Chorleywood parish was created from part of Rickmansworth in 1898. It was later enlarged in 1907 through the transfer of some lands previously in the parishes of Chalfont St Peter and Chenies (both in Buckinghamshire).
Chorleywood is a village and civil parish in the Three Rivers district of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. It had a population of 6,814 people at the 2001 census. The parish of Chorleywood as a whole has a population of 10,775. The town lies in the far south west of Hertfordshire, on the border with Buckinghamshire. Chorleywood is located north-west of Charing Cross in London. It is part of the London commuter belt, and included in the government-defined Greater London Urban Area.
In a 2004 survey of neighbourhoods carried out by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Chorleywood West was found to be the neighbourhood in England with the highest quality of life. Of the 32,482 neighbourhoods surveyed, Chorleywood West came out top using thirty-seven criteria.
In the early 1960s, researchers at the British Baking Industries Research Association in Chorleywood improved upon an earlier American bread making process. This resulted in the Chorleywood Bread Process, which is now used in over 80% of commercial bread production throughout the UK.
Settlement at Chorleywood dates to the Paleolithic era, when the plentiful flint supply led to swift development of tools by early man. The Romans built a small village on the ancient site, complete with a mill and brewery. The likely ruins of a Roman villa are thought to be found under the M25, which passes through the outskirts of Chorleywood.
A large influx of Saxon settlers in Chorleywood led to it being an important town. The Saxons called it 'Cerola Leah', meaning a meadow in a clearing. Through Chorleywood runs the line that once divided the Kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex and now divides the counties of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Edward the Confessor gave the town of Chorleywood to the Monastery of St Albans.
By 1278, it was known as 'Bosco de Cherle' or 'Churl's Wood', Norman for 'Peasant's Wood'. Upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it passed to the Bishopric of London, being renamed 'Charleywoode'. It became Crown property during the reign of Elizabeth I. The Turnpike Act (1663) gave Chorleywood a chance to exploit its strategic position, allowing locals the opportunity to charge civilians to use the road from Hatfield to Reading.
Chorleywood is most famous for its Quakers. Non-conformists flocked to Chorleywood, promised sanctuary by the locals. William Penn founded the Pennsylvania Colony with settlers from Chorleywood, Rickmansworth, and nearby towns in southern Buckinghamshire, having lived and married in Chorleywood.
With the boom in the paper and printing industries, on which much of southwestern Hertfordshire's economy was based in the 19th century, came new prosperity. The extension of the Metropolitan Railway to Chorleywood on 8 July 1889 brought with it incredible population growth, which continued until the 1960s. From a population of 1,500 people in 1897, the population has grown to over 9,000 today.
A Regency mansion called Chorleywood House was built here in 1822 by John Barnes, replacing an earlier farm house. John Saunders Gilliat, who was Governor of the Bank of England in 1883-1885 lived in this house. In 1892, the house was bought by Lady Ela Sackville Russell, eldest daughter of the 9th Duke of Bedford. She modified and enlarged the house, turning the grounds into a model estate with market gardens.
When the Local Government Act 1894 created districts as subdivisions of the newly-created county councils, Chorleywood became part of the Watford Rural District, which encircled Watford. In 1913, the town was separated from Watford Rural District to become Chorleywood Urban District, formalising its current name. In the BBC TV documentary Metro-land (1973), Sir John Betjeman described Chorleywood as “essential Metro-land”. In 1974, the Urban District, along with Rickmansworth Urban District and most of Watford Rural District were merged to form the Three Rivers non-metropolitan district.