Growing up at Brick Hill

The Hizzey family has lived at Brick Hill for generations.


“My Granddad had 4 goats, and I think he had more. There were little partitions in the shed and the goats used to go there. My Dad used to go and collect bracken for bedding for them, and then they’d just graze them on the Common. I think they were probably were staked and tied.


Robert Frederick Hizzey and his goats at Brick Hill. (Photo courtesy D. Hizzey.)

“The old lady round at Vale Farm had cattle. I don’t remember them, that was before my time, but my Dad as a kid remembered a cow’s leg sticking out of the ground. They’d buried it, I don’t know why they didn’t eat it, perhaps they didn’t know what it died of, but they buried it. They didn’t dig the hole deep enough, and he reckoned that for years there was this old dried up cow’s leg sticking out.

“They also had geese that wandered about Brick Hill, a flock of geese, probably 20 or 30 I should think. I don’t remember this either, but apparently all the ditches round here, and I remember all the grass, was beautiful, like a lawn, it was all the geese just nibbling at it and keeping it all flat.

“My Granddad had a pig in a sty at the bottom of our garden. The pigsty was next door to the toilet. When he was a little tot my Dad was afraid to go to it, because the pig was a big black long snouted pig, and it used to go for people, so he was afraid to go to the toilet because the bloody pig would try to bite him.


Emily Snooks outside her cottage in Brick Hill. (Photo courtesy D. Hizzey.)

“We only had an outside toilet there, at the bottom of the garden, just an earth closet. When you walked down there at night you could hear the crunch as you trod on snails. You didn’t have any light, I remember treading on toads and all sorts.

“These 2 cottages when my Granddad bought them had Common rights, to dig turf and to graze animals, and to cut wood.

“I still pick sticks for the garden. My Dad did more so than me. I’ve bought bamboo canes for runner beans, but he would have just gone and got willow poles off the Common and chop them. He’d have new ones every year. Christmas trees used to come off the Common. They’re a very grotty looking Christmas tree really, because they’re so sparse with branches, but that was Christmas. If you’d had a proper shaped tree it wouldn’t have looked right.

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Brick Hill, with Vale Farm and White’s Farm, and Oaktree Cottages in the background. (Photo courtesy D. Hizzey.)

“I think there was a lot of animal grazing, and beekeeping. Mrs Millard had bees, her daughter Joan Weymouth and Tom had bees.

“As a kid there was a bit of  land that was always called the nursery. My Granddad had chickens there. They used it like allotments really. My Dad’s garden was like a showpiece, fruit, and vegetables.

“There was one telephone, Mrs Millard, Chobham 7176. I still remember that. That was the only phone on Brick Hill. I came home one day and there was a phone box on the Green, and I thought wow, you know, we’re going up in the world, but it was made of wood, and they were filming. Oliver Reed was in it, it was called R3 gas.

“I remember as a kid that the power cables that went across the middle of Brick Hill, the main power cables, were just bare copper. They weren’t insulated. They were just strands of wire. The power lines come across from Sparrow Row.

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The trees at Fox Hill clump. (Photo courtesy D. Hizzey.)

“If as a kid you wanted flowers you’d go to Mr. Broad to get your flowers. If you wanted eggs you’d go to Mrs Anscombe. If you wanted tomatoes you’d go to Johnny Pipkins.

“They had deliveries. We always had a milkman. I can remember that as a kid. Underwoods, which was the ironmongers in Lightwater, used to come round with a van like a shop with paraffin, and anything really, washing powders and things like that. Suttons the bakers used to come up. But he didn’t just have bread he used to have a van full of produce you could have a look through. The Travelling library used to come out onto the Green.

“They used to have horse and cart deliveries too, before my childhood. I can remember Dad saying they used to bump through the ditch in the bottom of this lane. I think my Dad probably saw the heyday of Brick Hill. Their life style was superb.”

With many thanks to David Hizzey.


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(Photo courtesy J. End.)


With many thanks to David Hizzey.

The Iron Horse rides into Valley End.

“Ri-fan, Ti-fan, mirth and fun,   

Don’t you wonder how it’s done?    

Carriages without horses run    

On the Staines to Ascot Railway.”


The first passenger carriage in Europe; 1830, George Stephenson’s steam locomotive, Liverpool and Manchester Railway. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

Surrey has a special niche in railway history. In 1805 the first public railway in the world opened in Merstham. It carried freight, rather than people, and users not only had to bring their own wagons, but also horses to pull them, so things could only improve.


Watercolour showing the Surrey Iron Railway, the first public railway company , passing Chipstead Valley Road. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

After the invention of the steam engine railways began to spread throughout Britain. In the 1840s plans were made for a track running across the Surrey heathland.

The Windsor, Staines and South Western Railway sent out letters in 1846. They explained that they would be applying to Parliament for an Act for a new railway.


Image 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.


Image 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.

It was passed, and cut across Chobham Common and Valley End to reach Sunningdale. The station, then called Sunningdale and Bagshot, opened on 4th June 1856.

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Sunningdale station in 1860. (Photo courtesy of J. End.)

The line went on to Wokingham, where it met a junction with the Reading, Guildford and Reigate Railway.

The introduction of rail transport changed the area. Frederick Waterer of Bagshot testified to this in 1864, when he gave evidence to a Parliamentary Commission. He claimed that the nurseries around Bagshot had thrived with the help of the trains to move their stock.

They were discussing a Bill for the Sunningdale and Cambridge Town (Camberley) Railway, which failed a couple of years later.

The Staines, Egham, and Woking Railway also attempted to build a line across the Common in 1864. If this had been successful it may have completely changed the face of Chobham. Denis Le Marchant argued that  -“There are about 4000 acres of waste land around Chobham which I should think is very well calculated for building purposes…(I) Have no doubt if railway communication were made that those sites would be taken advantage of by builders.”

Sunningdale Station lies just outside the parish boundary. At the other side of Valley End is another station, Longcross.


Longcross was built during World War II for the military base on the Common. It wasn’t opened to the public until 1942.

It is at present one of the few stations in Britain that is not accessible by road. If you can’t go through the site of the Tank Factory, it can only be reached by a muddy footpath.

This led one user to describe it rather uncharitably as “Longcross, the least useful train station in the country.”

That should be changing soon. A business park and village is being built there, bringing new changes to an old line.


“You can send your butter and cheese

At any time whenever you please.

You can send your hens and eggs,

And them can ride as has no legs,

On the Staines to Ascot Railway.”




“The Railway in Surrey.” Alan A. Jackson. Atlantic Transport 1999.

“Surrey railways remembered.” Leslie Oppitz. Pub. Leslie Oppitz 1988.

Discover Longcross.

Digital Spy.

S. A. Oliver Collection.

“Chobham. The rival railway schemes.” West Surrey Times Saturday 7 May 1864.

Iron horse” is an old term for a steam locomotive.

(The verses are adapted from “The Oxford and Hampton Railway.”)



Suffer the little children


Arthur Charles Bailey was baptised at St. Saviour’s church, Valley End, on March 31st 1907.

He was the first child of James and Eliza Bailey. His sister Margaret arrived a few years later.

The family lived in Apple Tree Cottage on the Chertsey Road, opposite Ribsden. This was convenient, because James had been trained as a gardener in Berkshire, and was working as head gardener on the Ribsden estate.

Then in 1912, Arthur fell ill with diphtheria.

In many ways life was safer than it had been in the 19th century. The terrible epidemics such as cholera had been contained by public health initiatives.

But diseases spread by droplet infection, (coughing, sneezing,) such as diphtheria, measles, whooping cough and chicken pox could not be controlled.

Of all these, diphtheria had the highest mortality rate, and was especially dangerous for young children. It was not until after 1939 that immunisation against this disease became widespread.

Arthur was desperately sick. An antitoxin serum for diphtheria had been discovered in 1894, but this had to be administered within the first few days of the illness, when the symptoms may not have been obvious. Was he given it, or was it too late?

Arthur Bailey died on 17th April 1912. He had just turned 5 years old.

His family was grief stricken. They took him to be buried at St. Saviour’s.

The people who met them at the church were afraid. They knew diphtheria was a killer, and they knew it was contagious. But they did not understand how it was spread.

Because of this ignorance and fear of infection, the funeral party was not allowed inside the church.

The burial service took place outside, and Arthur was buried in a quiet corner of the churchyard.

His mother never recovered from the loss of her son. The day of his death nearly coincided with the sinking of the Titanic, and for years every mention of the shipwreck reminded Eliza of her lost child.

Arthur Bailey lies to the right as you enter the churchyard. His headstone reads;

In loving memory of Arthur Charles Bailey who died April 17th 1912 Aged 5 years.

“Suffer the little children to come unto me.”

It was some years before his mother felt able to add another inscription. The final words were;

“Thy will be done.”


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Arthur Bailey’s grave at St. Saviour’s.


If you would like to find out more about diphtheria ;

If you would like to find out more about vaccination for diphtheria;


“A history of English public health 1834 – 1934.” M. Frazer. London, 1950.

“The people’s health. 1830 – 1910.” E. B. Smith. London 1979.

With many thanks to Helene Parris.


Below Stairs

“If it had not been for the big houses in this neighbourhood – Hyams, Chobham Place and a few others, this church would never have been built.

“In one of those big houses alone there were over 40 servants. Those were the days when the gentry went to church – mainly Matins – in the morning and the servants to Evensong. It is said that when they returned home in the evening they had to report on the Vicar’s sermon. Poor Vicar!”

The Rev Roney Ackworth, speaking at the centenary of St. Saviour’s, identified with the Vicar. I feel for the maids, sitting in the pews and trying to sum up the address in a few words.

The large houses in Valley End were major employers. In 1901 there were 27 people resident at Highams, including 15 servants and their families. The staff came from Scotland and Wales as well as from the south of England.


Ribsden – one of the “big houses.” (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.) 

This is no surprise, as in Victorian and Edwardian England a huge number of people were employed as domestic servants. It was the main employment for women.

The work could be strenuous. Mrs. Beeton recommended that a Cook should rise at 6am, (7 in winter,) light the kitchen fire, brush the range, clean the hearth, rinse the kettle, clean the kitchen, sweep the kitchen stairs, sweep the hall, shake the hall mats, prepare the breakfast room – and then cook breakfast.

Servants could be vulnerable to ill-treatment. One tragic case is that of Emily Jane Popejoy of Bagshot, who went to work as a maid in Kensington in 1898. She died within a year of the ill treatment that she received from her mistress.

So what was it like working in the mansions of Valley End?

Joan Weymouth can remember her parents and grandparents talking about life in the big houses.

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The staff at Ribsden, having tea in the garden. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

“A lot of girls went into service. Well, they had to, because you didn’t get a bigger house, if you got more children, and girls grew up, and they kept the boys at home to work and it’s what happened. And you got a lot from Wales. But then it was a home, you had to get somewhere.” Servants were given accommodation. Ribsden had 10 servants living in.

There are stories of mothers searching for a place to employ their daughters, and deciding on the the furthest – so that the girls couldn’t run away home. There were happier reasons for a servant to move.  Staff could travel long distances to find a good place.

A good employer was someone to keep. When the Christies came down to Ribsden, some of their staff chose to move with them, and to live the rest of their lives in this area.

“My grandfather, Harry Carnell, came down in the late 1800s and he came down from Matlock in Derbyshire with Mr. and Mrs. Christie to Ribsden. He came down as a coachman.

“My Mum’s mother’s side, they came down from Northamptonshire. My Mum had 2 aunts (in service at Ribsden) and her mother was ladies maid to Mrs Christie. My grandmother was the ladies maid there, and her sister was the housekeeper, my Auntie Annie.


Annie Foster, Housekeeper at Ribsden, and her sister Louisa. (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.)

“And that’s how they met their wives, the other people in the house.”

Harry Carnell, the coachman at Ribsden, met Mary Foster, the ladies maid, and they were married in 1898.


Harry Carnell and Mary Foster on their wedding day. (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.)

The big houses enjoyed a friendly competition. “There was rivalry between the big houses – but not nasty, it was just that you wanted the best. I can remember my Granddad saying that our carriage went faster than that one. But they were all friends.”

St Saviour’s Church was decorated with floral displays for the big festivals, and old photos show incredible arrangements of plants and flowers. They were put up by the head gardeners of the big houses, vying with each other.

Joan’s family had good memories of Ribsden, and Mrs Christie.

“Mrs Christie looked after her staff. She sent my grandmother, because she had a bad heart, down to Brighton for a month.

“If you got a good employer, you were made.”



With thanks to Joan Weymouth. All quotes by Joan Weymouth.

“Time will tell,” sermon by Rev. Ackworth on the 100th anniversary of St. Saviour’s Church, Valley End. In Chobham Parish Magazine, July 12th. 1967.


There were some large mansions near Valley End. Some of the owners, such as Julia Seymour Bathurst or Henry Pige Leschalles, were philanthropists, supporting ventures that ranged from building a new church to establishing a cricket club. They employed a large number of staff, which swelled the local population.

One of these influential houses was Ribsden.

Looking back to the history of Ribsden, Chertsey Road in the 19th and early 20th centuries. By Sally Clark.


Ribsden House was originally built for Henry Rothery, a lawyer and botanical collector, in the late 1870s. The land sold on which the house was built, north of the present Chertsey Road, formed part of the Fuel Allotments to the poor in the Enclosure Act of 1814, where they were allowed to carry away “turves, furze, fern or other fuel.” The money raised from the sale to Henry Rothery was used, until a few years ago, “for the distribution of the “Ribsden Coals” at Christmas, mainly to senior citizens or to other needy persons in the village.” The Ribsden Coal Charity has now been incorporated into The Poor Allotments Charity, covering Bagshot, Lightwater and Windlesham (an article in respect of which appeared in the December 2013 edition of the Windlesham Magazine.)


Ribsden House. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

In 1867 Rothery was appointed by the Government as their Commissioner enquiring into maritime losses and casualties, which enabled him to travel extensively to Australia, British Guiana, Dominica and Madagascar and pursue his keen interest in botany, particularly ferns, at the same time. He died at Ribsden on 2nd August 1888 but was survived by his wife Madelaine Rothery who continued to live at Ribsden until her death in October 1891.

The Surrey Heath Museum retains Mr Rothery’s accounts book for 1879 / 1880 and an entry in 1879 shows the following costs recorded:

“Coal and Wood 2 shillings; Help and luggage to the station 4 shillings 6 pence; Stable broom 2 shilings 6 pence; Telegram 1 shiling.”

A second notebook records various remedies for the horses, including how to make a poultice for wounds of the joints or tendons:

“sal-ammoniac powder – 4oz; sugar of lead – 4oz; vinegar – 3 pints water – 3 pints.

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Ribsden House. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

Ribsden was subesquently bought by Richard Coply Christie and his wife Mary Helen in circa 1891 / 1892. Educated at Oxford, Richard Christie was called to the bar in Lincoln’s Inn in 1857 and in 1872 he became chancellor of the diocese of Manchester, a post he retained until 1893. He was appointed trustee of the Estate of the industrialist, Sir Joseph Whitworth. Funds from this estate were used to build a home for people with cancer – and was renamed the Christie Hospital in their honour. Confronted with new diseases such as mule spinners’ cancer and chimney sweeps’ cancer, doctors started to look for possible links to machine oils and airborne soot. The first use of x-rays in 1901 and radium in 1905 were developed at this hospital.

On moving to Windlesham the Christies brought with them their groom, Harry Carnell, who was the grandfather of local resident, Joan Weymouth.


The library at Ribsden. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

In 1901 Harry Carnell is recorded as living in accommodation above the stables and coach house at Ribsden with his wife, sister-in-law and daughter Ellen of 2 years, and employed in the position of groom and coachman.

Richard Christie died on 9 January 1901 at Ribsden and in honour of his memory Mary Helen Christie donated funds to the Windlesham Institute, which were used to develop the building to include a stage to enable concerts and theatre performances. The entrance door to the theatre bears a plaque “1901.”

On 1 February 1911 Mary Helen Christie died at Ribsden leaving no issue. Her estate was held in trust, one of the trustees being her father, Samuel Fletcher MP and subsequently sold by public auction. At the time Harry Carnell was still employed as their coachman and is recorded on the census in 1911 as living at Ribsden Cottage with his family. A second daughter Lillian, the mother of Joan Weymouth, has now been born.


First published in the Windlesham Magazine, Feb. 2014.

With thanks to Sally Clark and the Windlesham Magazine.



A Home for the London Mothers

“Mrs Miller seems to have enjoyed herself immensely and the Doctor was much pleased with her improvement.

Another satisfied customer of the London Mother’s Convalescent Home!

The Home stood on Chobham Road, in the north of Valley End parish. It was founded by the Hon. Mrs Charles Hay, (Arabella Augusta Hay,) in 1889.


The London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

The Home was intended for married women. They could visit with babies aged between 3 weeks and 3 months, and could stay for a fortnight. Many were from poor areas, with large families, living in 1 or 2 rooms.

Mrs Hay was right to be concerned for their health. Even by 1905 the infant mortality rate for Notting Dale, a poor area in Kensington, was 432 out of 1,000.*

The Home was run by the Clewer Sisters, an Anglican order of Nuns, founded in 1852 to support the poor in Windsor. Mrs Hay had been connected to them for many years, and so it was natural that when she founded her charity she invited the Clewer Sisters to run it.


The London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

The Home seems to have been skilled at raising funds. There was a list of subscribers, and an annual Pound Day, when they received goods in money and in kind. The contributors were listed; “Mrs Walter Forsyth, sweets; HM the King – 20 pheasants.”

The Pound Day had speeches. In 1929 they were praised for the “care of both mother and child… helping them to take their true part in the future of the Empire.”

The women and babies benefited from their stay, and returned home refreshed. Local ladies enjoyed taking the girls out for treats, or inviting them to tea. It was a popular and successful local charity.

In 1899 Mrs. Hay was succeeded at her death by her daughter, Miss Maud Hay – Drummond. Then in 1941, Maud died. As she had always intended, she left the Home to the Clewer Sisters.

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The Chapel in the London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

But the situation had changed. The building had been bombed, and needed repair, and the Sisters would have had to pay the death duties. The Order was also starting to cut back on their activities. They seem to have declined the legacy.

By 1971 the house, now renamed Drummond House, had been redeveloped as flats. The author Hilary Mantel lived there for a while. “We were living in Sunningdale in a ramshackle flat converted from a former mother and baby home, which had been run by nuns…The big rooms were gracelessly partitioned, and there were crucifixes and Latin mottoes in unexpected places.”**

The building has recently been redeveloped. It still stands on the Chobham Road, just before the railway bridge in Sunningdale. On the front there is a carving of a mother and baby, a reminder of the London Mother’s Convalescent Home.

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Stamp from the London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Image courtesy J. End.)

  • Quoted in “Love and toil; motherhood in outcast London 1870 – 1918.” Ellen Ross. OUP 1993.

** Hilary Mantel. “Giving up the ghost: a memoir.” Fourth estate. 2010. p.234.



Berkshire Record Office. D/EX  1675/1/12/9/1-44

Living in Sparrow Row

What would it have been like to live in Sparrow Row 100 years ago?

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Living in Sparrow Row; by Sophie Stevens, 1891 – 1978.


I was born at Ripley in a little old cottage over on the Green, it has been pulled down now, we had to get out. My mother’s mother came from West End and she found us a cottage at Penny Pot where my brother was born. We moved to 5 Sparrow Row and lived there till my brother, who never married, died in 1969.

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5, Sparrow Row. With thanks to Surrey Heath Museum. (Image courtesy J. End.)

It was lovely up there always sunny and dry and Valley End school was very good. There were 5 cottages and only one well in no 2’s garden but there were good wells over on the Common.


Granny Beetle outside her cottage in Sparrow Row. (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.)

My father he did any odd jobs and when he got older he took the Allotment (now the property called One Tree Hill) on the common and grew vegetables. He had a donkey and cart and sold them round Sunningdale, he grew beautiful celery, huge big sticks they were.

We used to go to Valley End church every Sunday and I was confirmed. I went to work in service when I was 14 but when mother had twins I came home to help her. Mother fed one baby and father bought a milking Nanny for the other one. They were lovely babies but the one I looked after died at nine months, she cut too many teeth the Doctor said and it turned her brain. We were very sad and we carried her little coffin to Valley End church.


Valley End Church. (Photo courtesy St. Lawrence and St. Saviour Chobham.)

Many years back a Pedlar was coming down the old lane at the other side of the cottages and he was drunk and riding his donkey, a branch got caught in his neckerchief and he was hanged and he used to haunt the old lane our dog saw him and howled, the dog would never go down the lane at night after that.

One of my sisters she got burnt alive on the Common. She was driving the donkey and cart full of bracken and she wanted a smoke she went to light a match they were in her apron pocket and she set light to the whole box and she was burnt to death.

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Sparrow Row today.


(Original text in Surrey Heath Museum.)



With thanks to Surrey Heath Museum.