Cheam is a large suburban village in the London Borough of Sutton, England, and is located just inside the southern boundary of Greater London where it meets Surrey.
Cheam is bordered by Worcester Park (to the north-west), Morden (to the north-east), Sutton (to the east), Ewell (to the west) as well as Banstead and Belmont to the South.
The village lay within the Anglo-Saxon administrative division of Wallington hundred.
Cheam’s roots can be dated back as far as 1018, when Chertsey Abbey owned the area. In the Domesday Book, the Bishop was holding Cheam to cater for the monks.
Cheam appears in Domesday Book as Ceiham. It was held by Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury. Its Domesday assets were: 4 hides; 1 church, 17 ploughs, 1-acre (4,000 m2) of meadow, woodland worth 25 hogs. It rendered £14.
In the Middle Ages, Cheam was known for its potteries, and recent excavations have been carried out by archaeologists. In 1538, part of Cheam was handed over to Henry VIII. The same year, Henry began work on Nonsuch Palace, which he decorated fantastically. This was later sold and demolished. In 1801, the time of the first census, Cheam had a population of 616.
Cheam was the original home of Cheam School which was formed in Whitehall in 1645 and later occupied Tabor Court from 1719 until 1934 when the school moved to Berkshire. Prince Philip attended the school in Cheam in the years immediately preceding its move.
Cheam Village is centred around the crossroads between Sutton, North Cheam, South Cheam and Ewell. As well as bus services, it is served by Cheam mainline station which is in London Travelcard Zone 5 and one stop from Sutton, about a mile away, and two from Epsom, about two miles away. Services from Cheam to central London include direct trains to Victoria which take about half-an-hour. It has several historic buildings, including some which date back several centuries, such as Nonsuch Mansion, Whitehall and Lumley Chapel and a Georgian former Rectory.
Cheam Village is an upmarket part of Cheam commercially, with its shopping and catering facilities having improved in recent years and now including Waitrose, Majestic Wine Warehouse, Costa Coffee, Prezzo and Pizza Express, as well as many independent establishments. The entrance to Nonsuch Park with its historic mansion is two hundred yards from the village centre crossroads.
Places of interest
Situated next to St Dunstan’s church, Lumley Chapel is the oldest standing building in the London Borough of Sutton, and contains many notable monuments to local families. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building,and is under the care of a national charity, the Churches Conservation Trust.
Too small to be used for regular worship, it is open to visitors with the key being held by nearby properties.
Whitehall is a timber framed and weatherboarded house in the centre of Cheam Village. It was originally built in about 1500 as a wattle and daub yeoman farmer’s house but has been much extended. The external weatherboarded appearance dates from the 18th century. In the garden there is a medieval well which served an earlier building on the site.
Now an historic house museum, the building features a period kitchen, and house details from the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras. The building is open to the public on Wednesday, Thursday & Friday 2-5pm; Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday 2-5 pm. There is no admission charge. There is a programme of events and changing exhibitions in the house, which also has displays about the history of the house and its inhabitants, nearby Cheam School, and Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace.
The Mansion House, Nonsuch Park
Nonsuch Mansion is a Gothic revival mansion within Nonsuch Park. The service wing is occasionally open to the public. It is a popular place for wedding receptions, as it is available for hire. In medieval times it was part of the three thousand acre manor of Cuddington. The mansion was originally built in 1731-43 by Joseph Thompson and later bought by Samuel Farmer in 1799. He employed Jeffry Wyattville to rebuild it in a Tudor Gothic style in 1802-6. Farmer was succeeded by his grandson in 1838 under whom the gardens became famous.
Nonsuch Mansion bears a resemblance in its design to the original design of Nonsuch Palace, whose construction was begun by King Henry VIII in the 16th Century. Built within the north porch of the mansion is a block from the original Nonsuch Palace that bears an inscription which means “1543 Henry VIII in the 35th year of His reign.”
The Old Rectory
A large part timber-framed house, built in Tudor period, but extended and remodelled in the Eighteenth Century. Occasionally open to the public.
The Old Farmhouse
A large timber-framed and weatherboarded Yeoman farmers house, forming part of the Cheam Conservation Area with St Dunstan’s Church, Whitehall, The Old Rectory and the Lumley Chapel. The Old Farmhouse has a crown post roof and large Tudor axial chimney stack in the centre with large fireplaces. The earliest part of the house is 15th Century, with several building stages extending the house in the 16th and 17th centuries, creating a Baffle House design popular in the 17th Century. Many original features remain including oak doors and hinges, window shutters and fireplaces. Much of the timber framing is exposed throughout the house. Recent excavation and ground imaging uncovered a large Tudor kitchen underneath the house with a Tudor hearth and hood visible. Access to the cellar kitchen was by a staircase going north to south, which is now under the floor of the current owners kitchen. A file of text and images relating to the house is available in the Conservation Archive in Sutton Library.
Parks and gardens
Today Cheam is mainly built up, but still retains Nonsuch Park, also home to an imposing historic building with extensive flower gardens. Facilities include an ice cream shop and car park. Cheam Park backs onto Nonsuch Park, with many facilities such as tennis courts, football pitches and a children’s playground.
There are a number of schools in Cheam, most notably Nonsuch High School, a highly successful grammar school for girls and Cheam High School, a large mixed comprehensive school. Cheam High received “Outstanding” Ofsted reports in both 2007 and 2010. This is the highest grade Ofsted award and only 20% of schools received it. There are also a number of primary schools in the area such as Cuddington Croft, St Cecilias Catholic Primary School, Cheam Fields Primary, Cheam Common Primary, Cheam Park Farm Nursery and Infants School, Cheam Park Farm Juniors, Nonsuch Primary and St. Dunstans Church of England Primary.
In most series of the comedy show Hancock’s Half Hour, Tony Hancock lived in the fictional road Railway Cuttings, in ‘East Cheam’. Though not in existence today, the census of 1841 includes the place-names East Cheam, North Cheam, Garden Green and Cheam Common, so officially East Cheam did exist in name and was not fictional.
British stand-up comedian and actor Eddie Izzard mentions Cheam in the ‘Death Star Canteen’ act of his 2000 tour Circle, using it jokingly as the birthplace of Darth Vader: “… Sir Lord Vader? Sir Lord Vader of Cheam?”
Lee Boxell, a 15-year-old schoolboy, disappeared near his home in Cheam on 10 September 1988. He was on his way to a football match at Selhurst Park and has not been seen since.
The case remains unsolved despite being featured heavily in the national press and on BBC TV’s Crimewatch.
- Harry Secombe once lived in Cheam
- David Bellamy attended Cheam Fields Primary School
- Tim Vine was born in Cheam
- Jeremy Vine grew up in Cheam
- Paul Greengrass was born in Cheam
- Mark Worrall resides in Cheam
- Alec Stewart (ex-England cricketer) lived in Cheam
- Peter Manley was born in Cheam
- Koop Arponen, a winner in the Finnish version of Pop Idol attended Cheam High School
- Carrie Quinlan lived in Cheam and attended Nonsuch High School
- Jimmy Mann resides in Cheam, attended Cheam Fields primary school
- Tony Hancock lived in and set his sketches in Cheam.
- Joanna Rowsell Olympic gold medallist attended Cuddington-Croft Primary School and Nonsuch High School for Girls.
- Steven Haggerty Entrepreneur who grew up in Cheam and attended Cheam High School and Cheam Fields Primary School
St Dunstan’s Church, used as a film location
- St. Dunstan’s Church was used in an episode of The I.T. Crowd Series 2.
- Peep Show used Cheam Park for a location shoot.
- An episode of Terry and June features the walkway between the library car park and St. Dunstans Church (see photograph of church, right).
- The Village crossroads were used in a police chase on The Bill.
- South Drive and the houses within, were used for a soap opera during the mid-90s.
- The Old Rectory was used as a location for the rap group N-Dubz in the group’s earlier videos
- The Bill used the Nonsuch Manor House in Nonsuch Park in one of its episodes.
- “Made in Chelsea” on E4 used Nonsuch House in Nonsuch Park for a 10 minute section of the 18 December 2012 programme.
- “Great Night Out’ on Itv used Lal Akash an Indian Restaurant in Cheam village as their location for a 5 minute scene.
- Worcester Park