The Anchor at Wisley
Wisley is a village in the heart of rural Surrey, on the River Wey. It lies south of Byfleet, but separated from it by the M25 motorway, and east of West Byfleet, parted from it by the River Way and the extensive meadows and gravel workings along the river. Its single road is a lane leading westwards off the A3 Portsmouth Road across the broad acres of Wisley Common.
Wisley has little of itself as a village but it is the home of, and exceeded in size by, the Royal Horticultural Society's Wisley Garden.
The River Wey runs through the village and Wisley Common forms a large proportion of the parish on a high acid heathland, which is a rare soil type providing for its own types of habitat, and which continues beyond the A3 as Ockham Common.
Variant spellings of Wiselei (11th century) and Wyseleye (13th century) feature in the feet of fines and similar rolls at Westminster and Lambeth Palaces. The origin of the name is uncertain but it is believed that the initial element "Wis-" is from a personal name, while the suffix is the common Old English leag, meaning "meadow".
Wisley gives its name to the nearby road intersection of the A3 Portsmouth Road (which runs across much land of the village) and the London Orbital M25 motorway, Junction 10. The village is equidistant between Cobham and Woking.
The River Wey forms part of the western part of the village, but is partly on both banks within Pyrford parish. Ockham and Wisley Commons form a large proportion of the parish on a high acid heathland, which is a rare soil type providing for its own types of habitat.,
Wisley appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Wiselei. It was held by Osuuold (Oswold) [of Wotton], whose main seat was Wotton. Its Domesday assets were: 1½ hides; one church, one mill worth 10 £sd|shillings, three ploughs, one fishery worth 5d, 6 acres of meadow, woodland worth six hogs. It rendered £3 per year.
19th and 20th centuries
Universal education began in the nineteenth century but Wisley was too small for a school and the children of Wisley Common began to attend Byfleet School. Charles Buxton, brewer and MP, had his solitary, stark Neo-Gothic mansion home placed upon the far woodlands of the heath, in land well within the orbital motorway of today and associated with Weybridge.
Wisley Airfield was built towards the end of the Second World War as a flight test airfield for the Vickers aircraft factory at nearby Brooklands: in fact it within the bounds of Ockham rather than Wisley. (Today it is next to the junction of the M25/A3). It had a 1.27 mile runway; it opened in 1944 and after extended use for the development of military aircraft during the Cold War, it finally closed in 1972.
Although the runway, taxiways and large areas of hardstanding survive, most of the buildings—including the unique control tower converted from an old timber-framed cottage—were demolished around 1980. The Ockham Beacon at the east end serves as a navigation aid for aircraft flying over the area. There was once a suggestion for reopening the airport for commercial flights, which generated a major local campaign of opposition.
Wisley Golf Club is in the village.
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