Walton-on-Thames is a town on the River Thames in the Elmbridge borough of Surrey. The town is centred south west of Charing Cross and is between the towns of Weybridge and Molesey. Its waterside has the Thames Path National Trail between Sunbury Lock and Shepperton Lock and, as a post town, Walton includes Hersham and Whiteley Village which is part of Hersham. Its own localities include Ashley Park and Burwood Park. Its station on the South West Main Line has proven important to its development — its services run with a minimum of two stops before London Waterloo station. The town is divided into four wards and is a local hub in terms of retail and services.
The name "Walton" is Anglo-Saxon in origin and is believed to mean "Briton settlement" (literally, "Welsh Town" - wealas tun). Even before the Romans and the Saxons were present, there was a Celtic settlement here. The Anglo-Saxon word for the Celtic inhabitants who lived here before them is "Wealas", meaning "foreigners" or "strangers". Walton was also identified by William Camden as the place where Julius Caesar forded the River Thames on his second invasion of Britain. However, according to the Elmbridge Museum, there is no evidence to support this.
Walton appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Waletona". The settlement was held jointly by Edward de Sarisber (Salisbury) and Richard de Tonbrige. Its Domesday assets were: 6 hides; 1 church (St. Mary's), 2 mills worth £1 5s 0d, 1 fishery worth 5s, 14 ploughs, of meadow, worth 50 hogs. It rendered £28.
The original village lies in the north, while later development took place in the south, closer to the railway station. St. Mary's Parish Church is of Saxon origin, with parts dating back to the 12th century. The square flint tower, supported by a 19th-century brick buttress, contains a ring of 8 bells, the oldest bearing the date 1606. In the north aisle is a large monument (1755) by the French sculptor Roubiliac to Richard Boyle, Viscount Shannon, Field Marshall and commander in chief in Ireland. Also in the north aisle a brass to John Selwyn (1587) keeper of Oatlands Park, with figures of himself, his wife and eleven children. An unusual relic kept in the church is a copy of a scold's bridle presented to the parish in the seventeenth century, which is mentioned in Jerome K Jerome's classic 'Three Men in a Boat'. The royal palace of Oatlands, built by Henry VIII in 1538, was a mile upstream to the west.
During World War I, troops from New Zealand were hospitalised in the now-demolished Mount Felix House. They are remembered by a memorial in the cemetery, where those who died at Mount Felix are buried, and one in St Mary's Church where an annual service of remembrance is held. They are also remembered in the street-name New Zealand Avenue, the Wellington Pub (formerly The Kiwi), and a small memorial in the Homebase car park.
In World War II, owing largely to the proximity of important aircraft factories at nearby Brooklands, the town was bombed on various occasions by the Luftwaffe. On 27 September 1940, fighter pilot F/Sgt. Charles Sydney, who was based with 92 Squadron at RAF Biggin Hill, died when his Spitfire (R6767) crashed in Station Avenue. He was buried in Orpington and is commemorated today by a memorial plaque close to the crash site.
Hersham and Walton Motors (HWM) constructed its own racing car in the early 1950s. Stirling Moss competed in his first Formula One Grand Prix in an HWM. HWM was the world's first Aston Martin dealership that diversified into Alfa Romeo in 2009.