. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• History
• The Godalming

• The Wey

. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• Lock
• Barges
• Life on the

• The Horse-
drawn IONA

. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• Watermills
• Flour & Bread
• Fulling & Cloth
• Chilworth

• Charcoal

• Brewing
• Papermaking
• Ice Houses
. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• Habitats
• Trees & Plants
• Insects
• Birds
• Fish
• Countryside

. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• More About

• More About

• More About

• More About

• More About

. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• Legends
• The Big Names
. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• Boat Art
• Inn Art
• River Graffiti
. . . . . . . .
• Basingstoke

• Wey & Arun

• The Thames
. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .
We welcome
your comments

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

The River Wey
Nearing the First
of the Wey Navigations

Gathering pace the river continues to be fed by numerous small tributaries so that by the time it reaches the old industrial town of Godalming the river was able to support a significant number of mills and tanneries.



“It was said that a blind man arriving by train would know he was in Godalming by the stink.” Ronald Head, local author referring to the stench of the tanneries.

St Mary's at Norney
click image to enlarge

There were constant disputes all along the Wey Navigations between the millers, the barge operators and the Navigation Commissioners. These usually involved arguments over water usage. The mill owners needed a dependable supply to run their machinery, and the bargees had to operate the locks to move their cargoes along the river. Both users suffered from a lack of water by the opposing parties' needs. It took decades of legal wrangling and an Act of Parliament to sort out.

click image to enlarge

“Everybody that has been from Godalming to Guildford, knows that there is hardly another such a pretty four miles in all England. The road is good; the soil is good; the houses are neat; the people are neat: the hills, the woods, the meadows, all are beautiful. Nothing wild and bold, to be sure, but exceedingly pretty; and it is almost impossible to ride along these four miles without feelings of pleasure, though you have rain for your companion, as it happened to be with me. William Cobbett 1822

Shackelford Millennium Sign

“The true rural life which existed when the school opened in 1871 was still flourishing when I came in 1927. Only the well-to-do had care and if there was a bus at all it ran only at rare intervals. So the village made its own amusements, talked its own gossip and, like most inward-looking communities, made its own little mountains from its own little mole-hills! It was still a case of 'God bless the squire and his relations. And keep us in our proper stations.' That condition prevailed only in the kindest and most generous way." Frank Beal, headmaster of St Mary's School, Shackleford 1927-1932.

Ears of wheat
click image to enlarge

“Please do not enter this fishery with any equipment or clothing that may have come into contact with water or fish that has not been thoroughly washed and dried.
Several fisheries in this area have experienced serious fish kills as a result of disease. You can help to significantly reduce the transference of disease by drying all equipment, preferably in sunlight, which will kill the majority of disease organisms.
Just one wet item may kill all the fish in this fishery.
Club officials will at every opportunity be checking to ensure that members are complying with the above and any member entering with wet equipment will be asked to leave." Farnham Angling Society notice at The Tarn, Puttenham Common September 2006

St Mary's at Norney

“The school walls often rang with country dance and sword music, not forgetting the merry jingle of bells when we performed Morris Dances in readiness for pageants enacted in the beautiful setting of Peper Harow Park." Gladys Titcomb, teacher at St Mary's School, Shackleford 1940s

Fishing sign
click image to enlarge

“Douglas, the Rector in 1933 was an iconoclast, a narrow-minded crusader. He angered the villagers by reporting to the police that at the weekly village whist drive in the Institute cards were played for money. No one on in his senses would have accused our old village husbands and wives of gambling." Col. Nicholson 1933-1953 Shackleford resident.

Autumn colours

"After doing the section of the North Downs Way between Farnham and Guildford the other week I had stopped for lunch overlooking Puttenham Common, and thought it looked a good place to walk the dogs. Today was the day to walk the dogs there. No maps, no clue where to park. Off Mark, Kate and I set to Puttenham.

Where we parked the car you are greeted with a view over the Surrey landscape. After a look at the map kindly posted on a notice board we headed off towards the river and ponds that are there. Kate wouldn't let me take the map off the board for our use on the walk, and I have to sometimes worry about Kate's moral compass. I would have returned it eventually ;)

Anyway this was a great wooded walk on a nice spring day. I'll definitely be coming back here with the dogs. Why I've never been here before I don't know, a slip up is all I can say." Blogger Whitespider 1066 19th March 2007

The Good Intent, Puttenham

“When the farm was 60 acres and we were hand-milking 15 cows, which incidentally we did until 1944. When my father came here he took over a mixed bunch of cows and we started to buy Pedigree Jerseys when he arrived in 1934 and I think the highest price he paid was 34 guineas.

"We did have some cereals, and at the age of nine or ten my main job was to ride the leading horse of three on the binder at harvest. We grew potatoes and the landgirl gangs provided by the War Agricultural Committee came in to harvest them. In those days you could ask the War Agricultural Committee for a gang of labour to help you gather in crops." Buster Buer, farmer Norney Farm near Eashing.

"Today we continued with an unofficial resolution to travel, and get out and about, and explore, and spent a pleasant afternoon in nearby Godalming, a beautiful and very old fashioned village." Blogger Baby Buzz 4th January 2007

Golfers at the Hurtmore Golf Club helped alert detectives to a £18,000 jewellery heist when they discovered a stolen safe dumped by the 15th hole (December 2008). Documents still in the safe led police to an address in Witley where the police discovered a burglary had taken place. The owners were away at the time. However the villains are still at large . . .

In November 2008 the landlord of The Squirrel pub in Hurtmore walked out on his staff and suppliers and simply vanished into thin air. The pub closed shortly after and the building was boarded up and the car park secured with heavy concrete blocks. Locals feared that that would be that and they had lost the only pub in the village. However four local businessmen have some to the rescue and The Squirrel, a former Pub of the Year, is opening again in July 2009. The group already own Guildford’s Albany and Farriers pubs, and they took over the lease of the Dog and Pheasant in Brook in November 2008. The Squirrel’s distinctive sign has also been reclaimed from a former contractor who reportedly had removed it having not been paid.

Drinkers in Hurtmore are celebrating the reopening of the Squirrel pub having all but given up hope thinking their only local had closed for good. In December 2008 the landlord left to go on what he described as a short holiday but unfortunately never returned owing staff and suppliers money. The Squirrel, a former pub of the year, reopened (July 2009) when four local businessmen decided to invest in the business and provided the funds for completely renovating the pub. The pub joins the businessmen's growing stable which includes the Dog and Pheasant in Brook, and the Farriers and the Albany in Guildford.

A Puttenham company is pioneering a cycle to work scheme (October 2009) for Surrey employers. Fair Care, which is based in Shoelands Farm in Puttenham and whose offices are equipped with a biomass district heating system one of the first of its kind in the country, provides the ability for employees to order bicycles and accessories and provides guidance on government regulations and payroll for the employers.

A celebrity couple at their mansion in Shackleford close to the A3 have often been in the news due to their efforts to stop the media infringing on their privacy. Cheryl (singer) and Ashley (footballer) Cole have even tried getting planning permission (2009) to build an underground swimming pool and gym perhaps to avoid the gaze of the media who have often chartered aircraft to try and catch the couple in more intimate moments. Sadly for them the subterranean extension was turned down by the local planning authorities.

Shackleford became the centre of a media frenzy when the X Factor judge and Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Cole announced (February 2010) that she was separating from England footballer Ashley. The couple, who were married in 2006, live in the nine-bedroomed mansion Hurtmore House in Elstead Lane and the army of paparazzi camped outside proved quickly to become more of a nuisance than a centre of excitement.

"They are making everyone’s lives a misery," said local resident Richard Morley. "I suppose everyone has a job to do and this is theirs, but they should be more respectful of all the people who have homes and lives here. It has been very difficult getting down the road sometimes because of the sheer number of people there, some of them hiding and some of them just milling around in the road."

In keeping with contemporary society's obsession with remaining cold and faceless the announcement of the split was made through Twitter. "Cheryl Cole is separating from her husband Ashley Cole. Cheryl asks the media to respect her privacy during this difficult time. We have no further comment to make." Twitter page of Cheryl’s representatives, Supersonic PR. 23rd February 2010.
Source: getsurrey.co.uk 24th February 2010

By August 2010 the red tops had announced that the mansion, which has a separate three bedroomed annexe, was to be sold and was on the market for £3.5 million .The press have suggested but part of the reason was the refusal of planning permission for an underground fitness suite which would have incorporated a swimming pool with a gym and spa.

to the


“The Savage had chosen as his hermitage the old light-house which stood on the crest of the hill between Puttenham and Elstead. The building was of ferro-concrete and in excellent condition – almost too comfortable the Savage had thought when he first explored the place, almost too civilizedly luxurious.” Aldous Huxley Brave New World 1932

In the wide flat watermeadows downstream from Elstead where the Wey gently meanders on towards Godalming further tributaries flow into the river. The small stream, rising in Seale on the steep slopes of the ancient Hog’s Back chalk ridge in the Surrey Hills and which feeds the sequence of five ponds by Puttenham Common, had milling activity over the centuries. Cut Mill (GR: SU914456) was powered from water held in The Tarn upstream. Given the considerable water management system here it is not surprising that there have been mills operating on the site since ancient times.

The common today is the remnant of a once huge area of lowland heath with its ponds providing important wetland and carr wildlife habitats. Substantial archaeological finds here cover virtually every important period, although strangely not yet for the Saxon era. There is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Hillbury Hill Fort (GR: SU915466), which dates back to the Iron Age but has mostly evidence of a long-term Roman occupation. Hillbury Hill rises to 358ft (109m) above sea level. A large defensive entrenchment consisting of an encircling bank and a ditch, together with a crude pavement and Romano-British pottery was recorded on the common in 1870. The military used the area extensively during WWII for training and there are remains of slit trenches and the butts of a rifle range. An aircraft spotter searchlight is recorded as having been sited where the middle car park is located today.

The Tarn Puttenham

The first documentation was in a marriage agreement of 1307. By the end of the 16th century the mill by the common formed part of Puttenham Priory (GR: SU933478), a handsome Palladian (1) villa built in 1762 by Thomas Parker with gardens later designed by Gertrude Jekyll, and now fully restored. The Priory has an ice house (GR: SU934477). Roger Taylor, the drummer from the band Queen lives at the house. Another grand mansion in Puttenham is that of Lascombe which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens c1900, with the gardens created by Gertrude Jekyll still largely intact. The original coach house, refurbished as a modern home, attracts a monthy rent of £1,350 a month (2007) and is one of four rental properties on the Lascombe Estate which include the old stables.

(1) Palladian architecture is based on the work of Andreas Palladio, a 16th century Italian architect who was greatly influenced by the style and proportions of ancient Rome.

The six acre Lascombe Walk (GR: SU919470) is managed by the Woodland Trust. The woodland was gifted to the Trust in 1988 having been devastated by the October 1987 storm which severely damaged 90% of the mature oak and sweet chestnut trees. The site was replanted with a mixture of native broadleaves in 1999. The adjoining Puttenham Common is owned by the National Trust.

The village of Puttenham, which resides within an Area of Natural Beauty (AONB), has managed to preserve much of its original identity despite its location by the busy Guildford to Farnham A31 that follows the Roman road along the top of the 160 ft (50 m) Hog’s Back chalk ridge. The road here became established as an important route for vehicles once it had been upgraded in 1903 to a metalled surface. The Hog’s Back itself affords some wonderful views of the surrounding countryside to north and south, the name of the ridge alluding to the similarity in shape to the ridgeback of ancient pig breeds although documentary evidence of the name doesn't go beyond William Cobbett's time at the turn of the 18th century.

Hop vines at Puttenham

Villagers here were once widely employed in the growing of the renowned Farnham Hops that were in great demand from breweries not just locally but throughout England. Hops are still grown at Duke's Farm along Seale Lane on the lower slopes of the ridge albeit on a much smaller scale.

Last month, hops were being harvested on Duke's Farm, on the Hog's Back in Surrey. It was a scene worthy of a Shell poster from the 1950s. Handsome young men were driving tractors. In the trailer behind, smiling girls were pulling down the heavy green vines that had clambered up strings attached to the system of wires overhead. The air is heavy with a seductively honeyed smell, which to some noses has an undercurrent of marmalade. In a barn, elderly machines rattle the plants so much that the seeds fall away. Then they are carried to the drying shed, fanned with hot air and packed tight into big, sausage-shaped sacks, stamped with the traditional Farnham bell.

There used to be dozens of hop gardens around Farnham - three bells marked those within the town boundary. Duke's farm (one bell) is the last to survive. Its 14 acres will produce enough hops to flavour three million pints of bitter. Scrabble players will like to know that hops are sold in zentners, or weights of 50kg.

Surrey, though, is a magical land. Standing in the hop garden, you would have no idea that only half a mile away motorists were haring to London on the A3. Similarly, those motorists - if they turned off on to a B-road - wouldn't think that there was much amiss in the countryside. Like many of the villages around here, Puttenham doesn't seem to have changed much since Lutyens grew up in these parts. Clive Aslet : Village Voice - telegraph.co.uk 6th October 2007

The same soil, being 6 to 12 inches (15-30cm) of clay loam overlaying a sub-strata of chalk, is perfect for growing vines especially on the south-facing slopes of the Hog's Back. At Greyfriars (GR: SU948484) a small vineyard was established in 1989 by two local vets to produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes restablishing wine making in the area started by the Romans two thousand years ago.

Paragliding over the Hog's Back by Tom Clowes
click on image to go to photographer's website

The St John the Baptist Church (GR: SU933478) has Norman arches and window, and its substantial 15th century tower once had a spire, which sadly was destroyed by a fire that had started in the adjacent blacksmith’s forge. The building, of local sandstone rubble and originally with dressings of hard chalk is believed to be of medieval origins, although it was transformed by a restoration overseen in 1861 by celebrated Victorian architect Henry Woodyear (1816-1896) who replaced much of the chalk with Bath stone. A 2007 survey by the church architect revealed significant cracking in the walls of the church tower which resulted in extensive repairs involving the replacement of stonework with measures taken to prevent the spread of damp and improve ventilation.

The parish of Puttenham is one of the smaller parishes in the borough with approximately 600 residents (2006). The village’s water supply once came from the well in the churchyard. A painting of Oliver Cromwell, in his campaign tent praying for victory for his Roundheads over Charles I Cavalier army, swings in the wind outside the The Good Intent public house in the centre of Puttenham. The original design was created by one G. E. Mackenney in 1976, who provided designs for a number of pubs around the country. SEE SIGN HERE


An historic listed barn in Puttenham has been renovated (March 2007) and converted for use as a camping barn. Located by The Street (GR: SU934479) just off the B3000, the facility provides visitors to the area with a base which is open at weekends from April to October and during the week during July and August. The simple wardened accommodation, which consists of a sleeping area, communal kitchen and shower room, is located on the North Downs Way and the proposed Sustrans Route 22 (2) between Guildford and Farnham at a point not served by Youth Hostels. Booking is essential. The renovation was undertaken by Project Oasis North Downs and made possible by volunteers and support from local and national organisations. MORE HERE

Home Farm Barn has been sympathetically restored to be environmentally friendly and utilises rainwater harvesting, solar electricity and solar hot water. This large barn was listed on Rocque's Map of Surrey 1762 and was one of many in the county that were originally built to store corn. With the coming of cheap imported American grain during the 19th century its storage use shifted according to changing agricultural needs and would probably have had various crops including potatoes, mangolds, swedes, oats and hops stored there. The barn is typical of a Surrey barn with its weatherboarding and long steeply sloping tiled roofs known as catslides and waggon porch, and utilised locally available building materials. The roof has 18,000 handmade clay tiles secured to battens by iron nails and wooden pegs.

(2) Sustrans is a sustainable transport charity and campaigns to provide a National Cycle Network. Route 22 runs south out of London through Guildford and Farnham and on to Petersfield, Havant and the Isle of Wight.

Source: Project Oasis North Downs March 2007

Puttenham Golf Course, which was founded in 1894 by a group of army officers and masters from Charterhouse School in nearby Godalming, is one of the oldest clubs in Surrey. The land the founders wanted to use was owned by the Lord of Puttenham Manor, Mark Smallpiece, who was persuaded to lease the land on Puttenham Heath (GR: SU942476) by one of Queen Victoria's top military leaders, General Sir Frederick Marshall, who became the club's first president. The queen had reputedly visited Puttenham when in 1858 she took the salute of 20,000 soldiers that had amassed on Frowsbury Hill for a Royal Field Day. Frowsbury Hill is the site of the club's second tee and is the location of an ancient tumulus with significant numbers of Neolithic flints having been found nearby. The club had been restricted to nine holes until 1990, but after the freehold to the club was negotiated from the Smallpiece family in 1981 and the 44 acre Monk Grove Copse was purchased, the couse was extended to a full 18 holes.

Queen Victoria's great, great, great grandson The Earl of Wessex was the guest of honour (July 2008) at Puttenham Golf Club on the 150-year anniversary of the queen's visit. Prince Edward, acompanied by the Queen's own Ghurka Regimental Marching Band and the Godalming Band, unveiled the club's renovated memorial site on Frowsbury Hill.

Cutt Mill House in Puttenham rests alongside the 5.3 acre Cutt Mill lake which once served the mill. The oldest part of the brick and stone house dates back to the 15th century and the property with its six bedrooms and four bathrooms was on the market in July 2009 for £3.5 million. As well as boasting a large mature garden, the house has access to the lake with a boathouse and the stew pond, in which monks from Puttenham Priory used to keep their carp which they traditionally ate on Fridays, and also has use of a garden cottage, a stable block, and an array of former farm buildings. Alongside the lake is a mill race with a 12 foot (3.66m) waterfall, and the lake is stocked with a variety of coarse fish including pike, tench, carp, roach, rudd and perch.


Two miles (3km) or so due west from Puttenham and closer to Farnham is the village of Seale with its picturesque church. The combined population of the village with neighbouring Sands was 900 in 2007. The village has a community hall, nursery school and a football ground. The Manor Farm Craft Centre by the church was founded in 1980 and is housed in old farm buildings.

An independent parish survey conducted in 2007 revealed that 44% of residents in the village responding to the questionnaire were retired and 20% had one or more children under the age of 8 years.

The Church of England primary school in Seale closed in 1999 at which time the church established a Religious Education Fund 'to make provision within Seale, Puttenham & Wanborough for religious education in accordance with the tenets of the Church of England by means of Sunday School or otherwise'. In 2005 the fund stood at £15,000.

St Laurence Church Seale

St Laurence Church (GR: SU897479), with part of the Grade II Listed building dating back to Norman times, was almost entirely rebuilt 'in Picturesque' style in 1861-73 and has seating capacity for 180 people. The font has been dated as 12th century as have the main door and that leading into the vestry from the sanctuary. A painting above the altar is believed to be 15th century and from the School of Cima de Conegliano, a Venetian painter (1459-1517). The bell tower, above which rests a pyramidal spire, houses a peal of six bells with the oldest and largest having been forged in the 16th century

The church architect for the Church of England conducts five-yearly inspections, with the 2007 inspection identifying the need for repairs to the tower, clock faces and weather vane. The Friends of St Laurence hope to be able to raise the necessary finance from their fundraising efforts.

Attendances at services at the church were reported by the Parochial Church Council (PCC) as having risen by 8% in 2007 compared to the previous year, although no worshipper numbers were stated. The combined attendances of all four churches in the parish (including Sands, Puttenham and Wanborough) was 6,853 for the year.

At the end of 2007 the PCC reported unrestricted financial reserves (1) of £38,570 available for the general upkeep of the church, although the cost of maintenance within the four-church parish was exceeding regular income raising concerns that funds would be exhausted within four years.

(1) The church has unrestricted reserves which can be used for any purpose. Other restricted funds are available but are limited on their application by the purposes stipulated in their bequests.

Nearby is the family-owned and run Hampton Estate (GR: SU907467) off the Elstead Road with Hampton Lodge, a Grade II Listed Georgian house at its heart and set in rolling parkland laid out by Humphrey Repton (1752 - 1818), a renowned landscape designer of the time. The estate was established by Thomas Parker during 1759 - 1766 who combined land acquisitions to create a substantial property, and for which he retained a local name that has appeared on manorial rolls since 1268. The Thornton family have owned the estate since 1929 with Bridget Biddell (nee Thornton) and her husband now managing the estate (2008).

Hampton is an agricultural estate with farming and forestry accounting for most of its 2,250 acres. The farm produces wheat, barley and rape, as well as market gardening specialising in baby leaf salad vegetables and the last commercially run hop garden in the county. Some of the estate housing is let as residential property.

The hops operation covers 14 acres in Puttenham (GR: SU925479) and produces 'Fuggles' hops used by brewers including Harveys (Lewes, Sussex), Adnams (Suffolk) and locally Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham. throughout the country, and also decorative hop garlands during the hop picking season from August to September. Many of the hop plants are over 20 years old. The Hampton hops were judged National Champion Hops in 2003.

The farm also manages a pedigree herd of Sussex Cattle and has a farm shop on-site. Products from their forestry management include chestnut fencing posts, firewood, logs and woodchip. Educational visits by schools and farm walks during Surrey Farming and Village Week are organised by the estate.

The Tarn and The Warren waters (GR: SU 909458) on the estate are leased to the Farnham Angling Society for carp fishing. Hampton has also supported the Permissive Access Scheme in partnership with the Forestrt Commission opening up footpaths through the estate. The North Downs Way long distance footpath also winds through the estate.

Hampton Estate was shortlisted for the 2011 Toast of Surrey Business Awards.

"We entered to try to prove that a rural farming business [with add ons] based in the glorious Surrey Hills and steeped in tradition could compete with new hi-tech industries based in Surrey's own silicon valleys," said chief executive Bill Biddell. "Progress to date has been encouraging and to hear that we had been shortlisted was a great thrill. We inspected [whilst touring with the judges] our state of the art rural offices housed in former farm buildings, our craft centre at Seale, the pedigree beef herd, award winning forestry and took in breathtaking views of Surrey countryside from Puttenham Common. The tour finished by sampling Hampton Naturally Reared Produce in the form of Hampton Herby Sausages and a mug of fresh coffee at Myrtle's Courtyard our community centre." getsurrey.co.uk 1st February 2011

Hampton Estate is used by production companies as a film location, with recent filming undertaken there for the ITV series Midsomer Murders starring John Nettles (February 2008) and an Agatha Christie's Poirot episode The Hollow by LWT starring David Suchet and Edward Fox (2004).

Over a period of over 12 months (2008/2009) Hampton Estate was converted into the setting for Nottingham Village to be featured in Ridley Scott's adaptation of Robin Hood. This location was to become the most important site in the film and was the place where Robin (Russell Crowe) comes to return Sir Loxley's sword to his father. The set was designed by Oscar winning production designer Arthur Max and was set amongst ancient oaks and rolling fields, which together with a pine forest, a stream and the book provided a wide variety of shooting options. The reconstruction of Nottingham provided buildings around the town square, with a grain store, a tavern, a tithe barn and the church, as well as houses and hovels of all shapes and sizes stretching out beyond the town centre.

"Our primary requirement was a beautiful landscape," said Max. "Finding the location was a great piece of luck. We built the entire Nottingham Village, which is more than 50 buildings. Most of them thatched and timber and made from wattle, a form of mud construction."

"It was very enjoyable, working with something on that scale, working on something that size with Universal Studios," said Hampton Estate Manager, Bill Biddell. "They were with us for over a year. There were a lot of people around that it is easy to lose people in the Surrey countryside. We were very involved, it was too interesting not to be involved. It wasn't just a case of handing over the land and letting them get on with it. We were very fortunate they wanted to make a very large film, Scott is known for that. There's quite a lot of space here so they were able to build what they wanted." Surrey Advertiser 7th May 2010



Medieval Bridges - Elstead to Eashing

Having made a broad sweep northwards up away from Elstead the river passes beneath Somerset Bridge (GR: SU922439) on its way towards Peperharrow. This is thought to be one of the original medieval bridges built by the Waverley Abbey monks although following centuries of repairs, many quite extensive after flood damage, it is now much altered and tiered with strengthening S-irons. A brick parapet was added in the 19th century. Prior to the monks’ bridge there was only a ford here documented as 'Sumaeres Forda' or ‘Somersford’ referring to a local family name of Somer.

Somerset Bridge near Elstead

"Somersford Bridge is decayed and downe, and the cawsye thereunto adjoining, which bridge is the Queenes bridge, and by her highnes to be mayneteyned, the stones of which bryda were caryed away by James Bromefelde and by him employed upon his own buyldinges and Peper harowe upon the form of Sir Richard Pexall Knight." Bridge Commissioners 1565

Just upstream of Somerset Bridge the river is quite deep and is favoured as a swimming spot by locals.

There is a substantial medieval stone double bridge (GR: SU946438) at Eashing, again part of the Waverley Abbey series of constructions. Now cared for by the National Trust both bridges were repaired and then gifted to the Trust by The Old Guildford Society in 1901. The bridges are now protected by Scheduled Ancient Monument status.

A sign erected by the National trust at the bridges reads:

This mediaeval double bridge is the best of a series on the Wey between farnham and Guildford which were probably built as a group by the monks of Waverley Abbey in the 13th century. Of particular interest are the downstream cutwaters which are rounded to prevent eddying of the water and consequent wearing down of the piers. Give, together with the approaches, by the Old Guildford Society in 1901.

Eashing mediaeval bridge

The stretch of river by the eastern-most bridge is a popular site for local swimmers (GR: SU947438).

A small and highly unusual split-larch chapel that had been built near Eashing bridge in 1857 was dismantled and rebuilt in 1996 at the Rural Life Centre in Tilford to preserve it for prosperity.

Eashing Chapel had originally been ertected as a twenty-seat place of worship for a small group of Eashing parishioners who had become alienated from the established church by what they described as 'ritualistic practices'. The prefabricated building was erected on land on the western side of the bridge donated by the owner of Eashing Mill, Samuel Pewtress. Evening services were first held in the new Congregational Church (1) the following year and a Sunday School was established there with 40 children and five teachers. By 1909 the chapel had become largely redundant following the death of the original lay preacher and a conflict with the established church, although the Church of England was on record until the late 1940s as maintaining it as a chapel of rest.

Having finally become redundant as a place of worship in 1950 the building was purloined by a local smallholder who literally uplifted the building and wheeled it across Easing Bridge to a new site beneath a steep sand bank opposite Pewtress Cottages, where as a log shed and chicken coop it was allowed to gradually deteriorate.

Surrey Historic Buildings came to the rescue by providing a grant for restoration, and having commissioned architectural drawings dismantled the building and shipped it to the Rural Life Centre in 1994. The building lacked one wall and a third of its roof was beyond saving. The original external cladding of split larch poles, which gave the building its very unusual appearance, had to be completely replaced. A local hurdle maker provided cleaved chestnut as a durable alternative, although one of the original wall panels was retained to show how the original building had looked. A decision was made not to replace the unusual covering of distempered hessian that had been stretched over the timber frame on the interior for fear of damaging visitors' clothes. The chapel, which was restored in 1996, has been furnished with pews, lecturn and a working harmonium from a Baptist chapel in Farnborough as the original furniture had long disappeared.

(1) The Congregational Church originated in the 16th century as a non-conformist body and became very popular during the English civil war.)

Eashing Mill (GR: SU946438) in an 1830 sketch the mill is shown as a paper mill complete with a louvered drying loft and rag house. There was also a corn mill sharing the site. The mill was completely rebuilt two years later to incorporate contemporary paper milling machinery, and again in 1852 having been destroyed by fire at which time it had 15 beating engines powered by two waterwheels and a steam engine. The considerable amount of paper it produced, which included continuous rolls, were used for printing The Times and other papers. The mill finally closed in 1899 having been defeated by the huge new modern mills closer to the coast. A flock mill opened here in the 20th century but had to be rebuilt, now only as a two-storey building, after a fire in 1960.

Eashing Bridge by Kevin Gorton

The buildings continued to be used for industry but in 1998 were renovated for housing with the land being used for a business park. There had however been mills on this site since before the Domesday Survey in 1086 with usage over the centuries including corn and fulling.

There was a short-lived royal Saxon fort at Eashing which was not far from Peper Harow.

World-leading Veterinary Hospital
Opens at Eashing

Europe’s most advanced neuro-orthopaedic centre for domestic pets has been opened (August 2008) at Eashing. Noel Fitzpatrick, a leading pioneer of prosthetic implants for animals, chose the location utilising disused farm buildings on Halfway Lane to build a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital for cats and dogs.

Veterinary Hospital at Eashing near Godalming

Operating as Fitzpatrick Referrals the new £10m facility builds on the experience of Fitzpatrick who was the first veterinary surgeon to successfully apply a prosthetic limb to a dog where both bone and skin can grow on to metal. The medical profession have lauded his pioneering work which can provide a cross-over into human medicine to provide solutions for conditions that may not previously have been operable.

“Orthopaedic conditions and diseases are common to both human beings and to animals,” said Professor Gordon Blunn of the Centre for Biomedical Engineering, Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculo-Skeletal Science at University College London.  “For example osteoarthritis is a debilitating condition seen in humans, cats and dogs. Bone cancer which can lead to loss of life in humans and is usually associated with the peripheral skeleton is also seen in the peripheral skeleton of large dog breeds. Translation of ideas, orthopaedic practice and treatments, from humans to the veterinary field and vice versa has considerable advantages to all animals including dogs, cats and man. Noel Fitzpatrick is pioneering this concept and his work in limb reconstruction for dogs and cats has already had benefits in both veterinary and human orthopaedic practice.”

The practice is the only veterinary hospital in Europe to install a closed-field MRI scanner which provides high quality images of bone, spine, brain and soft tissue enabling diagnosis of a wide range of conditions from slipped discs to tumours. The hospital also boasts a physiotherapy centre and hydrotherapy pool.

The official opening of the centre saw over 500 vets and specialists from all across the British Isles attend an event which was compered by radio DJ Chris Evans, whose own German Shepherd Enzo was returned to full health by Fitzpatrick having suffered paralysis from two herniated discs, with live music provided by Irish band The Saw Doctors.

“Noel lives out his dreams with boundless curiosity, ambition and genius, the product of which is hundreds, soon to be thousands, of fixed pets and happy owners – like me,” said Chris Evans. “ I have huge respect for his endeavour, his integrity and his compassion and to me he’s a superhero-vetman who will leave no stone unturned in his quest to heal, to create and to comfort. He thinks of solutions to medical problems that I’m sure no-one else could even dream of, let alone think of. Actually – I don’t think he ever sleeps!”

responsesource.com 29th August 2008

Peper Harow

The seemingly oddly named hamlet of Peper Harow (GR: SU935441) near Godalming is as distinctive for the debate over its unusual spelling as it is for its history.

Peper Harow Estate

Attempts at making 'piper's temple' stick as a translation from Old English with a suggestion linking to a mystical musician fail through a lack of evidence, although 'piper's hearg' with hearg designating a locally important temple does suggest some association with an important religious site of some sort. It is more likely that 'Piper' was a family name (Pippa and Pipard being variations) with evidence of the name recorded amongst those families who fought the Normans at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. So this would make 'pipers hearg' the 'temple of the family Piper'. Some sources suggest there was a significant pagan temple somewhere in the upper Wey valley some 1,500 years ago.

No archaelogical evidence has been unearthed of a temple within or near the church at Peper Harow, although the archaelogical finds of ramparts of a temporary fortress on a promontary a mile away near Eashing suggest the area was of importance. A 9th century manuscript Burghal Hidage (1) mentions the fortress, although later versions with the fortress omitted suggest the fortress was resited to the strategically more important Guildford.

It is interesting to see the evolution of the spelling from Pipere-herge (1086 Domesday Book) through Piperhearge (11th c); Piperinges (13th c); Pyperhage (14th c); Pepper Harrow (16th c to 18th c) and to Peperharo (1610).

At the time that the Bishop of Winchester had provided a grant to establish the first Cisterian order at nearby Waverley Abbey (1128) a small church, St Nicholas, was established at Peper Harow. The site has provided a parish church since before 1301 Little remains today of the original building which is now constructed of local stone rubble with Caen stone dressing. The modern church has an 1826 tower and houses three 17th century bells. The Victorian architect Augustus Pugin (1803 - 1853) undertook a redesign in the 1840s completely changing the look of the building by introducing a series of different medieval English church styles throughout. The church boasts a substantial lych gate and coffin rest which was erected in 1893. The inscription above the gate reads:

To the Glory of God, and in memory of Harriet, widow of William John 7th Viscount Midleton, born Aug. 10. 1804 entered into rest Aug't 13, 1893, aged 89, this lych gate is erected by her only daughter.

There is an ancient yew tree in the churchyard which has been dated to over 600 years old.

The historian Dr Owen Manning (1721 - 1801), who was the original author of The History and Antiquities of The County of Surrey, was rector at St Nicholas. His book, which was unfinished at the time of his death, was completed by William Bray and published in 1814. Sir Henry Dalrymple White, who led the charge of the Heavy Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava (1854), is buried in the churchyard.

Fire damage at St Nicholas Church, Peper Harow, near Godalming

In 1995 local residents formed the Churches Heritage Trust to ensure the upkeep of St Nicholas and St Mary's in nearby Shackleford. A severe fire broke out in the church just after midnight on Christmas Day 2007 which took 50 firefighters over an hour to bring under control. The brunt of the damage has been borne by the tower, parts of which date back to Norman times, and the 19th century roof of the nave which has been completely destroyed. The church's organ also perished in the blaze and the interior of the church is severely damaged. The damage would have been considerably worse if the efforts of the firefighters had not kept the flames from reaching the east end of the church and its altar. The font and pulpit survived the blaze, as did the larger stained glass windows.

The vicar, the Rev John Fellows, is confident that the church will eventually be restored as the building was fully insured. Initial investigations suggest that the cause of the fire was an electrical fault.

Peper Harow House near Godalming

The estate has had 40 documented owners since the 11th century many of whom were highly influential figures of their time. The longest ownership was of the Brodrick family who took over the estate in 1712 and over the ensuing two hundred years developed the estate to what can be seen today. This included the 1765 building of Peper Harow House by the renowned architect Sir William Chambers (1722 – 1796), much favoured by King George III. Capability Brown landscaped the 19 acre estate in 1762-3 and many of the fine trees he planted remain today.

Number 6, Peper Harow House, one of two flats occupying the top floor of the Palladian mansion was on the market for £1m (August 2009). The accommodation includes three bedrooms with en-suite, a roof terrace and garage and car port.

After the last landed owner Earl Midleton died in 1942 the family broke the estate up into several farms, and property in the outlying villages of Shackleford and Eashing were auctioned in 1944. Somerset Farm alongside the bridge of the same name near Elstead was sold to the resident tenant farmer. The Canadian Army were headquartered at Peper Harow House during the Second World War with several fortified gun emplacements still in evidence along the riverbanks nearby.

A charity The Peper Harow Foundation, today known as Childhood First, evolved from an approved school on the estate in the 1970s to provide a therapeutic community for traumatised children and young adults. Inspired by the life-work of the unorthodox educationalist George Lyward (1894-1973) the foundation, which was formed by Melvyn Rose at Peper Harow in 1970, provided education in a therapeutic environment for teenagers who had suffered abuse. Rose wrote an assessment of his work at Peper Harow in his book Transforming Hate to Love (Routledge 1997 ISBN: 9780415138314) in which he describes how through managing rather than punishing disruptive behaviours adolescents could be helped to regain a normal life instead of being consigned to the state's approved school system. The charity was based here for over 20 years but no longer operates on the estate.

Converted barns, Peper Harow, near Godalming

Today Peper Harow is a private estate with domestic residences for over 30 families. Peper Harow Business Park consists of 10 office suites spread across four converted barns, the Old Dairy and the Smithy. Although the estate is not a public thoroughfare a public bridleway runs through the estate from Lower Eashing (GR: SU943441) to the Shackleford Road by Dark Dale (GR: SU929444). It resides in a Conservation Area and is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Some crop and livestock farming continues at Home Farm.

Documented records show that cricket has been played at Peper Harow since at least 1727. The estate maintains its own cricket pitch and team to this day.

When the estate was sold off for individual residential plots in 1995 a pair of 19th century ornate gilded wrought-iron gates were removed. Luckily these were recovered from a local architectural salvage yard and following refurbishment the Tulip Gates were reinstated.

Peper Harow became a film set (2008/09) for scenes shot in a remake of Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. A Nottinghamshire style village was reconstructed in the grounds.

"It's unbelievable. We're dealing with a movie of some considerable scale", Crowe said while on a 200-acre rural estate where different areas have been transformed into Sherwood Forest, 11th century Nottingham, a French castle, a man-made bog from which Maid Marian (Cate Blanchett) is rescued by Robin Hood (Crowe), and fields of crops which have been grown exactly as they would have been in that bygone era.

The actor was speaking just after shooting a scene where, he said, "the evil Sir Godfrey has put all the good people of Nottingham inside the corn exchange, boarded up the doors and set it aflame. We [Robin and his men] are back from a meeting of the northern barons because I think rebellion is in the air, we find this situation and have to chase Sir Godfrey off."

And it is definitely set to be a gritty portrayal and of the legendary outlaw. Crowe said the battle scene he had just shot featured him "chopping one guy through the chest through his crossbow, hacking another guy through the back, spinning the horse, telling Little John to duck cos he's about to get a pike in the back of the neck, burying my sword in that man's chest, turning to find another pike man coming at me, taking the pike off him, using that to uppercut another soldier, then actually throwing it through the chest of another guy." Live News quoted at coventrytelegraph.net 8th June 2009

Robin Hood classified as 12A and running at two hours and 21 minutes was released in May 2010. It was directed by Ridley Scott. The following review of reviews was published in The Week magazine:

"What do you get if you cross Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan, Troy and The Seventh Seal with a ' hundred buckets of mud'? The answer, said Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, is the all new Robin Hood, starring Russell Rowe as England's most celebrated freedom fighter and Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian.

" Just don't expect a swashbuckling romp in the tradition of Errol Flynn, said Henry FitzHerbert in the Sunday Express. Sitting through Ridley Scott's lengthy film is 'rather like being in the presence of a spoilsport, humourless history teacher earnestly shattering the myths of a legend. Merry men? What was merry about life in 12th century England, for goodness sake? Stealing from the rich to give to the poor? Sentimental claptrap! Men in tights? You've got to be joking.'

Instead, screenwriter Brian Helgeland has determined on a relatively realistic interpretation of the Hood legend, said Matthew Bond in the Mail on Sunday. It's entertaining enough, but 'the story feels as if it's been stretched to fill in the required time'. Crowe is impressive, but he 'never comes close to matching the virile charisma' he possessed in Gladiator." The Week 22nd May 2010


(1) Saxon records were kept of important fortified 'burhs' or towns. King Alfred commissioned the Burghal Hidage a series of which were produced (878-9) to record the defence capability of his Wessex Kingdom, within which this part of the Wey Valley fell. There is reference to a fortress at Burpham (today absorbed into Guildford). Each burh is assessed in hides, a measurement of arable land which in 'hidage' relates to the size of the garrison and the length of defences. Burpham had a hidage of 720 putting it in a middle-ranked position of Alfred's 33 burhs in his Wessex kingdom.

St Mary's

St Mary's Norney

The large Grade II listed church at the Norney crossroads on the Godalming to Peper Harow road is considered to be among the best designed churches in Surrey. St Mary's (GR: SU941449) was designed by the renowned architect Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1865. Built from local Bargate stone it is a wonderful example of Victorian interpretation of the Early English style. St Mary's is the Parish Church for Shackleford and Peper Harow.

St Mary's Norney

Two Farms of Note

The distinctive buildings of Oxenford Grange (GR: SU933433) can be seen from the Elstead to Milford Road (B3001) and often stimulate comment as to their history.

Oxenford Farm near Elstead

Still employing traditional farming methods today the farm can trace its origins back to it being recorded as a Ley farm for Waverley Abbey in the 12th century. The present owners have farmed at Oxenford since the 1880s.

Over the centuries Oxenford passed through many hands until Lord Holles amalgamated the property with Peper Harow in 1676. He sold the estate in 1713 to the first of a long line of Viscount Midleton's, Alan Brodrick, whose family had made a substantial fortune in Ireland. Brodrick was created 1st Viscount Midleton, named after a town on his Cork estate in Ireland, and his family were to own Oxenford and Peper Harow well into the mid 20th century. In 1747 the 3rd Viscount demolished the house at Peper Harow and whilst a replacement was being built his family moved into Oxenford Grange.

The dominant buildings visible from the road are relatively modern having been commissioned in 1843 by Lord Midleton, the 5th Viscount, for design by English architect Augustus Pugin (1812 - 1852) who was renowned for his neo-Gothic inspired creations. They once sat astride the principal entrance to the Peper Harow estate with the most striking being the Gothic styled 'Tythe' barn that stands by the carp pond, the latter having been created as part of the original 12th century Ley farm.

Inspired by a mention in Hunt's Architecture about a gate lodge 'intended to have the appearance of being raised on the Ruins of a Priory,' Lord Midleton 'then thought, that a New Lodge might be built in strict accordance with the style of the Abbey of Waverley, & that I might arrange the Entrance, so as to see the Present Ruins which are now a pretty object but are not seen from the present Entrance.' His aspirations also extended to rebuilding nearby farm buildings in the Abbey Style, whose repair he had been purposely postponing.

It was a chance to recreate the sort of honest, utilitarian buildings that Pugin so admired from the Middle Ages, a time when he felt that 'in matters of ordinary use, a man must go out of his way to produce a bad thing'. With ample funds, for once, and at the height of his powers, Pugin produced a group of buildings generally agreed to be among his finest work, using good local materials in a Picturesque style that adapted that of the Middle Ages for his own time. landmarktrust.org.uk 2012

The result was a group of buildings generally agreed to be among Pugin's finest work and which were built from local materials in a Picturesque style.

The Oxenford Gatehouse was signed up to the Landmark Trust (2009) (1) and provided with a complete renovation to safeguard its future and is now (2010) available as short-stay accommodation.

“We are very proud to have a second building by Augustus Pugin in our portfolio," said Peter Pearce, Director of the Landmark Trust. "He was one of the UK's most influential architects and through Landmark, people can experience living for a short time in one of his buildings.” landmarktrust.org.uk 2009

The landscaping was returned to its original levels, electrical cables buried and the building rewired. Modern internal finishes were removed and corrected, glazing replaced, a modern staircase removed and underfloor heating installed on the ground floor. Drawing on our experience at The Grange, in Ramsgate, also in Landmark's care and once Pugin's own home, the gatehouse has been furnished with furniture in Pugin's style or, in a few instances, designed by him. landmarktrust.org.uk 2010

In lovely countryside and amid Pugin's other buildings, the gatehouse still serenely surveys the coming and goings of a working farmyard, whose owner turned to us for a use to ensure its future. landmarktrust.org.uk 2012

The property has attracted attention from the media including this piece from a Sunday newspaper:

"But despite the renovators' best efforts to cosy the place up using under-floor heating, storage heaters and an open fire (logs are provided at £4 a bag), there's not a heating system in the land that could permeate the three-foot-thick stone walls and gusty stairwell of this 19th-century beacon of Gothic revivalism, especially in the dead of winter.

"Inside, the sturdy oak furniture, wing-backed armchairs and rich cut-velvet curtains expertly complement Pugin's heavy-duty aesthetic, with prints of Queen Victoria's coronation and Victorians living it up at the seaside providing a historical perspective.

"The layout of the place is rather awkward, as you'd expect for an asymmetrical gatehouse. The two bedrooms – one twin, one double – are separated by a hallway, a vertiginous two-storey stone stairwell and a sitting room. With the bathroom located off the ground-floor entrance hall, guests sleeping upstairs would be advised to bring their own chamber pots. The restoration work cannot be faulted, however. The downstairs double room is particularly beautiful with its stone-flagged floor, beamed ceiling and handsome antique bed. Bedding and towels are provided but toiletries aren't; unless you count one teeny bar of soap, guests are asked, rather pointedly, to bring their own." Fiona Sturges. The Independent On Sunday 28th February 2010

Guests can expect to pay £700 plus for a three night stay (2010) providing accommodation for four people.

(1) The Landmark Trust was founded in 1965 to rescue historic and architectural league interesting buildings and their surroundings and provide them with a new life following restoration by letting them as 'places to experience' for shortstay holidays.

Oxenford's long history provided Lord Midleton with material to also build the mock 'ruin' that stands beside today's farmhouse. Stone from the remnants buildings at Oxenford pulled down by the 4th Viscount Midleton were used to construct the folly.

The farm was chosen to serve as a location for the filming of the latest Robin Hood remake in which the Sheriff of Nottingham is controversially made out to be one of the good guys. Merry Men Films Ltd transformed the farm in early 2009 to look like homes that would have been inhabited during the 12th-century, and it is believed that one of the buildings is to feature as the home of Maid Marian in Sir Ridley Scott’s £110m epic version of Robin Hood.

Filming started in April 2009 with the Australian Russell Crowe as Robin Hood, Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian and Vanessa Redgrave as Richard the Lionheart’s mother Queen Eleanor.

Additional scenes were shot in a glade of ancient oaks in the heart of Hampton Estate in nearby Elstead, the woods serving as a useful stand-in for Sherwood Forest. The Hampton Estate also provided the set for scenes filmed for the Christmas special of ITV1’s Midsomer Murders. Blogging fans have also reported set-building of a fortress in Lower Bourne woods.  

The Surrey Advertiser reported that the Robin Hood stars have been regularly sighted around the area. It would appear that Crowe is especially fond of curries as he has visited the Mogul Indian Restaurant in Bagshot at least four times to satisfy his craving.

“He had mild, medium and fairly hot dishes," said Baba Hussain, the proprietor. "But he didn’t have any very, very hot ones." His brother Thair who is the restaurant’s chef seemed totally unfazed, as Hussain added: "He has cooked for Brian May from Queen, Martin Johnson (the England rugby player) and England players like Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard. He is a very confident chef and we are always serving stars, we are used to it." Apparently the actor and his colleagues from the film set had spent over £3,000 on curries, and were generous tippers having left more than £400 in gratuities.

The production has had more than its fair share of problems. Reportedly the producers had to delay shooting from last year (2008) as they apparently considered Crowe to be too overweight, and Sienna Miller who had originally been cast as Maid Marian withdrew from the production. Gossip columns have also reported multiple rewritings of the script supposedly to give Crowe greater stature and the fact that the original schedule was running so late that the leaves of ‘Sherwood Forest’ would have fallen from the trees by the time filming had finished. The press reported that Crowe eventually shed four stone (25kg) before filming started this year. Robin Hood opened in the UK in May 2010.



A little further north is Lydling Farm (GR: SU931462) located just outside Shackleford. A significant producer of beef and pork Lydling has a long history of farming. Neolithic flint implements have been found here together with a Romano-British Cinerary (a cremation urn) and the farm was part of the Rodsall in Godalming Hundred owned by the Saxon Tovi. By 1086 it was recorded in the Domesday Book as being owned by the Bishop of Bayeux.

The first detailed records of the farm date back to a deed of sale in 1711 when one Richard Ford bought it for £1,600 whence it remained within the Ford family for a hundred years. Field names recorded in the deeds provide a fascinating window into Lydling's past. Kiln Field was where chalk was burnt to produce lime to spread on the fields. Bar Field reflects the time whens when 'bars' and 'chains' were used to provide linear measurement. Others such as Whirl Hill, Stony Windsor, Brummells and Hornes hint at long-lost local connections.

Neighbouring Cross Farm was owned in 1700 by Richard Wyatt, who built the alms houses in Godalming (see here), and it is he that had sold Lydling to Ford.

The Stovolds, one of Surrey's oldest farming families with records of association with agriculture dating back to 1367, managed the farm in 1874 and bought it in 1934. Today the farm is run by its 5th generation of the family who breed and keep Aberdeen Angus cattle and British Saddleback pigs. The farm actively supports conservation to preserve the local ecology with proactive maintenance of hedgerow wildlife habitats, 18ft (6m) margins around all fields to provide wildlife corridors, and the use of farmyard manure instead of chemical fertilisers. Crops are rotated, thistles are encouraged to provide winter feed for birds and bird and bat boxes have been erected to increase the number of species living on the farm.

Shackleford - The Mushroom Wars

Shackleford Mushroom Farm survived in a climate of rising costs and aggressive competition from abroad until, as one of the last specialist producer of mushrooms in the south-east of England, it closed in 2008. The farm, which had operated for 50 years employed 80 people.

Surrey Food Links, an organisation that promotes local produce, said it showed how dominant supermarkets are in the buying process.

"I deal with some of the smaller producers who don't necessarily deal with the supermarkets, who sell their products through farmers markets and through farm shops and they're doing very well," said Wendy Neal-Smith of Surrey Food Links.

"We couldn't have grown our business to where it is today without supermarkets," said Peter Davies the owner of Shackleford Mushrooms. "Unfortunately in the past few years there is more competition coming in from abroad, with Irish, Dutch, and now Polish mushrooms. Labour costs in Poland for instance are way down on what they are here, so our price has been pretty much fixed. We're caught in the price war, and we just aren't getting any increases in price for our produce."

The 2.83 hectare (7 acre) site has been identified as a major green belt development site and is now owned by Wates Developments, a leading UK land management group.

The company held a public consultation in Shackleford village hall in December 2007 to discuss its preliminary proposals for the site which were to build 12 new homes of which four would provide affordable housing. A second public consultation was held in May 2008 to air the plans for a revised proposal of 18 new homes and additional affordable housing.

However in April 2009 the firm submitted a detailed planning application which provides for 25 houses, nine affordable homes and two houses for key workers.

Wates Developments planning statement described the farm as having ‘the appearance of an intensely developed industrial site’ and stated:

“By replacing the existing use with a modest high quality mixed tenure residential development, it is the intention of Wates Developments to transform the site.  It will significantly enhance the green belt and an area of outstanding natural beauty and sustain the local community centred on Shackleford Village and nearby Peper Harow.”

Villagers are concerned that they may lose their children’s playground, cricket club and the Cyder House Field all of which are part of the farm site. The development company has stated that it intends to secure the long-term future of the cricket club enhancing the cricket pavilion and the children’s playground, the latter which it intends to transfer to Shackleford Parish Council. It has also stated that it has no plans for Cyder House Field which is currently being used by a local farmer.

bbc.co.uk 10th February 2008
Surrey Advertiser 10th April 2009

The developers withdrew their plans after triggering 42 objections and have submitted (October 2009) scaled down plans for 18 homes including seven affordable houses.

Shackleford - Aldro School

Aldro as an independent boys' boarding school, situated in part on the site of an Italian POW camp in Shackleford, was founded in the 19th century and until the 1970s followed a military-style discipline. The more relaxed modern school achieved great popularity under the headmastershp of Crispin Hill who after his retirement founded the unique Skillway Charity in Godalming that provides vocational help for young people struggling in mainstream education.

The school which is located in Lombard Street, Shackleford originated from a small preparatory school in Eastbourne which was founded in 1877. The institution, which became St Andrews School, was taken over in 1890 by clergyman Edwin Leece Brown who was fondly referred to as 'ELB'. ELB, whose portrait hangs proudly over the fireplace in the drawing room of the modern school, instructed his brother Harold to start up a boarding school in an annexe which he decided to call 'Aldro' using the name of a farm in Yorkshire that he visited regularly. The farm was named after an old English term meaning an alder row, or row of alder trees.

Aldro opened in Eastbourne with 36 boys paying 100 guineas a year in school fees. The school went from strength to strength and by the time the Rev Harold Browne died after a short illness in 1922 it attracted boarders from all over the country. The new owners Frederick and Audrey Hill developed a philosophy for the school based on military life. The individual school houses were called 'squads' with the boys undertaking military drill each day, and each of the squads were named after the countries of the Empire. This military-style regime survived until 1978.

With the start of the Second World War the threat of invasion and bombing raids along the south coast resulted in the school being evacuated to Hall Place in Shackleford. The mansion was purchased from the estate of Sir Edgar Horne after his death in 1941 for £10,000. The boys moved into their new home the following year and were immediately absorbed into the realities of wartime civilian life. The school's playing fields were ploughed for hay production and the boys regularly helped on local farms working alongside the Italian POWs from a camp located where Rose Cottage once stood. Twenty old Aldronians lost their lives in the war, and the barn was converted into the War Memorial Chapel in 1949 to commemorate their lives.

After the death of Frederik in 1952 his elder son Crispin Hill took over as headmaster and the school continued to grow providing for the education of 140 boys by the time he retired in 1984. The school added a pre-prep department in the old Italian POW camp buildings in 1954, although this was eventually closed nine years later with the land being sold for development. Crispin Hill was an inspirational teacher who also took a practical approach to special needs teaching, and after his retirement he helped establish the Skillway charity (MORE HERE) in Godalming to help young people who experience problems in mainstream education. A multipurpose hall was named after Crispin Hill in 1987.

The school today is run by David and Sue Aston who took over in 2001 and who have continued to develop the school as it enters its second century. Aldro has 220 pupils between the ages of seven and 13 (2010) with 65 full-time boarders housed in 10 dormitories. The school is administered by an educational trust and has the Christian foundation at its heart. Aldro also has close links with the Christian Titus Trust with boys enjoying their activity holidays.

The school boasts extensive facilities including a new classroom block opened in 1999 as the Centenary Building complete with a well-equipped ICT suite and library. There is also a purpose-built theatre and an indoor sports hall in the Crispin Hill Centre, which also houses a music school. Sports activities embrace all of the main disciplines with the boys having access to facilities including an outdoor heated pool, tennis and squash courts, a rifle and pistol range, a nine hole golf course and the school's own lake on which boys enjoy rowing and fishing. The IAPS National Chess Championships have been held at Aldro for a number of years, with many of the boys enjoying success in national competitions and several representing their country.

The school gardener discovered a dead seabird in the grounds (December 2009) which was identified as a rare Leach's petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) by a researcher at Plymouth University. It is likely that the bird was carried by recent storms away from its normal habitat in the northern Scottish islands and eventually died of exhaustion.

Round & About Magazine February 2010; www.aldro.org 5th February 2010

Wetland Habitats & Godalming


Downstream from the Eashing bridges the river heads north-east before making a right hand turn to flow down into Godalming. Along this north bearing the Wey reaches a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) (GR: SU950444) which has been protected to preserve a series of wetland habitats including damp grassland, fen and alder swamp, and an ancient semi-natural woodland.

A tributary to the Wey, the River Ock which rises near Hambledon a few miles south of Godalming, has its confluence with the Wey near the railway bridge which brought the new line over the river and into Godalming in 1849. Close to here is the parish church with its proud spire clearly visible as a landmark from miles around. In the aptly named Mill Lane near the centre of town are a number of old black and white timber houses that were built around the mill.

Godalming Boarden Bridge 1906
The Old Boarden Bridge 1906
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

The road bridge crossing the river near the church at Godalming is Borough Bridge (GR: SU967442) which took over from the smaller wooden Boarden Bridge that lies alongside and that could carry little more than a man and a small horse. Before the wooden bridge, which is named after 'board' as the word used in Norman times for 'wood' hinting perhaps at how long a bridge has been present here, there was a ford here which provided the main link to Guildford. In the eighteenth century the bridge would have led into the fields of Deanery Farm Estate which dominated this extremity of the town, with the track passing over a series of smaller 'Little Pray Bridges'. These were built over smaller streams and culverts including Hell Ditch which feeds into the river via the Lammas Lands. The farmhouse still stands today as a private residence next to the Scout Hut on Charterhouse Road, which itself is housed in the old farm buildings.

The brick bridge was built in 1870 by the local authority to link the town with the newly relocated Charterhouse School (MORE HERE) which they recognised would become an important employer and generate considerable business for the town. Charterhouse was built on 68 acres of land purchased from Deanery Farm.

The bridge became known locally as the ‘Lunatic Bridge’ because the borough council in its infinite wisdom designed it with large arches high enough to allow boats to pass through, a complete waste of taxpayers money because the river was far too shallow for anything larger than a punt to navigate, and even that would risk grounding. The Godalming Navigation built in the previous century terminates half a mile downstream and there were never any plans to extend it further.

Upstream of here, where the river skirts close to the end of Peperharow Road (GR: SU957446), is where teachers from the newly built Charterhouse School in the 19th century used to supervise swimming by their young charges.

Early Autumn by Stephen Goddard
click on image to go to artist's website

Immediately downstream on the south bank of the river is the parish church which was built to replace the old one built by the Saxons in nearby Tuesley. St Peter & St Paul’s (GR: SU968440) has had work adding to its impressive buildings in the thousand years from the 9th until the 19th centuries, with the tall spire having been added in the 14th century. There is a parish chest dating back to 1200 in safekeeping at the church and medieval paintings have been uncovered on some of the walls.


The church and its graveyard has a commanding position overlooking the river and the common water meadows on the far bank which are an extension to the Lammas Lands further downstream. Right next door the Phillips Memorial Recreation Ground was built in 1914 to honour the loss of one of nearby Farncombe’s heroic sons, Jack Phillips the wireless operator who went down with the Titanic whilst trying to raise help.

An Industrious Town

“It was said that a blind man arriving by train would know he was in Godalming by the stink.” Ronald Head local author

There were numerous watermills and tanneries in and around Godalming. Add to that woollen factories, quarries, and breweries so that by the end of the 19th century the town would have been a very industrious if not noisy and pungent place in which to live.

Godalming Flour Mill 1908
Godalming Flour Mill 1908
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

At the turn of the 20th century the huge chimney of Rea & Fisher’s oak bark leather tannery dominated the town, not just with its sheer bulk but also the persistent and pungent smell emitted by its industry. Other smaller chimneys pinpointed business concerns allied to the clothing industry for which Godalming was renowned. Nearby would have been Allen Solly’s steam hosiery factory.


Three large tanneries worked in close proximity in and around the Wey and its tributary the Ock near the centre of the town. The tannery at Westbrook Mill (GR: SU966442) on the River Wey specialised in the soft chamois leathers, another in Ockford road near the mill there produced small skin leather including rabbit and the larger hides were treated at Rea & Fisher’s. A clutch of slaughterhouses serviced the tanneries. When Westbrook closed the tannery in 1913 its extensive complex of buildings continued to be used by businesses using the Wey for power. The factory was finally demolished in 1980 and there is little left today to give any indication as to its historic importance to the town despite its long history. Corn and paper milling, leather dressing and fulling had all been carried out here, with reference to fulling and leather mills operating side by side in 1788.

Godalming Mill Lane 1910
Mill Lane 1910
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

The town finally lost its last living link with the clothing industry when the clothing factory of Alan Paine closed at the end of the 20th century.

Milling for various industries has been conducted along this part of the Wey Valley for over a thousand years, with three mentioned in the Domesday Book. The oldest site of a mill is at Westbrook, which has also been known as Salgasson and Pullman’s, and it is likely that this was grinding flour at the outset. Ockford Mill (GR: SU962433) as the name suggests straddles the Wey’s tributary the Ock behind a large millpond next to the Inn on the Lake. Long since converted to offices, the mill’s first occupant was a corn miller in 1835 who took power from a waterwheel and eventually from a Little Giant water turbine that was installed in 1886. The miller’s house was on the opposite side of the Portsmouth Road at what is now called Headley Lodge. All the machinery was removed when the mill closed in 1934 and the renovations have left the building looking little like a mill now.

Pullmans Mill Godalming 1910
Pullmans Mill Godalming 1910
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Hatch Mill (GR: SU966438) also on the Ock in Mill Lane dates back to the 17th century and was still operating as a flour mill in the early 20th century. However it is very likely that a mill on the site here was one of the three in the area mentioned in the Domesday Survey. In 1940 a more efficient water turbine was installed, and this Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd of Kendal machine can still be seen alongside the mill which is now used as offices having ceased a mere 10 years later. The mill building is unusual in that is part supported by wooden piles driven into the banks of the small river flowing beneath.

Another mill on a tributary in the area is Wonersh Mill (GR: TQ023446) dating from the 15th century with 3 pairs milling corn until it ceased in 1910. The building is now used for storage.

The Bridge over The Wey by Paul Mackenzie

The Town Bridge (GR: SU974442), a red-brick structure originally built in 1782 is the last crossing before the Godalming Navigation starts at the old wharfside opposite the Lammas Lands a few hundred yards downstream. Carrying the main A3100 linking Godalming with Guildford, the bridge was widened in the 1920s following a fatal road accident there. Another widening followed in 1930 and the bridge was further strengthened in 1992 to ensure it could endure the large amount of traffic it has to carry.

Church Street, Godalming by Kevin Gorton



Quarry Plans Threaten River Wey

Surrey County Council (SCC) has put forward plans (June 2006) to excavate land at Eashing Farm (GR: SU947449), a stone's throw away from fragile river habitats, in order to extract millions of tonnes of sand and Bargate stone. This site is one of eighteen currently under consideration by SCC, another of which is at Monkton Lane (GR: SU857486) bordering Green Lane Farm at Weybourne, Farnham also in the Wey Valley.

Waverley Borough councillors have been warned of the consequences of the plan just across the borough border and are rallying with the Save the Surrey Hills campaign group.

The county council has officially redefined the area as a 'preferred site' for the quarry as part of its draft minerals plan, despite its special landscape designations, due to its proximity to the A3 and its potential large yield of sand. The plans also allow for low grade sand to be processed on site for upgrading which will also generate airborne dust it is feared.

"It is patently obvious that this has fallen through the hole in the bucket. The site is in Guildford but all the problems will be in Waverley and in particular in Godalming," said Borough councillor Chris Slyfield.

Local residents have been told that quarrying will take place over decades and the excavation will be infilled with undisclosed waste. Up to 174,000 lorries would access the site over the next 10 years campaigners have advised.

"The Bargate stone has to be removed to get at the sand. To do this they will have to use either dynamite or drilling and cutting - both of which will create noise and dust pollution." said a spokesman for the campaigners. "Our research has shown that prevailing winds will bring the dust cloud down on to Godalming. It will travel for up to a mile creating a major risk to health."

The estimated area of excavation (27.8 ha) was equivalent to the distance between Godalming's Pepperpot and the Sainsbury's store at Catteshall.

Eashing Farm is opposite the Squirrel public house in Hurtmore on the Hurtmore Road. The farm is in Guildford but is bordered by Godalming's Charterhouse ward along with the parishes of Priorsfield, Eashing, Shackleford and Puttenham.

The public consultation for the quarry plan has now been concluded. The final plan will be submitted to the Government Office for the South East in mid 2007 for final adoption in the autumn of 2008 following a public examination.

Surrey Advertiser article by Beverley Woolford
published 16th June 2006

The SCC Preliminary Planning Assessment (PMZ71) identifies net mineral reserves of approximately 2,900,000 tonnes of soft sand and 500,000 tonnes of Bargate stone.

The quarry will also seriously impede on the Charterhouse to Eashing Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which runs adjacent to the boundary of the quarry.

The Save Surrey Hills website (http://surreyhills.blogspot.com/) has images illustrating the extent of the likely quarry. The proximity to the River Wey of the southern boundary of the quarry can be clearly seen.

The campaigners also provide details of how to register your opposition to the plan.

The following are excerpts taken from the consultation document issued by Surrey County Council. Full context is provided from the complete document available as a downloadable PDF or HTML at the SCC website or by clicking HERE.

*abbreviations defined below

PMZ* Description : Open fields currently used for arable farming
PMZ Area : 27.8 ha
Planning Policy : Located within the Green Belt
Landscape and Visual: Located within the AGLV*. The Surrey Hills AONB* lies adjacent to the west.
Ecology and Nature Conservation : There are no ecological designations upon the PMZ. There is a SSSI* designation adjacent to the PMZ to the south east and a SNCI* designation to the north east.
Hydrology : The PMZ is within a major aquifer.
Archaeology and Historic Environment : There are a couple of SMR* points within the PMZ. Eashing conservation area is adjacent to the south.
Noise : Potential noise impacts on residential properties within 45m of PMZ
Other Environmental Issues : Rights of Way traverse the PMZ.

PMZ - Potential Mineral Zone
AGLV - Area of Great Landscape Value
AONB - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
SSSI - Site of Special Scientific Interest
SNCI - Site of Nature Conservation Importance
SMR - Sites and Monuments Record

Surrey County Council website June 2006

The Surrey County Council's executive member for the environment, David Munro, met (July 2006) with representatives of Godalming Town Council and Save The Surrey Hills Campaign to discuss their concerns over the plans for the quarry site.

"First, we all live in houses, we all have to go to hospital at some point, and we all drive on the roads," said Munro having explained that it was his 'uncomfortable duty' to decide where quarries that were to meet the government-set mineral extraction targets were to be. "Nearly every scrap of material used to make these will come from the ground, so we need quarries. It is our duty to decide, in consultation with the public, where this comes from. This is a crowded county, no site is perfect. No community ever wants a quarry next door and I understand that. It would be a painful decision and we will be as fair as possible."

The protesters complained about the SCCs consultation process over the site but were told that this had been hampered by the huge reaction to the SCCs mineral extraction plans. Of over 3,000 residents responding 1,100 of these were in relation to the Eashing quarry plan. SCC have said that they will have completed examining these by the end of August, at which point a second draft of the minerals plan will be prepared and put before SCC in the spring of 2007 prior to being presented to the government for approval. A public examination will then be scheduled.

The town councillors for Godalming have publicly backed the campaigners and have stated that they will strongly oppose the quarry and make their views known throughout the consultation process and public enquiry.

Surrey Advertiser 4th August 2006

Local MP Jeremy Hunt has formally written (August 2006) to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government challenging the formula that is being imposed on individual counties in Britain which dictates how much primary aggregate must be produced by each. Surrey's current quota is 2.62 millon tonnes per year. This represents the second highest expected output in the south east despite the fact that geographically the county is one of the smallest.

"They (the targets) are merely based on how much a county has produced in the past and do not take into account mineral availability or a county's future needs," said the MP. "Surrey is comparatively small compared to some other counties which means mineral extraction sites are closer to residential areas. Surrey is being forced to account for more than its fair share of minerals and I am immenseley worried about the impact this could have in the future."

Surrey Advertiser 11th August 2006

A conservation expert visited (September 2006) the Eashing Farm quarry site with local MP Jeremy Hunt and expressed concern over the scheme if it were to get the go ahead. Specific concerns were highlighted over the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which lies alongside the planned boundary of the quarry.

"This is a nationally important wetland habitat," said Nick Radford, English Nature conservation officer. "There are not many areas like this left and they are all under threat and have declined considerably over recent years. We have to make every effort we can to safeguard what is left."

English Nature have made a formal application to Surrey County Council (SCC) requesting that the council undertakes a comprehensive hydrological survey in order to assess the potential impact. English Nature's expectations were that SCC would need to limit the amount of quarrying, zone the quarry away from the SSSI or implement a buffer zone between quarry activity and the SSSI. The Environment Agency have also lodged concerns about the negative impact the quarry is likely to have on the environment.

The report published by SCC following their Preferred Option Consultation revealed that 88% of all respondents, including the local Waverley Borough Council, opposed SCC's plans for a quarry at Eashing.

Surrey Advertiser 29th September 2006

The process for deciding on inclusion of sites for the Minerals and Waste Local Plan has been delayed (March 2007) by eight months due to staff shortages at County Hall. Technical and background work and the preparation of the submission draft has been delayed until October or November 2007. A public examination will follow with a final decision from the Secretary of State in November 2008.

Protesters descended on County Hall (April 2007) for the Executive meeting of Surrey County Council in a bid to have Eashing Farm removed from the list of proposed quarry sites, especially that further facts have come to light. New developments are access to the quarry from the A3 and upgrading the quarry from low grade sand extraction to processing it to high grade sand on-site, neither of which were in the original proposals. There are also concerns that the real purpose of the site will be to quarry the local high quality bargate stone.

"The plan is supposed to be about minerals and sand but this more about bargate stone," said Cllr Tony Rooth. "There are 8,000 tons of bargate stone overlaying the sand. At £800 a ton that's worth an awful lot more to the developer."

The Surrey Hills Action Committee (SHAC) reported 2,300 objections to the proposal.

Surrey County Council refused to eliminate the Eashing Farm site from the list.

Surrey Advertiser 27th April 2007

The issue of Bargate stone being quarried at the Eashing Farm site has raised (May 2007) concerns that the stone will be extracted using dynamite.

Campaigners were cheered to learn that the government agency with a remit to protect the environment has requested (October 2008) that Eashing Farm be removed from the county council's minerals plan. Natural England has also requested that hydrological site investigations for the site of special scientific interest (SSSI) are brought forward rather than waiting for the planning application stage.

"In our response to the Surrey Minerals Plan, Natural England raised concerns about the potential effects of the Eashing Farm Minerals Plan allocation on the adjacent Charterhouse to Eashing SSSI," said a spokeswoman for Natural England. "New information provided in May 2008, including the need for an on-site processing plant raised additional concerns regarding potential air and water quality impacts on the SSSI. For these reasons, Natural England has advised that the Eashing Farm allocation is removed as a preferred option from the Surrey Minerals Plan. Natural England continues to work with the county council towards a solution."

Surrey Advertiser 17th October 2008

Eashing Farm has been provisionally deleted (September 2009) from the Surrey Minerals Plan. The plans have yet to be ratified although campaigners are optimistic.

"Save Surrey Hills Action Committee have sought for the removal of Eashing Farm for over three and a half  years with the backing of Godalming and surrounding villages, as well as our local county councillor and Anne Milton MP," said a spokeswoman for the group. “We also very much appreciated the backing of the councils of Waverley and Guildford, and particularly the Campaign to Protect Rural England, who work tirelessly to protect England's countryside. We will continue to ensure that Eashing Farm does not reappear at a future date.” Surrey Advertiser 2nd October 2009

Eashing Farm has also been under the spotlight (April 2009) after a mobile phone operator erected an 85ft (26m) tall mast without planning permission. T Mobile, who erected the mast in 2008, were issued with an enforcement notice in August of that year to remove it from the land which is designated as being of outstanding natural beauty and of special environmental quality. The company, which had to remove an installation from the Godalming water tower after the lease expired in 2007, had appealed but has now been instructed by the planning inspector to remove the mast and an equipment cabinet and generator from the site by July 2009.



High Court Ruling Concludes
Tuesley Farm Polytunnel Conflict

A ruling from the High Court (December 2006) has brought to a close a long-running dispute between the local council and residents against the extensive use of polytunnels for intensive horticulture at Tuesley Farm (GR: SU964418) near Godalming.

Mirroring similar intensive horticulture schemes elsewhere in the Wey Valley and southern England, the 469 acre farm has been at the centre of considerable local opposition since the farm was bought by a major soft fruit supplier in 2003.

Typical polytunnels
Typical view of polytunnels
(although these are not at Tuesley Farm)
Photo by Val Vannet licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike

The Hall Hunter Partnership, who are a key supplier of soft fruit to Waitrose, in 2004 began to erect 12ft (3.6m) plastic polytunnels on the farm in order to produce strawberries, blackberries and raspberries on an extended growing season of up to 6 months. All the erected polytunnels cover 39 hectares of land. Prior to the development of 'Spanish polytunnels', which first saw the light of day in Britain in 1998, the growing season was restricted to six weeks. They also installed 45 mobile homes and caravans on the farm to house 250 farm workers over the 10 month growing season.

Waverley Borough Council issued planning enforcement notices requiring that polytunnel erection was stopped.

Divided into three fields of 70, 100 and 250 acres the first soft fruit under the owners was harvested in June 2004. Seventy acres are dedicated to organic fruit. Hall Hunter also operate on farms in Berkshire and nearby Shere, with their produce marketed through Berryworld Ltd.

Local villagers were joined by environmental pressure groups including the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Friends of The Earth (FOTE) to condemn the use of chemical sterilizers on the soil and to contest the development on planning permission grounds.

In what was described as a landmark decision (December 2005) the Planning Inspector ruled in an enforcement action after an 11 day Public Enquiry that the polytunnels and mobile homes should be removed from the farm which falls within protected Green Belt and an Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV). This decision upheld enforcement notices previously issued by Waverley Borough Council outlawing the tunnels and accommodation on the grounds that no planning permission had been granted for the structures.

The National Farmer's Union are concerned that the decision will set a precedent that will jeopardise one of the few agricultural sectors that are experiencing growth in the UK

The owners Hall Hunter had been given a year to comply with the order but they had lodged their appeal which was heard in the High Court in December 2006. They also offered a compromise plan, in order to safeguard their business and the livelihoods of the farm workers and 20 full-time employees, which was presented to a forum hosted by Waverley Borough Council in September. Hall Hunter had offered to rehouse workers within existing farm buildings and to remove the outermost polytunnels which are closest to local domestic dwellings, effectively cutting polytunnel cover by 10%.

"The polytunnels will be moved further from the boundary," said David Kay, general manager at the farm. "The blocks will also be broken up so that less than 18% of the area or 35 hectares is covered at one time."

Hall Hunter also planned to introduce an education centre to show how the farm is run, restore wetlands and create a community meadow, and to extend the footpath network that runs through the farm.

"A lot of people historically have been very hostile. We are not looking to create more discord. We are seeking a solution that will be socially, environmentally and commercially sustainable," said Kay.

The local objectors, who had formed a campaign group under the banner of the Tuesley Farm Campaign (TFC), welcomed the proposals but don't feel they went far enough to minimise the impact of the farm's horticultural activity.

"Is Tuesley Farm the right place is the key question. The level of coverage is still contrary to the insector's decision, and the polytunnels will still dominate most of the year and be visible from mid January until the end of November," said Kathy Smith of TFC.

WBC Councillor Adam Taylor Smith was clearly unimpressed by the latest Hall Hunter plans.

"Waverley should concentrate on winning the appeal, not a compromise," he said.

In the December High Court hearing an argument was put over by Timothy Straker QC for the Hall Hunter Partnership that the polytunnels were erected for crop rotation and therefore could not be legally classed as permanent buildings covered by the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act. However the court ruled in favour of Waverley Borough Council and in what is regarded as landmark ruling stated that farmers need planning permission to erect plastic polytunnels.

The ruling has been met with mixed reaction, from elation by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to despair by the National Farmers Union (NFU), and British Summer Fruits (BSF) who represent growers of 92% of UK-produced soft fruit and fear that the ruling could threaten the £200m soft fruit industry in Britain.

"It is a wonderful result because people have stood up and been counted defending some of the most important countryside we have," said Tim Harold, CPRE chairman. "It is not unreasonable to expect landowners to obtain planning consent."

"Spanish polytunnels, which are used for protecting berries from our inclement weather, cover a mere 0.01% of UK agricultural land," said a British Summer Fruits official. "If UK growers are unable to meet the increasing consumer demand for berries then imported fruit will appear on supermarket shelves during our summer season."

“This will now ensure that there will be proper representation through the democratic process of the potential conflicts between polytunnels and other interests," said Tom Oliver, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. "We know there are considerable and legitimate commercial opportunities that polytunnel farming represents but there are equally legitimate concerns for landscape protection and the protection of soil and water resources.”

The NFU, fearing a backlash countrywide after the ruling has been mediating in clashes over polytunnels between villagers and farmers, has developed a code which asks growers to resist siting polytunnels within 30 metres of a private house. This code will from 1st January 2007 become compulsory for all suppliers of soft fruit to supermarkets.

"We are keen that this ruling is not interpreted as a ruling on all polytunnels," said David Glasson of the NFU. "We want to keep the soft-fruit industry a British success story instead of buying in foreign imports. We are hoping the court decision will not be a retrograde step for the industry.”

The use of polytunnels reduces the use of pesticides by 50 per cent.

Campaign to Protect Rural England press releases 2005 - 06; Tuesley Farm Campaign; Surrey Advertiser 22nd September 2006; Hall Hunter Partnership website; bbc.co.uk
15th December 2006; timesonline.co.uk 16th December 2006

The Hall Hunter Partnership, who own and manage Tuesley Farm, are planning to mount a final bid to keep the farm operating. The partnership will be submitting a revised planning application and have in the process approached neighbouring parish councils in an attempt to secure local support for the scaled down plans. The new plans have reduced coverage by polytunnels from 50% to 11% of the farm area and that blocks of covered crops would be broken up to make them less visually intrusive. The polytunnels would also not be erected on most of the outer fields.

Surrey Advertiser 4th May 2007

Waverley Borough Council approved (November 2007) the planning application by the farm to erect polytunnels on up to 20 hectares working on a rotational basis within a clearly defined 190 hectares of land. The approval is conditional upon a legal obligation for the farmer "to manage the farm to minimise the impact of polytunnels on the landscape".




© Wey River 2005 - 2012

Supported and created by volunteers from Wey River Freelance Community Visit our nice sponsors Getting to know the river Introducing the two Navigations Transport along the Wey Navigations Industry along the Wey Valley Wildlife in the Wey Valley Places of interest in the Wey Valley The people of the valley who made names of themselves The art of the valley Climb out of the river