East & West Molesey
A Dictionary of Local History
Rowland G. M. Baker, 1972
In 1844 a writer, telling of the joys of rambling by the river Mole, says "Near its termination we pass through the pretty rustic village of East Molesey". The Moleseys of today can lay little claim to be considered either "pretty" or "rustic". They have few buildings left with any pretensions to architectural or historical esteem. Their 1,500 acres (two of the smallest parishes in the whole of Surrey) are crammed with over 16,000 souls. To the newcomer they seem to be lost in the urban sprawl of Cobbett's "Great Wen" of London. Nevertheless my first recollections of life here in the early 1920s are of a West Molesey which still remained a country village with its parish pump and cows being driven along the High Street to be milked at the farm; and of an East Molesey of stately suburban residences in leafy retreats for the wealthier London commuters. The district has changed almost out of recognition since then. However there are yet walks around the place which are pleasantly attractive.
These notes are intended mainly for those whose curiosity is excited by the history and development of our locality, a place which was chronicled some four hundred years before the Normans conquered the land, and through whose reedy rivers our primeval ancestors paddled as long ago as the Bronze Age. I have not attempted to present this span of history in narrative form - that would have necessitated a book of much greater length - but as an alphabetically arranged dictionary, highlighting the evolution of the principal buildings, institutions, roads, and fields, which kaleidoscope into the place we call Molesey and create its present character. Neither have I thought it necessary to quote detailed authorities. Sometimes a single paragraph has been written from several separate sources. The information has been gathered over many years from a multitude of different places, extending from the national collections to the treasured memories of our older inhabitants.
I would like to convey my thanks to all those good friends who have contributed information or who have allowed me to inspect and record their old documents, to the vicars of our churches, and the custodians of our libraries. Their willing assistance is the one thing that has made the writing of this booklet possible. Finally I must express my gratitude to George Greenwood who has kindly read the book in manuscript and made suggestions for its improvement.
Rowland G. M. Baker
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