Memory or maps? Beating the bounds of Valley End.

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Beating of the Bounds in a town, 1900 – 1919. (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)

The tradition of beating the bounds, in which villagers walked the boundaries of their parish, was undertaken in Chobham during the 19th century. We do not know when the custom started.

There was a serious reason behind it. At a time when boundaries were vital for local administration walking the boundaries, or bounds, taught residents where they were. As an aid to memory lads were told to beat the boundary markers with sticks, which gave the tradition its name.

Valley End had been given its own parish boundaries. But as it remained part of the civil parish of Chobham, when Chobham beat the bounds it included Valley End.

In this area the beaters were called meersmen, and were led by a flag bearer. The boundary markers were Maltese crosses, cut into the ground or into trees.

It was a raucous occasion. Boys were dispatched to wade through ponds. Tony Lovejoy’s father described a lad having to go through a house by climbing in one window, and out at another.

He may have been remembering Ridge Mount, near Sunningdale, which was then in Valley End. This was the house that triggered a debate on memory versus maps, and changed the parish boundaries forever.

On the 22nd May 1900 Chobham was beating the bounds, and following their traditional route west of Sunningdale.

They were on what had been a scrubby, ignored patch of land. But recently a large house, Ridge Mount, had been built there. The annual rateable value, assessed by Chobham, was £200. This was a large amount in those days.

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Ridge Mount in 1912. The boundary line is shown going straight through Ridge Mount House, the Dormy House of Sunningdale Golf Club. O.S. 25″ map, sheet X.6 (With thanks to the Surrey History Centre.)

Which is why the meersmen were met by officials from Windlesham. Chobham had claimed the whole house as part of their parish. Windlesham said no. A sixth of the house was theirs.

Windlesham later took credit for trying to prevent a quarrel. If they had tried, they had failed.

Surrey County Council was finally obliged to call an Inquiry, held at the Sunningdale Hotel on 7th February 1902.

Chobham’s argument was that they had followed this route every 7 years since at least 1851. Chobhamers testified that they had taken this line since they were children, and that the bounds had been established for generations.

This argument over a sixth of a house mattered. Chobham protested that it would lose rates and voters along with this sliver of land.

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Ridge Mount is now the Dormy House Nursing Home on Ridge Mount Road, Sunningdale.

Harsh words were exchanged. There were protests that “It was not right for Chobham to mask in a Windlesham garment.”

It was a difficult decision for Surrey County Council. The maps that Windlesham so confidently displayed had not been intended to define a boundary. Chobham had never bothered with maps, as their route was “only supported by Chobham traditions, which were founded on custom, and the information of the inhabitants.”

At one time the unbroken tradition of Chobham could have been sufficient. But the dawn of the 20th century was a more bureaucratic age. Surrey decided in favour of Windlesham.

Chobham accepted the ruling, and with it the implication that the customs and traditions of the village were worthless. Chobham never beat the bounds again. The parish thought that there was no point.  

The tradition of Beating the Bounds continues in other areas. This film follows a group beating the bounds in Oxford.

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Sources.

Surrey History Centre. Item CC28/33

With thanks to Tony Lovejoy.

Kitchenmaid at Titlarks

Titlarks Hill, off the Chobham Road, is now in Sunningdale, but this area was once in Valley End. Hilda Pearce was a kitchen maid at Middleton, a house at the top of the road, and wrote about her experiences in 1995.

“I was interviewed for my first job at Middleton, Titlarks Hill, at my home in Shirebrook, was approved, and given the job as kitchenmaid.

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Titlarks Hill, in 1934. ( O.S. map X 7, 1934. With thanks to the Surrey History Centre.)

“In due course I left my home with mixed feelings. I had never been more than seven miles from home, and the thought of travelling to London was like going to the end of the world. Very adventurous – and then, arriving in London, having to change stations – from St. Pancras to Waterloo – was another milestone. After all that a TAXI from Sunningdale Station to Middleton, Titlarks Hill. I was really living it up!

“Arriving at the house I was introduced to the rest of the staff – seven in all, by my cousin, the Cook. They included a nanny – a very proper person in charge of one child. I was bewildered, but was soon knocked into shape by my cousin..

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Servant’s bell board, from Polesden Lacey House. (Image courtesy of the National Trust, Polesden Lacey.)

“The house was on Sunningdale Golf Links, and when I was at liberty to explore, I thought I was in heaven. After leaving a mining district this was so beautiful, walking over the links. I would just sit and absorb the lovely scenery around me for as long as I could. I spent hours this way, and very often walked to Sunningdale Station to the shops over the links so long as I kept out of the way of the golfers.

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Titlarks Hill and Sunningdale Golf Course, Sunningdale, from the south, in 1931. (Image courtesy of Britain from Above).

“After a short while I realised that to get anywhere I ought to have a bicycle. This I aimed for, and eventually bought one on the never-never, paying 2 shillings and 6 pence down and the rest at 10 shillings per month for a year. The bike cost £6.2.6d. I was so proud of it and kept it shining bright – for a while, anyway. I did have outings. One half day a week, and two weeks paid holiday in the year, and when there were dances at Sunningdale Parish Hall, so long as I was accompanied by an adult I was allowed to go – cycling with a long dress pinned up around my waist.

“I had a spate of breakages at one time. It went on and on, and finally, after I had broken six pudding plates all at once, my cousin was so angry with me that she said she would no longer tell Madam about them, I must tell her myself. I waited in fear and trepidation in the scullery and Madam appeared. “Well, Hilda, what have you broken this time?” When I told her and apologised and offered to pay for them – at that time they were 12/6d each! – Madam burst out laughing, turned to go out of the scullery, then said “I will have to buy enamel ones, but there, you would probably chip them!” My cousin was furious, thinking I would have had a severe wigging!

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1930s Staffordshire tea set. (Image courtesy of the V&A Museum.)

“Madam was such a sweet lady and attended my wedding a few years later. During my time at Middleton, Madam was very interested in a place along Chobham Road which was then called The London Mother’s Convalescent Home, where 10 mothers and babies came from town in turn, usually for a couple of weeks each. Basket prams were provided for the babies, and one would often see the Mums proudly pushing their young around – it was such a change from the East End of London. A lot of ladies in the vicinity, Madam included, used to have the Mums up for tea, and one I remember was a wizard on the piano. She loved getting on the grand piano in the drawing room, (when Madam was away.) I stayed happily at Middleton for two years and then moved on to Royal Lodge.”

 

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This was first published in the Windlesham magazine, Feb. 1995, and is reproduced by the kind permission of the magazine and Lynne and Keith Pearce. Hilda wrote 3 articles about her life in service;

Windlesham Magazine. Jan 1995 “My progress from Middleton to Royal Lodge.” Hilda Pearce.

Windlesham Magazine. Feb 1995 “Kitchen maid at Titlarks Hill.” Hilda Pearce.

Windlesham Magazine. March 1995 “Back to Sunningdale from Royal Lodge – 1929. Hilda Pearce.

 

 

Please remember the Garland

On the 6th May 1892 the teacher at Valley End School added a resigned note to the log book.

Many children were absent on Monday “maying.”

The children had gone collecting with a May garland. This tradition was widespread. Flora Thompson knew it at Lark Rise in Oxfordshire in the 1880s.

“The May garland was all that survived …of the old May day festivities. The maypole and the May games and May dances in which whole parishes had joined had long been forgotten.

“..The garland was light wooden framework of uprights supporting graduated hoops, forming a bell shaped structure about four feet high. This frame was covered with flowers.”

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Illustration of a May Garland from Hone’s Every-Day Book. A doll, the Lady, was often carried in the Garland. (1826)

The Lark Rise May Garland was an elaborate affair, carried in a procession led by the May Queen and heralded by a girl with a money-box.

Neighbouring villages had much simpler traditions. “Some of them, indeed, had nothing worth calling a garland at all; only nosegays tied mopwise on sticks. No lord and lady, no king and queen; only a rabble begging with money-boxes.”

The money boxes were important; it was one of the few occasions children had to get money of their own.

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A procession of children carrying May Garlands.

In Surrey the children took the garlands around houses, showing the flowers and singing; one traditional ditty ran:

“The First of May is Garland Day,

So please remember the garland.

We only come here but once a year,

So please remember the garland.”

The custom was beginning to die out by the start of the 20th century. Children were expected to be at school on May morning, not wandering the village with garlands. But the schools solved the problem of absenteeism on May Day by taking over the custom. For example in May 1916 Farnham schools organised  a garlands procession to the castle, led by the Queens of May.

Other schools taught the children maypole dancing. By the 1930s Valley End schoolchildren were celebrating May Day by dancing around the school maypole, plaiting ribbons as they went.

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Maypole dance at Winterbourne Houghton, 2006.(Image courtesy of Wikimedia)

May Day was still remembered at Valley End – but this time the pupils celebrating inside the school.

The tradition of May Garlands still continues At Abbotsbury in Dorset. 

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Sources.

Flora Thompson. “Lark Rise to Candleford.” Reprint Society 1948. (All quotes from Flora Thompson.)

Matthew Alexander. “A Surrey Garland: customs, traditions and folk songs from the Surrey of yesteryear.” Countryside Books 2004. (The song is taken from this book.)

Log book 1892, Valley End School.

Surrey Advertiser, Saturday 13th May 1916.

With thanks to Joan Weymouth.

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.

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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.

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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.)

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With many thanks to David Hizzey.

Ribsden

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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Sources.

With thanks to Surrey Heath Museum.

 

The Wrecked Cabin of Brick Hill.

On the 5th September 1908 19-year-old Henry Taylor and his brother in law Albert Lee unloaded a cartload of furniture at his father’s house, Geranium Cottage, Brick Hill. It was a small place, barely more than a cabin.

After a long day, presumably spent moving in, the two went to bed. Just before midnight, Henry was woken by noisy shouting, which he thought it was a wedding party.

This begs the question as to what Valley End weddings must have been like then, because suddenly a large pole used as an impromptu battering ram broke down the back door, the bedroom door was smashed off its hinges, and the pole landed on the bed where they were sleeping.

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The Wrecked Cabin, Valley End. By Bill Stevens, the Brick Hill photographer. (Photo courtesy of D. Hizzey.)

Henry Taylor jumped up and hurriedly begun to dress, but when the window crashed into the room, complete with frame, he wisely jumped out of the window instead. Barely had he landed when someone hit him, “slightly”, with an axe. He escaped, and ran off to summon the Police.

Albert Lee was left, desperately dressing, and listening to the men being urged on by two women to demolish the house around him.

The attacking party were highly excited. They had brought gallon jars of beer with them, and tackled the house with huge determination. It was all but razed to the ground. The doors were broken down, and walls were pushed in. Furniture was dragged outside and destroyed

This was in fact a midnight visit from a couple of their aunties and a selection of friends and relations. They were fuelled by beer and indignation, due to a family dispute over a will.

Samuel Taylor had left Geranium Cottage to his wife. It was planned that after her death it would be sold, and the money divided between their children. It appears that this did not happen, and this triggered a bitter family dispute as to who owned the cottage.

Samuel’s son John Taylor had sent Henry and Albert to move in. His two sisters, Ellen Mossman and Amanda Brown, had turned up at midnight with 5 other family members to oppose this.

When the case was heard at the Surrey Sessions, it was pointed out that nearly everyone involved was related. The women claimed that they had a right to a share in the house by the terms of their father’s will. They were found guilty, but the jury recommended clemency. The men were fined £5, but the women, who had urged the men on, were fined £10 – significant sums in those days.

This story caught the public imagination and articles about it were published as far afield as Scotland, Nottingham, Gloucester and Cornwall. It’s not surprising; after all, family arguments rarely bring the house down.

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Site of the Wrecked Cabin. (Photo by J. End, reproduced courtesy of J.End.)

Sources.

Nottingham Evening Post. 8th Sept. 1908.“Country cottage stormed.”

Dundee Courier. 10th Sept. 1908. “Family feud.”

Gloucestershire Echo. 10th Sept. 1908. “Night attack on cottage.”

Gloucestershire Echo. 22nd Oct. 1908. “Midnight house wrecking.”

Cornish Telegraph. 29th Oct. 1908. “Wrecking a cottage; a family feud.”

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