Introduction and early history

From earliest recorded time Chorleywood comprised a number of farms and hamlets. The village developed and prospered because of its proximity to the river Chess (previously known as the Pichelsburnae, the Isen, and the Lowdewater) and, by the mid 18th century, the turnpike from St Albans to Reading. It was transformed by the coming of the railway in 1889 and more recently by the building of the M25.


• 796 The first mention of Ceorlea Leah (clearing or meadow in the forest)
• 1278 Bosco de Cherle (peasants wood)
• 1524 Charleywoode
• 1870s Chorley Wood
• 1913 Chorleywood

End of the ice age 8,000BC

The district is formed by a tilted chalk plateau which runs under the clay of Rickmansworth and into London. In the Ice Age the Chilterns marked the southernmost boundary of the glaciers. In the melts the valleys were subjected to flooding and covered with shale and silt. The combination of basic chalk and acidic gravel gives rise to an unusual variety of flora, as can be found in the very different vegetation at the northern and southern ends of Chorleywood Common. A sarsen stone, a glacial erratic, used as a boundary stone, can be found in Old Shire Lane where it runs through the ancient woodland of Philipshill Woods.

Paleolithic (pre-8,500 BC) / Mesolithic (8,500 BC – 4.500 BC) / Neolithic (4,500 BC –
2,500 BC) / Bronze Age (2600 BC – 700 BC)/ Iron Age (800 BC – AD 43)

Shards of pottery and flint axes and other implements have been found across a number of sites in Chorleywood, but there is no evidence of extensive settlements during these periods.

Roman period AD 43 – AD 410

• It has been suggested that a road from Verulamium to Silchester (Viatores 163) ran south west to the Thames from Silchester Gate through Chorleywood. To date no evidence has been found of whether it existed and where or whether it passed through Chorleywood.

• A Roman watermill and possibly a villa have been excavated at Solesbridge Mill, thought to be one of a line of Romano-British farms and villas in the Chess Valley.

• Pottery and coins have been found:

  • a gold Roman coin by the River Chess (Valentinian II AD 388 – 392)
  • pottery and a coin of Valens (AD 368 – 375) at Troutstream Farm
  • 4,350 coins in a jar at Heronsgate reservoir, (Constantine I and Constantius II)

(AD 330 – 345)

  • fragments of a Samian bowl on Chorleywood Common

Saxon period AD 450 – AD 1066
• The boundary between the Kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex ran through Chorleywood, up what is now Shire Lane.

• 796 first reference to Ceorlea Leah (clearing or meadow in the forest).

• C 800AD Chorleywood came under the auspices of the Diocese of St Albans, formed by the foundation of the Abbey by King Offa in 796

Norman period AD 1066 – AD 1200
• 1086 Domesday Book, makes no mention of Chorleywood, which was an appendage of the Lordship of the Manor of Rickmansworth.

• 1239 Blacketts Farm, or Blackethide, the oldest farm mentioned in records, occupying the land that was in due course to become the centre of Chorleywood (now Dove Park).

• 1278 Chorleywood referred to as Bosco de Cherle (Cherleswood or Peasants’ Wood).

• 1367 Hall Farm (now Shepherds Lane) and Youngers Farm (now the Retreat in Chorleywood Bottom) mentioned.

• 1437 Clements Farm (now Commongate Road) mentioned.

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