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WONERSH POND Some people will probably be surprised to learn that Wonersh used to have a pond stretching from the road into Lawnsmead right down to Corner House opposite the Pepper Pot. Even today, when there has been prolonged and heavy rain, the low ground briefly fills. It’s difficult to say with any degree of certainty when the pond ceased to exist but we can take an educated guess based on old maps and other documents. A map dated 1871 shows the pond virtually opposite Ashlands which is probably when it was at its fullest extent. By 1897 (see map below) the pond had receded from Ashlands to roughly opposite Eskdale on Wonersh Common Road.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the pond disappeared in the early 1900s and there is certainly a map from 1916 with no sign of it. In 1949 the Wonersh Women’s Institute produced a scrapbook which included an article ‘Reminiscences of an Old House’ which recounted the development of the village from the perspective of Ashlands, situated more or less opposite one end of the pond. The article included: “This was before 1880, and in the following 30 years, Mr Wheeler gradually bought up the land between me and the Forrest Stores and built the present row of Houses finishing about 1906. About this time the pond vanished with the coming of the main drainage, its only trace being a damp clayey patch where quoits were played until recently.” The Members’ Area has a 1933 video clip of quoits being played here. And in a separate article in the scrapbook ‘Recollections of a Mother and Daughter - both members of the Institute’: “Opposite the Working Men’s Club, there used to be a pond: in my mother’s day it used to come right up to the road into Lawnsmead , but I can remember it when it was smaller than that and have been sliding on it many times when it was frozen over.” According to William Brown, who lived in The Cottage in The Street, quoits was played in the grassy bed of the old pond after its water had been drained away when the main sewerage pipes were brought through the village. His father was captain of the quoits team and when William was interviewed by the History Society in November 1969 his quoit rings were still hanging in the Club opposite. Where are they now? We know from the photograph on this page that the pond existed in 1900. An article in the WI scrapbook suggests it was still there in 1906. A History Society bulletin mentions that it disappeared in 1915. There is certainly a 1916 Ordnance Survey map with no pond shown. Parish Council minutes from 30 June 1920 make reference to the site ‘previously’ occupied by the pond. So, probably the safest thing to say is that between 1906 and 1916 the pond disappeared.