The people of Wonersh have been employed in a variety of trades and professions. There have been weavers, writers, printers, stonemasons, tanners, shoemakers, judges, politicians, shopkeepers, gamekeepers, brickmakers and farmers.The writer and traveller Claudia Parsons became the first person to circumnavigate the world by car in 1938. In 1739 Judge Sir William Chappel passed sentence on the highwayman Dick Turpin.In Victorian Britain, Caroline Norton, a passionate campaigner for women’s rights, was instrumental in the passing of the Custody of Infants Act and Matrimonial Causes Act.During WW2 Constance Babbington Smith was awarded an MBE and the US Legion of Merit for her work in air photo intelligence.It all beganwhenin1966,ayearbeforehemovedtoWonersh,the lateAnthonyFanshawestartedhisresearchintothe village.Heinterviewedresidentsandpeoplewhohad movedawayandhevisitedPublicRecordOffices.Inall hespenttwenty-fouryearscollectingavastamountof material.OnAnthony’sdeath,John-PaulMarix-EvansofGreat TangleyandFraserScottofWoodyers(respectivelyour firstChairmanandSecretary)clearedhisstudyandboth leftwiththeircarsloadedwithbooks,pictures,maps anddocuments.It’sthiscollectionthatformedthebasis oftheWonershHistorySocietywhichwasfoundedin 1992 and since then the archive has continued to grow.
For just £10 a year (£15 for a family) you can join the History Society and have access to more photographs like this along with videos, bulletins and, in the not too distant future, books.Lawnsmead Hall was built in 1890 to house Lawnsmead Infant School. One pupil was James Redman whose father worked at the tannery. Although the school catered for ages 5-8, James joined the school when he was 4 so that his mother could go to work at one of the two laundries in the village. They lived first at No. 20 and then No. 13 Lawnsmead.In the early 1800s, working class children went to small private Dame Schools often run by elderly women who taught them to read, write and sew. The women, sometimes illiterate themselves, were often little more than childminders who took as many children as they could cram into what was often their front room. TheDameSchoolinWonershwasthegroundfloorofLittleStone Cottage and Stone Cottage opposite the Grantley Arms.