Cobham is a large village, only seventeen miles from central London, but which has a charming rural atmosphere. It is situated just inside the M25 motorway, ten miles north-east of Guildford, on the River Mole. Cobham is one of the most expensive places to live in England, with good road and rail communications and equidistant between Heathrow and Gatwick Airports. A number of celebrities live in the area, including footballers, as Chelsea Football Club’s training ground is at Stoke d’Abernon on the edge of the village.
Cobham has a high international population, closely associated with the ACS Cobham International School, known locally as The American Community School. One resident described Cobham as, “the 51st State of America”.
The River Mole flows at the end of Cobham’s main shopping street. It has a tendency to flood after a period of intensive rainfall and in the past, it has produced serious flooding. The weeping willows on the riverbank provide a very attractive scene, just along from Cobham Mill. The Mill was completed in 1822, although a mill had been on this site since 1534, when the Abbot of Chertsey owned it. Milling ceased in 1925, but it has been restored by dedicated enthusiasts and the Mill ground grain again in 1993. It is open to the public every second Sunday afternoon in the summer months.
Cobham’s oldest building is St. Andrew’s Church, dating from the 12th century. It has a Norman tower and contains a unique brass of the The Nativity. Next to the church is the historic Church Stile House which dates from circa 1432, but was rebuilt in 1624. One of Cobham’s famous inhabitants was Gerrard Winstanley, leader of the Diggers, a group of political activists. Some consider him to be the father of modern socialism. In 1649, he took over common land, first on St. George’s Hill, Weybridge and then at Little Heath, Cobham. Matthew Arnold, the poet, lived in Cobham for the last fifteen years of his life and worshipped at St. Andrew’s Church.
Cobham Tilt is an open green, near the River Mole, east of St. Andrew’s Church. Cobham’s official War Memorial is in the church, but on the Tilt, the Avenue of Remembrance was planted in 1946. Cobham Village Women’s Institute arranged for forty cherry trees to be planted, each one commemorating a member of the armed forces from Cobham, who had died during the Second World War. Each tree had a metal collar providing details of the member of the armed forces. Since 1946, many of the collars have disappeared and some of the trees have died. Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust reinstated the cherry trees and commissioned a granite plaque, which is on the Tilt near the shelter. The plaque, which was unveiled in April 2009, explains the significance of the trees and gives details of the members of the armed forces originally commemorated by each tree.
Painshill Park, on the edge of Cobham, is an 18th century restored landscape garden, which now attracts over 80,000 visitors each year. It was created by the Honourable Charles Hamilton, between 1738 and 1773. The Park offers a 14 acre lake, several follies and natural meadow and woodland.