An abbey was established at Chertsey in 666 A.D. and it became very wealthy and influential in north west Surrey through various grants and endowments of land. Frithuwald, sub-king of Surrey, granted the abbey large estates c.675 A.D. and many other gifts of land throughout Surrey and beyond were to follow. In 871 A.D. the abbey was destroyed by Viking raiders who came up the Thames sacking and pillaging as they went. Ninety monks and the abbot, Beocca, were murdered. It took more than fifty years before the abbey was rebuilt.
In the Domesday Survey of 1086 the abbot of Chertsey held Surrey estates in Cobham, Esher, Epsom, Weybridge, Great Bookham, Thorpe, Effingham, Egham, Chobham, Chipstead, Byfleet, East Clandon, Henley (Ash), not to mention Chertsey itself. It is likely that a town had begun to develop adjacent to the abbey in the early Norman period.
In 1110 the building of a new stone abbey began under Abbot Hugh, a nephew of King Stephen, but this abbey was destroyed by fire in 1235 and rebuilding started yet again under Abbot Alan (1223-61). It was thought that the fire had started in the town and spread to the abbey. As a result, the ringing of a curfew bell (curfew meaning literally 'cover your fires' from the French 'couvre-feu') was introduced.
The custom has continued and the curfew is still tolled daily at the parish church of St Peter during the winter months at 8 p.m. The parish church is first recorded in 1198, but the oldest surviving features are 15th century and most date from an extensive rebuild of 1806.
The abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1537 and the magnificent abbey buildings were dismantled. Much of the stone from the abbey was taken down the River Thames for Henry's new palace of Oatlands near Weybridge. The rest was removed piecemeal for local buildings and roads. The site of the abbey was excavated in 1861 and substantial remains were revealed. However, these were soon reburied and there is now almost nothing to show that here there once stood one of the most important monastic centres in England.
A bridge was first built over the Thames near Chertsey in the 15th century and the present bridge was completed in 1785. The railway arrived in 1848 but initially seems to have had little impact. However, slowly through the Victorian period residential development proceeded and the area has received even more of a boost in recent years thanks to its close proximity to the M25.