Chorleywood: A Pictorial History

Exploring Chorleywood: a pictorial history was written by Sue Clark, David Hiddleston, Hugh Howes, Gillian Pugh and Valerie Steel, and published by Chorleywood u3a on 24th October 2018. ISBN 978-1-5272-3037-8. 310pp. It is available from Chorleywood Bookshop (, Tel: 01923 283566) at £20 (10% discount for members of Chorleywood U3A).

Chorleywood: A Pictorial History
Click or tap on the picture of the cover to see a larger version.

The book, which has been put together by five members of Chorleywood u3s, includes more than 300 pictures and maps, together with interviews and historical material. It describes how the village has grown from a few isolated farms and hamlets to the thriving village of today, and looks at some of the people who have influenced that development.

Chorleywood is not the archetypal village built around an ancient church, manor house and green. However, its story is important in that it echoes the transformation of other communities throughout the Home Counties. In many ways this book is a timely record of the change from a rural to a more suburban way of life.

The book is presented as 14 short walks. It sets out a route that takes us from Chorleywood’s earliest history in the valley of the River Chess in Roman and Saxon times, through the centuries when the tollgate was the centre of the village, to the modern period that followed on from the arrival of the railway in 1889 and in due course the building of the M25.

It describes the big houses and the people who lived in them, many of whose names live on thanks to their patronage of village life – Lady Ela Russell, J S Gilliat, Charles Voysey, Hon Arthur Capell, the Darvell family and many more. Chorleywood’s pleasant location and proximity to London also attracted celebrities. You will discover which actor-manager had a house built with a courtyard where plays could be performed, and why Sir Henry Wood “airbrushed out” the twenty years he lived in Chorleywood, years when he entertained famous musical personalities including Sir William Walton.

But there are also stories about the less privileged or glamorous inhabitants: the family in a terraced cottage who had sixteen children for which they won a prize; the licensee who was sentenced to nine months’ hard labour after being found guilty of stealing and killing a sheep; the rat catcher who was also a licensee; the village policemen and his daughter who taught at Christ Church school; the village fire brigade; the doctor who pioneered the treatment of shell-shock; and the head teacher who was responsible for finding school places for nearly nine hundred children evacuated during the Second World War.

Writing in the Foreword, Jill Menghetti, chair of Chorleywood u3a says “our Chorleywood u3a local historians have created an engaging book that is the product of meticulous research yet wears its learning lightly. ..Thanks to their studies, family history research and sourcing of charming period photos, this book will give readers great pleasure.”


About Chorleywood u3a
Early days
River Chess and Solesbridge Lane
A404 from the White Horse to Green Street Farms
Chorleywood Common
Common Road
Station Approach
Lower Road and Station Estate
Chorleywood Bottom and Quickley Lane
Shire Lane
The Swillett
Stag Lane to Dungeons Farm
Dog Kennel Lane to Cedars Retirement Village
Looking to the future