Virginia Water History
Virginia Water gets its name from the large lake in Windsor Great Park which was constructed by William, Duke of Cumberland, in 1748-1752. The original construction work for the lake was poorly executed and the dam broke in 1768 causing a serious flood, which swept away at least one house and drowned several people.
Not far from the lake are the most substantial Roman ruins to found perhaps anywhere in England, including a dazzling array of Corinthian columns. Unfortunately, these have come a long way from the site where the Romans built them - they were brought from Leptis Magna, now in Libya, in the 18th century and put up as a folly to grace the park!
Virginia Water formed part of the parish of Egham and a church was not built here until 1839. Christ Church, described as 'hard, pinched lancet Gothic' by the architectural historians, Nairn and Pevsner, was designed by a little known architect, W.F.Pocock.
The railway station at Virginia Water was opened in 1856 and a small amount of residential development began nearby. The Holloway Sanatorium for 'mentally afflicted persons' was built just north of the station in 1884. Like the Royal Holloway College for Women, opened nearby at Egham two years later, 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 spent a considerable portion of his fortune on 'good deeds'.
The grounds of the 'Gothick' house known as Wentworth, to the west, were sold off for development in the early 20th century and many high-class houses built amongst the pinewoods and rhododendrons. Part of the grounds were converted into the famous golf course.