WONERSH
© Wonersh History Society - www.wonershhistory.co.uk (WHS)
HISTORY SOCIETY

THE WOOL TRADE

From the late 14th Century to the early 17th Century, Wonersh had a thriving cottage industry weaving a woolen cloth called kersey, or ‘Wonersh Blue’ which was traded with the Canary Islands, Western Europe and India. The main centre of the weaving in Wonersh was in the houses on the South side of The Street - today called Throwsters, Medd House and The Old House. The Old House and Medd House were each originally three or four cottages and may well have remained relatively unaltered until their rather drastic restoration in the late 19th Century. The once thriving industry was languishing before the end of Elizabeth I’s reign and by 1630 there was serious unemployment in the village. It has been suggested that the market for the cloth was lost because of the dishonesty of the makers who stretched their cloth and once this was discovered, the cloth was returned and would no longer sell. This is probably quite unfair as the cloth industry was already dwindling in South West Surrey in the late 17th Century and the fate of Wonersh was no different to that of Guildford, Godalming and Farnham. With the decline of weaving, Wonersh became a mainly agricultural village although Gosden Tannery (between Wonersh and Bramley) did provide some employment. The cottages at Lawnsmead were built in 1872 to house the workers from the tannery.
The Old House in The Street c1870