Turf huts and tents; living on the Common.

In the 19th century, Chobham Common was not only a workplace, but a resource for local people – a place where they could get fuel, animal fodder, turf, gravel etc. For some it was also a home.

People tramped across the heath land looking for work, maybe sleeping in barns, or making themselves rough shelters.  Some of the people who were living on the Common were simply too poor to afford a house.

In the 1880s Stanley Alder of West End worked with a Mission run by the Shaftesbury schools in Bisley. They aimed to support poor people who were living on the heath in huts and tents. Alder wrote about his experiences in his book “Work among the gipsies.”

He only mentioned two people by name,  Harry Elston  and James Baker.

Harry Elston had been a navvy at one time, and had worked for many years on the Common. He lived with his wife Mary in a turf hut that he had built 28 years previously. Alder visited them.


Building in turf – an example of a turf house. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Images.)

“From its peculiar size and shape no one would have suspected that it was built for a man and his wife. It was twelve feet long by six feet wide. On entering, to the right was the bedstead reaching from side to side, with the coarse thatch just above it. Opposite the narrow door was one chair, and a table upon which were neatly placed the cups, plates, a few books, etc., to the left. The hut narrowed off to form an open fire-place. This end was made of layers of clay three feet thick at the bottom and rising to the level of the roof, the rest of the walls were made of turf cut from the neighbouring common.”

Henry Elson was buried at Holy Trinity, West End, at the age of 71 on Jan 21st 1890.

Alder wrote about his work with the gypsies who lived at West End. It was very practical – Christmas dinners and other meals were provided. He was appalled at how harsh life was in a tent during a hard winter.

“It is one thing to see a Gipsy sitting outside his tent on the grass smoking his pipe in the summer sun – it is quite another to see them huddled together in a severe winter.”


Gipsies’ Camp on Chobham Common. (From the Oliver Collection held in the University of London’s Library Depository at Egham, courtesy of the trustees of the S. A. Oliver Charitable Settlement.)

The mission worked hard to persuade the gypsies to move into cottages, but found that some simply preferred to live in a tent.

“Another old man reads his Bible in his tent… he is a widower, his large family are all married, but he prefers his lonely tent, which is one of the most clean and comfortable we see, to the cottages or the tents of his family.”

One young man “was always spoken well of by those in the tents, but he prefers the roaming life to settling down.”

Even when the families moved in to cottages, they still travelled during the summer months, and were usually away from June until October.

“We may note the fact that they paid the rent of their houses the whole of the time they were away in the summer, pea picking, hay and harvest work, and hop picking; in some cases three or four months.”


Hop pickers at work, in Kent or Surrey. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

The children attended school, but not all the time. Even James Baker’s children only “attended the day schools from time to time.”

Alder thought highly of James Baker. Baker, a gypsy,  worked as a sweep. His wife Eleanor made bee hives, and in 1881 they  had six children under 15, and another on the way. When the Mission helped them to find a cottage they only owned  a butter tub, a few cooking utensils, a donkey cart, and some loose straw for bedding.

The family settled well, and the children began to attend school. Baker was able to continue his work as a chimney sweep. ” The other man, a chimney sweeper… who now has 8 children, has now a fair connection in business, and drives his pony and trap long rounds. This man who is fond of  music and plays a fiddle, may be heard in his own cottage leading his children in singing Sankeys known hymns.”

In 1891 – 92 an influenza epidemic swept through West End. James Baker, the sweep, was one of the victims. He died at the age of 51 and was buried at Holy Trinity Church, West End. “We are sorry to relate that the disease proved fatal to Baker the Sweep, whose family was the first that we placed in cottages. After a brief illness he died, leaving a wife and large family; his wife survived him only a few months, her great grief of losing so a good a husband, and the great trouble into which she was plunged, hastened her death.


A chimney sweep, c. 1850. (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)

“Poor Baker, who was in the prime of life, was the most deserving of any we have had to do with. I know no man so much missed and enquired about as “Baker the sweep,” everybody all through the parish spoke well of him. He was courteous and always so cheerful, he was quick and clean in his work, he was a very honest, steady, and sober man, and delighted to make good provision for his family.”

James Baker’s family remained in  Chobham  after his death. One of his daughters lived for many years in Valley End, and his descendants still live in the area.




Stanley Alder. “Work among the gipsies.” Published by Medhurst, Chobham, 1893.

Mary Ann Bennett. “Life and work on Surrey Heath.” 2007.

With thanks to Jeremy Harte and Sallie Buchanan.


Plaster, stone and glass; decoration at Valley End.

Valley End, like many churches, is proud of the art and design it holds. Features such as the stained glass windows were beautifully made by professional firms.

But it also has other things, made by people with local connections.  These have special ties to the church and the community, and deserve to be remembered.

The Piscina.

In 1957 Valley End parish was joined to Chobham, and the Rev. Roney Ackworth was the vicar. He planned some changes to the church fabric. One of his ideas was to add a piscina, or a niche in which to wash the Communion vessels during the service. He persuaded Mike Lee to do it.

Mike was 21, and had just finished his apprenticeship as a plasterer. He already knew Valley End. (On one of his earliest jobs as an apprentice he had been in a team working on a house opposite the church. They were using wooden scaffolding, and every morning it was Mike’s task to climb up and wet the poles, so that they would swell and hold the metal bonds tightly.)

There was already a square opening beside the altar. Mike had to convert this into the piscina. He didn’t need to cut the bricks away, or add the stone sill, which was cut and fitted by another workman.

First, Mike planned and made the template which was then swung into the hole. He then bent some wood around the back of the template.



Design for template. (With thanks to Tony Fraser.)

Then he poured a mixture of sand and cement into the space behind the template to create the first ‘roughing out’ coat.
Finally, the template was removed. Because of the wood at the back there was a about a half to a quarter of an inch of space for the finishing plaster to be dashed on and smoothed using a sharp metal edge.
This method is known as the run solid method. It has a number of variations, and there would have been other ways of making the niche, but the basic method would be the same.
The piscina in the church today is not the one that Mike made. At some point in the last 60 years it has been removed. The plaster work has been replaced by either carved or reconstituted stone, prepared off site and then brought to St. Saviour’s and assembled.
The piscina at St. Saviour’s.

There is a mystery about our piscina. Where does the water go after the vessels are washed? One belief is that it should feed back directly into the soil, as there might be traces of consecrated wafers and wine, which is considered too precious to go into a waste system – not that there is any chance of that at Valley End, which is not on main drainage.

St. Saviour’s has it’s own solution to the problem. The piscina has a small hole for the water, but no pipes. It is left to evaporate by itself.

The Font.

“A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing…” (Austen, “Pride and Prejudice.”) Well brought up Victorian women were taught to play a little music, or to draw.

Working with a pencil or watercolours is one thing. But wielding a mallet and carving stone is another. A sculptor needs specialist equipment, space, and training. A Victorian woman sculptor would need to come from an unusual and supportive family.


The font at St. Saviour’s. (Image courtesy of David Fettes.)

Meriel Leicester Warren, Julia Seymour Bathurst’s daughter in law, did. Her family was unusually artistic and creative. The library at Tabley House, her childhood home, had books on art, literature and music as well as sketch books and scrapbooks.

Her grandfather, Sir John Leicester, 1st Lord de Tabley, not only inherited family paintings, and made them the foundation of a major art collection, but was a patron of English artists. He also painted himself, and went sketching with Turner, one of the artists he commissioned. He was deeply offended when Turner then billed him for lessons.

George Warren, her father, the 2nd Baron de Tabley, inherited his father’s artistic skills. When he ordered alterations to Tabley House it seems that he was his own architect, although he engaged Robert Curzon to provide the working drawings.

Meriel was one of 6 children, of whom 5 survived. Her brother John, the 3rd Baron de Tabley, was a writer and poet; her sister Eleanor, (Eleanor Leighton Warren) painted. Her youngest sister, Margaret Cowell-Stepney, was a diarist and letter writer. Eleanor’s daughter, Barbara Sotheby, became a painter and photographer.

Meriel herself was the sculptor. She carved the reredos in St. Peter’s Church, Tabley, and her sister Eleanor painted it.

There is another example of her work in St. Saviour’s, Valley End. When Julia built the church, Meriel carved the font as her contribution. She was obviously a skilled sculptor, and must have been trained, and produced other work. Sadly, these are the only two items that can be traced.


Plaque on the font at St. Saviour’s. (Image by David Fettes.)

The font is still used, 150 years after it was installed. Meriel herself lies nearby in St. Saviour’s churchyard. She died 12 days after giving birth to her 3rd son Allen Benjamin, and is buried next to one of her babies who was born and died on the 31st December 1870.

The Window.

Many people enjoy doing art as a hobby; they learn painting, drawing – or maybe glass engraving.

Among the glass at the church there is a simple window  engraved with flowers, butterflies and birds; “The Lord God made them all.”


Engraved window by Les Little. (Image courtesy of David Fettes.)

This was made and given by Les Little, a parishioner, who had learned glass engraving.  He was keen to share this skill, and made presents for his friends.

He was looking for a new project, and chose the church. He designed and engraved a window, and gave it to St. Saviour’s.

He and his wife Sylvia were very involved with the church. Sylvia used to play the organ. When she died, her husband gave silver to the church in her memory – a chalice and a ciborium to hold the wafers.

This means that the church has memorials to them both, which is fitting. “They thought so much of Valley End.”


Engraved window by Les Little. (Image courtesy of David Fettes.)




With thanks to Mike Lee.

With thanks to Tony Fraser.

(See the article on “Running plaster mouldings” in Old-House Journal, Aug – Sept. 1984.)


Peter Cannon-Brookes. “Tabley House.” 1991.

“Paintings from Tabley; an exhibition of paintings from Tabley House; edited by Peter Cannon-Brookes.” The Heim Gallery, 10th October 1989 – 21st November 1989.


With thanks to Joan Weymouth.






Rare ants and scuba diving engineers; the M3 comes to Valley End.


Chobham Common.

Chobham Common is the largest National Nature Reserve in the south-east of England and one of the finest remaining examples of lowland heath in the world.”* It stretches over 1,400 acres, a rare and threatened habitat.

In the early 1970s the Ministry of Transport put a motorway, the M3, straight through it. It sliced the Common in two, divided Brick Hill from Chobham, and destroyed the peace of the common land forever.

Why and how was this done?

During World War II plans were optimistically made for post war Britain, including new roads. Sir Patrick Abercrombie produced a plan of new routes radiating out from London. One of these, the Southampton Radial, became the M3. In 1964 the Hampshire and Surrey County Councils were asked to act on behalf of the Ministry of Transport and prepare to build the road.


A map of the inner ring road for London proposed in Sir Patrick Abercrombie’s 1943 County of London Plan. (Image courtesy Wikimedia.)

So in 1965, 40 engineers and technicians were recruited, and began to plan the new motorway under the management of Fred Johnson.

The route was planned. In 1966 computers were in their infancy, and not always helpful. A program to align the section at Lightwater added an unexpected complete loop in the road. “Which would have been somewhat novel.”

The motorway would take about 30 acres of Common land. In 1968 the South East Road Construction Unit  needed to find 30 acres to replace it. They were faced by recalcitrant landowners, who either refused to sell, or attempted to milk the Ministry by pushing prices too high.

The Unit was finally frustrated by an ant. “Fifteen acres of land are available for purchase, and if it were not for the presence of a very rare species of ant…a further fifteen acres could be obtained, but the owner refuses to sell on these grounds.”**

When the plans were published there was a wave of protest.

Dudley Glanfield was one of the appalled protestors. He had been furious in his objections to a relatively unobtrusive, and certainly quiet, sewer, and was now confronted with a six lane motorway. “He had sprung to attention as the farmer who kept out the Central Electricity Generating Board with a shot gun. He was completely obsessive about the (motorway) scheme and had fences that would have been appropriate for a prison all round his farm.”



Christmas card from Dudley Glanfield, 1966. (With thanks to Joan Weymouth.)

The project was encountering problems that were even more difficult than Dudley Glanfield. Between Lightwater and Sunbury the motorway crossed Chobham Common. South of Sunbury the route crossed flooded gravel pits, and ran for 5 miles over water.

The solution chosen was to build causeways. These were banks of chalk, with a fill area between them, filled with sand taken from the road cuttings.

That is why  the cutting side slopes leading to the motorway on Chobham Common are at a gradual angle of about 1 in 10. This allowed them to be pleasantly landscaped, but it also let the engineers take as much sand as possible for the causeways.

The banks would be under water. Two adventurous engineers were trained in scuba diving, so that they could inspect the new construction.

Back on land, it was obvious that the road would need a service area. A Compulsory Purchase Order was put on Trumps Farm in Englefield Green.

The resulting storm of objections lead to a Public Inquiry. Fred Johnson, the manager of the Surrey team, was witness and advocate for the Ministry of Transport. At this time he was himself living in Oak Tree Close, next to Trumps Green, and found himself facing his irate neighbours. One of them confronted him at the Inquiry; “There was unanimous objection to the proposal except from one household – yours!”

The service area at Trumps Green was never built, although part was used as a temporary works depot while the road was being constructed. Other places for services were suggested, including Windlesham, Chobham Common, and Valley End.

Feelings were running high. Fred overheard his 5 year old daughter quarreling with her friend. “I’ll tell my Daddy about you, and he’ll build a Motorway through your garden!”

People wanted the motorway, but not near them. Fred Johnson had to defend the project in the face of virulent opposition. At a meeting in Camberley after he faced an angry crowd of 200 objectors he overheard a man remark, “I wouldn’t have his job.”

His reaction demonstrated the strength of his character, and his motivation. “A remark, which, together with the knowledge that the existing parallel A30 road was then subject to about one fatality per week only spurred the determination to press on to a solution.”

The scheme pressed on. Work began on the M3 in January 1971. The motorway had come to Valley End.


M25 junction 12 intersection with M3.  Aerial view looking towards Thorpe Park in the distance. (Image courtesy Wikimedia.)



*Surrey Wildlife Trust.

** Notes of Meeting, South East Road Construction Unit, 24 July 1968. Surrey History Centre CC971/2/5/15

All other quotes by F. D. J. Johnson.



Surrey History Centre. CC971/2/5/15

Memoirs of F. D. J. Johnson OBE Bse (Eng)FICE FIHT. “M3 Motorway Surrey 1965 – 1968.”

Motorway services online.



The Soft Reds of Brick Hill.

Brick Hill owes its existence to its geology. It stands on the Bracklesham Beds, a geological seam holding sand and brick clays.

From the mid 18th century, bricks were made at Brick Hill, and the industry seems to have grown in the mid 19th century.


Brick Hill and the brickyard. Ordnance Survey map, X.II. First edition, 1870. (With thanks to Surrey History Centre.)

But in 1902 John Henry Sturt, who had run a brick yard at Brick Hill, leased ground at Parker’s Hill for brick making. This was on the Common, opposite the Runic Cross.

Then there was a major fire at the brick field in 1907, and after this Sturt began his building business. Brick Hill stopped making bricks, and local employment shifted to building.

W,END Common Fire

The fire at Sturt’s brickyard, 1907. (Photograph by William End. Image courtesy of John End.)

What were the bricks from Valley End like? Why didn’t G. F.Bodley use local bricks for St. Saviour’s? The church was erected in 1867, when the brickfields were in operation, and he was inspired by local architecture in Surrey.

It seems that Valley End bricks were too soft. There is a photograph of bricks being delivered to Brick Hill. This was either done after the yards stopped working, or the builder found the local product inferior.

Hill View & Traction Engine

Bricks being delivered to Brick Hill. (Image courtesy of John End.)

There are stories about soft bricks at Brick Hill. In one house the bricks in the kitchen were so soft that it was not only possible to poke holes in the wall with a finger, but mice were nibbling through the bricks to raid the cornflakes in the cupboards. The kitchen walls were replaced with some urgency.

In the mid 1980s Rosemary and Andrew James moved to Brick Hill. Rosemary had been born Rosemary Anscomb, and was going to a house on a road known locally as Anscomb Hill, due to the many members of her family who had lived there.

Their cottage was very small. It had been built in 1886,  and was a good example of the older dwellings in Brick Hill,  built by local labour using local materials.

“The rafters were rough. The ceilings were lath and plaster. When my husband went up in the loft there was no wall between us and our neighbour. He bricked it up. They are quite thin walls here. There was an outside toilet here when we moved in. There wasn’t even a bathroom. There were two rooms, the front door, and as you walked in you walked straight into the front room off the doorstep. We had one room with a big chimney breast. Small room there, small room at the front, and they had a winding staircase, it was steep. At the end of the house there was a wooden extension, with windows in. That literally was the kitchen. There was a stone sink, one cold water tap. There was no electricity upstairs. It was tiny. There were fireplaces upstairs in the two bedrooms, but they were small.”

They wanted to extend the house, and preserve the character.

Rosemary’s father, John Anscomb, was able to help. His father Alfred had worked in the brick fields as a child before becoming a builder, and John himself had been a carpenter working for Sturt’s. He got involved.  “He was great; he did it at the age of 70. He was up and down the ladder and on the roof, and we had the roof off and everything else.”

The cottage had been built of bricks called soft reds. They looked for old soft red bricks in reclamation yards, but with no luck.


Re-used soft reds on Anscomb Hill.

So they demolished the internal walls, and spent one Easter cleaning the bricks. “Trust me, the bricks are very soft. I had to wire brush them and I had to be very careful. We had a few problems when we had to break them, or when we had to cut them.”

They then reused the bricks to face the exterior wall facing Anscomb Hill, where they remain as an example of local materials and a resourceful restoration!


Brick Hill and the site of the brickyard. Ordnance Survey map, SU9644 – 9764. Published 1971. (With thanks to Surrey History Centre.)

The M3 now obliterates the site of the brick field.



All quotes by Rosemary James.

With many thanks to Rosemary James.

With thanks to Frances Harding.

“St. Saviour’s Valley End 150 years,” by Sallie Buchanan. 2017.

For King and Country.



Valley End War Memorial. (Photograph courtesy David Fettes.)

The war memorial at Valley End stands opposite the church, to record the names of those who fought and died in the two world wars. It lists seven men who left this small community in World War I, and who never returned. Two have the same surname. Thomas and Frederick Hizzey were brothers, the sons of Rosina and George Hizzey of Brick Hill.


The Hizzey brothers. From left to right, Sydney born 09/04/1901,Thomas born 25/09/1894, and Frederick born 25/09/1899. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)

Thomas Hizzey was born 25th September, 1894. He worked as a gardener at Westcroft Park and as an assistant milkman. He chose to fight, and volunteered to join the army in 1915.


Thomas Hizzey. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)

He enlisted at Guildford, and joined the 6th Battalion of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment.

His first day in France was 1/6/1915, and so he may have been with the transport and machine gun section.  These left Farnborough Station for Southampton on 31/5/16, while the 1st trainload of the Battalion left Aldershot 2/6/15.

Scan_20161126 (24)

Thomas Hizzey in the uniform of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)

They reached the trenches at Armentieres by the 21/6/1916. The history of their war experience can be traced through the Regimental War Diary.

Thomas Hizzey served in the trenches at the front line, and was awarded Victory medal, the British medal, and star.


Thomas Hizzey’s medal and dog tags. (Photograph courtesy of Kelly Mills.)

The Battalion  lost men, but the scale of casualties was nothing to compare with the holocaust that was ahead. For example, during the whole of April 1916 the battalion lost 91 men – 75 wounded, 13 killed, and 3 missing. There were no casualties in May and June 1916.


Thomas Hizzey. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)

But the 1st July 1916 was the start of the Battle of the Somme,  later remembered as “the picture by which future generations saw the First World War; brave helpless soldiers; blundering obstinate generals; nothing achieved”.

The plan was that heavy bombardment over seven days would destroy the enemy machine guns and wire, and wipe out the enemy.

The Capture of Ovillers, from the 1st – 16th July, was a British local operation in which the 6th Battalion, including Thomas Hizzey, took part.

The 6th Battalion were part of the 37th Brigade, and were on the right in the first wave. They suffered heavy losses.


The Battle of the Somme – an officer leading his troops over the top.(Image courtesy IWM. )

The War Diaries reflect the chaos and frustration of the battle. On the 3rd July 1916 the 6th Battalion went into action. At 3.15 am they went over the top,  but by 4.30am the situation was hopeless. The men were heavily laden with equipment, and had been forbidden to help wounded comrades. The enemy machine guns were sweeping across the battlefield, and the wire was impenetrable.

The Regimental War Diary analysed the failure, bitterly pointing the shortcomings. It said:

“The attack failed for the following reasons.

“The enemy machine guns whose fire completely swept the ground

“The enemy wire was insufficiently cut

“The short time to arrange the attack and not knowing the ground or being able to see the enemy trenches from our own parapet, consequent loss of direction

“The enemy trenches were thick with Germans, so the bombardment cannot have been very successful.”

The 6th Battalion lost over a quarter of its men, with 294 casualties. One of them was Thomas Hizzey, killed in action at the age of 21. He is buried in the Lonsdale Cemetery,  Authuille, France, with over 700 other men who died at the Somme.


A chaplain conducting a burial service on the battlefield near Ovillers, middle of July 1916. (Image courtesy IWM)

Frederick William Hizzey,  his brother, was born on 25th September 1899. Like so many of his neighbours at Brick Hill he also worked as a gardener, for Mr. Souchon of Sunningdale.


Frederick Hizzey, standing on the right. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)

When he was 18, he enlisted at Guildford, and was attested on 26th October 1917.  He was 5 feet 7 .5 inches tall, and weighed 9 stone, with a chest size of 34 inches.

He joined the 20th Training Reserve Battalion, but later he moved to the 16th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

This Battalion had been raised from the Church Lad’s Brigade, a youth organisation attached to the church. A soldier who joined it in 1918 said;

“16th King’s Royal Rifles was originally what was known as the Church Lad’s Brigade Battalion. They were all recruited from the Church Lad’s Brigade. But of course they’d lost all their original officers and NCOs. But they were quite a decent lot.” (Charles Frederick Miller.)

In March 1918 Fred was sent to France. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British Medal for his service.

The Battalion saw a great deal of fighting during 1918, culminating in October with the Battle of the Selle. On the 22nd October they were billeted at Bertry, and came under attack. There was shelling that night, and very heavy shelling the following morning. On the 24th the Battalion moved forward at 6.00 am, but found the situation “very obscure.”


The pursuit to the Selle, 9 October 1918. (Image courtesy IWM)

Frederick Hizzey fell, killed by a shell. He died on active service, at the age of 19, on 24th October 1918.

He is buried at Montay-Neuvilly Road Cemetery, Montay, in France.

What must have made it even more bitter for his mother, Rosina, is that he died so close to the end of the war. His death was reported in the Surrey Advertiser for 9/11/1918, beside items about repatriated POWs, demobilisation, and a talk on “The Problems of Peace.”

Two days later, on 11/11/1918, the Armistice was signed.

When their mother Rosina Hizzey heard that her two sons had been killed, she ran outside her cottage in desperation, and beat her fists on a galvanised iron bath that was hanging outside, keening for her boys who had been lost in France.


Roll of honour Institute.jpg

Roll of Honour, Valley End Institute.(Photograph by Suzanne Dolphin, Chobham Art Group.)



The Regimental War Diaries give a detailed account of the operations in which Thomas and Frederick Hizzey died.


War Diary, Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. 6th Battalion. National Archives and Surrey History Centre. National Archives WO 95/1863/1

(A Battalion would consist of 1,000 men, divided into 4 companies.)

2nd July.

Quiet day. Battalion received orders to make all preparation to attack at dawn. Front line was shelled during the day. During the day the battn took over the front line of the Brigade, but moved back to original position during the night. Casualties 4 wounded.

3rd July.

In the trenches (opposite OVILLERS)

Received final orders at 1AM with reference to attack. The Battalion attacked the German trenches at 3.15 AM.

B Company

(RIGHT Company)

At 3.15 AM 1st Platoon closely followed by 2nd 3rd – 4th advanced. 1st Platoon got to Enemy parapet where the officer in charge was killed, and the majority of the men hit by machine gun fire. The bombers knocked out an enemy machine gun in an advanced sap.

2nd Platoon got to enemy wire + were stopped by machine gun and rifle fire.

3rd Platoon were stopped behind the second, 4th Platoon got about half way across but lost heavily + concluded it was useless to advance further.

C Company.

(LEFT Company)

1st Platoon went too much to their left, only about 8 getting to the German wire the bombers getting into the trench with the R. W. KENT REGT who were on the left. 2nd Platoon caught up 1st with about 5 men, the remainder being hit by machine gun fire. The Lewis Gun also entered enemy trench with R. W. KENT REGT and was captured.  3rd Platoon suffered heavily + were stopped by fire. 4th seeing things hopeless + losing heavily also stopped, the Company Commander being wounded.

A Company

(LEFT REAR Company)

Followed “C” over the top, but went more to the right. 1st Platoon got up to the German wire but had to stop owing to its not being sufficiently cut + suffered heavily. 2nd + 3rd Platoons followed + suffered from machine gun and rifle fire. The Company Commander is still missing.   4th Platoon owing to the trench being blocked did not arrive till late + were ordered not to advance.

D Company

(RIGHT REAR Company)

Seeing the hopelessness of further attack, this company was stopped advancing, but in consequence of orders received at 4.30 AM stating “Suffolks on your right have got in AAD endeavour to push on and support them” they were launched at about 4.35 AM, supported by the “Buffs,” but they immediately came under machine gun fire + did not get far. All the officers were killed or wounded.

The attack failed for the following reasons.

The enemy machine guns whose fire completely swept the ground

The enemy wire was insufficiently cut

The short time to arrange the attack and not knowing the ground or being able to see the enemy trenches from our own parapet, consequent loss of direction

The enemy trenches were thick with Germans, so the bombardment cannot have been very successful.




2/LT.  C. S. HALL










2/LT   A. D. W. WARD (since rejoined)

NCOs and men

23 killed

154 wounded

117 missing

Total 294

During the morning after the attack the enemy shelled the front line + support trenches with HE (high explosive) and shrapnel. The Battalion was relieved by 7th East Surrey Regt + went back to DONNET POST + RIBBLE ST. Relief complete at 4PM.

July 4th.

The battalion remained at DONNET POST. The day was quiet.


Extracts from 6th Batt. The “Queens’s” Regt. Orders for Operations 7/6/1916.

1/ Every soldier will carry

a/ Fighting order

b/ 220 rounds SAA

c/ Iron ration and 1 day’s ration

d/ 4 Sandbags

e/ 2 hand grenades

f/ 2 gas helmets and goggles

2/ The following will also be carried: –

a/ Pick or shovel by 3rd. platoon of each company

b/ Wire cutters and wire breakers by 1st and 2nd platoons.

c/ Hedging gloves

4/ All ranks are worried that the supply of water may be difficult. Water bottles must be filled before leaving the final billets.


c/ No one is permitted to fall out to help wounded men.

d/ Wire-cutters of casualties must be collected.



War Diary of  Kings Royal Rifle Corps. 16th Battalion. National Archives WO 95/2430/3

Oct. 19th.

Battalion marched to DEHERIES and then returned.

Oct. 21st.

Battalion moved to BERTRY and was put under 2 hours notice to move forward. Battle stores issued.

Oct. 22nd.

Battalion billeted at BERTRY. Orders received. Battalion to move to assembly positions. Moved off at 2030. Shelling experienced during the night.

Oct. 23rd.

At 0200 attack by 33rd Division. From 0200 to 0530 “shelling was extremely heavy.” Casualties were few although “neighbouring units suffered very heavily.” Little news was received of the progress of the advanced troops, except that the 1st objective had been gained. Battalion moved forward at 08.45 hours. There were orders to keep 1000 yards behind troops of the leading Brigade. The right leading battalion encountered opposition on the right of VENDEGIES WOOD. The line of the battalion was about 400 yards short of the 4th objective.

2 Lt C. V. J. EVRETT was wounded, and there were 38 other ranks casualties.

Frederick Hizzey died on 24th October 1918. This is the relevant entry from his battalion’s War Diary.

Oct 24th 1918.

“Battalion ordered to take over outpost line from CAMERONIANS who were to go through that line later and to take the 4th and 5th Objectives when the Brigade would follow up and go through them and establish the general line, LA COUPE GORGE – 5.26.a.oo to S.14 central CAMERONIANS remained in the outpost line by arrangement with us and advanced direct from there at 0400hours. At 0600 hours our advance started but was held up owing to the very obscure situation on the right. The advance was continued at 1200 hours for the line of the ENGELFONTAINE – LA COUPE-GORGE Road.

A Company left front,

C Company Right front,

D Company Left Support,

B Company Right Support.

“By 1800 hours the battalion was within 600 yards of the Road.

“Strong Fighting Patrols were pushed out who reported the road clear at 2230 hours. A and C Companies were thereupon ordered up to occupy this that portion of the road allotted to that Company. Counter attack next morning at 07.30.”

(The entry for the 24th October does not mention casualties, which seems to have been standard practice. Was Frederick Hizzey one of the other ranks casualties listed for the 23rd?)


Surrey Advertiser, 9/11/1918

“Rifleman Frederick William Hizzey, King’s Royal Rifles, second son of Mrs Hizzey, Valley End, Chobham, was killed by a shell in France on the 24th ult. He was 19 years of age, and had been in the Army 12 months, going to France last March. Previous to joining  he was employed in the garden by Mr. Souchon, Sunningdale. Another son of Mrs. Hizzey, Pte. Thomas Hizzey, The Queens’, was killed about two years ago.”


Other sources.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects. National Archives.

Medal cards. National Archives WO/372/9/213464

Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment website http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/index.shtml

Exploring Surrey’s Past website  http://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/themes/subjects/military/the_queens_royal_surrey_regiment/


Roll of Honour, St. Saviour’s Church Valley End. (Image courtesy David Fettes.)

The names (with one exception) are given in the order in which they died. The list includes those with connections to the parish, rather than restricting it to those who lived there.








Living at Brick Hill.

Mavis Smith, née Smith, has lived at Brick Hill for all her life.

I was born in Brick Hill. My father was born here, and his father.

My great grandfather built a house here, where we live. My father built a house in the garden next door. That was in 1928.

Where my house is now there was just a derelict bungalow. My father used to keep chickens in it. I can remember the wallpaper in one of the rooms, and how a lot of it was tumbled down. It was very small, with a sloping roof at the back. It had been in the family since 1860. My house is on the same footprint, but it’s bigger. My daughter lives next door. She lives where my mother was.

We’ve been here so long that the little lane beside my house has always been known as Smith’s Lane by local people.

All the family have been to Valley End School. We had to walk there. We just went across the Common. I remember starting school, and crying my eyes out.

Valley End School used to be very small. It’s much bigger now. There were only 3 classrooms when I was there. There were two head teachers while I was there, Mrs Kendall and Miss Abraham.

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Valley End School. (Image courtesy of Chobham Museum.)

Miss Abraham was nice. She was my Head Teacher, and later she always wanted my daughter to go to that school too. We lived in West End then, but we were coming back to Brick Hill. My daughter did go to Valley End because one of the teachers used to bring her. He would bring her in the morning, because he had to pass where we lived, and he brought her home of a night.


Valley End School. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)

Years ago you used to be able to hear the children playing in the school from Brick Hill. Of course with the motorway now you don’t. I think the motorway had been on the cards for years before it was built. My father died in 1963, and he’d talked of it long before that. He said it was spoken about in the 1940’s. Now we’re cut off from Chobham, we’re the other side of it now. We’re Chobham people! Not Windlesham!

I’ve done a lot in Windlesham and Sunningdale – it’s two miles each way, so you take your pick where you go. Years ago you’d walk or cycle.

You used to go across the golf course. By the time you went round on a bus, you could be across the golf course. You had to go right from the convent, down Highams Corner, where the bus stopped, and it’s pretty nearly a mile. So while you’re walking down there you could be half way there.

I can’t remember the Convent in detail. They did the laundry there. The girls who went there who either did something wrong, or didn’t have a home. One fellow used to live here in Brick Hill and he used to work there. I can remember him cycling by when I was young. After that he lived on the property down there until he died. They provided him with a house.

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Brick Hill. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)

Where the roundabout is now was a crossroads. That’s where you used to see all the goldfinches in the gorse bushes.

When you grew up with the wildlife you didn’t really take any notice. It’s the same with wild flowers, when you see them all the time, you wonder why people are all going mad over them. But the Common’s all overgrown now. It’s because of all the silver birch and the trees.

You used to be able to stand in the garden here and see up on the golf course, up on the top green. I used to play up there, on the fairway, and my Mum would come out in the garden, and wave tea towels, and I would know it was time to come home. You could see the golfers going to the tee, and now you can’t see anything.

They’ve done a lot to clear the Common now, which has made it better. But it’s all overgrown to what it was. They have cut a lot of the trees down, but not enough for me. I like seeing the heather, and not all this silver birch taking over.

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Brick Hill. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)

We used to go up to the golf course and play in the summer. We would go with our bathing costumes on, and play where the sprinklers came on. Nobody took any notice in those days. That was just after the war.

When the War finished, we had a big party there. All down the fairway there were tables.

I wouldn’t like children playing on the golf course now. You would worry. You used to go out and you didn’t come back until it was teatime. But there are a lot of cars now.

There was only one man round here who worked on the course. That was Mr Hampton. I suppose boys did go caddying, but not my generation.

They can’t stop you going straight across it. There’s a footpath that goes across from here to Sunningdale.

Roy Smithers’ bench was a lovely place to go when it was Bonfire Night. You could see fireworks all the way round.

On Sunday you would go across to the Clumps, and they would have model aeroplanes flying. There used to be ice cream man, and that used to be our treat, to go over there on Sunday afternoon, really just for an ice cream.

In the War my father was the ARP warden for round here. I can remember in the night people banging on the doors, evacuees, and people coming, and he would help them.


An ARP (Air Raid Precautions Warden) reports for duty. Image courtesy of IWM.

We had evacuees staying with us. I don’t know how long they stayed. There were two boys who came from different families. One had relations in Windlesham. His Granny was there. I don’t know why she couldn’t have him. The other one came from London. One of them came back and found me. When I was fifteen, he cycled from Buckinghamshire, just to find the place. I had just started work and when I came home he was here. I still hear from him every Christmas.

The Camp was built on the Common during the War. Soldiers were there first. I can’t remember much about them. My Mum used to their washing. When I was born, my father worked in Bagshot as a gardener, but when they built the Camp he worked there.

Up there they had electricity. We didn’t have it here. There was no electricity put on until the early 1950s. We used gas, oil lamps, and candles. One person down in Brick Hill had a generator, so they had electricity.

I remember one family up on the Camp had a television. All us children used to go when her husband wasn’t there. We had rows of chairs, like a cinema, but there was only one programme and then you had the interludes.

You used to have the water tower up on the hill, on Fox Hill. That was knocked down the day my youngest daughter was born.


Fox Hill. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey).

They had main drainage at the Camp and we haven’t. We didn’t have the water put on until 1946. Before that we had a well in the garden. It was for next door too.

It was nice when you had the huts at the Camp. We were friendly with all the people. We still are with a lot of them.

You can see where the huts in the Camp were, and where we used to go and play. I was always baby mad, and I used to go for walks for miles with the babies. I used to push them out on a Sunday afternoon, and on school holidays I used to take all these babies from up the Camp out. Now they’re all grown up and got children and grandchildren of their own, but I think I used to push you about in a pram!

After the war the Camp finished. Some of the bases were left. All the tops were taken off and then a lot of the bases were gradually broken up. There are still some of the roads, but not many of the bases. They could have turned the Camp into housing because it had electricity, and main drainage. A lot of people from the Camp went to Windlesham, Bagshot or Chobham.

The Gypsies used to turn up and park at different places. They were never any trouble. They just used to come and pull up, perhaps with one single caravan. They’d maybe have dogs and a chicken. There were little places where they pulled up all the time, and they’d stay 2 or 3 days and then move on. I don’t think there was any trouble at all. They used to be down by the church, pulling off the road opposite Pembroke House. Or they used to park by the top of Round Pond. When they went you wouldn’t know they’d been. They left it all tidy.

My Mum used to clean the church at one stage so I used to go down and help polish, and do the floor. That was when I was 10, 11, 12 … I can remember being on hands and knees.

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Valley End Church. (Image courtesy of Chobham Museum.)

When I was a child most people worked in gardening, or building. Sturt’s had a building yard in Brick Hill. They built this house, and my mother’s. They were only 2 or 3 doors away. My husband worked for them at one time.

There was a shop in Brick Hill. It was just in a sitting room. She used to sell sweets, and tins of stuff At Christmas time she used to get bottles of scent, and hankies, the little things that you gave people. She sold bottles of pop. The Stanfields used to come and bring the drink and open the bottles on the fence.

The only thing you had to go out for was for the post office. We didn’t have one. The different tradespeople used to come round. I’d give an order one week and they’d deliver the next. Belchers used to deliver up here. Suttons used to come round with the bread. The coalman used to come.

I started work looking after Dr.Cooke’s children in Chobham. I was down there, from the time I left school, until my daughter was born. Their children were my bridesmaids. Once my children arrived I used to go out and do a little bit of cleaning.

Then I went from that to the school. I worked for Mr. Turner. I used to be the cleaner. I cleaned the school on my hands and knees, because it was easier. I didn’t realise what it was going to do to my knees, or else I wouldn’t have done it. I’ve suffered for it since. Then I took over as caretaker in 1974.


Valley End School. (Image courtesy Valley End School.)

Mr. Turner was very good. The pantomimes he used to put on were good, even when they were done by really young children. I used to enjoy them better than going to a proper panto.

In 1980 I packed that up and worked for Brian Blessed. They moved here and his daughter was born, and I used to look after her. I only stopped working for him about 4 years ago. I used to do a lot of his fan mail. I used to get Brian to come and do Father Christmas at the school.

Brick Hill is either mud or dust. Either it’s all muddy when it’s been raining, or cars go by and you get clouds of dust. There’s an awful lot of cars come and you don’t know who they are. At one time you used to know every car.

You used to know everybody. If the lorry driver from Sturt’s was coming along when we were walking home from school, he’d stop and we’d all pile in the back. Things like that. And you were content to just play around here.

Now you never see any children out playing. I used to play all out on the Common, and my children used to, but they had children to play with. We’ve lost that.

So Brick Hill is not the same as it used to be.

By Mavis Smith, née Smith.










Memories of the Institute.


The Valley End Institute stands close to the school and church, and remains an important part of Valley End life.

Mavis Smith has many memories of the Institute.

“We used to walk down the road to the Institute for our school dinners, and we used to used to have our school Christmas parties down there. They used to perhaps do a play or something, and that used to be held there.



Programme for a school concert in the Institute, 1916.

“It was a tin building. That did last a long time. In the early 70s it was really dilapidated. Then everybody wanted to get it up and running, so we all formed a party and got it going. I was on the Committee, and then I landed up being Treasurer. I’m still on the Committee now.

“We got it up and running in the old tin hut, and got toilets put on, because it only had the old bucket loos. Then we had it rebuilt.

“We wanted to raise money for building. We used to have jumble sales, and we did a calendar, of Chobham and Windlesham. Half of it was Chobham and half was Windlesham. It wasn’t a good idea, because Chobham and Windlesham people don’t mix! We’d have sold a lot more if we’d had just Chobham and just Windlesham.


Photograph of the Institute from the fund raising calendar.

“But the worse thing was the builder went bankrupt. He pulled the hut down, and then we found out. Someone just gave a hint. He didn’t let us know he was bankrupt, but he wanted money all the time. Well, what do you do? It was then a question of do we carry on? It was all down and on the floor.

“We didn’t give him the money. We got it finished. In the end we were down there every weekend, doing what we could, painting, and putting the skirting on, and doing the doors. We had a kitchen – we were lucky. At the time Christopher Bailey was having a new kitchen, so we had the old one. We’ve had a new kitchen fitted now.

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Photograph of Henry Pigé Leschallas, benefactor of the Institute. This portrait is hanging in the Leschallas Hall. (Photograph by Suzanne Dolphin, Chobham Art Group.)

“The rooms are called the Leschallas Hall and the Christie Room. It was the Christies and Leschallas family who did a lot for the Institute in the beginning.

“There’s an old panel, saying, “Strength is Unity”. That was in the old building.


“Unity is strength”; it is between a photograph of Richard Copley Christie, and a list of all those from Valley End who fought in World War 1.

“It supports itself. We tried to keep it decorated, because then you get people wanting it. You’ve got the Nursery School there. The Baptist Church has it all day Sundays and on Wednesdays as well. Then you’ve got the bowls, the dancing, and the art club. Now it pays for itself, so it’s very good.

“I don’t think you get so many parties now. You don’t get the teenage parties. In the beginning when I used to clean the place, they were terrible.


Clock in the Institute, in memory of Lilian and Reg Millard. It was once stolen and retrieved from the bushes by the Vicarage before anyone realised it had been stolen.

“They don’t get many children’s parties now. Now and again there’s one. But they’ve had bouncy castles and all in there. You won’t get the big family parties, but once upon a time it used to be a party every week.

“I used to do the cleaning at one time, until I had my knees go bad, and had to pack it in. That’s when you weren’t being paid for it, because they didn’t have the money. Story of my life – you do everything for nothing! So I feel I’ve done my bit.”



Valley End Institute.



With many thanks to Mavis Smith née Smith.

(With thanks to Pat Tedder for information about the portrait.)