Memories of the Institute.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

 

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Valley End Institute.

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Sources.

With many thanks to Mavis Smith née Smith.

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

 

 

 

 

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Farmer Glanfield and “the farm most disrupted by compulsory purchase orders.”

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Dudley Glanfield, by Dudley Glanfield, 1920s. (Image courtesy National Portrait Gallery.)

 

Prior to purchasing Twelve Oaks, Woodlands and Manor Farms in 1946 from Lady Wilson, Dudley Glanfield was an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and a well known portrait photographer of Royalty and the Nobility with a large studio in Knightsbridge, London. 185 photographs taken by him in the 1920s and 1930s are held by the National Portrait Gallery, including one of King George V1. A well educated man, he held a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration and was also qualified in Mechanical Engineering.

Whilst he had a love of the land, he was not an experienced farmer. Neighbouring land owners recall that he did for a period have a herd of cattle but generally the estate which he named ‘the Twelve Oaks Farm Estate’ was not properly farmed and the land returned to its natural state. He did not maintain the farm buildings and as they continued to decay, he resorted to living in a caravan. He had had a love of flying light aircraft from the 1920s and continued this hobby when he moved to Windlesham, flying his aircraft over the surrounding villages and often taking
photographs.

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Dudley Glanfield, by Dudley Glanfield, 1930s. (Image courtesy National Portrait Gallery.)

In a set of historical notes he put together, he states that ‘Twelve Oaks used to be a Hunting Lodge of Queen Elizabeth 1 when she was resident at Windsor circa 1563 to avoid the plague in London’. Whilst she was resident at Windsor to avoid the plague and whilst this area was part of Windsor Great Forest, I have not to date found any documented evidence of a hunting lodge on the site. Mr Glanfield writes that the original ‘twelve oaks, some 400 years old, were compulsorily felled in 1972 for the cutting of the M3 Motorway.’ He elaborates on this with the comment that ‘a mile of motorway bisects the farm estate in half and that access to the farm is now down Scutley Lane Public Bridleway, unsuitable for motor vehicles/trucks delivering fertilisers, cattle food and machinery.’ So presumably in the 1970s there was some farming activity.

His battle against Compulsory Powers on his land started before the motorway however. In the late 1940s a Compulsory Wayleave Notice for electricity pylons across his land was passed. He fought this with much publicity including personal appearances on radio and television and eventually issued a High Court Writ against the Central Electricity Authority delaying the erection of the pylons for 2 years and instrumental in getting the 1957 Electricity Bill through Parliament ‘to avoid such injustices being perpetrated on any landowner again.’ The battle with Compulsory Powers continued in respect of a giant sewer pipeline, new water mains and gas mains across his land. All of which earned him an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as ‘the farm most disrupted by compulsory purchase orders’ and the nickname of ‘Dynamite Dudley’.

 

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Farm Patrol

2nd February 1957: British farmer Dudley Glanfield of Windlesham in Surrey prevents the Electricity Board from putting giant electrical pylons on his land. He patrols his land with a shotgun guarding against invasion by Electricity Workmen. (Photo by BIPS/Getty Images)

 

Dudley Glanfield is buried at St Saviour Church, Valley End and his grave
stone bears this epitaph composed by himself:

Farmer

Dudley Glanfield of Windlesham

1904 – 1992

A man of Earth who knew
How every inch of an acre
Is alive and what was best
For root and beast and got it
He argued as obstinately
For freedom as the sun does
With the seeds till they submit
Be proud
Of a man so placed so true
To why we are alive

 

Following his death in 1992, 400 acres of his land was sold at Public Auction in 16 lots. Manor Farm, Twelve Oaks plus a further 142 acres were sold to Mr Clive Smith the owner of Windlemere and Pine Ridge Golf Centres. However within days after the auction he sold the Twelve Oaks land to Ian and Graham Wooldridge without taking possession himself.

 
The farmhouse and most of the outbuildings by that time were completely derelict and had to be demolished with the exception of the stables. Dudley Glanfield’s notes refer to a Mr A E Barton’s ownership of the Woodlands Estate from 1911 until the Henderson family bought it and that he used Twelve Oaks as his racing stables. One of his horses, ‘Panther’ won the ‘Two Thousand Guineas’ race in 1919. Twelve Oaks is once again home to horses as the Wooldridge family run it as a Stables where Polo horses are exercised, trained and groomed for the competition season each year.

67,000 bricks from the old buildings have been recycled in the refurbishment of the old stables, the building of a new set of stables and staff accommodation and the grounds have been restored to an immaculate condition.

 

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Sally Clark, Local Historian
My thanks to Brian Wooldridge for the information on the auction
and Dudley Glanfield’s notes.

 

(First published in the Windlesham Magazine, August 2017. Reproduced with many thanks to Sally Clark and the Windlesham Magazine.)

 

 

Living at the Vicarage.

When Julia Seymour Bathurst commissioned G. F. Bodley to build the church, she also asked him to build the vicarage.

When he designed it Bodley, a leading architect in the Gothic Revival, abandoned any Gothic details and drew his inspiration instead from the solid comfort of Georgian houses

The result is a large, impressive building. The footprint of the vicarage is roughly equal to that of the church, and grounds exceed the area of the church and churchyard combined. 

It was a strong statement about the status of the vicar, especially when compared to the modest cottage supplied for the Head Teacher of Valley End School.

A book belonging to Mary Selina Bathurst shows just how expensive the statement was.*

Valley End School Payments                          Total £783. 5s. 5d.

Paid on Account of Valley End Church       Total  £3380.8s.1d.

Abstract from Parsonage Account               Total  £3916. 4s. 1d

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Valley End Vicarage.(Image courtesy Surrey Heath Museum.)

The gardens must have been wonderful, but they were not only ornamental. Accounts from 1867 for the new Vicarage garden include payments for fruit trees, potatoes and guano, and  for sowing seed, digging trenches, enclosing the ground, and preparing a bank around it.                           

Julia had given the parish an immense white elephant. It was a burden to the clergy of Valley End for decades. Expensive to maintain and run, it proved an insurmountable problem to successive vicars, who struggled to cover the costs.

Finally, in 1956 the parishes of Valley End and Chobham were combined, and the vicarage was sold.

What was it like after the last vicar moved out? What sort of a house was it like to live in?

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The Vicarage in 1871. (O.S.Map X11, 1871.)

 

Dorothy Herring remembers. She came to live in Valley End Vicarage in 1957, as the live in Nanny for the Hutchinson family and their two sons.

It had been left in a totally decrepit state, and had been all but falling down. The house had been completely refurbished throughout.

Dorothy recalls it as an enormous place. Three different families lived at the same address.

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Valley End Vicarage, 2017.

For a start there was a bungalow, rented by the Westcott family. Mr. Westcott was blind and made baskets, but his wife helped in the main house. They had two children, who were partially sighted.

Upstairs in the main house there was a self contained flat, which was also rented out.

Then there was the main body of the Vicarage, which was vast. There were no separate servant’s quarters, possibly because it was getting hard to find help by this time. Luckily by now there were vacuum cleaners and other mod. cons. available, to help clean this huge home. Downstairs alone there was the kitchen, breakfast room, dining room, nursery and study, which were all big rooms.

Outside the garden was extensive. There was enough space to add new tennis courts.

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Graffiti on the wall by the kitchen entrance.

Valley End itself was a quiet, isolated place. Valley End Road was almost deserted; you could go all day and only see one car. This was a remote, rural area. One evening Dorothy stood by the back door and saw a glow worm shining in the garden – the only time she has ever seen one.

Dorothy was happy living at the Vicarage. Apart from anything else the Hutchinsons were having the house renovated, and Dorothy met Tony Herring, one of the decorators.

The Herrings had lived in Windlesham for many years, and so when Dorothy and Tony married they  simply moved down the road. Dorothy has now lived in Windlesham for 57 years.

She kept up her ties to Valley End. Her two sons, Clive and Steven, went to Valley End School. As they travelled with other Windlesham children on the bus, they would arrive early. One of the teachers, Miss Pinnock, would entertain them before school started by taking them to the farm across the road to look at the animals. Later Dorothy visited Valley End on her own account, when she worked at Brick Hill as a home help.

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The Vicarage from One Tree Hill.

Dorothy still keeps in touch with Mrs. Hutchinson, whom she first met all those years ago at Valley End Vicarage.

*There are 2 ledgers giving detailed accounts of the school, the church and vicarage, all in the same handwriting. As one of the books is marked M.S.B. it implies that it belonged to Mary Selina Bathurst, and possibly that she was keeping the accounts. 

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With many thanks to Dorothy Herring.

With thanks to Chris Curry for a copy of the 1867 accounts for the garden.

Notebook marked “M.S.B.” in Valley End School Archives, uncatalogued.

 

 

 

 

 

” A large and distinguished company:” remembering St Saviour’s consecration

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Last week St. Saviour’s Church, Valley End, marked the 150th anniversary of its consecration.

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A church consecration in Guildford, 1867. (Image by kind permission of Surrey History Centre.)

This is how the original ceremony was conducted in 1867;

“CHOBHAM

“CONSECRATION. – The ceremony of consecrating St. Saviour’s, Valley End, and the churchyard was performed by the Bishop of Winchester on Tuesday last. A large, and distinguished company was present. The Church and Parsonage have been erected at the cost of the Honourable Mrs. Seymour Bathurst, of Hyams, Chobham. The Architect was Mr. G. H. Bodley, of London. Mr. James Harris, of Woking Station, was the Builder, whose excellent execution of the work, has elicited the warmest commendation. We regret that a want of space, compels us to defer a full report of the interesting proceedings.”

Surrey Advertiser, Saturday 27th July 1867.

This is how we celebrated the 150th anniversary with our own interesting proceedings in 2017!

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The church was decorated with wonderful flower arrangements. The plan had been to repeat the lavish floral displays that used to be a feature of church celebrations. In the past, these had been done by the gardeners of the big houses of Valley End. On this occasion it was done by some very talented ladies, Sandra Bedford, Rosemary Cobb, Sue Goldsmith, Cally Siegert, Many Ann Merritt, Clare Reed, Christine Belcher, Kathie Brum, Lavinia Sealy and Elaine Scawn.

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A full church! Many of the guests  had family connections to the church and to Valley End. Some people were descended from the children at the school, who were taken to see the first turfs cut for the site in 1866.

We were also delighted to welcome Earl Bathurst, the great great great grandson of our founder, Julia Bathurst, who came with his cousin, James Bathurst.

Many of those present have helped with this blog and with the booklet on the history of Valley End, and have been extremely generous with their time. We are very grateful to all of them!

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The Bishop of Guildford, the Right Reverend Andrew Watson, took the service together with our priests, the Rev. Chris Bessant and the Rev. Chris Bedford. The choir from Valley End School  sang for us, and were wonderful. Joan Weymouth, who has so many family connections with the church, gave a Bible reading from the original Bible given to St. Saviour’s on the day of its foundation.

At the end of the service a document was signed by the Bishop, the Vicar, and Joan Weymouth. It will be framed as a record of these celebrations.

 

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Cutting the cake! From left to right, James Bathurst,  Bishop Andrew, Earl Bathurst, and Vicar Chris Bessant.

After the service, we had a birthday cake. (It was probably bigger than some of the children!) We had asked Earl Bathurst to cut it, but in his speech he pointed out that since it was the Bishop’s birthday, it would be appropriate for him to do so. In the end Earl Bathurst, his cousin, the Bishop and the Vicar managed to cut it together.

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Everyone was invited to join us for a slice of birthday cake, tea, coffee, and cupcakes. Behind the church, a stall was cooking homemade burgers and sausages. There was a face painting, and a balloon artist. There were tables and gazebos to allow people to sit and eat in comfort.

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There was a display outside the church about the history of the church and parish.

A booklet, “St. Saviour’s Valley End, 150 years; a history of a church, a parish and its people” was written by Sallie Buchanan for this anniversary, and edited and designed by Jennifer Britt Searle. It  was on sale for the first time.

Inside the church there was an exhibition based on the different chapters. There was a section on the school,  demonstrating life in a Victorian classroom.

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It was a wonderful day, and a fantastic celebration of the first 150 years at St. Saviour’s.  What will the next 150 years bring to Valley End?

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Chobham Camp Squatters, 1945 – 1952. By Patrick Rolinson.

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A converted Nissen Hut.*

The camp was situated on Chobham Common; the date it was built is not known. I can only assume that the Ministry of Defence built it in the late 1930s or early 1940s. We do know that prior to 1945 the Canadian Army were in the camp. It was made up mainly of large numbers of Nissan Huts. These were huts with a tin roof, timber frames at each end, and at both ends, two windows and a front rear door whichever way you looked into the hut. The windows were reinforced wire with glass. The interior consisted of one round iron fire with a stack going upwards through the roof. This was mainly a billet for a number of troops, i.e. 20 in all. There were mess halls, built of the same construction, and also concrete huts with proper roofs; these must have been for officers.

At the Brickhill end of the common was a smaller camp and a football pitch. On the hill to the base of the camp was a large water tank that overlooked Brickhill. Electricity, water mains, roads and pathways ran to all huts on the camp, and the main road ran through the camp from Windlesham to the main road leading from Chobham Village to Sunningdale. Down in Brickhill was a small shop that sold most things, mainly cigarettes and tinned foods and vegetables. Chobham village was about two miles away and Sunningdale the same distance. And of course there was Windlesham village, which could be walked to.

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The Camp on Chobham Common. Map by Patrick Rolinson.

My story of Chobham Camp begins after the Canadian Troops had left the camp. The site then became a goldrush for so many families who needed accommodation. I would have been about eight years old, and with my mother, elder brother Jeffrey and my younger sister Mary, we were one of many families that required a place to have of our own.

Mum was informed by her brother Brian that he would go and find us a hut. And he did. He stayed there for several days, keeping guard on the hut until we could get there. It was the middle hut of a group of six, not far from Sunningdale Golf Course. With few possessions, we entered the hut. It was just one big empty space with just a round fireplace, the stack reaching up through the roof.

From this point it was home, but alterations had to be made, such as partitions built with timbers we needed to find. There were several iron beds, so that was a start. We erected the partitions so that there was a room for us boys, one for Mary, and one for Mum, which was where the fire was and where we ate, washed, and if it is the right word, relaxed.

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The Nissen Huts on Chobham Common. Diagram by Patrick Rolinson.

We were not alone. The camp was filling up with families and many children of my own age. We, like everyone else, assumed that our stay there would be short-term, but it would not be many years later that we left. No one in authority prevented the families moving in. To us all it seemed we had been given permission. One thing people noticed was that two compounds at the camp were being guarded by British soldiers, and restriction signs were posted for all to see, one by the main Chertsey road above Brickhill and the other next to the main road leading to Sunningdale. Fences were erected, plus some barbed wire, there were entrances that were guarded with sentries and rising pole barriers, and it was not long before we realised why. Large trucks started arriving at the camp, and it was not long before those on board started to disembark. They were lined up on the parade ground, and still more lorries continued to arrive. It was not long before word got round that these were German Prisoners of War. This was a tense moment for us all. One moment we were listening to broadcasts on what we then called a wireless about the war and the terrible things that were happening, and next we had the same people as neighbours.

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The Camp on Chobham Common. (Image courtesy Surrey Heath Museum.)

The area depicted on the camp diagram is the landing strip, which is now, in 2010, a picnic area. It became busy with light aircraft landing and taking off. Some passengers looked very important. The runway in those days was very short but that type of aircraft was capable of landing on it. To us young ones, this was great fun.

We were known then as Camp Squatters, and we all got on very well. If you had it, you gave it to those who did not, a bit like the old Eastenders. Life on the Camp was hard but you made the most of it. Schooling was first at the local school, Valley End School, about a mile away. As we grew older we went on to Chobham St Lawrence School, which was a much longer walk. You would start walking to school in the morning, get to Round Pond Woods, and suddenly hear the school bell ringing. With about two more miles to go, you knew you were going to be in trouble. Walking home, especially during the winter months, it was dark, and you still had to walk through Round Pond Woods collecting firewood for the hut stove on the way.

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Round Pond. (Photograph by Roy Smithers, image courtesy Mark Stroud.)

 

Every day our mother would cycle from the camp to a place called Kettlewell Hill just outside Woking, to her job as a domestic servant. The job gave her a little money to help keep us clothed, but it also had its perks, such as food left over by her employers, and not forgetting a small bag of coal she brought back each day for the house. How she managed the trips home in the dark we will never know. I suppose you would say because she was a mother.

I shall always remember one particular night she was returning home. It was very dark. Snow was falling. She approached Round Pond Woods, and had to get off her bike and push it up the hill, head down to avoid the snow. Suddenly a pair of hands grabbed hold of the handlebars. Looking up, petrified, she saw a man dressed in some form of uniform, which she recognised as that of a PoW (Prisoner of war). At that moment a small car arrived, driving up the hill, lights flaring, and the man ran off. The car stopped and the driver asked if she was all right. Shaken, both of them continued their journeys home. Mother’s first thought was to ring her brother in law, Sam, who was on leave from the RAF, and who lived in Chobham. Sam came round and contacted the commanding officer of the PoW camp. He in turn said that the PoWs would parade the next morning so that mum could identify the man.

Next morning, mum, along with Sam, who was dressed in civvies, spent some considerable time walking up and down the men lined up in front of her. But she could not identify anyone. Her words were, “They all look the same.” Sam’s response was to say to her, “pick anyone.” I suppose this was the response of a military man in the RAF who had been fighting these people. Mum refused to do this and that was the end of the matter.

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Nissen Huts on Chobham Common. (Image courtesy Surrey Heath Museum.)

Returning to life on the camp: during the last few years I have returned to the camp on several occasions, and found I remembered the layout of the camp very well from all those years ago. I knew where huts used to stand, the roads leading to them, where the pathways and parade grounds of the PoWs used to be, where mess halls used to stand, the communal toilets and bath areas, football pitch, water tower, right down to where eventually the red telephone box stood. They are all there if you know where to look.

Our second hut on the camp was situated on the Chertsey Road end of the camp, approaching the roundabout, which in our time was a crossroads. Approaching today’s roundabout there is a large road sign indicating roads to Sunningdale, Chertsey and Chobham. Right opposite this sign is where we lived all those years ago. The small, but well-worn bridge over the ditch is still there; remove the moss and leaves and you are standing in the rooms as you did many years ago. When my grandchildren were shown this they showed disbelief that this was our home. It is easy to spot where the homes were: on areas where trees cannot grow, just leaves and moss. Some areas are hard to get to now, but when you do find them, you also find the friends that used to be there.

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Looking from the “small, but well-worn bridge over the ditch” to the site of the Rolinson’s second hut.

Going back to those days; the football pitch as we knew it is still there today, unchanged. It is at he Brickhill end of the camp, just to the right of the Chertsey road. The only difference is that there are now a couple of iron bars over the entry-places to stop high vehicles getting in. Here we watched the PoWs and guards play football. The pitch was comprised of shingle, and today if you move a clump of grass you can still see the shingle…

1947 was the year of sunshine and snow. The summer was so hot. But the winter was so bad with snow it was six feet deep in places. This made it very difficult to get to the toilets and washroom. At times we would collect snow in a bowl or bucket, melt it, and use it for washing, cooking and even drinking when the pipes froze. One morning I came into mum’s room to make a cup of tea for her and found that due to the warped door, snow had drifted through the gap. I found mum asleep with a huge drift of snow on her and the bed. And so for a few weeks we called her Snow White.

Christmas was upon us. Paper chains we made ourselves. For presents there were apples, oranges, perhaps a book. And then there was the biggest present ever: a knock at the door and we opened it and standing there was a guard and two prisoners with small parcels wrapped in newspaper with pieces of string. In broken English they wished us a happy Christmas. Times like this you wish you had a camera. Mum had a brooch made from some sort of Perspex, the girls rag dolls, and us boys a jigsaw, all made by the Germans. Well, I suppose they had plenty of time to spare, but it was a lovely gesture, a moment never to be forgotten.

Things began to change within the PoW camps, especially the camp on the Sunningdale road. With a guard escort, we were invited into the Mess Hall on several occasions to eat with the PoWs. We were shown photos of their own families and children. When the time came, many of these prisoners remained in the UK, eventually marrying local ladies and finding work as bus drivers. Many years later, we would meet up with these people, either in the village of Chobham or in Woking.

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A Nissen hut at Brick Hill. (Image courtesy Surrey Heath Museum.)

Another activity we used to engage in was swimming. Where? Well, also built on the camp, at the Brickhill end, was a large water tower. It was located on the highest part of the camp, overlooking the football field and the smaller PoW camp. As shown in the diagram a ladder was fixed to the outside of the tank leading to the top and a hatchway which could be lifted, with a smaller ladder inside which we would climb down and swim in the clear waters. No health and safety in those times! If we did not swim here we would walk over to Sunningdale golf course where they had a small lake on one of their fairways with a walkway made of timber through the middle which would become a diving board into the water. This is still there today.

Other things made life at the camp easier for us all. For example, a fish and chip van would call round on certain evenings, and a vegetable van as well during days of the week. This made life a little easier for our parents.

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One of the roads through the Camp, still to be found opposite Brick Hill.

I suppose if there was a tragic moment in those days it was when we witnessed a large wartime aeroplane crash in the fields above Woodlands Lane, Windlesham. …

Our time in the camp was coming to an end. Many of our parents were rehoused at Brookleys Estate, Chobham, where today many of the children of those parents still live, or even their children. My mother and us children were also rehoused at Brookleys Estate at the end of the road Oakdene. Uncle Sam, whom I mentioned earlier helping mum at the camp, lived with his family in Elm Drive, and another of mum’s sisters lived in Brookleys. My grandparents lived at Little Heath.

Come the summer of 2010 I shall, God willing, go back to the camp…I will once again explore the camp area as in the past, and reminisce at the football ground. Those were the days.

Patrick Rolinson.

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The kitchen in a completed temporary house converted from an army Nissen Hut. (Image courtesy of IMW.)

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*Nissen Hut, Cultybraggan Camp. (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)

With many thanks to Pat Rolinson.

Also with thanks to Surrey Heath Museum.

 

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A Man Unknown

Did you know that Valley End was once the haunt of highwaymen?

The parish reached Broomhall Lane, and included a small slice of the London Road, now the A30. This used to be the Great West Road, one of the major routes from London.  The inns at Bagshot had up to 30 coaches a day passing through.

But travelling on the road was full of risks. It crossed desolate heath land. Daniel Defoe described it in the 1720s as “a vast tract of land… given up to barrenness, horrid and frightful to look on.”

Travellers were vulnerable in this isolated country. In 1795 a writer complained bitterly “The high-roads thirty or forty miles round London are filled with armed highwaymen and footpads.”

There were many tales of the highwaymen in Surrey – such as this one:

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The Highwayman. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

It appears that close to the milestone marked 22 miles* to Hyde Park corner, which is still embedded outside Sunningdale on the road to Virginia Water, a two-wheeled curricle appeared going towards Bagshot. The occupants were two military Officers. Out from the trees moved a mounted figure with levelled pistols, and demanded the Officer’s valuables. Astoundingly, the Officers handed over three gold guineas and a gold watch. Here the Officers pass out of our story – in my opinion with ignominy, as no one in their right mind traversed Bagshot Heath unarmed in those times.

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“22 miles to Hyde Park Corner.” The milestone, just past West Drive on the A 30.

However, here comes an unnamed Hero.

Breasting the rise, (there’s a cliché for you, but very aptly put in fact,) came the afternoon coach from the “Three Mariners” at Bagshot on its way to Staines, its leaders pulling hard at their collars and thus breasting the rise. The Coachman took in the situation at a glance and with the aid of his companion on the box, braked the coach, jumped down, blocked the coach wheels and striped the tack off the near leader. The unnamed companion with the coach blunderbuss in one hand and the looped ribbons in the other swung onto the animal and belted up the hill after the Highwayman who had turned towards Virginia Water and was off as fast as his mare would go.

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The Three Mariners, Bagshot, an old coaching inn. (Image courtesy of the Three Mariners, Bagshot.)

Now Virginia Water must have been very different two hundred years ago, and I think it must have been a ford. But the little inn on the far side was The Wheatsheaf as it is today.

The pursuit must have been gaining because the Highwayman put his mare at the iron railings (could they be the same railings as are there today?) Anyway the mare refused and the thief either got off or fell off. He didn’t try again but set off on foot to the water’s edge where he decided to swim for it. Our hero in pursuit must have been getting very close because the thief without taking any of his clothes off plunged straight in. He was half way across when his luck ran out, for by chance, the Water Bailiff carrying a gun appeared on the far side.

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Virginia Water Lake, 1950. (Image from Britain From Above.)

The Highwayman seeing him there gave a despairing cry and sank below the water.

They pulled him out quite drowned, recovered the three guineas and the gold watch, remarked on his grey wool stockings being heavily darned, and – would you believe it – the only other matter reported was the finding in his pocket of a bill from the Wheatsheaf for one shilling and nine pence for his lunch.

There is another account of this here in the Sporting Magazine for 1797.

The Coroner’s account book at Berkshire Record Office includes the cost of “An inquisition taken at the parish of Old Windsor on view of the body of a Man unknown” on Dec. 4th 1797, and explains, “(Highwayman, endeavouring to escape attempted to swim across Virginia Water and was drowned.)”

These were violent times; another inquest that year, held on May 17th 1797 at Binfield, recorded the death of Edward Bunce, “Turnpike Keeper shot through the head by Night.”

Stories of the highwaymen lingered in the area. When James Ogilvy wrote “A pilgrimage in Surrey” in 1914 he mentioned tales of highwaymen hiding in the trees on the common, and of a tavern they used between Longcross and Chobham Common.

He may have been thinking of the Traveller’s Friend – an ironic name if ever there was. This stood next to Longcross car park on Staple Hill. The pub has long gone, but there is still an iron bar sticking out from a tree, which used to hold the pub sign – a reminder of the days of the highwaymen.

Colour photo of the rear of a house on edge of Chobham Common, Longcross, previously a public house called `Travellers Friend', taken MayJune 1982 (back view) Chertsey Museum

The Traveller’s Friend, Longcross. (Image courtesy of Chertsey Museum).

*”Brock” gave the milestone as marked xviii, but according to the Sporting Magazine it was the stone marked 22 miles. This stone is just past West Drive on the London Road. It is opposite Crown land, and nearly facing it is a private track running across open countryside and woodland. It passes close to Coworth Park, and comes out on the A329. You are then on the edge of the Park, and close to Virginia Water Lake. This must be the route which the highwayman took.

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Sources.

The story of the highwayman was told by “Brock” under the title “Captain Snow, I presume,”  in the Windlesham Magazine, Feb. 86. and is reproduced by kind permission of the magazine. I have been unable to trace “Brock”, but if anyone knows anything about him I would be very glad to hear from them.

Berkshire Record Office. Coroner’s account book. D/EX 1412/1

Daniel Defoe. “A tour through the whole island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journies. 1724 and 1727.

Gentleman’s magazine. 1795. Vol. 78. p.831.

Sporting Magazine, 1797, Vol. 11, p. 112.

James Ogilvy. “A pilgrimage in Surrey.” 1914.

Ron Davis. “Three places for refreshment at Longcross.” Typescript, Chertsey Museum. Note – “To be published in April 1996 edition of “Connections,” Virginia Water Parish Magazine.

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Château Brick Hill.

 

People on Brick Hill knew how to forage on the Common. They knew how to gather fruit and flowers, and how to use them – for example for home made wine.

 

Brick Hill had a thriving tradition of home made wine. Many people made it.

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Beer and bottles in the larder. Kitchen in Whittaker’s Cottages, Weald and Downland Museum. (With thanks to the Weald and Downland Museum.)

Lilian Millard produced a range of wines. She was once clearing out her cupboards where it was stored when the curate popped in for a visit. She hospitably offered him a few samples. He happily agreed, merrily sipping them. Then he paused. “After that,” he said, “You’d better give me some coffee.”

Joan Weymouth carried on the tradition, branching out into sloe gin. As she needed to bottle it, she was lucky  to get some gin bottles, still with a touch of gin in them, from one of her clients.

Tony Lovejoy’s mother also made wine. Her rhubarb wine tasted wonderful, but was unexpectedly strong.

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Elderflowers in bloom in Valley End. For Elderflower Wine, “Pick Elderflowers that are fragrant and at their peak.”

The women in Dave Hizzey’s family had skilled hands with wine.

“My great grandma was a great homemade winemaker, as my Mum was. Apparently when my Mum first went there, in the little shed in bottom of the garden the wine was all in proper barrels, draped in wet sacks, to keep them cool in the summer.

“The best wine my Mum ever made that I really liked was a Cumberland Brandy, and that was wheat, and raisins or something.  Then she made elderflower – she never made elderberry, I don’t know why, perhaps she didn’t like them, and broom, with the flowers from the broom. I think you can do it with gorse as well, but it’s a job to pluck the flowers. They were great lovers of dandelion wine.

“I can remember as a kid my Mum used to say, “Oh, your Dad’s gone to get his bottle filled,” because my Gran lived  next door, and my Dad used to go and say goodnight to his Mum every night. But she’d have a jug of wine which she’d made, because she used to make it as well, and a glass, and I don’t mean a wine glass I mean a tumbler, full of wine as well. He’d empty the jug, and you really don’t know how strong that stuff is. He used to come back a bit wobbly.” (David Hizzey.)

 

If you fancy making a  homemade wine, here are recipes from Surrey in the 1930s.

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“For Broom wine -take 4 pints of broom flowers.” Broom blossoming on Chobham Common. (Photograph by Roy Smithers, courtesy of Mark Stroud.)

GRAPE WINE.

Collected from Chobham W.I. in 1932.

3 lbs. Grapes.

3 lbs. Sugar.

1 gallon Water.

Put the grapes in a large pan with the stalks on, and cover with a gallon of boiling water. Leave for ten days, then with a wooden spoon press them to the side of the pan to beak them, strain through a fine cloth, add the sugar, stir well, and leave for 24 hours, stir well again and put into bottles; each one must be filled to the top, as the froth works out fill up again. After about two weeks the corks could be put in but not very tight for a few days – CORKS, not screw stoppers. The grapes should be picked before cold nights come on or they will get mildew.

Or, if you can’t pick own grapes before the nights grow cold, you could try something else.

POTATO WINE.

Collected from Wrecclesham W. I. in 1932.

A half a gallon of small potatoes.

3 and a half lbs. Demerara sugar.

1 gallon water.

1 lemon.

1 orange.

(Use potatoes which would otherwise be thrown away.)

Well wash potatoes, boil until tender but not smash, strain into a pan containing sugar and fruit, when dissolved boil again 30 minutes, when cool add a little yeast and set to work, extra water may be added when boiling to allow for wasting. Bottles or jars must be kept filled up while working.

And if you would like a liqueur

ORANGE LIQUEUR.

Collected from Pirbright W. I. in 1932.

1 gallon Gin.

8 Seville Oranges – the rinds.

8 Lemons – pared very thin.

2 lbs. Loaf Sugar.

Steep the rinds of the oranges and lemons and the sugar in the gin for 6 days, stirring twice a day and then strain and bottle off.

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Pottery barrel and jar, from the Weald and Downland Museum artifacts collection. (With thanks to the Weald and Downland Museum.)

I have not tried these recipes myself, but if anyone uses one please let us know how it turns out!

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With many thanks to David Hizzey, Joan Weymouth, and Tony Lovejoy.

“The Surrey cookery book: recipes and remedies old and new: contributed by 50 Women’s Institutes.” Compiled by Miss Adeline Maclean: assisted by Miss Evelyn Thompson. Guildford 1932.

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