. Past experience makes it clear that this is likely to be only a fraction of what actually exists.

Neolithic material has been recorded from a site just outside the area to the north-west, and 'from Chobham' (i.e. somewhere in the parish). Evidence for activity in this period is therefore possible within the Common area.

The Bronze Age has produced the most important archaeological evidence in the area discovered so far. Burial mounds (barrows or tumuli) of the earlier part of the period are known both on and around the Common. One, and a possible two others, are known northwest of the area; four other possible barrows (one scheduled as an Ancient Monument) are known just to the north east, and another is recorded 'west of Chobham'. On the Common itself there is a supposed barrow somewhere south of Longcross House, and a definite example is scheduled as an Ancient Monument, just on the Common north‑west of Pipers Green Stud. In the later Bronze Age this activity continued, as shown by a known urn cemetery just north‑west of the Common, and two other possible cemeteries near Chobham, Park Farm and Chobham Place.

These Bronze Age finds may be a pointer to the date of the enigmatic earthwork known as the "Bee Garden" set on the Common proper and scheduled as an "Ancient Monument". It has been claimed both as Iron Age and mediaeval but in neither case has anything to do with bees. In fact, the local place‑name Albury Bottom rather suggests that the earthwork should already have been seen as ancient in early mediaeval times ("the old burh or earthwork") that supports a pre‑historic date. The large number of Bronze Age finds (and general absence of Iron Age) perhaps suggests that the Bee Garden was constructed at some time in this period.

The most widely held theory relating to general prehistoric land use in the County is that much of the area around Chobham was cleared of tree cover in the Bronze Age, perhaps starting as early as the Neolithic period. The result of this clearance would have been to destroy the biological cycle, leaving the inherently poor Bagshot Sands to become even more impoverished as leaching occurred. The characteristic acid‑seeking heathland plants with low nutrient demands soon became established and provided intense competition to other herbage that might have stopped the degrading process.

This could not have been effectively counteracted by the primitive cultivation and fertilization techniques of the time, and the blanket coverage of the area with large tracts of heather, particularly ling, greatly inhibited recolonisation by trees.

The Roman Period

There is not much evidence of Roman occupation on the Common but a Roman coin has been found near the second so‑called Bee Garden north of Fish Pond (see Map 2.) and a fourth century coin hoard came to light somewhere 'in Chobham' (i.e. parish) in the 18th century.

The Mediaeval Period

In the mediaeval period more can be learnt from documents and place names, although much work remains to be carried out on these sources. There has, no doubt, been a settlement of sorts at Chobham for a very long time, and early occupation in the Saxon period is suggested by the ‑ham place name. In the 7th century, The Manor of Chobham was granted to Chertsey Abbey by the Crown and remained in the possession of the Abbey until its surrender to Henry VIII in 1537. In terms of the Common, it is likely that the triple-banked earthwork on the eastern edge, the second so called Bee Garden (and scheduled), was constructed in the Middle Ages, although its purpose is obscure perhaps a stock enclosure.

John de Rutherwyk, Abbot of Chertsey Abbey in the reign of King Edward II created Gracious Pond. This has silted up and is now a wet wood of about 20 acres that is an enclosure in the common. He also enclosed Langshot and he made a moat with running water around Chobham Manor (now Chobham Park).

 The Manor of Stanners and Ford formed much of the east end of the Parish of Chobham and the Commons from this manor are included with Chobham Common. In 1310 the Fish Ponds and Common heath in the Manor of Stanners and Ford, that lay to the north west of the Chobham Chertsey Road, were excluded from an exchange of land with the Abbey and retained by Sir John Hamme, the Lord of that Manor. It is probable that these are the ponds that still survive.

Later History

On July 20th 1614 the Manor of Chobham was conveyed to Sir George More. It reverted back to the Crown on the death of Sir George More.

On November 19th 1620 the Manor was granted to Sir Edward Zouch and again reverted back to the Crown on his death.

George II granted the Manor to Walter Abel for a term of 1000 years and Lord Onslow derived his title to the Manor from Walter Abel. The Manor then comprised 2,658 acres of arable land and 1,672 acres of grassland. Chobham "Waste" or Common formed part of this lease.

Significant enclosures included Clearmount and Glovers Pond.  Following the Napoleonic Wars, allotments were enclosed for the poor at Jubilee Mount and Burrowhill.

The most noteworthy military connection is the Great Camp of 1853 when the Common was used as a large temporary camp for the Army immediately prior to the troops leaving for the Crimean War.  

The Twentieth Century

The Monument, beside the Windsor Road on the northern part of the Common was erected in 1901 to commemorate Queen Victoria's visit in 1853 to review her troops. There seems to be some doubt about whether it was from here, or from Staple Hill, that Queen Victoria reviewed her assembled troops before their departure for the Crimean War. Several curiously alternating banks and depressions just north of the Monument, and on other parts of the Common, are thought to be First World War training entrenchments.

In 1952 a stone was erected in Chobham Place Woods by Sir Edward le Marchant, then of Chobham Place. This stone was in memory of the Crimean War Troops and marks the exact spot of a divine service held in 1853.

During the Second World War the 'Tank Factory' was built on private land but extended onto part of the Common and, as compensation land, Chobham Place Woods and Round Pond Woods were added to the Common. Much of the common was used as a driving ground for testing the new tanks and armoured vehicles that were being designed and developed. The damage to the vegetation and erosion caused at that time are still not entirely eradicated.

After the war a large area of the common had to be ploughed and reseeded. There was also an Italian prisoner of war camp on part of the common now owned by Sunningdale Golf Club and an ammunition dump adjoining the common at Childown.

During the past century, the Common has been crossed and dissected by transport and public utility lines. First came the Staines to Wokingham railway line, which crossed the northern boundary of the Common. Since then there have been electricity lines, gas pipes and oil pipes, and most recently, the M3 Motorway, completed in 1974.