Monday, 12 May 2003 01:00

Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Great Camp at Chobham

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In 1852 the Prince Consort was concerned that Army was out of training. It was decided to have a summer training camp on Chobham Common to run from June 14th 1853 to August 20th. It was organised as two 1-month sessions; each involving 8,000 men and 1200 horses.

The troops divided into two ‘armies’ and formed lines 3 miles long. Three field batteries of cannon added realism to the charges and counter charges across the heathland.

The Illustrated London News extensively covered the event; there were daily reports and excellent illustrations. It was a very popular spectacle - there were 100,000 visitors on one day alone. Heads of state came from all over Europe. The most famous visit was by Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort.

To celebrate this year's 150th anniversary, activities bringing together many village organisations are planned:

  • Surrey Heath Local History Club are organising a guided ‘Battlefield Walk’ on the evening of 11 June.
  • Phil Stevens, local historian, is making a collection of all the contemporary illustrations and records of the camp. Phil will publish the material in a booklet.
  • The Chobham Museum will be organising a display in the museum and a talk scheduled for Saturday the 6th September in the evening.
  • Gill Willis, of the Reduced Theatre fame, is hoping to organise a re-enactment of the 1853 West End farce ‘The Camp at Chobham’.
  • The Chobham Museum will be using the Great Camp as the theme of its third anniversary celebrations on Benhams Green on 27th September. Suggestions for this event, which will have a Victorian feel, include:
    • A recreation of a hospital tent and surgery of the time
    • The Prince Consort with Queen Victoria side-saddle on white horse
    • The legendary treacle mine
    • An authentic camp meal
  • Andy Wragg, Chobham Common ranger, will make the runic cross monument more accessible and the Parish Council will add a plaque for 2003, whilst the Friends of Chobham Common have undertaken to renovate the Le Marchant Stone

We would like to involve the schools and youth groups; the Brownies, and Flexlands and Chobham St Lawrence schools have already expressed interest.

If you, or your organisation, would like to be involved in this fun celebration then please telephone Ged Mann.

Nicholas Young

The original creator of the Chobham Net back in 1999. Founding director of Reaper Enterprises Ltd and Nicholas Young & Co Photography (
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