Chapter 5


The 19th century saw the great upsurge in mechanisation and invention which led to England becoming “the workshop of the world”. The invention of the steam engine, by James Watt, and the increasing use of coal to power machinery led to industrial concentration in the coal producing areas of the Midlands and the North. There was, generally speaking, a migration from the countryside to the towns with work available in the new mills and factories, although often under conditions of appalling hardship.

Very little of this would have been felt, at any rate to begin with, in a poor rural community like Elstead, far from any great manufacturing centre. In 1801 there were 79 inhabited houses occupied by 103 families. There were 225 males and 241 females. 274 were chiefly employed in agriculture and 45 in trade. The total population was 466. There was a steady increase in population up to the middle of the century as is shown by the ten-yearly census returns. In 1811, it was 521, in 1821 – 608, in 1831 – 711, in 1841 – 743 and in 1851 – 841. There was a slight falling away after this date, perhaps there was a drift to the towns in search of work. In 1871 the population was 756, in 1881 in was 679. There was then a steady rise to 775 in 1891, to 904 in 1901, to 1036 in 1911, to 1029 in 1921 and to 1291 in 1931.

There was a pottery at Charles Hill until 1914. The clay was probably obtained from Moor Park, and the wood for firing the kilns was collected locally. The works were owned by one Absalom Harris. He later moved to Wrecclesham, where his son still had a pottery in 1937, and which is still operating.

The Broomsquires or broom-makers lived at Truxford. The last real broomsquire was Tom Young who died before 1937. His son made a few brooms, but the handmade trade rapidly died out, as it could not compete with the machine made product.

The area, as has been said, was agricultural, although some Bargate stone was quarried for building and road making. It is said that a “carrot bell” was rung when the carrots were ready for pulling. The coming of the railway in the middle years of the century was another great revolutionary force, akin to the dissolution of the monasteries, which was to have a profound effect on the entire country. For the first time, relatively cheap transport came within reach of all but the most remote areas. The full effects, as far as personal travel was concerned, would probably not be felt until the following century, when commuting to work in London became widespread.

It was perfectly possible to send produce by the new transport, however, and carrots were regularly loaded onto the train at Milford, to be sold at Covent Garden. At Royal Farm, Mr. Ryle’s farm, they grew hops, which were brewed in Farnham. In 1870, 32% of the acreage of the parish was under hops and grass; there were 334 pigs, 297 sheep and 164 cattle – a total of 796 animals with 756 people! Wheat was the main crop, with barley, once again for the brewing, as a close second.

By 1889, communications with the outside world were becoming very good. There were two arrivals and two departures of post a day. In 1894 there was a circus on the green.. It lasted two hours and must have been a welcome entertainment in a quiet rural area.

Maps of the Mill and Mill House dated 1841 and 1873 show that there was considerable building activity between these dates. In 1841 there was only a small house which was separated from the Mill, with another building shown to the south. By 1873, the house had been extended, and it then joined the Mill. Building had been erected against the southern end of the Mill, and along the river bank. The sluice gates associated with the present mill wheel are marked “Harris -Shalford – 1842” and it is probable that the wheel, which is of cast iron, and very accurately made, is also approximately of that date.

There is a popular belief, based largely on the Victoria County History, that Elstead Mill was used as a paper mill in the nineteenth century but as Professor Alan Crocker has pointed out, this does not appear to be correct, as Elstead was not allocated a paper mill excise number for tax purposes, nor does it appear in the Paper Mills Directory.

The Appletons, who owned Elstead Mill from 1855 to 1881, certainly made paper and tissue at some of their other mills – at Sickle Mill, Haslemere, from 1860 – 1870 and their name is still associated with tapestry and crewel wool used for embroidery. They operated Elstead Mill as a worsted fringe factory, however, and closed it in 1881, as it didn’t pay.

Mr. John Baker, in a recent article, from stylistic and internal evidence, and by comparison with other local buildings, such as the Peperharow granary, deduces that the present mill building cannot possibly be the one which was built after the fire of 1647, and probably dates from around 1800. He feels it may well have been built to replace the corn mill, because although there is plenty of evidence to indicate the use of machinery inside, there is no evidence of there ever having been any milling mechanism – nor indeed is the construction of the floors strong enough to support its weight.

We are told that workers at the Mill, in the nineteenth century, sometimes had to get up at 4 a.m. to walk 10 miles to work. The Register of Electors for 1832 for the Parish of Elstead has twenty-five names on it. The undermentioned still have descendants of the same name living in Elstead and neighbourhood in 1982:-

CHANDLER, George Elstead Bridge – copyhold house and land occupied by himself.

PIERCE, Irving John Elstead, Pot Common, freehold house and land occupied by himself.

REFFOLD, Henry – do –

Springfield Farm, had a large barn, demolished in 1963 (where there is a Doctor’s Surgery, and there was a hill behind it. Here, “on the platt” there was a spring in the corner which made a pond for watering cattle. Cows were driven daily to graze in the parkland behind River House and Elstead House, down the lane between River House and Tracy’s yard. The house was owned by old Mr. Job Ellis, after the death of Jim Collyer and then worked as a farm by others, up to approximately 1960.

Sylvan Cottage, formerly Ivy Cottage, was a hand laundry before the 1914-1918 war, owned by Mrs. Denyer, nee Chandler.

There are three paintings from 1890 preserved in the “Woolpack” showing it much as it exists today, except the wing which is now the dining room was a humble lean-to, and the brewers were Lascelles Tickner. The premises had been taken over in 1843 by William Smeed, a common brewer of Godalming. They included a cottage, barn, orchard and one acre of land. There were several changes of ownership until in 1877 Agate, a Horsham corn merchant, purchased the “Woolpack”. In 1891 the ownership changed hands again and the inventory included piggeries. The present dining room was once the clubroom where the village band practised, and the small room on the end had been a butcher’s shop and a cycle repair shop, rented to Mr. Bill Novell – finally, around 1924, it was the Co-op.

River House was bought by Sir Richard and Lady Jephson in 1870. They built walls around the property facing the Green. The property has been a farm and included extensive outbuildings. Charlotte Jephson died in 1913, aged 86. She was a great supporter of St. James Church and of the Band of Hope, a temperance society which met at the school every Wednesday.

Elstead Lodge, which is now divided, and known principally as Elstead House, was built in the early nineteenth century on land stretching down to Woodside Farm. At the back is a cottage, at one time used by the head gardener and later by a Miss Coomb, governess to the Chettle family. Stable buildings, etc. fronting the road on the west side were altered by Mr. Chettle in 1977, and are now called Elstead Lodge. The big house was owned by General and Mrs. Marsack for eight years from 1886 to 1894 during which time he was Churchwarden. They were followed by Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim who gave land and money to build the old village hall, which carried a plaque to this effect. Mrs Holford, daughter of the Pilgrims, lived here with her husband in the 1930’s. They were followed by Mr. and Mrs. Chettle in the 1950’s. Various parts of the grounds were sold off to build “West House” and “Freshfields” and the west and east sides of the big house also became separate residences.

The Hermitage was the home of Elstead’s first resident parish priest, the Rev. William Jones, in 1829. It continued to house the priest until the status of Elstead was changed in 1854 from a perpetual curacy, with a value of £4 a year, to a rectorship worth £264 plus a house, and the new rectory was built opposite the Church in 1862. In 1836 the Rev. John Hollier Stephenson was the incumbent of the “Hermitage” and in 1845 the Rev. Thomas Robert Docker, one of twelve children of John Docker, Rector of East Meon. He died and was buried in 1849, aged 46.

The next inhabitant of the “Hermitage” in 1849 was the Rev. John Ryland. In 1854 came the Rev. Joseph Charlesworth, first “Rector” of Elstead. As will be seen in a later chapter, there was a change in the status of the parish in this year. The Rev. Charlesworth continued to live at the Hermitage for another eight years until his new Rectory, opposite the Church, was ready for him to move in, in 1862. This was built on land “added to the Glebe by purchase through Queen Anne’s Bounty”.

Major Short, editor of the magazine “Broad Arrow”, was the first lay occupant of the house after the Rev. Charlesworth and he was followed by Gen. Christopher Morris, who married in l907, and died only seven years later, in 1914. He had extensive alterations made to the house. The “new” firm of A.J. Tracy was commissioned to pull it down, raise the foundations by one foot, because of flooding, and rebuild it again with the original materials. Mr. and Mrs. Spenceley and Mr. and Mrs. Gross are well known recent occupants of the house

Ham Farm and its stabling have been altered in modern times to form Ham Cottages. There never appears to have been a farmhouse there, although the land, which adjoined that of Elstead House in one direction and Burford Lodge in the other, has been worked by various people over the years. A Mr. Hillyer grew carrots there, and sent two loads away to market each week. Mr. Hardy stored the apples from his orchards in the stabling and Mr. Dick May, of whom more later, garaged his carriers van there.

Burford Lodge was owned by Col. William Wolfran Gardner Cornwall, who was born at Elstead in 1840. He was educated at the Royal Naval School and Cheltenham College, and entered the Bengal Civil Service in 1861. He retired as a Magistrate and Collector in 1887. He married twice, and had May Cottages built in Milford Road, opposite the grounds of Elstead House. His father, Rear Admiral John Cornwall, also lived at Burford Lodge. He was Magistrate for Surrey and died in 1870.

There was a football pitch and a village school on the corner, on the land owned by Weyburn Bartel. Weyburn was first a laundry and then a garage for car repairs and in 1914 it became an engineering works.

The Bakery and Shop in Milford Road was owned and run by the Bedford Bowler family. Mrs. Cheshire, nee Bowler, kept house in the adjoining cottage for Harry Bowler. His brother Bedford lived next door. The Karn family took over the bakery and shop in 1905.

Avenue House, which was demolished in 1960, was built of brickfaced lathe and plaster. The house was owned by the Terry family, and attached to it was a clothes shop kept by Mrs. Sally Bowler, wife of Harry Bowler. Previously, Mr. John Hurst, foreman of Elstead Mill, had the house.

The development of the Chapel, with house and hall attached, and graveyard and garden of rest in front, is chronicled in another chapter. It originally belonged to the Surrey Missionary Society, in 1845. The British School was held in the schoolroom here until it moved to Thursley Road, in 1847-50. Many pupils attended for half a day each week, and worked at the Mill for the rest. The two cottages which face inwards, towards the graveyard, were once four. They were owned by the Chapel, and rented out to tenants until 1868. They were sold by auction in that year at the “Golden Fleece”, to Mr. Stovold for £280.

The Star Inn was originally a cottage owned by Mr. J. Hurst and used as a wheelwright’s shop. It was sold to the Farnham United Breweries and the first licensee was Mr, Martin Tidy in 1865. He was followed by Mr. W. Trussler who had another role as a builder and undertaker, and stayed until 1922. Mr. Ham, the next licensee had a small farm as well, up the slight rise where Springfield Estate is now. It must have been a daily sight – the men off to the fields at 6 a.m. calling at the Star with their half gallon jars for the day’s beer on their way. They had small horn glasses to use for the actual drinking.

In 1936 it was recorded that Hookley Lane, ten years previously, was a “mere cart track leading to one cottage. Now it is a tarred road, lined on either side with houses and bungalows”. 89 houses had been built in- the village in the last three years.

Hookley Lane was curbed and surfaced around 1970 but until the 1930’s it was lined with apple orchards and the vegetable gardens of Burford Lodge stretched from the corner of Milford Road, down to where Silver Birches Way now is. The Orchard, now the second house on the right from the Springhill end, was the home of Mr. Hardy senior, who owned the apple orchards, and the copse on both sides of the lane. Mr. Hardy’s son, Hubert, increased his acreage buying land from Col. Cornwall at Burford Lodge, and as has been mentioned, using the farm buildings at Ham Farm to store his apples. He became a builder, building a house for himself – “Dixie” – on Milford Road and “Old Bricks” and’ Pegtiles” in Hookley Lane, so called because he built them out of reclaimed materials. Mr. Hardy’s daughter still lives in the village and a surprisingly large number of Elstead people still have very strong links with the area and its past, which perhaps contradicts the accepted notion of Surrey Villages as being largely populated by commuters – “weekenders” who are bringing little to village life to replace the rich traditions of the past. There are, of course, many newcomers to Elstead, as we shall see in a later Chapter – there has been a great deal of house building in the present century. The Chandlers, the Pearces, the Denyers and the Bowlers and their descendants continue to live in the area where they have been for many years, however. West Surrey as a whole has many examples of names which have been current for centuries – Chitty and Christmas are two which spring to mind. The result of this in Elstead makes for a great atmosphere of neighbourliness, of village community in the best sense, and this is something which will be mentioned again later.

The property now covered by Chandler’s garage was originally called Sibley’s Farm – the farmhouse being the area behind now known as the “Homestead”. The whole area was owned by the Chandler family, who had a pony tub cart and brougham for hire for about twenty five years, thus providing the earliest public transport in the village. They took people to and from Milford station. In about 1930 Chandler’s had the village’s first motor driven taxi, and the first petrol pumps around two years later.

Bridge House was a small shop, beer house and cottage when the licence to sell intoxicating liquers was transferred from the Wheatsheaf, opposite the Church, in 1860 It was transferred again in 1870 to the “Golden Fleece”, next door.

The “Golden Fleece” had stabling and became a posting house for cross country traffic. During slack periods the horses were used to haul lumber for pit props from the woods. For a short time, Bill Novell had a bicycle repair shop in an outbuilding before moving to a small shop in the end wing of the “Woolpack”. He rented out bikes for the fairly modest sum of 1/6d a day.

The mill was closed in 1881 – Thomas Appleton being the last miller. The mill had been converted into a worsted fringe factory, making fringes for uniforms and dresses under the foremanship of John Hurst. William Baker was a woolmaker from Mountsorrel, Leicester, who came to Elstead by 1847 to work at Appleton’s worsted and small ware mill, which made trimmings and braid for military uniforms. He married at Elstead but moved to Godalming between 1851 and 1861.

Fulbrook House was one of Lutyen’s earliest works for Mrs. Streatfield, the mother of Mrs. Violet Gordon. Her chauffeur, Mr. Alan Collyer, father of Mr. Bob Collyer (previous1y of Hookley Cottage and then of Frensham), was the first man in Elstead to drive a steam car.

The group of cottages known as “The Square”, situated where The Green and Thursley Road join, were originally six. Two, situated right on the corner of Hope Street and Thursley Road were pulled down in the late 1950’s. The centre cottage, with the oak studded door, was a Dame’s school, prior to 1898 when it and the rest of the cottages were bought by the Bowler family.

What is now Bargate House was the original Rectory, built, as we have seen, in 1862. The present Rectory was built in 1953, and the old Rectory became a convalescent home the following year.

Rose Cottage in Thursley Road was demolished in 1978 and four modern houses erected in its place. Mr. Julius Caesar, the parish clerk, and his daughter, who moved to Liphook in the 1920’s, lived there.

“Domford” continued in the hands of the Legg family and their connections throughout the century. John Legg, yeoman, inherited the property from his father, George, in 1847. In 1876 it passed to John’s nephew, Jonathan Blackman, a farmer. By 1903 a Jonathan Blackman had become postmaster. He surrendered “Domford” to the Lords of the Manor of Farnham, and the tenancy was acquired for £700 by another George Legg, who was in business from 1903 – 1912 as a farmer and carrier on the Elstead to Farnham route.

In 1841 – 48, Pugin built a group of extravagant Gothic farm buildings at Oxenford, i.e. the Barn, Cowfold, the Gatehouse, Oxenford Bridge and the Chapel ruin, and rebuilt the rear of the farmhouse and its chimneys. In 1881, Henry Evershed Carter was made a tenant of Oxenford, taking over from William Chalcroft. He gave them up in 1886 and in 1887, 129 acres, woods 22 poles, were let to Mr. Jonas Baker at £100 per annum, including Bagmoor Cottage. By 1896, he seems to have had 135 acres in Witley parish and 36 poles in Thursley parish. His descendants still live at Oxenford.

The original National School in Thursley Road, was built by Mr. Harry Bowler on the site of the old tithe barn. An extra classroom was added in memory of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The early history of the school is traced in another chapter.

“Cock Hill” is reputed to have got it’s name from the illicit cock fights which were held there. The area was largely owned by the Pearce or Pierce families and their relations. The Pierces appear to have given their children land at the back of their own houses on which to build homes when they got married. Thus, the houses backing onto the common without a frontage on the main road, are usually the newer ones. The Pierces were largely market gardeners and farmers. Moorside Cottages, Fairmile Cottage and Stanton Cottage, were built or owned by the family and their descendants, as were “St. Gorran” and “Wayside Cottage”.

The White House, formerly Hill House, was inhabited around 1890 by Mr. Alfred Allen, and his family. Mr. Allen was Chairman of the Parish Council and owned property in Elstead, Thursley, Guildford and London. He had a group of terraced cottages built on Thursley Road, now opposite the school.

Where the road to Thursley becomes an “S” bend, alongside a bridle path, on the left, there is a white Ministry of Defence owned cottage. This was occupied in the late nineteenth century by a Henry Young, who made and sold birch brooms. Henry had two sons and one, Tom, went to live at “Broomsquires”, in Thursley Road, after the gypsies had left their encampment there. The other, Harry, had a house at Hope Street, and both sons carried on the trade. Henry Young originally came from the Punchbowl, and collected his raw materials from the commons in the area. when Henry and his sons had a sufficient number of brooms for sale, they hired a lorry to hawk their wares as far afield as Cranleigh.

A parish room was built onto Church Farm in approximately 1850, for parish activities. It seems to have been built by individuals as the bricks are laid differently to the farm building. The kitchen was also added in Victorian times, so the well with its pump is now under the outer wall of the kitchen instead of being in its right place in the yard.

There was an Inn, called the “Wheatsheaf”, opposite Church Farm. The licence, as we have seen, was transferred to Bridge House in about 1860.

Westbrook House was built by Thomas Stratford-Andrews for himself and his wife in 1820. The owner died in 1831 and is buried in the old cemetery. His widow moved to the Holt, in Seale Road, and the estate was bought in the 185O’s by Sir Alfred and Lady Levy. Sir Alfred was a millionaire tobacco merchant. He built two pairs of houses for his staff and had a long lease of life at Westbrook. He was still there in 1935.

The life of the village changed considerably during the 19th Century. In 1889 the Working Men’s Institute was opened. The Secretary was a Mr. Morris, and the Institute was open each evening from 7 – 10 p.m. The village band was in existence by 1890, and the same year saw an early Cricket Match against Thursley. The School Boys Cricket Club started in August 1894, and was soon “going well”. The band practised in the Club Room at the Woolpack, and the Recreation Society met in the National School. They organised cricket matches and possibly were responsible for the “new Coffee House, open all day” which sold “tea, coffee and cocoa at 1d. per cup, and soup, cake and buns at ½d. each, also paper, pen and ink”, as recorded in the Parish Magazine of December 1891. Social life in an organised way was on the increase, perhaps to a large extent due to the improvement in transport and communications.