CHERTSEY, a market town in the Chertsey parliamentary division of Surrey, England, 22 m. W.S.W. from London by the London & South-Western railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 12,762. It is pleasantly situated on the right bank of the Thames, which is crossed by a bridge of seven arches, built of Purbeck stone in 1785. The parish church, rebuilt in 1808, contains a tablet to Charles James Fox, who resided at St Anne's Hill in the vicinity, and another to Lawrence Tomson, a translator of the New Testament in the 17th century. Hardly any remains are left of a great Benedictine abbey, whose buildings at one time included an area of 4 acres. They fell into almost complete decay in the 17th century, and a "fair house" was erected out of the ruins by Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington. The ground-plan can be traced; the fish-ponds are complete; and carved stones, coffins and encaustic tiles of a peculiar manufacture are frequently exhumed. Among the abbots the most famous was John de Rutherwyk, who was appointed in 1307, and continued, till his death in 1346, to carry on a great system of alteration and extension, which almost made the abbey a new building. The house in which the poet Cowley spent the last years of his life remains, and the chamber in which he died is preserved unaltered. The town is the centre of a large residential district. Its principal trade is in produce for the London markets.
The first religious settlement in Surrey, a Benedictine abbey, was founded in 666 at Chertsey (Cerotesei, Certesey), the manor of which belonged to the abbot until 1539, since when it has been a possession of the crown. In the reign of Edward the Confessor Chertsey was a large village and was made the head of Godley hundred. The increase of copyhold under Abbot John de Rutherwyk led to discontent, the tenants in 1381 rising and burning the rolls. Chertsey owed its importance primarily to the abbey, but partly to its geographical position. Ferries over the Redewynd were subjects of royal grant in 1340 and 1399; the abbot built a new bridge over the Bourne in 1333, and wholly maintained the bridge over the Thames when it replaced the 14th century ferry. In 1410 the king gave permission to build a bridge over the Redewynd. As the centre of an agricultural district the markets of Chertsey were important and are still held. Three days' fairs were granted to the abbots in 1129 for the feast of St Peter ad Vincula by Henry III. for Holy Rood day; in 1282 for Ascension day; and a market on Mondays was obtained in 1282. In 1590 there were many poor, for whose relief Elizabeth gave a fair for a day in Lent and a market on Thursdays. These fairs still survive.
See Lucy Wheeler, Chertsey Abbey (London, 1905); Victoria County History, Surrey.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)