The Mystery Photo Page
Here we will post intriguing, unusual or just attractive photographs of places in and around Grayshott, and invite our readers to guess the subject. There are no prizes, this is just for fun, but to add a little spice to the competitive spirit, at our next Friends’ Evening we will award a token of appreciation to whoever we think has made the best contribution towards keeping us all guessing!
The rules are very easy. Just study the photo carefully then tell us where you think it is. Use our contact page to do so. Please, please, please send us your photographs – we want this to be interactive and entertaining. If you have a photo to submit, message us via the contact page. The photo must be taken from a spot that is accessible to the general public, and have some discriminating feature that makes identification at least a possibility for the eagle-eyed! We could do with some more contributions please.
Even if you can’t get out at the moment, we hope these pictures will remind you of our beautiful surroundings and perhaps inspire you towards some gentle explorations in due course.
We have now paused this series to concentrate on other projects. We hope you’ve enjoyed it; we may run occasional Mystery Photo special events in the future.
Mystery Photo Number 18
In connection with Canada Day on 1st July we asked if you could identify this photo. It is of course the Canadian soldiers’ graves at St Joseph’s, beautifully maintained as always. Well done to Liz, Isobel, Pam, Jo, Anne, John B, Carol, Rae, Ros, David, Vigdis and Charlie for knowing the answer.
During WW1 the Canadian Expeditionary Force came under the authority of Aldershot Command, which encompassed our area. Temporary camps were quickly set up to accomodate the influx of thousands of Canadian troops, our nearest being Bramshott Camp, known locally as Tin Town. It was spread out either side of the A3 on Bramshott Chase, nothing of substance now remains
Bill Peyto, a Rockie-Mountain man from Banff who at age 45 volunteered into the 12th Canadian Mounted Rifles as a machine-gunner didn’t think much of it. In his memoires Ain’t it Hell he wrote “After our furlough we took the train to Bramshott Camp, where we have begun our training anew. We should be good fighters in wet weather because every day it rains ….. Had a good old time in London for Christmas but what a God-forsaken place Bramshott Camp is. They’ve had us training every day on our bayonet charges, practicing with dummy grenades or doing interminable target practice with the Ross. Each day is the same and it sure gets me down. When we’re not training we’re sitting around in the old ramshackle huts we’re billeted in, with all twenty-five of us trying to keep warm around a coal stove in the middle. Our beds are thin six foot long planks and they have us stacked up like dried fish. I’d prefer to be over there face to face with the Germans rather than sitting here waiting.” Which eventually happened, and he survived to tell his tale.
Many of the 95 soldiers in St Joseph’s (and also St Mary’s at Bramshott) succumbed from wounds received in battle or from accidents in training, having been sent for treatment at Bramshott’s No 12 Canada General Hospital or the Grayshott Military Hospital in The Cenacle. But the majority were victims of the Spanish Flu, which through the last months of the war and into 1919 rampaged through the army as well as the civilian population. Nearly 46,000 Canadian soldiers overseas got sick, and 776 died. The soldiers were easy prey; tired, stressed, wet and cold at the front, or massed into camps as described by Peyto. In some cases the soldiers were ill before they even came ashore off their troopships from Canada. The hospital at Bramshott contributed to an investigation of the epidemic but no specific treatment or serum could be found at the time.
One exception is the grave at front centre of our photograph. This belongs to the Reverend Ivor Daniel, chaplain to the Canadian army, who died in April 1963. You can see that his headstone has squared-off shoulders which according to Jo Smith indicate his non-combatant status. Daniel was born in England in 1883, emigrated to Edmonton, Alberta and was ordained in 1913. During the war he served in the UK as a chaplain. Afterwards he performed missionary duties in British Columbia before settling in Wales. On 9th August 1918 he took the sermon at St Ethelreda’s Church, London, for the victims of the Canadian hospital ship Llandovery Castle which had been torpedoed with the loss of 234 lives. By the spring of 1919 Canadian soldiers were becoming fractious at the slow pace of demobilisation, tempers were frayed and there were temptations of ‘fighting, cussing, drinking and riotous behaviour’. On one such occasion Daniel managed to prevent his Ash Wednesday congregation from joining in a riot which had erupted around their meeting hall. If anyone knows exactly how he came to rest in Grayshott please let us know and we’ll add the information to this article.
Mystery Photo Number 17
This photo was kindly sent to us by Malcolm Moodie. It shows the wonderful bicycle and motorcycle shop of his grandfather, Frederick Harris, around the year 1930. Mr Harris is the mustachioed gentleman at second from right. We asked which shop occupies these premises today?
Lots of you knew that today it is the Sue Ryder shop. Well done to Keith, Jo, Gillian, Joanne, Carol, Charlie, Graham, Vigdis and Rae.
Frederick was a local boy, born in 1887 to George (a bricklayer) and Eleanor, of Whitmore Bottom. As one of seven children to a labouring family he had to earn his keep, and by the age of 13 was working as a domestic servant. As a young man he was a postman, seen below very proud, with his shining bicycle signposting his later vocation towards two wheels.
In 1916 he married to Ethel Constance Holder. By this time (below) he had progressed to motorised wheels and a much better moustache. At this time he was working as a motor mechanic, apparently self-taught. He must have been doing rather well because his BSA outfit was a very smart example of the latest model; the bike alone then retailed at £64, about 6 month’s wages. An identical one today would cost about £15,000.
During the war he served as Motor Mechanic, from August 1917 to December 1918. Seen below with his army companions, he is posing beside an identical bike, perhaps chosen for the photo for its associations with happy times.
Many young men had their first taste of mechanisation during the war. Although Frederick was already in the trade he must have seen the shape of the future. By the 1920s, having returned to Grayshott, he was well established in Crossways Road with his bicycle and motorcycle shop. His window is a roll-call of the period’s makers – Raleigh, Elswick, Royal Enfield, New Hudson, Aerial, Triumph and his favourite, BSA. He also advertised enamelling and plating, a reminder that the old dirt and gravel roads wore out machinery relentlessly. Behind the glass is an Aladdin’s cave of spare parts and gadgets. Next door was Granny Robinson’s old shop, outside of which the Shell pump dispensed the precious fuel by hand-cranked pump.
Frederick died in 1935, and with Ethel rests in St Luke’s, where his descendants have recently installed a headstone in their memory. Thank you to Malcolm for the information and permission to tell Frederick’s story.
Mystery Photo Number 16
Last week we asked if you could work out where Martin was standing when he took this photo, and where the two tracks lead to. We thought this would be a tricky one, and only Jo and Ros submitted correct answers.
He was standing close to the car park at Waggoners Wells, looking south, and the tracks lead to Kingswood Lane and the old A3 on the left, and Bramshott Chase on the right.
This is an interesting and curious little spot. Martin was standing near the apex of the junction of Hampshire and Surrey, and of three villages. The woods on the left are Kingswood, part of Grayshott, and those on the right head up towards Bramshott Chase. Both are in Hampshire and the names are an ancient memory of when this area was part of the royal hunting estate of the Forest of Woolmer. The central triangle is a narrow spit of Surrey, connecting to Pitfold. Its purpose was to allow the villagers on the dry ridge of High Pitfold access to the water at Waggoners, or Wakenors as they would have called it, without having to trespass their livestock into the adjacent manors. Here, you can stand in Hampshire, jump right across Surrey, and land back in Hampshire. A harmless little game which seems only to appeal to small boys and old men.
In the 19th century this was the heart of broomsquire land. Kingswood Lane, Waggoners Bottom and Stoney Bottom were occupied by several broomsquire families. A very few of their cottages survive, now modernised, but most are long gone. They set up little rough work shelters of poles and heather thatch; there would have been dozens of them scattered across the heath.
Kingswood Lane and its northern extension of Waggoners Wells Lane are medieval tracks, possibly much older still. At one time they passed as the main road between Grayshott and Haslemere. In his book ‘Frensham Now and Then’ Harry Baker wrote of his father’s experience of the route. Having attended a cattle fair at Haslemere and returning to Frensham with money in his pocket “….. my way from Frensham Hall [Pitfold] to Simmondstone was by a track crossing the Portsmouth Road near High Pitfold, traversing the centre of Wagner’s Wells Bottom, emerging thence near where Grayshott Hall now stands, and so leading to Barford and Simmondstone. It was now dusk. Immediately on entering Wagner’s Wells Bottom I passed a drove of ponies lying down in the fern, and I had only proceeded a few hundred yards when I heard a shrill whistle from my rear. Startled by the sound, the ponies I had just passed came galloping down on me. At once I realised that I had been marked down at the Fair. As they overtook me I managed to grasp one of them by his mane and neck, and ran beside him. Almost immediately I saw figures emerging from the high furze bushes which grew densely in the narrowest part of the valley. But with the ponies all around me I broke through them safely, and reached Simmondstone sound in limb and pocket. I learnt afterwards that the gang who waylaid me were from Blackdown, across the Sussex border, that I had been shadowed at the Fair, and had been heard to say that I was taking the money to Simmondstone that night….”
This would have been in the mid-19th century. Hopefully things have improved a little since then. This area is beautiful for walking; in late spring Kingswood Lane is alight with rhodedenrons in flower and with luck the only predators you’ll encounter will be the buzzards and an occasional red kite.
Mystery Photo Number 15
Last week we asked if you know where this little cottage is. Only three of you did; Charlie, Jo and Rae. It is the Lodge to Grayshott Hall, now known as Grayshott Medical Spa.
When the Whitakers moved into Grayshott Hall in 1883 its modernisation had already been started by their predecessor, John Rouse Phillips. Whitaker continued the job and most of what we can see externally today is probably his work.
The ancient village street, Graveshott Lane, originally ran right across the front of the house. Phillips didn’t like this so he diverted it a few yards further away. Whitaker liked it even less and diverted it further, to become our B3002. In 1887 he applied to the Quarter Sessions of her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace at Southampton for an order for “The Turning, Diverting and Stopping Up that part of the existing Upper Grayshott Road near Grayshott Hall in the parish of Headley…..” The Justices approved, having found that “the proposed diversion will be more commodious for the public than the existing road.” It was certainly more commodious for the Whitakers, who no longer had to put up with passers-by gawping through the front windows of their new pile. Perhaps less so for modern motorists when braving the turn thus created into and out of Hammer Lane.
Realignment of the road allowed Whitaker to build a grand entrance fitting to his country house. It included this pretty little cottage, a typical late-Victorian style of lodge, solid and ornamental, which was intended to create the right impression to visitors. Its first occupants were John and Jane Gould, he being a gardener at the Hall. Jane was described by the Rev Laverty, vicar of Headley and a man who seems to have had a certain eye, as ‘a buxon dame’.
Nowadays the Lodge appears to be unhinhabited and falling into decay. A great pity for rather an important building in the village scene, and a situation which can hopefully be reversed before it becomes too late.
Mystery Photo Number 14
There are obviously plenty of nocturnals among our readers because lots of you knew that this photo, sent to us by David Hazell, is The Devil’s Punchbowl Hotel. Well done to Andrew, Jo, Stuart, Isobel, Gillian, Carl, Sudha, Elizabeth and Ros.
The hotel was originally a home, built in the late 1880s as a country residence for the Honourable Rollo Russell. He had another house nearby called called Dunrozel, Rozel being the name of the Russell’s ancestral estate in pre-Conquest Normandy. His sister, Lady Agatha, bought land nearby which is now Rozeldene.
Rollo’s father, Lord John Russell, was England’s first Liberal Prime Minister. Unhindered by this, Rollo achieved a degree in natural science at Oxford and took up scientific writing. His interests were broad. He researched and wrote upon cancer and public health, and was also an advocate of vegetarianism. He became a Fellow and eventually President of the Royal Meteorological Society. He had a special interest in fog, for which living at Hindhead at what is said to be the highest inhabited spot in southern England would no doubt have given him plenty of opportunities to observe at close quarters.
Around 1900 the house, by now called Thorshill, was sold to the Revd Alfred Kluht, a congregational minister from Essex. He preached at the Congregational Church in Tower Road, and he and his wife ran Thorshill as a private guesthouse until 1949. It has remained a hotel ever since, changing its name to the present one in the 1960s when the neighbouring Punchbowl Inn was demolished. (The site of which became a filling station and is now flats). Rollo’s second wife, known as ‘Disagreeable Aunt Gertrude’ ran the Punchbowl Inn during the 1920s and was accused of spreading malicious rumour that Lady Agatha had ‘suspiciously friendly relations with her chauffeur’.
Rollo’s neighbour was another scientist, John Tyndall FRS. Tyndall, a mountaineer and glaciologist, is now locally most known for declaring that the air at Hindhead was “as pure as that in the Alps”, thus catalysing the area’s tourist boom. But he was also a serious and respected scientist. He researched the ability of the gases in air to absorb radiant energy, which led him to become the first person to prove what is now known as the greenhouse effect. No doubt when Rollo and Tyndall shared a neighbourly chat their words turned to that most British occupation – talking about the weather.
Thank you to David, Liz and Richard for photos and historical information.
Mystery Photo Number 13
Mystery Photo number 13, 22nd May 2020
We asked if anyone could identify the location and purpose of the brick and concrete structure at the top of the photo. Ros, Charlie, Graham and Andrew knew the answer – it is one of the ram pumps in Whitmore Bottom which used to supply water up to Grayshott Hall. Half a point to John B who got the purpose right but the location wrong.
There are actually two of these pumps in Whitmore; this one is down towards the ford (almost opposite the little lay-by) and there is another, set further back in the trees, higher up towards the village. They were made by former owners of Grayshott Hall, one by John Rouse Phillips probably around 1870 and the other by Alexander Whitaker, we guess during his big modernisation in the 1890s. We haven’t yet worked out which is which.
These ram pumps are ingenious pieces of Victorian engineering. They need no external power and use the momentum of moving water to pump a proportion of the flow uphill. Furthermore, they have just two moving parts. All they need is a head of water above the pump to give a constant flow. They will pump about 10% of the through-flow up a vertical height of about 10 times the head. The Whitmore pumps draw their supply from the numerous springs emerging in the Hanger. The ‘wasted’ 90% of water makes its way down into the Southwater stream, from which to the Wey and the Thames.
When operating, their clacker valves make a donking noise, about once per second. The one shown could be heard working in the 1950s. It’s rumoured that its concrete roof was displaced by teenagers experimenting with sugar and fertilizer explosive.
Ram pumps are still used all around the world. If you fancy one of your own you can buy them in kit form or, if you’re handy in the shed, knock up a DIY version from simple bits available at a plumbers’ merchant. You will need a valley, spring and a few dozen acres of rain catchment area to complete the project though.
Mystery Photo Number 12
Plenty of you knew this lovely shed is in the churchyard of St Luke’s. In order of response; Carl, Carol, Pam, Charlie, Ros, John B, Vigdis, Graham, Isobel, Gillian, David and Michael. Thanks especially to those who added their own stories about it.
Grayshott’s first church was a so-called ‘iron church’, a pre-fabricated corrugated iron building of the sort which could be ordered from a catalogue and which were despatched from British factories to destinations all around the world. It was erected a little to the north of the present church, and we think this hut is on its site. The church was a gift of Alexander Whitaker, and the land was given by Miss I’Anson. It served the growing community as their temporary church until the present St Luke’s was built and opened in September 1899. After this is was sold for £87 for use at Liphook, where it remained in service until the 1950s. If anyone knows what became of it, please do tell us.
Attendees at St Luke’s got into the way of leaning their bicycles against the nice new church, a habit which annoyed the vicar. Hence in 1904 a new cycle shed was built. It was locked at the beginning of services and not unlocked until afterwards; thus a captive congregation. The lean-to extension at the back originally accommodated an earth closet with lift-up wooden seat for use of the gravedigger and gardener, along with a place for his tools and coat. Nowadays it’s used to store and maintain garden equipment.
We’re not sure if this is the original cycle shed or a replacement. It is certainly very nicely built, with typical period ridge tiles and finials. I quite fancy one like it for my bicycle.
Thank you to Richard for photos and information.
Mystery Photo Number 11
Mystery Photo number 11, 14th May 2020.
This picture, sent to us by Jo Smith, collected three correct answers. Well done Isobel, Carl and Carol. It is one of the three small ponds in Stoney Bottom on the Grayshott side of the watersplash (which itself was the location of photo number 1).
The exact origin of these ponds has not so far been established, except to say that they are almost certainly not connected to the much larger ponds further down. At the moment we think they were probably built by Edward I’Anson some time around 1882 to provide a water supply to his mansion of Heather Lodge. They are obviously artificial; the quarries to make the dams (also known as penstocks) can be seen beside the footpath. The lowest and largest pond had a ram pump house installed at the foot of the dam. The series of ponds would have provided both a head of water to power the pump and a constant supply fed by the little springs. There’s no sign of the pump now.
I’Anson bought the so-called Grayshott Park Estate in 1861. This was almost all of the land between Waggoners Wells Lane and Ruffit Lane from west to east, and Headley Road and Stoney Bottom from north to south. This land, about 73 acres in all, had sold at the 1851 Enclosure auction for £137, an average price of slightly under £1.83 per acre! We don’t know what I’Anson paid for it. Upon it he built Heather Lodge, approximately on the spot of the fairly new houses behind St Joseph’s Church.
Walkers along Stoney Bottom will have noticed the dry stone wall which runs for hundreds of yards from the far corner of Ruffits right down towards the ponds. We think that this wall was built by I’Anson as his boundary. The actual parish boundary at the time, which would originally have been I’Anson’s property boundary, in fact runs three feet in front of the face of the wall. This is a very traditional arrangement; the owner of a wall, hedge or ditch had to build it entirely within their land, and leave a space in which to maintain its outer side without having to trespass on neigbouring property. Further down the boundary runs through the middle of the ponds, which means that half of them were actually in Bramshott parish. This might be the clue to a reported dispute in 1886 between I’Anson and his new neighbour James Mowatt, concerning water in Stoney Bottom. Mowatt had just bought Kingswood Firs and in that year he was building his new mansion. It seems likely that I’Anson had perhaps been a bit naughty and made his ponds on land that was strictly speaking not his own. One imagines that Grayshott’s resident community of small-time rustic squatters and opportunists might have felt that the big man’s halo had slipped a little with this episode. The ponds are still there so presumably the two men reached an agreement.
Stoney Bottom is full of interesting features. We’re researching the area at the moment in connection with our series of Parish Boundary walks and hope to be able to write a much fuller guide to the goings on down there in days past. Meanwhile, the old photo below shows the same pond from the other end in about 1900, looking up towards Grayshott. The building just visible as a paler blob in a notch on the distant skyline is probably Mr Vertue’s house ‘The Court’. Vertue had bought Heather Lodge from I’Anson, whereupon it burned down, and he rebuilt on the same spot. This later became the Convent of the Cenacle.
Mystery Photo Number 10
This time we showed pictures of two very distinctive structures which are both perched atop a village centre building. Our question was:
Which building is it?
Stuart, Andrew and Jan all knew the answer – Western Lodge in Crossways Road. The chimney pot is on the main building, the weathervane on the rear wing but visible from the pavement further along the road to the left.
Chairman Richard has its history at his fingertips.
“It was originally built circa 1898 for Dr Arnold and Mrs Charlotte Lyndon as part of their Windwhistle House complex. The Lyndons we know were generous benefactors to the village, giving the land for Lyndon Green for example.
Western Lodge was originally the stables and coachman’s house, listed in the 1911 census as ‘Windwhistle House Stables’. Also listed was Windwhistle Cottage, although we’re not sure how this fits in. In both the 1901 and 1911 censuses Herbert Smith is shown as a coachman, along with his wife Alice and their son Jack H. We believe this can only be the Jack Hayden Smith, author of the book ‘Grayshott: The Story of a Hampshire Village’ (still in print and in normal times usually available at the Pottery and Post Office). By 1911 Herbert had become a chauffeur, a sign of the times and a common pattern.
In 1899 Mrs Lyndon became secretary of the Grayshott and District Refreshment Association and was instrumental in the building of ‘The Fox and the Pelican’. The Grayshott Auxiliary Hospital at The Convent during WW1 1914/18 was under the supervision of Dr and Mrs Lyndon, for which he was awarded the OBE. Mrs Lyndon was clerk to the Parish Council from 1902 – 28; she died in 1936. Her husband died in 1946, age 86.”
Nowadays Western Lodge is a property of Grayshott & District Housing Association. The Association was established in December 1935, on the initiative of Mrs Lyndon, ‘to provide housing for persons of limited means … residing in Grayshott and District’. Backed by the Parish Council, Mrs Lyndon had pressed the District Council to provide more housing in Grayshott at reasonable rents. Unhappy with the response, she brought together a small committee to raise funds, buy land and erect affordable cottages. Unable to find suitable land, in 1936 the Association bought 12 houses on the open market funded by loans and public subscriptions. These constituted the Association’s housing stock until 1960 when Miss Pearman, a founding member of the Association, gave it two houses, followed by five more in succeeding years, and provided for three newly built bungalows.
In 1990 the Committee appealed for additional capital to construct a block of four apartments. Supported by donations from the village, loans from individuals and charities and a small donation from EHDC, it was completed in 1992. In 1995 the Association bought a property originally bequeathed to Grayshott Parish Council by Mrs Lyndon. A new house was completed in 2016 and named Lyndon.
The Association currently owns 31 properties: 20 houses and 11 apartments. In recent years several properties have been enlarged or substantially renovated and double glazing and central heating installed. A 2008 survey of properties indicated that few critical problems requiring urgent attention. Nonetheless many buildings are old: in the past years eight roofs have been completely renewed and various facilities will in time need replacement. The Board has established a multiannual programme to work these through. It has reviewed how best it can develop the original ideals of the Association to meet the changing needs of Grayshott residents over the next 25 years.
The Board conducts the business of the Association; all members give their time voluntarily, a Housing Administrator is employed part-time. The Board is very conscious of the Association’s charitable aims and looks to provide good quality homes at rents well below market levels. A constitutional review took place a few years ago leading to a new charitable registration.
The site of Western Lodge is due to be redeveloped to create 14 new flats, built in partnership with English Rural Housing Association. These will be allocated to local people in housing need, including those tenants from Western Lodge.
At Grayshott Heritage, we anticipate the opportunity to inspect and document the building before its demolition. It’s a valuable opportunity to record architectual features so typical of the area’s late Victorian vernacular style, not only for posterity but as a library for future renovators and designers. The Association’s houses are characterised by their cream and green livery, a scheme which blends easily with the traditional brick, terracotta and wood of the older buildings. We look forward to closely inspecting the magnificent chimney pot. These things were thrown by hand on a wheel, for which the potter in this instance either had a secret technique or a remarkably long arm. Or perhaps a small assistant to support the inside. If anyone can offer ideas as to the maker of the weathervane, we would love to know.
Thank you to Teresa Jamieson, Chairman of the Grayshott & District Housing Association, for her assistance.
Mystery Photo Number 9 – VE Day Special
We asked which volunteer organisation used these premises as their wartime HQ. It was the Air Raid Precautions, under Major PT Wessel. They equipped with a telephone switchboard, gas masks, fire extinguishers and stirrup pumps. Correct answers this time from Ted, Martin, Dick and Ferris, well done to you all. Photo credit to John Hill.
The British government had actually forecast the threat of air raids well before the war, and set up the Air Raid Wardens Service in 1937. This became the ARP, and was charged with many duties including enforcing the blackout, escorting people to shelters, incident reporting, first aid parties, rescue services, stretcher parties and ambulance driving. Although they wore a basic uniform its members were civilian volunteers and one in six was female.
Somewhat unfairly ridiculed in the popular imagination by Warden Hodges of Dad’s Army and his shout of “Put that light out!” the ARP teams were in fact right on the front line and went where the bombs were falling. There was about 1.4 million wardens during the war, of which almost 7,000 were killed. The George Cross was instututed in 1940 as the highest bravery medal that could be awarded to a civilian, ranking next to a VC. Its first recipient was an ARP warden, Thomas Alderson.
Bombs fell on Grayshott – there is still a crater in Flat Wood – and a Doodlebug fell in The Land of Nod. Even in a country village the blackout was taken seriously. In July 1940, on the eve of the Battle of Britain, a resident of Boundary Road was fined £5 for showing light from windows. We know something of Grayshott’s Home Guard (read the full article here) but very little of our ARP. If you have any local information we would be delighted to hear from you.
After the suicide of Hitler on 30th April 1945, German commanders sought to end the war as quickly as possible. Negotiations concluded on 7th May and the unconditional surrender of German forces took effect the following day. VE Day as it became known, 8th May, was made an immediate public holiday and millions of people took to the streets to celebrate and listen to addresses from national leaders.
And not to forget that war was still raging in the east. Japan was on the way to defeat but allied armies were to be engaged in ferocious combat in the jungles, beaches and islands of Asia for another 3 months. No ordinary person had any inkling of the momentous events to come on 6th August, which led to the announcement of Japan’s surrender on the 15th of that month, now known as VJ Day.
Of course, the courage, sacrifice and determination of millions of soldiers, sailors and airmen was paramount. But WW2 was a total war; air warfare meant that for the first time ever the civilian population of Britain was daily on the front line, for 6 years. Victory was due also to the civilians who kept the troops fed and armed, the factories in production and vital services ongoing. Key Workers, in todays language. To mention but a few of the many:
The Womens’ Land Army – the landgirls who worked the farms, all year in all weather.
The Auxiliary and National Fire Services – ordinary men who went into danger instead of taking shelter.
The WVS – looking after evacuees, running mobile canteens, organising clothes.
Red Cross and St John’s – driving ambulances, stretcher parties, first aid posts.
Fire Guards – patrolling the rooftops and streets with stirrup pumps and sandbags to put out incendiaries.
The NAAFI – providing recreational facilities, food and goods to troops at home and abroad.
And the countless workers in factories, shops, fields and hospitals who just kept on going.
You can read John Hill’s most interesting article on Grayshott’s preparations for war here.
Mystery Photo Number 8
Our morale-boosting Number 8 seemed to do the trick, we had correct answers from Carol, Ros, Isobel, Anne, Gillian, Dick (sort of), Carl, David W and Ferris. A special Mention in Dispatches goes to David Hazell for submitting his answer in record fast time. Apologies to anyone I’ve missed.
We asked which business currently occupies the building behind this team of crisply starched ladies. It is Grayshott Pottery.
Thank you to Jo Smith for the photo. Jo tells us that it was given to him by Mrs Plummer (née Kenward), of Red Lane Nursery, Headley (she still lives there). It shows her grandmother Eliza Kenwood, second from left, at the Grayshott Laundry, now the Pottery. Eliza died 21 Dec 1982 aged 101 and is buried in All Saints, Headley churchyard with her husband Joshua.
Gillian Rawcliffe tells us:
“A Grayshott Village Characters Eve Simmons, sadly now dead, started work there at the beginning of August in 1937 at the age of 12 and was terrified for the first month, in case the inspector came round and she would be sent back to school because she wasn’t 13 till September. When the laundry closed she and her sister Betty, who already worked there, started their own village laundry from their homes. Eve did all the washing and drying and Betty did the ironing. You would often see Eve Wheeling all the washed and dried laundry in a wheelbarrow from her home (which was next to the Post Office) to Betts home, next to the fish & chip shop.”
Chairman Richard provides this potted (sorry) history.
The laundry was built circa 1895 by and on land owned by Catherine I’Anson, and adjacent to Grayshott School which she had built and opened in 1871. Her intention, it seems, was to provide employment for girls leaving school as there would have been a commercial opportunity for such a business with the rapidly expanding tourism and hotel trade in the district. Catherine owned it for less than 3 years, when she sold it as a going concern in February 1897. An interesting covenant was an exclusion in the conveyance that the premises cannot be used for ‘the trade or business of a licensed victualler or seller of beer, wines and spirits’.
The establishment continued to trade as the ‘Grayshott and Hindhead Sanitary Steam Laundry’ for a further 70 years. A horizontal steam engine with boiler provided power for the machinery processes and water came from a large well, still partly visible within the premises. It was taken over in 1967 by Surrey Ceramics and changed its use to what we all know as ‘Grayshott Pottery’. We hope the Pottery can resume normal services as soon as possible. Meanwhile we send our best wishes to all of their team.
Mystery Photo Number 7
Well, what a shocker! In Martin’s photo taken from Windy Gap, we asked: whereabouts in Grayshott is the row of five tall trees on the skyline at the left hand side?
No correct answers!
Except from the owners of the trees, and even that only after a giant hint and for which we are awarding them minus one point.
They are the Wellingtonias in the garden of St Anne’s, right next to the Headley Road and directly opposite the sports field.
St Anne’s, perhaps best known for its beautiful garden which is open during the Hidden Gardens weekend, is on part of the site once occupied by Edward I’Anson’s mansion of Heather Lodge. In 1861, as a result of the enclosure, I’Anson, a London architect of some note, purchased most of the land between Headley Road and Stoney Bottom. He erected his ‘grand design’ and, once installed, the I’Anson family became some of the village’s generous benefactors. The original house burned down in the 1890s, but its Lodge and stone gateposts still exist.
These Wellingtonias were certainly planted by I’Anson. They were a popular Victorian landscaper’s tree; there are a few more in the grounds, several around Grayshott Hall and one or two elsewhere in the village. There’s an interesting story of a transatlantic tiff behind their introduction.
Nearly two hundred years ago the brothers William and Thomas Lobb worked as plant collectors for Veitch Nurseries of Exeter. Veitch’s was the largest family-run plant nursery in Europe, and specialised in supplying exotic plants to competitive gardeners who wanted to stay one step ahead of the neighbours. They sent the brothers Lobb around the world collecting for them – Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Panama and eventually to North America. No lockdown or EU import rules in those days.
In 1853, after a busy trip into the mountains of Oregon, William was in San Francisco preparing his seeds for dispatch to England. He’d already collected specimens of Western Red Cedar and Monkey Puzzle, both giants (and incidentally specimens of which in Grayshott), so not a man to be easily impressed. A Dr Kellogg of the California Academy of Science introduced Lobb to one Augustus T Dowd, a hunter. Dowd claimed that whilst chasing a grizzly bear in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada he’d found himself in a grove of gigantic trees, whereupon he lost interest in the grizzly and wandered in amazement amongst the forest. Luckily the grizzly seems to have lost interest in Dowd too, else he might not have returned to tell the tale.
Lobb immediately saw the commercial potential in such a specimen and rushed off to explore. He found a fallen tree 300 feet in length and 29 feet in circumference, amidst 80 or 90 of similar size standing. Quickly, he collected as many seeds, seedlings, shoots and cones as he could carry, including two small living trees. He returned to England on the first available boat, a year earlier than expected by his employers, and started propagating seedlings in commercial quantities.
John Lindley, professor of botany at the University of London, was invited to name the tree, and he decided upon Wellingtonia gigantea in honour of the Duke of Wellington, who had died the previous year. Whether or not the Iron Duke was an arborophile is not recorded by history, but it’s perhaps no less a fitting testament to his status than a rubber boot.
Meanwhile, back where the story began, the good Dr Kellogg was diligently completing his set of herbarium specimens in order to register the species. He’d settled upon Washingtonia in honour of his nation’s first president. There followed something of a spat when Lobb beat him to it, which was eventually calmed in 1939 by agreement of the official name Sequoiadendron giganteum. But in popular usage, in Britain, Wellingtonia it remains.
The Victorians immediately took to the tree and liked nothing more than a Wellingtonia avenue. At a price of 12 guineas a dozen for seedlings it was an expensive habit. I’Anson’s gardener would have had to work a 60-hour week to earn a guinea.
The oldest so far recorded is estimated at 3,400 years. So St Anne’s, at about 150 years, have a good 3,250 to go. In a couple of thousand years time some unfortunate council highways planner will have to decide whether to divert the B3002 around them or tunnel through. He may reflect ruefully on the 40 years it took his predecessors to solve a similar dilemma at the Hindhead traffic lights.
So, nil points to competitors but a generous two bonus points to Martin for submitting a photo of the biggest things in Grayshott that nobody recognises.
Mystery Photo Number 6
These photos are from our Chairman’s collection. The first one, 6a, shows Mitchell’s Christmas display in 1912. The second one, 6b, shows Larcome’s in, we think, 1913. We asked which businesses occupy each of these premises today. And for a bonus point, to spot which member of staff appears in both photos.
We had two correct answers, from Ferris and a splendid piece of teamwork from Rae, Kathy and Michael who not only spotted the person but named him too.
And the answers:
6a – Mitchell’s is occupied by Kaighin & Daughter, who on May 1st celebrate their 40th anniversary of providing a traditional family-owned butcher to the local community. A big well done and thank you to them.
6b – Larcome is home to Amery Vets.
Staff member – the gentleman with cap and moustache, at extreme right in 6a and second from left in 6b. He is in fact Richard’s grandfather, George, who was Grayshott’s freelance slaughterman and also a poultry dealer, hence his connection with both businesses. Ros also pointed out that the young lad third from right in 6a also looks to be at second from right in 6b. We are wondering if he was George’s assistant freelance slaughterman. More research needed there, and well spotted Ros.
If you look carefully at Larcome’s you can see the notice ‘Prime Devon Steers. Fattened by AI Whitaker Esq, Grayshott Farm’. This of course is Alexander Ingham Whitaker of Grayshott Hall, and Grayshott Farm was upon the land now mostly covered by the Waggoners and Applegarth housing estates. The farm was converted from arable to pasture some time durng the 1870s, probably as a result of the Headley Inclosure. The last remnants of grassland can be seen in the meadows to the west of Hammer Lane. Whitaker was something of a gentleman farmer. He modernised Bulls Farm to make it his estate’s home farm and dormitory for the Hall’s staff. He also presided over agricultural shows. He would have bought in weaned but immature cattle and fattened them for market on his natural pasture. They were then driven up Headley Road to the slaughterhouse behind Larcome’s where Peskett Senior performed his duty.
Mystery Photo Number 5
Mystery Photo number 5 from Ros Balfour prompted a spatter of guesswork but only four people managed an accurate answer, so well done to Carol, Tracey, Ferris and Derek. They are the tank stoppers at the southern end of the concrete track through the old Superior Camp. To all those of you who just said ‘Ludshott Common’ – sorry we need to home in a bit more precisely please!
There are dozens, maybe hundreds of these concrete cylinders sprinkled around the area. A big cluster, maybe more familiar, is beside the track around the south boundary of Grayshott Hall. The Canadian army arrived in the area in 1941 and the tank stoppers, along with the concrete roads, are the most durable survivors of their presence. If you look closely you can see the date of casting inscribed in the concrete.
Stood on their own, as here, they made an effective temporary roadblock against light vehicles, and were lifted into position by the muscle power of a few straining Canucks heaving on a pole slung through the steel loop in the top. But to deter a 50-ton Tiger tank they were arranged in rows several deep, interspersed with land-mines and steel girders, and strung with barbed wire. The idea was that if the tanks tried to climb over them, they would rear up and expose their vulnerable underside to attack, or possibly become stranded with their tracks whizzing round in fresh air.
Fortunately they were not put to the test in Britain, but the Swiss still keep lines of the triangular version called ‘dragon’s teeth’ in strategic areas. They call them the Toblerone Lines.
Mystery Photo Number 4
Well then, Mystery Photo number 4, submitted by our local historian, wordsmith, speaker, poet playwright and publisher, Mr Jo Smith proved to be a real teaser. Even though most of us have probably passed by it hundreds or even thousands of times, there was only one correct answer, from the Cross Clan. Ferris, Ros, Carol and Ann all made valiant efforts but didn’t quite hit the mark.
It is in fact the boundary stone on Headley Road, almost opposite the Fire Station. H is for Hampshire, S is for Surrey, and the arrow mark on top is an Ordnance Survey benchmark, used for establishing exact heights of survey reference points. We think that this stone was set within a few years of 1900. However, the perambulation of 1906 noted ‘the Council stone being about 3 feet east of the boundary’.
The actual boundary runs along Boundary Road and its footpath extension opposite, down into the upper reach of Whitmore, where it turns a corner and runs along the bottom. It is a very ancient landscape feature, its course first recorded in a charter of the year 965 from ‘Pitfaldes gate swa to Wulfredes beame’. We all know where Pitfold is, from which the boundary took a straight line across the head of Stoney Bottom and into Whitmore behind the present Hurstmere, to Wulfredes beame at the corner. In this context a beame was most likely a post, or sometimes a gallows, and Wulfrede is so far Grayshott’s earliest named citizen. Whether he was the occupant of his beame or its operator has yet to be determined…
From around the year 1200, a record of the Bounds of Alice Holt and Woolmer give us more tantalising details. The spot of Wulfredes beame had become Wolfpit, perhaps appropriate given that the valley runs up to the Wolf Horan of Hindhead (Mystery Photo 2). The name Woolmer is itself thought to derive from wulf gemeare, the wolves boundary. On the ridge top, somewhere around the location of our boundary stone, was ‘la porte de Graveschete’ – the Gate of Grayshott. This might have been an actual entrance to the Forest, or sometimes the word gate was used for a crossing point on a saddle of a ridge. And further on, past the far end of Boundary Road, at the head of Stoney Bottom, was Horeapeldore – the Grey Apple Tree’. Grey meaning lichen-covered. This point was marked by an apple tree even in perambulations of the late 19th century, and at its death in the year 1919 James Mowatt of Kingswood Firs counted at upwards of 300 years old. There rests a very intriguing possibility that this point was marked for centuries by successive generations of apple tree. Unfortunately the sample that Mowatt sent to Kew Gardens has been lost.
By the 16th century the boundary from Whitmore to Stoney Bottom was marked by a row of oak trees – lez mark okes in the words of the Bishop of Winchester’s scribe. No sign of them now, but at the time they must have been a substantial and distinguishing feature in a landscape of mixed wood and heath. Most likely they were pollards, a feature of the type of wood-pasture on the common land hereabouts. There is still one point on Grayshott’s boundary with a pollard marker tree.
So this little stone, which almost nobody notices, marks the transition between Grayshott and Hindhead, Hampshire and Surrey, the medieval manors of Bishop’s Sutton and Farnham, and at one time the Saxon Kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. The next time you walk, cycle or drive past the Fire Station, you’ll be going through The Gate of Grayshott, as the medieval Keeper of the Forest of Woolmer would have called it. A big thank you to Jo Smith for a Mystery Photo which represents such a rich history.
Mystery Photo Number 3
As expected, this was a toughie. Only two correct answers this time, from Andrew and Ros. Very well done.
Taken around 1895, the photographer was standing at the bottom of Bull Lane, now known as BOAT 13, at its junction with Whitmore Vale, and looking east. The buildings are Stream Farm in Whitmore Bottom, almost identical today except that the barn is now tiled and some chimneys have been adjusted. The valley rising towards top left is Golden Valley and we think the hill on the skyline is Tyndalls Wood up at Hindhead. Our Chairman denies that the photo is from his family album and that the sailor boy is him.
Bull Lane and ‘the King’s Highway leading towards Whitmore’ were first recorded by name in the survey of 1552, but are much older. Bull Lane is the track that linked the original core settlement around Hammer Lane to running water, through which its passage makes the watersplash which a charter in the year 965 called Brydelades Forda – Gushing Stream Ford. If you walk along Bull Lane, look towards the uphill side and you will see ancient woodbanks and, just behind where the photographer is standing, one of the dozen charcoal burning hearths recently discovered in the Hanger.
The view in 2020 is less picturesque, below!
Mystery Photo Number 2
Well done to Anne, Ros, Ferris, Jo and Gary, who all correctly identified this as the signpost by the NT car park at the Devils Punch Bowl, Hindhead.
This spot was known by the Saxons as Wulf Horan, meaning Wolf Ridge. Later travellers held it in no great affection, the journey by turnpike being feared on account of highwaymen and the general discomfort of perilous inclines. William Cobbett described Hindhead as “certainly the most villainous spot that God ever made” and “that miserable hill”. He should have tried getting through the old Hindhead crossroads at rush hour. In his 1839 novel Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens relates Nickleby’s encounter with the Sailor’s Stone as he walked from London to Portsmouth “They walked upon the rim of the Devil’s Punch Bowl; and Smike listened with greedy interest as Nicholas read the inscription upon the stone which, reared upon that wild spot, tells of a murder committed there by night. The grass on which they stood, had once been dyed with gore; and the blood of the murdered man had run down, drop by drop, into the hollow which gives the place its name”. Now owned by the National Trust, the Punchbowl has been reunited with Hindhead Common by reclaiming the former route of the A3. It’s now one of the region’s foremost beauty spots, an interesting reflection on how the passage of time brings different reactions and values to wilderness.
Mystery Photo Number 1
The results are in …. and of course, it is the ford at Waggoners Wells. There were several correct answers, well done in particular to Ferris, Ros, Graham, Jo, David and Gary for being quick off the mark and more or less a dead heat. Sadly, no prize for anyone….yet. The lakes are actually in Bramshott parish, but as the boundary runs up the west side of the lane and the photographer was standing on the bridge, his feet were firmly within Grayshott!
The lane through Waggies used to be the main road from Grayshott to Haslemere, described as ‘The King’s Highway’ in 1552, meaning a recognised public road. The lakes have been a tourist beauty spot for over a century, and remarkable to think that in the 1920s creaking, solid-tyred charabancs with part-time brakes and notional steering would navigate down the hill, full of jolly trippers oblivious to their driver’s angst.