Moira McQuaide Hall’s history of Burpham
Today a popular residential estate, the area known as Weybrook Park was originally part of the forest that covered Surrey before being encompassed in local farm land. Now we see some of the few remaining areas of green space in the area subject to local concern.
This area of Burpham is currently in the local news, due to the planning application by Sainsbury’s to extend their building by cutting down over 60 trees in the neighbouring copse. There have been many objections to this, but perhaps this is a good time to look back at the history of the area.
In the 12th century, King Henry II reduced the whole of Surrey to the state of a forest, part of the Royal Forest of Windsor, but over the next few centuries the woodland disappeared as smallholders and farms took its place. Most of the Tudor buildings still in the area were part of large farms. The earliest map showing details of woodland is the Tithe Map of 1838, and you can see the area called The Coppice, which looks like a three pronged fork, of woodland around the fields that became Bower’s Farm. The land between Burpham Court Farm and London Road, and between the Wey Navigation and Burpham Lane, was farmed by William Francis Pimm, who lived at Marlyn’s, during the early 19th century. He owned some of the land, but leased other parts, including this area, from the Earl of Onslow. William died in the 1840s and over the next 40 years the farmland was split up.
Bower’s Farm was first mentioned by name in the 1881 census and during the following years was farmed by Thomas Slaughter, George and Percy Gatley, Leo Keene and his daughter Dorothy Jones. By 1913 much of the woodland had disappeared, including the three prongs, leaving only the triangular plot behind the current store. There were planning applications in the 1960s for residential developments on the farmland, and both Sainsbury’s and Asda had an interest in the land. In 1982, the Surrey Advertiser reported that an American property company owned the land, having bought it from the Getty Estate in 1980. Eventually Sainsbury’s won the battle of the supermarkets. In 1984 there was an agreement between Guildford Borough Council, J Sainsbury plc and New Ideal Homes Ltd. Sainsbury’s appeared to own the land and the property developers purchased those parts not designated for the supermarket – including the copse beside the current store. A planning proposal by Sainsbury’s in 1982 included plans to have a garden centre and Homebase store on the same site. The new store opened in 1985 and was extended to include a petrol station later on.
Most of the trees currently around the Sainsbury’s store are probably not the original ones, but they play a central part in protecting natural habitats, improving the environment and cutting out noise for local residents. Green spaces are important to modern day living and history shows that this area has always had its woodlands.
If you are willing to share your memories and/or photos to tell us more about Burpham then please contact Moira MacQuaide Hall, either by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone or text (07963 756543). My two books (‘The History of Burpham Primary School’ and ‘Burpham – A Gateway to Guildford’) are still available from me for £10 (free delivery locally) or on Amazon.