My Recollections of Farming in Chaldon
A talk by Roger Hammond
Within his talk, Roger will show a map of all the local farms/small holdings in the fifties, photos of now out-dated equipment, and ‘memory sketches’ of some of the characters he encountered.
In Chaldon Village Hall, £5 entry on the door, teas and cakes available afterwards, with the donation bowl out!
Proceeds to the Friends of Chaldon Church to help preserve the ancient building.
ROGER HAMMOND – A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
Born 1944 and brought up in Hilltop Lane Chaldon, attending the old village school from age 5 till 11. Roger lived in Chaldon until he married in 1965, but never moved more than three miles from the village.
His interest in farming was sparked by walks as a toddler with his mum and sister, along Pilgrims Lane to Willey Farm where he fed sugar lumps to their massive but gentle Suffolk Punch plough horses, before glimpsing Hilltop Farm’s dairy and old Fordson tractor on the walk home. From then on he was a lifetime fan. Roger contributed a chapter: Memories of Farming in Post-War Chaldon, to the Bourne Society’s Chaldon Village History.
The display Liz prepared to accompany her talk.
Keith Robbins with his collection of First World War memorabilia.
The Village Hall filling up before the talk.
Saturday 6th October 2018
Chaldon in the Great War some stories of a small village
An illustrated talk by Liz Bonsall to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.
In the Chaldon Village Hall.
Forty five people came to hear Liz speak and see the wonderful range of photographs and documents that she had compiled with which to tell the stories of the men from Chaldon who lost their lives in World War I.
Liz began by painting a very tangible picture of how life was in Chaldon before the War for its small number of residents. She moved on to explain the changes and challenges that the war brought with it to those in Chaldon. There were the various War Committee requirements for listing motor cars, carts, cattle etc, and plans for moving everything useful and everyone in the case of an invasion.
Then came the stories of the men who lost their lives. All of them very poignant and some with a wonderful amount of detail gleaned from various official and family documents.
Liz has been researching and working on this material for five years, and this was a fitting culmination for that hard work. And very fitting too that it was in the Village Hall, opened in 1922 as a Peace Memorial, not a War Memorial, with contributions towards its cost made by every resident of the village.
£180 from the proceeds was given to the Friends of Chaldon Church to help preserve the ancient building.
Sunday 5th August: Summer Walk: Farming and Land Use in Chaldon through the Centuries
On a hot sunny day, a group of twenty or so started off from outside the old farmhouse and granary of Court Farm, on a walk through fields and into farmyards across the village and to see some remains of farming innovations of the past, finishing with tea and cakes in the Hazell Room at the church.
The walk included some time with Roger Colebrook who farms Court Farm and Tollsworth, and a look inside the old timber framed cartshed and collapsed barns at Court Farm. The group then walked on the farm’s track to Tollsworth, dodging the combine harvester and a tractor coming the same way.
The ridge walk along the North Downs Way led us to Hilltop Farm and a view of the long low roof of its old dairy building.
Geoff Hewlett, a Voluntary Warden for the Quarry Hangers Nature Reserve (Surrey Wildlife Trust), led us through a route not usually available to the public including a recently cleared site. Geoff talked about the management that has gone into restoring the chalk downland on this Site of Special Scientific Interest on our Chaldon boundary.
We saw some wonderful butterflies and wildflowers.
Thanks to Stephen Slaughter for these lovely photographs.
After lunch at the Harrow, the group walked through Grubbs Wood, then up Roffes Lane and Chaldon Common Road and up the drive of the Golf Club.
In the welcome shade of a large tree, Liz Bonsall talked about land use on this area. Further on, in two separate sites, she showed the drainage channels and a sluice gate, evidence that remains of farming innovations made by the Metropolitan Asylum Board in the 19th century.
The route led past the site of where some stuff was tipped when St Lawrence’s hospital was demolished, and another site of an earlier Council rubbish tip, to the corner of one of the hay meadows of Happy Valley. Stephen Slaughter then led the group through Piles Wood, pointing out coppiced hazels and large stumps from felled trees. Madeline Hutchins contributed some information on timber harvesting and uses gleaned from the archived Estate Records of the Merstham Estates, held in the Somerset Record Office.
The walk ended with tea and cakes in the Hazel Room at the Church and an opportunity to see some of the documents and photos that Liz and Madeline had put together. These included a nineteenth century tithe map onto which Liz had written the old names of all the fields.
The Local Stone Story continues: Westminster Abbey Tour
Two groups were given a very special tour of the Abbey with one of their guides, showing the highlights of the Abbey’s treasures and exploring and explaining the use of Reigate/ Merstham/ Chaldon stone within the building.
Old Quarry Hall: a fairy tale building west of White Hill
Forty five people came to the Village Hall, on the first day of the thaw, after a week of snow cover in the village, for the talk by Gwyneth Fookes, B.E.M.,Vice-President of the Bourne Society, on Old Quarry Hall. Gwyneth’s talk included some wonderful photographs, particularly of the second version of the house, which was the most elaborate one. The house was situated just to the west of White Hill on the way up to the Harrow pub, a site now taken by three modern houses built after Old Quarry Hall was deemed unfit for habitation and demolished in the 1950s. It was a fairy tale building tucked into the hillside which had a very short life with only three owners, each with an interesting story. Gwyneth presented the results of research into the three owners of the house, illustrated by photographs of the interior, including drawing room, and the grand hall and gallery, the gardens, the dairy and the laundry. One owner had been a pioneering electrical engineer, before this term was invented and installed a steam powered generator.
Saturday 3rd March 2018
Chaldon History Group: sharing the story of our village
This Chaldon History Group talk was a joint event with the Friends of Chaldon Church, and was held on Saturday 13th January in Chaldon Church.
Chaldon Church Bells – a seven century illustrated history
Ted Howard presented a fascinating illustrated talk giving new information from his recent research into the story behind the church’s bells, two ancient and six ‘modern’, and the links between Chaldon and the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. One link was through a church warden at Chaldon in the 20th century being a co-owner of the Foundry – Douglas Hughes (1917-1997). Mr Hughes arranged for the plaster cast replica of the St Paul bell to be made after it was stolen in 1970. He also made the altar rails in the church and reconstructed the rood screen in its current position between the south side of the chancel and the Lady chapel.
There were originally two ancient bells, St Peter and St Paul, and they are thought to date from 1250 or even earlier. The bell tower is above the south aisle of the church, meaning that it is likely that the aisle, the tower and the bells are all of the same date and represent a major expansion of the church. It is also very close to the date of the wall painting c.1170. Chaldon was a tiny place and the puzzle remains as to who was investing such large sums into the church here in that period.
The St Peter bell was stolen sometime in the 18th century. In 1912 the St Paul bell was listed as one of only three 13th century bells remaining in English churches, and it was second oldest in the country.
The scheme to replace the two bells with a peal of six ‘modern’ bells dates from 1887, and was planned as a celebration of the long reign of Queen Victoria. The process of raising the money and having the bells cast (at the Whitechapel Foundry) and hung in the tiny space of the bell tower (a 6 foot square) took until 1902.
Seventy people attended the talk, and afterwards were treated to a demonstration of the ringing of the ‘modern’ bells (from 1902) by Pat Johnson.
This was a joint event with the Friends of Chaldon Church, and the proceeds of £416 were given to the Friends for the preservation of the church building.
FOR SALE: history from sales particulars of houses in Chaldon through the centuries.
On Saturday 4th November 2017, thirty people came to hear a talk by Liz Bonsall on what we can learn from sales particulars about house history, people, accommodation, and the surrounding area. There was then time to browse the archive of original sales particulars that Liz has brought together and organised. They covered the length and breadth of Chaldon, including maps, plans, ownership and photographs.
Some people brought particulars from their houses and these will be scanned and returned to them. Others promised to hunt them out and give them to Liz later. If you would like to share your sales particulars with us please contact Liz. We would really like to add them (or images) to our growing archive. We are hoping to make some of the material available on this website in the near future.
The Chaldon History Group was formed in 2015 by two Chaldon residents interested in local history and specifically the history of the Village of Chaldon. The Group exists to develop understanding and share knowledge about Chaldon’s history.
The Group does not have a membership, just an email / mailing list of those interested in hearing about the talks and walks that are organised. Anyone who shares the aims of the Group is welcome to attend the events.
The current pattern of events is two Autumn Talks and two Spring Talks held on Saturday afternoons in Chaldon Village Hall or the building in Chaldon to which the talk relates, a Trip or Visit in April or May and the Summer Walk on the first Sunday of August.
There is a small admission charge for events, usually £5, and proceeds from events (after hall hire, speaker costs etc) are given to the Friends of Chaldon Church to help with the preservation of the historic building, or to another Local History charity.
The website is aiming to be a useful source of information about Chaldon’s history and for signposting to other resources. It’s early days, but new pages are being uploaded regularly now.
If you would like to be added to the emailing / mailing list for the Chaldon History Group, or if you have information, old photographs, letters about life in Chaldon in the past, or memories to share, please email or phone:
Liz Bonsall on email@example.com or 01883 340508
Madeline Hutchins on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01883 345011
In our plans for 2017 and 2018, we have taken the local stone as one of our themes, and are following the stone on its journey from the quarries under Chaldon, to the bridges, castles, palaces, and cathedrals that were built from it.
On Saturday 14th April, we have a special guided tour of Westminster Abbey to see the use of the local stone there. See the first post on this page for more information.
Our plan started with a trip down the quarry that is under Chaldon, undertaken in early May 2017. Two groups of ten people, dressed in clothes that could get muddy, with gloves, knee pads, helmets and lights, had a wonderful time underground, seeing the old stone quarry workings dating from at least the late medieval period.
Expertly led by Peter Burgess of the Wealden Cave and Mine Society with two colleagues, the groups saw the quarry face, where the method of working was explained, and the marks from the picks and wedges were clearly visible. They learnt how the stone was removed to the surface on sledges pulled by oxen. Various aspects of the history of the quarries were covered, including the spectacular flooding in 1911.
The next stage in the Local Story Story was a talk by Peter Burgess of the Wealden Cave and Mine Society giving more of the history of the stone held on Saturday 7th October 2017 in Chaldon church. This was a joint event with the Friends of Chaldon Church. The church was a very appropriate venue as it features the local stone in the building itself, the font, and a rather fine early Renaissance memorial (with the face in the sun that the History Group uses as its logo).
The ancient stone mines in East Surrey and their archaeology.
The use of Reigate stone (from mines in Merstham, Chaldon, Gatton and Reigate) for nearly 2000 years.
The potential value of the stone mines now as archaeological resources.
There was also be a display of images as a mini audit of the use of the local stone within Chaldon village buildings, in walls, fireplaces, chimneys etc. We are planning to extend this study and make the images available on this website in the future. Do get in touch if you have images that you can contribute, or stone in your Chaldon home that you think may be local and would like identifying.
For 2018, we have organised a visit to one of the important places that has significant use of the local stone in it – Westminster Abbey. On Saturday 14th April there will be a specialised tour of the Abbey to look at the Reigate / Chaldon /Merstham stone in it. More information will be given on this website soon.