The origins of Bagshot.

Until recently it was thought that the earliest settlements in Bagshot were late Saxon, and the name Bagshot (and that of the neighbouring Windlesham) are considered by many to be of Saxon origin. However recent excavations have shown that there was both pre-Roman and Roman occupation of Bagshot.  There were late Bronze Age settlements in the area, and iron smelting appears to have been a major 'industry' in the locality.  There is a confluence of several Roman roads just to the north of Bagshot.

The derivation of the name Bagshot is not clear. The first part probably derives from BACGA (or Baga or Bacca), either a personal name, that of a tribe, or of a small wild animal (badger or fox).  The second part (shot) is thought to be either an angle, corner or strip of land; or that it means "the tribe of". The origins of the name has been the subject of quite a bit of correspondence and is discussed more fully on a separate page.

Following the Norman conquest (1066) the area was declared part of a Royal Forest.  'Forest' means hunting ground, rather than necessarily wooded, but the significant thing is that it placed the area outside of the regular Law and thus was not conducive to the development of stable communities.

The oldest detailed map of England, circa 1360 (the reign of Edward III), includes Bagshot among the limited number of places shown. The map, which is held in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, is known as the Gough Map even though it pre-dates Gough, a collector of maps, by 400 years.  

There had been a royal hunting lodge at Bagshot (now Bagshot Park) certainly through Stuart and Tudor times and it is sufficiently likely that Charles I was at Bagshot Park when he signed the warrent that established the Royal Mail in 1635 for the Royal Mail to host their 350th anniversary celebrations there in 1985.

Apart from supporting the hunting lodge, development of Bagshot occurred due to its position on the main London to the West Country road (The Great West Road established in Elizabethian times, late 16th century, and now classified as the A30). The roads were dirt or gravel and narrow. On another page I have an old picture of the road going through Bagshot's narrow High Street.  Many inns developed to provide services to the stage coach passengers, and stables to provide the coaches with fresh horses.

The area also bred its share of highwaymen, one of note (or perhaps notoriety) being William Davis, a farmer who lived near what was later known as the Golden Farmer and later still the Jolly Farmer (see below). He was eventually caught (at the White Hart Inn in Bagshot) and hanged. He had hardly sought to avoid suspicion for he always paid his debts in gold! It was after him that the pub used to be called the Golden Farmer.

Ron recounts an alternative version, which I suspect might be rather more fanciful.  Do you know of any corroberating information? : In the early 1950's I used to go with my Father to Camberley on our bicycles to a gardening job. On our ride home we always stopped at the "Jolly Farmer" for a pint. We were told that horse drawn carriages conveying rich travellers would spend the night there. The owner of the pub became very rich by receiving payments from Dick Turpin the highwayman for giving him information about his guests, and came to be known as the Golden Farmer. Dick Turpin was eventually caught and hanged at Gibbet Lane, about a mile along Portsmouth Road. Ref 612.0106

Gavin's version is a bit different - "I've always been told it was Claude Du Val who paid his bills in gold and the pub was named after him. When the sign was painted with the smiling farmer, locals soon refered to the pub as the Jolly Farmer." 8042.708

John adds another highwayman tale "Nell Gwynne was robbed by a highwayman on Bagshot heath. She was so taken by his charm that she gave him a kiss and he gave her jewelry back. She then gave him 10 guineas for his trouble. He was a former Captain in the Goldstream guards by the name of Pat O'Bryan. It was suspected that he was part of a small cartel of robbers in the area who shared their loot between themselves." 8047.808

But one has to acknowledge that most if not all these stories of highwaymen owe as much to legend as they do fact. Certainly Dick Turpin was not hanged locally. There is even authorative opinion that William Davies was not the Golden Farmer despite the prevalence of the story quoted above.

The building of the railway (through Woking) in 1839 put a vitual end to the coaching trade and Bagshot suffered a decline which would not be reversed until a couple of decades later with the construction of a local line whose direct access to London facilitated the growth of market gardening.

Bagshot separated from Windlesham to became its own Ecclesiastical parish in 1874.

41 k byteThis 1890 map defines the original parish boundary (click on the map for a larger version 143k).

The northern boundary of the parish follows the Surrey - Berkshire border. For some reason the map omits the road to Bracknell that runs in a north-westerly direction from where the London road crosses the railway north-east of Bagshot .

The most westerly point of the parish is Wishmore Cross, where several tracks cross a stream.

The point on the western border where roads and rail meet is the Jolly Farmer, until recently a public house. The parish boundary from Wishmore Cross to here has little to identify it.

The boundary from the Jolly Farmer to the most southerly point is rather ambiguous - some maps show it running along the centre of the road known as the Maultway, others have it about a hundred yards east of the road along a route that is unidentified by anything on the ground. The shape of the boundary shown on the map is about right, but the position and shape of the track does not correlate with The Maultway.  Clearly The Maultway has been omitted and a lesser track (seen in this picture) shown. I would speculate that the track, rather than The Maultway, was shown solely in order to provide an excuse for marking the Royal Albert Orphan Asylum, which had been opened in 1864.  

The eastern end of the southern boundary runs along an old track, the central part along a road, and the western part continues in a more-or-less straight line while the road digresses to the south.

The western boundary follows a selection of roads, the Windlebrook stream, and in two places what are now only tracks or footpaths.

13kSince the original creation of the parish, the southerly part has been taken away to form part of Lightwater parish, and in 1973 some western parts were returned to Windlesham and the southern boundary aligned with the M3 motorway. The coloured area on this second map shows the current parish boundary.


Bagshot was the name, and administrative centre, for the Bagshot Rural District (which included Windlesham, Lightwater and other local villages) until the reorganisation of local government that took place about 1975.  It is now a part of Surrey Heath borough.


The contribution of several correspondents to the information presented here is acknowledged with thanks.

questions & answers index page | origins of the name Bagshot


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