Chapter 4


The eighteenth century ushers in ideas of the Georgian era, an age of elegance in architecture, with Adam, Sheraton and Nash. When England had settled down after the early Jacobite uprisings, and the House of Hanover was firmly planted on the throne, there was a long period of peace, marred by the loss of the American colonies, and one or two foreign upheavals, it is true, but by and large an age of elegance, of luxury, of wit, learning and extravagance, of which the polished malicious lines of Alexander Pope’s verse seem a perfect evocation. The artist of the era was undoubtedly Hogarth, who captured the luxury and extravagance but also the corruption and vice which often underlay it. This was also the age of church reform, and the amazing success of the preaching of John and Charles Wesley, aided by some savage attacks by many writers on the established church, owed much to the lax state many parishes were allowed to drift into, with livings held by absentee gentlemen Vicars, many of whom never came near their parishes. The village at this time would have been composed of small field strips either of grass or ploughland, and a ribbon development of houses along Thursley Road as far as the Church, Milford Road and Farnham Road, with no connection between the three. As late as 1933 the field below the bridge, opposite the Mill, was still divided into seven strips, with the owners each cutting their own hay each year. This area must have escaped somehow when the Enclosure Act, which basically put an end to the medieval system of strip farming, was completed in Elstead in 1851.

In 1725, Martin Gruchy was Curate. He was also Curate of Seale – he probably needed to be in order to earn a living wage. He reported that the population of Elstead was about 300. Mr. William Bishop, of Frensham, was lessee of the tithes, and therefore responsible for appointing curates. After the Reformation, Elstead became a perpetual Curacy, in the care of the Rector of Farnham, who would lease out the tithe revenue to any local magnate who was prepared to bid for it. Gruchy said that there was no dissenting chapel in Elstead, “no lecturer, no papist, and but two or three anabaptists of small account”. There was no endowed school, and no charity, except “Mr. Smith’s charity for poor persons not relieved by the parish”. The “poor” still receive 25p vouchers at Christmas from the selfsame charity.

In 1713, Oxenford Grange was purchased by Alan Brodick, later Viscount Midleton. The third part which Chesterton Fox of Godalming had bought in 1624 had been sold to the Stillwells, of Mousehill, and this was bought from them together with the Mousehill Estate, in 1802. In 1775 most of the Grange was pulled down, except what was converted into a cottage, and is now covered with ivy.

The Woolpack Inn is reputed to be an ancient building. It was originally a farm and is rumoured to have been the scene of a murder. In 1758 the property was sold to the Goslin family, who were wheel-wrights, and it remained in their hands until 1843. The western end was used during this time as a butchers shop.

Elstead House was a large, principally Georgian, house demolished by Hambledon Rural District Council in 1954. It stood in Milford Road and was surrounded by a wall from Ham Lane to beyond the present housing estate of Broomfield and Hazelwood. Two barns, one large and one small, stood between the corner of Ham Lane and the present flats called Barn Court and the Grange. The smaller barn burnt down and the other became a cafe, converted and run by a Mr. Murr. It was in use in 1963, but was pulled down when “The Grange” was built. The high stone wall ran from near the present entrance to “Broomfield”. There was a door in it which led to greenhouses etc. then came the gardener’s cottage – now “Mr. and Mrs.” and the hairdressers. The wall continued beyond this, with another gate leading to the big house, then double carriage doors opening onto the drive, with the barns and a shrubbery on the right. This drive passed the house and curved round to “the Park” where village events were ,often held. “The Park” extended in depth to where Ham Lane curves round, parallel with Milford Road to, and including, the present Hideaway House, in Ham Lane, and joined the present recreation ground, which was the property of Burford Lodge. Mr. Charles Ingram, of the “Illustrated London News” and “Sphere” lived at Elstead House. He was a keen breeder of orchids, and his head gardener was Mr. Bond. Mr. Ingram was succeeded by Mr. and Mrs. Laddams, and then by a Captain and Mrs. Reaveley. Mrs. Reaveley sold the house to the Rural District Council on her husband’s death, and they promptly demolished it.

In 1770, William Hogsflesh, the miller, took out fire insurance with the Sun Fire Office, as the fire mark fixed on the mill witnesses. Coverage was up to £200 until Michaelmas 1771, with a premium 4/- on his new dwellinghouse and brewhouse. There is another fire mark on the house of the Exchange House Fire Office, founded in 1708.

In 1724, it is recorded that Thomas Kelsey of Elstead, a miller, married Jane Flutter, of Guildford, at Puttenham. There seems little doubt that the mill functioned as a corn mill at least until 1777.

Thomas Kelsey, the miller, in 1724, afterwards opened a woollen mill at Godalming, which probably gave rise to the mistaken belief that Elstead Mill was a woollen mill. It is marked as such on the 1871 Ordnance Survey.

The lower rooms of the mill in the 1930’s were said to be liable to flooding, and much damage had been done.

At least one person from Elstead was apprenticed as a framework knitter in the eighteenth century. This makes it reasonable to suppose others were engaged in textile related work.

Little Barn, in Ash Lane, was farmed from Domford by George Legg, a tenant of the Bishop of Winchester in 1795. He allowed his son James to have ¼ acre to build “a cottage with a paling fence around it”. On the death of George Legg senior, the Bishop took his eldest son George Legg as tenant, of Domford, and confirmed James Legg as tenant of the ¼ acre, now called “Little Barn”, in 1800.

Tadmoor Cottage, out in Woolfords Lane, was built in 1765 – the name possibly meant “Toadmarsh”. It was once a farm, and then became two Labourers cottages. It was converted to one private dwelling in the late 1940’s.

Church Farm, in Westbrook Hill, was built around 1725 on land which belonged to the Church, and was administered, like the Church, by the Rectors of Farnham. It still exhibits a few bricked up windows – remnants of the eighteenth century window tax. There is an old story that there was once a tunnel, passing from the Church to the farm and across the road to the old Inn opposite, the Wheatsheaf, now pulled down but part of which is now Church Cottages.