On Sunday the 25th March 2018 I set off from home and arrived early at the William IV pub in Little London Albury, and waited for everyone else to arrive for a 10am start. This was Daniels first time leading a Team South East walk.
On the way up I passed Newland corner, where the undisputed queen of crime, Agatha Christie has sold millions of books across the world. But in a bizarre case of life imitating art, the strangest story of all concerns the night that she faked her own death at Newlands Corner, near Shere, and vanished into thin air.GPX file here
Viewranger file here
The landlord came out grumpy asking what we were doing parked there, explained it'd been arranged and agreed for us to park there, then he complained we should have knocked to say we where there! Not a great way to start the day!
Anyway shortly after 10am the 8 of us set off pass the pub down the road a short way before taking a path on our left, crossing Park Road and into a path opposite.
Down the bottom of the path we meet the River Tillingbourne.
The River Tillingbourne (also known as the Tilling Bourne) runs along the south side of the North Downs and joins the River Wey at Guildford. Its source is near Tilling Springs to the north of Leith Hill at grid reference TQ143437.
From the 17th to the mid 20th centuries the Tillingbourne valley was a major industrial area due to its closeness to London and the ease of transport via the Wey and the Thames. The river was used to power a relatively large number of mills in the area. Some 24 mill sites have been identified along the course of the river, used for such diverse industries as gunpowder, paper making for bank-notes, iron-working, wire-making, fulling, tanning and pumping water, as well as the more conventional flour, grist and malt milling. Some of the earliest gunpowder mills were those set up in 1626 by The East India Company at Chilworth.
Present day users include a trout farm, watercress beds, a business growing reeds and a gin distillery.
We follow along the Tillingbourne and pass The Old Prison House at Shere on Lower Street.
We now reach Shere, a beautiful village.
The Battle of Shere
In 1258 the Bishop of Winchester, Aymer de Valence, ordered 50 of his men to take valuables from Shere church and carry them to France. A band of local men tried to stop the theft, ands one of them was killed at the 'Battle of Shere'. The inhabitants sued the Bishop, but De Valence was able to gain a pardon for all his men.
|A lovely E Type Jaguar in Shere|
The White Horse country pub is located in the idyllic Surrey village of Shere and was it a 15th century farmhouse and was once reputedly, a smugglers’ pub.
Nestling amongst the lovely half-timbered buildings of Shere, close to the tiny bubbling River Tillingbourne, is a former 15th century farmhouse and Grade II Listed Building called The White Horse. It’s hard to imagine an English country pub more idyllic. One of Hollywood’s most romantic films ‘The Holiday,’ starring Cameron Diaz and Jude Law, was shot there. In fact, the charms of Shere have lured the creators of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral,’ ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,’ and ‘The Wedding Date’ and ‘Molly Moon’ too.
In its former life, The White Horse was a 15th century farmhouse called: ‘The Cripps,’ and it became an inn sometime in the 17th century. It is also rumoured to be a former smugglers’ pub after a secret cellar was discovered during extensive renovations. Authentic timbers taken from Nelson’s ship, ‘Victory,’ are thought to be part of the pub, and there are also some traditional village stocks on the premises too.Inside, private spaces, nooks and crannies set the scene for romantic dining whilst, outside, a shaded courtyard.
We walk down Church Lane up to St James Church.
St James church was recently seen in the film Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Shere War Memorial Cross
Unveiled on February 1921
First World War: 1914-1918
Second World War: 1939-1945 (South East Asia 1945-1946)
Floriated Maltese cross on cylindrical shaft, circular plinth and five stepped base
Located in The Square, Shere.
1329 - Anchoress of Shere
On the north side of St' James' Church is where Christine carpenter was immured for several years in the 14th Century.
An quatrefoil opening in the north wall of the chancel once communicated with a small anchorite's cell linked to the church. The 'Anchoress of Shere' was Christine Carpenter, who was enclosed in her cell in 1329. She received gifts of food through a grate on the outside wall and could view mass at the high altar through a narrow squint and receive sacrament through the quatrefoil opening.
The story of Christine Carpenter is fascinating and sheds light on the phenomenon of anchorites in the medieval period. Christine was the daughter of William, a carpenter of Shere who lived in Willow and Ash cottages on the banks of the Tillingbourne. She petitioned the Bishop of Winchester to grant permission gor her to be walled within a small cell attached to the church, with a small opening allowing here to view the high altar during services. A copy of the Bishop's proclamation is set on the north wall of the chancel, near the squint that once allowed Carpenter to see into the chancel. The Bishop calls on the rector and parishioners of Shere to gather together and investigate whether Christine was clear of any encumbrance, such as a legally binding engagement to marry. The gathering was obviously positive, for on 19 July 1329 he gave permission for Christine Carpenter to be walled up in her cell.
The story does not end there, however, for after 3 years it seems the Anchoress had had enough of her life of seclusion and she decided to leave her cell. To go back on her vows must have taken enormous courage, for it was akin to an act of sacrilege. We do not know when she took that step, only that she 'had left her cell inconstantly and returned to the world'. Yet she must have had a change of heart, for in 10 November, 1332 we find the Bishop agreeing to her request to be returned to her cell. But he agreed upon certain conditions, among them that Christine serve a penance in proportion to her sin (of leaving the cell), and that if she neglected to come forward to ask for her penance that she be excommunicated. And that is the end of our information on the Anchoress of Shere.
We know she appealed to be re-sealed in her cell, and can only assume that the act was carried out. But we do not know how long she was there or when she died. Even more intriguingly we do not know why she left her holy life in the first place or why she appealed to return to her cell. What lies behind the surface of her story? You can clearly see where the anchoress's cell was attached to the church wall, and the quatrefoil and squint can be seen on both sides of the chancel wall. A fictionalised account of Christine Carpenter's life is told in the 1993 film Anchoress, starring Natalie Morse.
There was almost certainly a Saxon church here, but the current church of St James dates to around 1190 and is cruciform in plan. The church is approached up a cobbled lane, though a lych gate designed by Edwin Lutyens in 1902. Lutyens would go on to become one of the foremost architects in Edwardian England, designing, among other highlights, the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London. Lutyens designed quite a few cottages in Shere for the Bray family, hereditary Lords of the Manor.The walls are a fascinating jumble of materials, from re-used Roman tiles to clunch, flint, Caen stone imported from Normandy, Tudor bricks, and local stone.
The central tower dominates the surrounding period cottages. The base of the tower is Norman and the striking spire was built between 1213 and 1300. To the Norman nave was added a south aisle and chapel in the 13th century, while the chancel is 14th century, sensitively restored in the Victorian period by S Weatherley. A small south porch made of brick and timber protects a Norman doorway and an original 12th or 13th century door, studded with nails. Outside the west end is an external stair leading to a gallery, added in 1748 for the parish poor. The gallery occupies much of the west end of the nave interior and seems to float above the floor with no supporting legs. A timber west porch dated to 1547 leads to a ragged and worn west doorway of the 13th century, and the door itself to 1626.
We continue up Church Lane before taking a path on our right passing the site of The Cottage in the Film 'The Holiday'.
|Looking back to St James Church|
We leave the path and join Gravel Pits Lane and pass a huge Monkey Puzzle Tree!
We walk along High View and then pass a gorgeous house and under the railway bridge into Tower Hill at Gomshall.
We take another path heading past Towerhill Farm.
We pass a fantastic looking Tillingbrook House & barn.
We cross the Tillingbourne again and down Rad Lane.
Rad Lane end and we now walk out onto Dorking Road.
We pass Old Hatch Farm House, a Mid 16th century with a 17th century cross wing, extended in late 19th and 20th century. Last up for sale at 1.1 million.
We pass the Abinger school of cookery and gill academy. I could see pupils having lessons at the BBQ.
Now we reach Abinger Hammer.
The Tillingbourne was impounded in the 16th century into a hammer pond, providing water power for Abinger Hammer Mill, also called Abinger Forge, the Hammer forge or Shere forge, which worked Sussex-sourced iron. It has long since been adapted to grow watercress.
The hammer mill boomed during the 16th century and the forge was reputed to have even made guns for use against the Spanish Armada. The waters of the Tillingbourne powered the water wheel which drove the massive, 400 kg, trip hammer of the forge. The forge closed in 1787 despite attempts to save or convert it.
The clock which overhangs the main road portrays the figure of "Jack the Blacksmith", who strikes the hour with his hammer. The clock bears the motto "By me you know how fast to go". The clock was given in memory of the first Lord Farrer of Abinger Hall who died in 1899. The clock represents the iron industry and the role played by the county of Surrey in the industrial past.
During the years 1925 to 1945, the novelist E. M. Forster lived with his mother Alice Clare (Lily) in West Hackhurst, Abinger Hammer in a house designed by his father, the architect 'Eddie' Morgan, and previously occupied by his aunt Laura. Forster was obliged to leave this home in 1946 as the landlord refused to renew the lease.
Edward Wilkins Waite (1854–1924), landscape painter, lived for a time at Abinger Hammer. He was born in Leatherhead, Surrey, and much of his work depicted rural scenes in the county - including at least one painting done in the vicinity of the village (see "Old Willows").
David Nobbs gave Abinger Hammer as the location of Uncle Percy Spillinger, played by late actor Tony Sympson, in Episode 4, Series 1 of ' The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.
The actor John Gordon Sinclair lives in Abinger Hammer.
Abinger Hammer The Blacksmiths Clock 3/18 only, The Clock House.
House with clock attached. Building dates from 1891 by W. O. Milne and J. C. Hall, clock added in 1908 by Lady Farrer in memory of her husband, Sir H. Farrer who built the house. Clock designed by Connor O'Brien and built by Smith of Derby. Square wooden bracket on angle of house with angle piers and panelled on each face. Cartouche carving on each side with blacksmiths anvil and hammers in chain roundel on west side. Clock face on east side with crest below. Inscription panel between:- "By me you know how fast to go". On the west side:- "For you at home I part the day/work and play twixt sleep and meals". Carved foliate bracket attached to front side which supports figure of blacksmith with hammer poised to strike a bell suspended from gallows containing Abinger Hammer sign. Cornice above main bracket with square section plinth over. Chamfered angles and panelled sides with clock face to west side and garland carvings. Dated on front under cornice and domed lead roof. Main house brick and tile hung with casement fenestration, not of special interest.
We stop for a coffee break by the Tillingbourne, there are supposed to be brown trout in this stream, I saw none!
We leave Abinger Hammer behind as we walk up Felday Road then taking a footpath on our left heading towards Sutton Abinger.
|Looking back down to Abinger Hammer.|
We leave the paths behind as we exit onto Horsham Road in Sutton Abinger.
We walk past the Volunteer PH.
The Volunteer is a traditional 16th Century English pub, situated in a beautiful valley next to the little hamlet of Sutton Abinger, near Dorking. Inside, the pub has kept its original features such as the open fire and exposed beams, but the neutral decor adds a light and airy feel to the place. It's thought that the Volunteer received its name during the Napoleonic Wars - when soldiers signing up for the war were given a Kings Shilling. The pub became the favourite place to volunteer as you then got to spend your shilling on alcohol! As a tribute to this there is a mural of Nick (the current landlord) wearing full Napoleonic dress - quite a talking point!
We pass The Old Forge on Water Lane.A former village forge. 17th century, Square panel timber frame with red and brown brick infill, plain tiled roof with tile hung gable end to left. Two storeys and end gable lit attics. Corbelled rear ridge stacks to right of centre, rebuilt. Gabled outer bays with queen post trusses. Four casement windows across first floor and five windows below under pentice drip boards. Planked door to left hand return front. C20 extension to rear right and outshut to rear centre.
We then walk along a bit before taking a steep hill up a narrow path with electric fences to the side( dont fall!)
We walk out onto Sutton Place where I dropped my hat, I ran back to retrieve it. The group had walked on and I assume down a path that was displaying the below sign, well I'm sure they went this way!
I pass a treehouse and can see the group ahead.
We walk through Tenningshook Wood with lovely big houses to our left.
Another big steep hill to climb, but a gorgeous view to go with it!
We leave the wood into Holmbury St Mary. Holmbury St. Mary is located within the Hurtwood, which is the largest area of common land in Surrey.
Holmbury St. Mary is believed to be the basis for the fictional village of Summer Street in A Room With A View. Its Author, E.M. Forster, was a long-standing resident in the neighbourhood of Abinger Hammer.
We walk up to St Marys Church, the sun shining directly at me, impossible to photograph from this angle.
St. Mary the Virgin Church by George Edmund Street. 1879. Holmbury St. Mary, Surrey.
When Street visited the picturesque village of Felday in Surrey in 1872, his wife Mariquita liked it so much that she described it as "Heaven's Gate." The couple decided to move there, and Street began to build a large house, Holmdale, its name inspired by the village's position in the valley below Holmbury Hill. Unfortunately, Felday really was "Heaven's Gate" for Mariquita, who died in 1874, before the house was completed. Street remarried in 1876, only for his new bride, Jessie, to fall ill on their honeymoon and die soon afterwards. As a devout adherent of the Church of England, he designed, oversaw and paid for the building of a new parish church, St. Mary the Virgin, in her memory. He used local stone, with Bath stone as a feature around the windows and so on. Most of the stained glass was also designed by Street. The church was completed in 1879. In the same year, the village was combined with nearby Pitland Street and renamed Holmbury St. Mary, after Holmbury Hill and the new church — an unusual case of a village being named after a church. One of Street's last works, it is certainly a very striking piece of Victorian church architecture, especially when approached unexpectedly from the winding B-road. This is partly because it was built on a steep slope, which makes it look taller than it actually is. The unconventional design (necessitated by the slope) has been criticised, but the church is still widely admired. Street died in 1881, at the age of 57, soon after suffering a stroke while walking home from the local train station at Gomshall. His death is said to have been hastened by the strain of working on the Law Courts in the Strand.
We walk uphill on a path next to the church, up to a football field.
We walk on through Hurt Wood, then up a final steep hill to Holsmbury Hill.
We finally reach the top and pass a Trigpoint where Chris felt the need to do his usual trig pose!
Holmbury Hill is a wooded area of 261 metres (856 ft) above sea level and the site of an Iron Age hillfort. The Old Saxon word "holm" can be translated as hill and "bury" means fortified place. It sits along the undulating Greensand Ridge its summit being 2,641 ft from the elevated and tightly clustered small village of Holmbury St. Mary which was traditionally part of Shere, 5 miles away.
Excavation of the hillfort in 1929 by S. E. Winbolt indicated that it dated to the 1st Century AD and may have been constructed by Belgic tribes of Celts who were settling this part of Britain in the period prior to the Roman invasion of Britain. The fort was defended by double ramparts to the west and north with escarpments on the eastern and southern slopes. The outer ditches were originally about three metres deep and six metres wide. The inner ditches were considerably larger, some four metres deep and nine metres wide.
At 261 metres (856 ft) Holmbury Hill is the fourth highest point in the county. It is 2 miles west of Leith Hill, the highest point in Surrey at 965 ft, separated by a deep ravine draining north and south. It is 13.4 miles north-east of Gibbet Hill, Hindhead, the second highest point in Surrey at 892 ft. The major hills of Surrey do not form one ridge. The third highest point in the county, unlike all of the other highest six which are in the Greensand Ridge, is Botley Hill 885 ft ,20 miles the north east in Woldingham civil parish on the North Downs, the other main range of hills in Surrey. The hills between Botley Hill and Gibbet Hill together comprise the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
In total 3,000 acres of surrounding forest, the Hurtwood SSSI, is maintained by the Friends of the Hurtwood which comprises: Holmbury Hill, Pitch Hill, Winterfold, Shere Heath, Farley Heath and part of Blackheath Common.
The sedimentary sandstone bedrock of Holmbury Hill is part of the Hythe Beds, laid down in shallow seas approximately 113 to 126 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period. The sandstone mass overlays the weaker Atherfield Clay Formation, a sedimentary mudstone also laid down in the shallow seas of the Cretaceous. This combination is very prone to vertical landslip and gives rise to steep escarpments.
Holmbury Hill offering stunning views over the Weald to the South Downs and through to Seaford Gap and views to sea.
Here we stop for lunch and Daniel promised this was the last of the hills.
Up here the cold wind started to bite and I felt cold for the first time today.
We leave the hill top and walk downhill, only to be called back as David was sure Daniel had sent us the wrong way. So up we go and take a parallel track that meets the path we were on anyway!
Now we go uphill again, hold on we were told no more hills!!
|An early Daffodil|
We walk down into Peaslake. Peaslake is set in rolling meadows and forests in terms of topography, soil type and land use. Its architecture and amenities have been the backdrop to filming. Access to the village by car can only be gained by using roads which are at some point single track, which gives visitors the feel that it is more remote than it is, and which makes it quieter than the villages closer to the A25. The position, in one of the most uniformly forested parts of the Greensand Ridge, provides a variety of trees on varying terrain.
In recent years, there has been an explosion of interest in the area since it was discovered by the mountain bike brigade, with Peaslake becoming something of a centre for the sport. Visit on a weekend and join the queue of bikers for coffee and cake in the village store and maybe have a look at the little bike shop. The surge of cyclists has raised issues about the effects on the local woodland, something that is being looked into by the Surrey Hills AONB organisation and the Hurtwood Control.
The group walk on up a path but I run off to view the St Marks Church.
We walk up a path before walking across a pathless field.
|Everyone spread out there's a path here somewhere!|
We pass a house with a lovely pond in its grounds.
We walk out onto Hound House Lane and up a short way then taking a path on our left across a field taking us to Brook Lane.
On Brook Lane we walk under the railway arch and round onto Little London.
We pass Hawthorn The Old Cottage.
C16 with early C19 extension to left end. Timber framed to right, underbuilt in whitewashed brick on render plinth, red brick infill above. Whitewashed brick extensions with plain tiled roofs, oversailing hip to left. Two storeys. One rendered ridge stack to right, one square ridge stack to rear wing. Three framed bays to right with three casement windows on first floor, two leaded. Tile pentice drip course over ground floor windows, plat band over ground floor of extension with diagonal brick eaves course above. Two cambered head casements to first floor of extension, one angle bay window on braces to ground floor, the hipped roof cutting into plat band.
Stable door to right under gabled hood on elaborate foliage braces, floral carving on gable itself (Old Cottage). Six panel door set back to left end in pentice porch (Hawthorn Cottage).
Now we are back at William VI pub , where we throw off our boots before the debrief.
I order a Surrey Hills Shere Drop and a packet of crisp, very nice too!
A great 12.5 mile walk and special thanks to Daniel for leading this and thanks to the great company too!