Around 400 A.D. the Roman army together with many Celts left England for Gaul, and left behind a civilisation not to be seen again for many hundreds of years. While other parts of England were invaded by Picts, Scots, Jutes, etc., the southern counties including Surrey were overrun by the Saxons. The first we know of the Saxons in this area is due to a discovery in 1924 of Saxon weaving huts at the foot of Firgrove Hill and dated as about 550 A.D.
The next information that we have relates to King Caedwalla, who, after his conversion to Christianity, made a charter conveying to the church 60 hides of land that included Farnham, Frensham and Churt. This and more became the property of Hedda, the Bishop of Winchester. This was in 688 AD.
In 893 AD, which we learn in part from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Danes landed in 250 ships at Lympne in Kent and eventually arrived in Surrey to pillage and destroy but were met at Farnham by the Saxons under Alfred’s son Edward who defeated the Danes. The site given for this battle by certain writers is between Gong Hill, Tilford and Spreakley.
Whats in a name?
The origins of the name Frensham come from ‘Frena’s ham’. Frena was the name of either a Danish Earl who was killed in the battle of Ashdown in the year 871, or a Saxon who was driven south from Northumberland by the Danes in 993. The second part ‘ham’ means ‘settlement’, and is also from where we get the word ‘home’, so Frensham is ‘Frena’s settlement’.
or . . .
Mrs Elfrida Manning in her book Saxoll Farnham gives it as her opinion that the name ‘Fermesham’ suggests a valuable holding held as food rent (feorm).
Frensham was much visited by Kings in its early past. King John in particular enjoyed hunting in the area.
From the annals of Waverley we learn that the building of St. Mary the Virgin was commenced in 1239 and that it replaced an earlier church.
The Great Pond is known to have existed certainly around 1200 and in a map in Frensham Then and Now a small area on the eastern side is indicated as being very ancient. As there was a Mesolithic site on each side of the pond it is probable that it existed 8000 years ago. The Little Pond, once called Crowsfoot, was built by the orders of Bishop de Ralegh in 1246 and was stocked with bream, pike and carp.
In the year 1348 Frensham, like many other places, was struck a devastating blow. The ‘black plague’, so called because of the colour of its victims, was first recognised at Tilford in this area. Before it ceased in 1350 52 farms around became desolate. Several marriages are recorded by widows unable to cope and tenants of empty farms had to be found.
Farnham with its castle was very much involved in the civil war and early in 1642 the Royalists put a tax on the people of Frensham and Churt. Spies from both sides roamed around and when Cromwell’s troops hunted the deer in the woods south of Famham they were sometimes ambushed. In 1644 Cromwell’s soldiers, lacking money, raided homes in Frensham and in 1645 were billetted in the village.