The Village Shops and Houses walk is now confirmed for 7pm on Tuesday 11th July. This will be a short walk of 1 1/2 to 2 hours around the village centre. Places are limited to 12 walkers and must be booked in advance. To do so please get in touch through the Contact page, or directly to Richard Peskett.
We plan to run two more guided walks this summer if there is sufficient interest.
First, a Tree Walk, a mile and a half over about 90 minutes around the village centre to learn about some of our interesting trees. This will be another evening walk.
Also, we may re-run the Medieval Hamlet walk on a weekend morning in August. Three miles over three hours, mostly off road.
The group size for all walks will be limited to 12 people and places must be booked in advance. If you are interested in any of these walks please get in touch through the Contact page.
Pissarro and Grayshott
The Grayshott Decorative and Fine Arts Society presents Pissarro and his Artistic Family in London and Grayshott. Camille Pissarro, the founder of French Impressionism, spent time in Grayshott and captured some local scenes. Thursday September 2nd, 2pm at Grayshott Village Hall. Entry fee for visitors is £7.00, refreshments will be available afterwards.
Autumn Friends’ Evening
The autumn Friends’ Evening is scheduled for Tuesday 7th November. More details nearer the time.
New Find – 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.
Latest Newsletter: June 2017
Another successful Friends evening was held on Tuesday, May 2nd, with just over 50 people attending. A preview of the new Grayshott Heritage web site was shown by John Childs who explained some of the workings of it and what we hope to achieve in the future. Following, John Hill spoke about the outbreak of ‘Spanish’ Flu of 1918-19 , most interesting about its origins ( which was not Spain ) and having claimed the lives of vast numbers of people worldwide it disappeared . Finally we took a look at some of the redevelopment ‘then and now’ that has taken place in Grayshott. Refreshments kindly provided by Jan Bebbington and her team and Ann Myers put together a very successful raffle .
Next Friends evening will be on Tuesday ,November 7th., it will incorporate the AGM which we hope will only take up a short time, boundaries of Grayshott and Grayshott 50 years ago 1967 will be the subjects for the evening. More details next newsletter.
New web site.
This is now up and running, a considerable number of visits already made and we have received much favourable feedback. Much more material still to be transferred from the old site which will be done as time permits. Please take the time to have a look.
Hampshire Community Archive Groups.
Following our participation in the recently held forum at Winchester, John Childs has been asked to provide information as how he researched and put together the ‘Old Grayshott Walk’ booklet as a help and guide to other organisations considering similar projects.
Grayshott Village Guided Walk.
This will go ahead on the evening of Tuesday, July 11th. starting at the Crossways Road car park at 7 pm. The walk will take in both Crossways Road and Headley Road to look at the buildings both commercial and residential which originally formed the ‘ new build ‘ village over 100 years ago and remain today one of the most complete examples of late Victorian / Edwardian village architecture . We will provided images to be compared as we walk round
Numbers for logistical reasons will be limited to about 12 but if oversubscribed a repeat walk can be held.
To secure a place, please contact us: –
16th June 2017.