Egham formed part of the estates which were granted to Chertsey Abbey by Frithuwald, sub-king of Surrey, c.675 A.D. and it was still held by the abbey at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. Chertsey Abbey was dissolved in 1537 and Egham was seized by Henry VIII.
The name 'Egham' refers to a personal name i.e. 'Ecga's Ham'. The Roman road heading west from London, known as the 'Giant's Causeway' in some places, crossed the Thames by a bridge built between Staines and Egham. There was a medieval bridge here by 1229 and Egham Causeway, linking the town to the bridge was constructed during the reign of Henry III (1216-1272).
No church is mentioned at Egham in 1086 but one probably existed. The present parish church of St John the Baptist is unusual for the modern county of Surrey in that it is a Regency building, designed by Henry Rhodes in 1817-1820. We know that Abbot Rutherwyke of Chertsey Abbey, who was responsible for a great deal of building work not only at Chertsey but also in other parts of the abbey's estates, built the chancel of the medieval church at Egham. In the nave of the present church there is an inscription taken from the earlier building recording that this work was undertaken in 1327.
Egham once had a famous racecourse established in 1734 and throughout the 18th century vast crowds flocked to each meeting held at Runnymede.
The railway to Egham opened in 1856 but, initially, development was slow and had little impact on the town. Eventually piecemeal development began and the population began to increase but several factors influenced this growth, including the building of the Royal Holloway College.
Royal Holloway College for Women opened near Egham in 1886. It was designed by W.H.Crossland for Thomas Holloway. Holloway had made his fortune from the sale of his pills and ointment, both designed to cure all ills. Where Holloway differed from other 'quack medicine' vendors was that he was one of the earliest entrepreneurs to appreciate the value of advertising. He spent huge amounts of money promoting his cures throughout the world and, as a result, reaped huge rewards. Holloway was also a man with a conscience and he disposed of a considerable portion of his fortune on 'good deeds'.
Holloway wanted his college to be modelled on the chateau at Chambord in the Loire Valley of France, and the result is surely one of the finest Victorian buildings in England.. The architectural historians, Nairn and Pevsner, described the college as 'a stupendous paraphrase of the French 16th century Renaissance style'. The college is now the Royal Holloway and New Bedford College, part of London University.