A First World War Map
One of our members has just acquired this Ordnance Survey map of the Aldershot District army manoeuvre area from the time of the First World War. Grayshott had been within the area of the Army’s Aldershot Command since it was formed in the 19th century.
Maps like this are fairly common survivors, they were printed in their thousands, issued to every officer on manoeuvres and they are still being found in sheds and attics. This is a lovely copy, and has obviously been used in the field, being worn, grubby and tea-stained. It was issued in 1912, and thick red line and the paler turquoise area were printed on, to show the Command’s boundary and Longmoor Ranges as they were immediately before the war. The interesting thing for us is that its owner then hand-coloured turquoise and yellow areas to show extra training lands, some of them outside the Command, that were added during the war.
Around Grayshott we can see that Ludshott Common, Waggoners Wells, Land of Nod, Golden Valley, Devil’s Punchbowl and Hindhead Common are all thus coloured. Most interestingly, so is Kingswood Firs, which at the time was owned by James Mowatt. Mowatt’s son Osmond served in the army and died of wounds in 1917.
The nearby heaths had long been used by the army, as described in our article The Battle of Ludshott Common. And the Rifle Brigade was just one of many units that were billeted her. The map is a reminder of just how close the villagers must have felt to the war – as well as their own sons, fathers and husbands in uniform, they were surrounded by the sight and sound of thousands of young men in training.
One such, Rifleman JE Taylor of the Rifle Brigade, wrote in a letter to his local newspaper of his time here.
‘Last Friday we left Blackdown and marched to Grayshott . They paraded us at 9am and, on marching off, we were joined by three more battalions ….. When we had all got into our stride it was a grand sight. On arriving at Grayshott at 5, after marching about 20 miles, we were marched to our billets.
I was rather disappointed to find that ours was a schoolroom. We had to sleep on the floor the first three nights with only three thin blankets ….
We are training with the Battalion now, and the last three days they have fairly put us through it. On Wednesday we paraded at 6:30, and had marching and doubling till breakfast. After that the recruits had some more marching and doubling in a field four inches deep in snow, and also an hour’s drill with the rifle. I thought my fingers would have dropped off with the cold …..
On Thursday we had a field day, another big march and more skirmishing. Then we halted for dinner; water, dry bread and cheese ….. After dinner we had some battalion drill, then marched back arriving about five o’clock. Today we paraded for breakfast at seven, and later formed up for a route march of sixteen miles ….. through some grand country. The trees around here are nearly all firs, and there are plenty of them ….’
So if you are walking across the commons on a sunny spring day, please spare a thought for Rifleman Taylor with his frozen fingers and dry cheese sandwich.
Grayshott Hall Nurseries
We have just obtained an interesting postcard of Grayshott Hall. The card itself is quite a common one, but its interest is in the message on the back. It appears to be from the Whitaker family’s nanny, and she has marked on the card the position of two nurseries.
The photograph was taken by Walder of Grayshott, we think around 1912/13. It was sent to a recipient in Herefordshire, presumably a friend or relative, and it shows how the domestic service employment of these big houses, of which there were dozens around Grayshott and Hindhead, drew people to the area from far and wide.
A WW1 Military Funeral
This postcard shows quite a common view along Crossways Road. However, the message on the back is more interesting. It reads:
‘The little village where we often make purchases. There are only two streets. The place is about fifteen miles from Aldershot. A military funeral passed thru today while we were there. The coffin was on the gun limber. The poor fellow, a French Canadian of a battalion in our own lines in camp, was killed by a motor lorry while walking along the road in the dark.’
Obviously written by a soldier, probably from the camp at Bramshott, we think the deceased was a Catholic going for burial at St Joseph’s. Unfortunately there is no date to help us further identify the victim of the accident.
Great War Postcards
One of our members has acquired a most interesting collection of postcards from the Great War. We know that Belgian refugees were housed in Grayshott, at Bulls Farm, Glenn Road, Homeside (Headley Road) and nearby at Bramshott Chase. These cards appear to be addressed to the sisters Marthe and Viviane d’Huart, at Gorsemount, so they add a further family to those already known. They are from their father, an officer in the Belgian Artillery, dated 1916 and marked ‘Belgian Active Army’. In one of them d’Huart writes:
‘Dear Marthe, This scene will interest your mummy as the mansion belonged to our family. It is now as flat as the ground and impossible to photograph. Yesterday our cook was killed in the cellar by a shell, and my best interpreter killed by an enemy bomb. I hope this week brings us better luck. Goodbye, dear Marthe. I send you my most heartfelt affectionate kisses. Write to me often.’
He must have been at or very close to the front.
Gorsemount is in The Avenue, built circa 1900. Of it’s owners during the Great War, or of the d’Huart family, we currently know nothing further. Time permitting, we hope to translate all of the cards and discover more about their story.
Latest Loss – The Golden Hind Cafe
The latest building to succumb is the Golden Hind Cafe at Hindhead, more recently known as Cooper Brothers furniture shop. Time and decades of pounding from recent traffic had taken its toll, and the building was sadly beyond economic repair. It was demolished in May 2018.
New Loss – Woods Tiled Shopfront
The latest loss to Grayshott’s history is the beautiful Edwardian tiled frontage of Stainton House, more commonly known as Woods the butchers. The latest proprietor, of a shop named ‘Bells and Whistles,’ has decided to cover this village signature feature in a coat of vinyl. The tiles are said to be intact beneath the vinyl but have nonetheless been removed from the everyday enjoyment of villagers and passers-by. Despite the property being within the Conservation Area it currently seems that no planning enforcement to reverse this action is possible.
The property was built in about 1897. In about 1904 it was bought by Mr Woods and altered to make a double-fronted shop by infilling with the adjacent Coxhead’s. The tiled front would have been added at this time, a typical period feature for butchers. Since 1983 the premises were used as a restaurant, still known as Woods and until recently Wings Woods. As small compensation to those who loved this place we show below a picture of the premises in their heyday.
Three Old Photographs
This month we have some photos of varied interest.
First, a nice picture of Donec in the 1960s.
The second shows the signwriting shop of the bus depot in Aldershot, with finishing touches being applied to the local Hindhead & Bramshott board.
Finally, the Chapman and Puttick shop in Headley Road. If anyone knows more about this building or business we would be interested to hear from you.
A Pair of Old Grayshott Deeds
These two old deeds relate to property once owned by the Cane family. The Canes were yeoman farmers who had lived in Headley and Grayshott for centuries. Technically they were copyholders, meaning that they held their land as tenants of the lord of the manor. When a tenant was admitted to a property, two deeds were made at the manor court on one sheet of parchment, which was cut in half. One part was held by the lord and the other by the tenant – hence known as the copy-holder. The proof of authenticity is that only the original copy would match the cut. These are the original tenant’s copies.
High Grayshott was a farm in the area that is now the Waggoners estate and the eastern end of Applegarth. The farmhouse and yard were located in the area behind Baillie Cottage and Saddler’s Scarp. If you take the footpath by Baillie Cottage towards the Hanger, you will walk right over it. It was first recorded in 1349 when Agnes sister of Robert atte Grevette was fined 10/- for a messuage and 5/- land. Robert probably died of the Black Death. For a long while called Cane’s Farm, the house is shown on a map from 1739. In 1813 it was absorbed into Grayshott farm and by 1846 the buildings had become an unoccupied barn-yard. One old barn survived until the 1950s.
Bulls Farm is the area to the west of Hammer Lane, now mostly used as horse pasture, and almost the last of Grayshott’s medieval fields that are still used for at least some form of agriculture. It’s first mentioned by name in 1552, in the occupation of William Graveshott jnr. The earliest record is from 1274 when Julia of Graveselate was fined 3/4d for land conceded by her father. In the same year Walter of Graveselate was fined 3/4d for the above Julia and her land. Julia was given the land as her marriage dowry and as unfree tenants – villeins – Walter had to pay the lord for permission to marry her. Bulls found its way to Richard Cane by his ‘customary right’ to inherit his mother’s land. His stepfather, Richard Missingham, built the old portion of the house now called Grays Farm around the year 1772. Bulls Farm was modernised by Alexander Whitaker in the 1890s as a model farm, and his stable, dairy and four pairs of workers cottages still exist, along with Richard Missingham’s farmhouse.
The deeds read as follows:
Transcription of a Copyhold Deed to High Grayshott & Brightness, Grayshott, 1773
Bps Sutton Manor
Granted by copy of Court Roll at the Turn of Hock with the Court Baron of the said manor there held the first day of April in the thirteenth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third by the Grace of God King of Great Britain etc and in the twelfth year of the Translation of the Right Reverend John Lord Bishop of Winchester 1773.
Fine xs Robert Mayhew for one Messuage and twenty two Acres of Customary land called High Grayshott by the yearly rent of vs and five acres of purprestureland by the yearly rent of iiid in the Tything of Heathley Which came into the hands of the Lord on the surrender of John Cane. To hold to the said Robert Mayhew and his heirs according to the Custom of the said Manor.
Fine xiid the said Robert Mayhew for one Close of land called Brightness containing three Acres by estimation lying in Grayshott in length between the land of John More on the North part and the waste of the Lord on the South part late parcel of the customary lands called Hurlebutts containing sixty Acres in the Tything of Heathley / Which came into the hands of the Lord as aforesaid. To hold as aforesaid
Examd by: James Serle Dep Clerk of the Bishopric of Winchester
Sir T. Miller was admd to this 22 March 1792
Transcription of a Copyhold Deed to Bulls Farm, Grayshott, 1804
Bps Sutton Manor
Granted by copy of Court Roll at the Court Baron of the said manor there held the twentieth day of September in the forty fourth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King Defender of the faith. And in the twenty fourth year of the Translation of the Honourable and Right Reverend Brownlow Lord Bishop of Winchester 1804.
Fine iis iiiid Richard Cane only son and heir of Mary Missingham Widow deceased who survived Richard Missingham her late husband and also deceased and was at the time of her marriage with the said Richard Missingham the Widow of John Cane father of the said Richard Cane for fourteen acres of land / whether more or less / parcel of one toft and eighteen acres Acres of land called Bulls in Greyshott in the tithing of Heathley by the yearly rent of iiis iiiid Which came into the hands of the Lord by the death of the said Mary Missingham To hold to the said Richard Cane and his heirs according to the custom of the said Manor.
Examd by: James Serle D Clerk of the Bishopric of Winchester
The fine in the deeds was not a punishment for wrongdoing but an entry tax, like modern stamp duty. It was paid by the new tenant every time a property changed hands. The stamp on the deed is actually another tax on the parchment itself. The rent was then the annual charge. In Grayshott these prices were absolutely fixed for centuries so the lord’s income gradually became less and less in real value. People could sell their tenancies, and in 1773 Robert Mayhew paid £600 for High Grayshott – the equivalent of 2,400 years of rent. Richard Cane sold Bulls in 1820 for £400 – again the equivalent of 2,400 years of rent. Both of these farms are much older than the dates on record. Most likely the land has been continuously occupied and worked since Saxon times. These deeds preserve a snapshot of the human activity that has probably exceeded a thousand years.
A New Loss – The Closure of Lloyds Bank
Lloyds Bank, the last proper bank in Grayshott, finally closed its doors on Tuesday, October 10th 2017, ending the presence of a purpose-built bank in the village for 110 years. Starting as The Capital and Counties Bank at the corner of Crossways Road and Hill Road, they moved to the present site as a new building in 1924.
The Original War Memorial Cross
We have been given the original cross from the village War Memorial.
At the end of the First World war there was a profound feeling of national grief and the need for remembrance. As a result nearly every town and village constructed a memorial, which eventually came to commemorate the dead of subsequent wars, and which remain prominent in communities today.
Grayshott’s cross was designed by the architect Mr Sharp of Hereford and dedicated at a ceremony conducted by Reverend A E N Simms on July 17th 1921. The formal unveiling was by Col- Commandant A C Day, CB, CMG, officer in charge of Bordon. It was originally located on the village green, approximately where the Millennium sculpture now stands, but in 1932 it was moved to its present site which was thought “more fitting and worthy where the beauty and dignity of the monument could be seen”.
Recently it was noticed that the cross was cracked and potentially dangerous. It was removed, a replacement made and installed, and the memorial was rededicated at a ceremony on Sunday 29th October 2017.
Grayshott Heritage will now repair the original cross, and we hope to mount it with an explanatory plaque in a suitable public spot.
A Postcard of Whitmore Vale
This lovely old postcard shows Whitmore Vale in the early 20th century, perhaps before the Great War. The landscape is much more open than today, there are less conifer plantations, and the hedges are all well kept. Whitmore Vale was farmed by smallholders and market gardeners and supplied fresh produce into Grayshott, Hindhead and local villages. We think this photo is taken from the north, on the Hampshire side looking up the valley towards Grayshott, maybe somewhere in the area of Dingley Dell Cottage. If you can place the spot please let us know.
A Cream Jug from the White Heather Dairy
Recently purchased is a small cream jug from the White Heather Dairy, one of three such businesses trading in Grayshott pre 1920. Situated in Headley Road (opposite the present Co-op), and built about 1899, the first advertisement for the establishment appeared in the Grayshott Magazine for January 1900. The 1901 census records Ada bridge as ‘dairy manager’. Subsequent advertisements also include ‘tea rooms’ as part of the business. By 1936 the shop had become a hairdressers of which it still remains as such today although during the 1970/80s it was the Victoria Wine off-licence. This lovely little jug reminds us of a time when almost all fresh produce was local. The milk most likely came from cows that grazed in the fields of Whitmore Bottom, or perhaps the farms of Headley.
A Rifle Brigade Cap Badge
Recently found in a garden on the western edge of the village, was this cap badge of the Rifle Brigade. The 8th Battalion of the Rifles was billeted in Grayshott from November 1914 to March 1915 and this well preserved badge must surely have been lost during those few months.
Formed in 1800 as the ‘Experimental Corps of Riflemen’, they were soon renamed the ‘Rifle Corps’ and then in 1803 became the 95th Regiment of Foot (Rifles). Under this name they fought with Wellington in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo. Selected and trained as marksmen, they were an elite unit equipped with the Baker Rifle rather than muskets. Fans of Bernard Cornwell will recognise the 95th as the unit of his fictional hero Richard Sharpe. They became the Rifle Brigade in 1816.
During the Great War the Rifle’s four regular battalions were augmented by several war-service battalions. The 8th was one such, formed on 21st August 1914 at Winchester as part of Kitchener’s First New Army. Its members were all volunteers, men who came forward to serve during the first rush of patriotism following the outbreak of hostilities. After basic training at Aldershot they were moved to Grayshott, where they continued their training on manoeuvres around the heaths and woods.
In Grayshott, our small country village found itself with 800 soldiers to accommodate. Most other ranks and the majority of officers were billeted at Grayshott Hall, which became the battalion HQ. The remaining other ranks were put up in the newly built Village Hall. The owner of our cap badge and how he lost it must remain unknown, but it was found just over the road from Grayshott Hall, a few inches under the soil amidst a layer of ash and small household debris. Perhaps this area, in a corner of a field, was some sort of campsite or hutment which suffered an accidental fire?
In March 1915 the 8th returned to Aldershot , from whence in May they departed for Bologne-sur-Mer. They marched towards the front, heading into the Second Battle of Ypres. They were held as a reserve force for a while, behind the lines but under shellfire, then moved to the front line for trench duties. By late July A and B Companies were at the ramparts, C and D Companies in dugouts.
A strategic point at this time was the area around Hooge Chateau. The British decided to take it by a mining operation, a huge explosive charge placed at the end of a tunnel under the enemy lines. At 7pm on 15th July the mine was blown, making a crater 120 feet across. On Thursday 29th the 8th was called to defend the crater, marching into position under cover of darkness beneath a waning moon and being in place by 2am. At 3:15 am, just hours after the 8th’s arrival, the Germans attacked, with the first use of flamethrowers during the war. At the same time there was a massive bombardment upon the communication trenches behind.
A Lieutenant describes the attack:
‘About half-an-hour before dawn there was a sudden hissing sound and a bright crimson glare over the crater turned the whole scene red. I saw three or four distinct jets of flame, like a line of powerful fire-hoses spraying fire instead of water, shoot across my fire trench. Then every noise under Heaven broke out, trench mortars and bombs, machine guns firing, shrapnel falling and high explosive shells….Those who had faced the flame attack were never seen again.’
Most of the 8th was overrun and the survivors retreated to the support line. Of the 8th’s 24 officers and 745 other ranks, within 24 hours 19 officers and 469 other ranks were killed, wounded and missing.
Another officer wrote that the worst casualties were in A Company, which had been billeted at the Village Hall, and C Company, formerly billeted at Grayshott Hall. These were right on the front line and C Company was described in the battalion’s war diary as non-existent.
The 8th was kept close to the line, billeted under shellfire and regularly digging and repairing trenches. Men were sickening with fatigue but gradually drafts of replacements arrived. Within a couple of weeks the battalion was back in the front line.
Later in the war the 8th fought in the Battle of the Somme at Delville Wood, and at inverness Copse during the Battle of Arras. It returned to England in June 1918.
Whether the owner of our cap badge survived these horrors is unknown. The odds are against him. The crater at Hooge was filled in after the war, still containing hundreds of bodies.
A Cast Iron Grave Marker From St Luke’s
We have been shown this object, which we believe to be a grave or row marker from St Luke’s churchyard. It is 15 inches long, made of cast iron, and carries the number 25. Probably, it dates from when the churchyard was first laid out and when many people couldn’t afford a headstone. How it came to be separated from its rightful place is a mystery.