History of Bookham Commons

Central plain Bookham Commons

From wild woods, Victorian tourism to being saved by the National Trust and becoming a home for troops during the Second World War, Bookham Commons has a history which reflects changing times in society.

The early days

Bookham Commons are a small remnant of a wildwood that covered most of southern England. Boar, wolves and bears roamed the woods.

Victorian day trippers

In the late 1800s the commons became a popular destination for Victorians wanting to escape busy London for the day. The railway, close to the commons, made it easily accessible.
You can still hop on a train to visit the commons today.

Locals save Great Bookham Common

In 1923 Eastwick Park in Great Bookham was sold to a property developer. He found that he also held the deeds to Great Bookham Common. Outraged locals got together and raised enough money to buy it back and present it to us to look after forever.
In those days the Trust was in its infancy and the local people formed a management committee that cared and funded the common.

Little Bookham and Banks Common

Little Bookham Common was presented to the Trust in 1924 by Mr H Willock-Pollen, Lord of the Manor of Little Bookham.
Banks Common was donated by Mr R R Calburn in 1925.

Your commons

Today we look after Bookham Commons to protect the wildlife and for you to enjoy too.
Many locals, like in 1923, still help us with this huge task and have joined the Friends of Bookham Commons.

Wildlife survey for over 70 years

In 1941 the London and Natural History Society started making detailed surveys of our special commons and their wildlife. The commons are now one of the best recorded and thoroughly studied areas in England.

The commons at war

During the Second World War the commons were occupied by many troops, ant-aircraft guns, a search battery, lorries and tanks.
They were frequently bombed.

Did you know?

You can still see the traces of war today:
  • the triangular pits on the Eastern Plain once had a concrete base and held an anti-aircraft gun
  • the small round ponds, at various locations, are water filled bomb craters