Walton-on-Thames is recorded as ' Waletone', 'the farm of the serfs or Britons', a meaning which suggests an ancient past going back at least to the Romans. In fact, it is at Walton in 54 B.C., during his second visit to these shores, that Julius Caesar is supposed to have crossed the Thames on his way to defeat Cassivellaunus, leader of the Catuvellauni. The territory of this Celtic tribe was north of the river in an area now mainly in Hertfordshire. This is all conjecture, but Caesar had to cross the Thames somewhere and it could just as easily have been at Walton as anywhere else.
The manorial history of Walton was already rather complex by the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. Of the two manors at Walton, one was held by Richard, son of Count Gilbert. Prior to the Norman Conquest this had been the property of 'Erding' or 'Harding'. It was here that a church was recorded and also a mill and a fishery.
There are late Norman features in the parish church of St Mary but a substantial part of the church is early 14th century. The fishery was an important part of the property as freshwater fish, and particularly eels, were highly regarded. Edward of Salisbury held the other manor, which also included a mill. It had previously belonged to Azor before the Conquest. The manor of Apps, which is now an integral part of Walton, was listed separately in Domesday. Richard, son of County Gilbert, had a substantial part of Apps but Picot, held a small part of it from Richard.
In 1516 Henry VIII granted Walton two fairs, one to be held on the Tuesday and Wednesday of Easter week and the other on 3rd and 4th of October.
A wooden bridge was first opened at Walton in 1750 as a private initiative by Samuel Dicker. He obtained an Act of Parliament to enable him to build it and, more importantly for him, to charge tolls on anyone and anything which used it. It was a very elegant looking bridge which was painted by Canaletto.
In 1780 Dicker's nephew, Dicker Sanders , replaced the wooden bridge, also by Act of Parliament, with one constructed of stone and brick. This bridge collapsed in 1859 and, in 1863, an iron bridge was built, which was bombed in the Second World War. From 1953 all traffic was carried on a 'Bailey Bridge' constructed alongside the damaged bridge, which was finally demolished in 1985. With weight restrictions on the 'temporary' bridge, which has been there for 60 years, a new bridge is planned.
Walton Film Studios were opened in 1899 and many famous films were produced here until the studios closed in 1961. New Zealand Avenue in Walton is so named in commemoration of the many New Zealanders, who were treated at the military hospital set up at a large Italianate house called 'Mount Felix', during the First World War.
Walton acquired a railway station in 1838 and since has developed as a popular residential area.