West Molesey History
East and West Molesey probably once formed a single unit of land, but they had already become separated by the time of King Edward the Confessor (1042-1066). The Domesday Survey of 1086 shows that West Molesey was held by 'Odard the Gunner', who also held land in Esher. Up to the Norman invasion of 1066 the manor here had been held by a certain 'Tovi'. Domesday also records a church but the present parish church, whose dedication has been lost, is not medieval. It has a 16th century tower but the rest of the church was rebuilt in 1843.
The manorial history of West Molesey is complicated to say the least but, suffice to say, it eventually ended up in the hands of Henry VIII in 1538. In 1553 it was granted by Edward VI to Sir Richard Cotton. It then passed to the Hammond family who retained it until the early 17th century but by 1767 it was in the possession of Sir Richard Smith. Later, ownership passed to the Hotham family who also owned East Molesey until the last century.
There are surviving records relating to mills in West Molesey dating back to the early 13th century and at one time there was a gunpowder mill on the River Mole here.
Molesey Hurst was the location for sports and entertainment gatherings from early times. Horse-racing and prize fighting were held and in the late 18th century hot air balloons ascended from here. These were some of the earliest manned flights in England. In 1880 Hurst Park Racecourse was laid out and it was an attraction for thousands of enthusiasts, particularly those who came down from London by train, until it closed in 1962. A housing estate now covers much of the former racecourse.