Beating the Bounds Walk: Saturday 25th May

A walk round the boundaries of the Village/ Parish of Chaldon.

Beating the Bounds – Chaldon History Group & Friends of Chaldon Church supported by Chaldon Village Council and Caterham Festival.

This took place on Saturday 25th May 2019. Once again we had arranged to establish our territory with Caterham Hill Parishioners as we met with them on our boundary at Green Lane.

The walk started from Chaldon Church with a rest at the Harrow at around 1pm for lunch and finished at the church for tea.

See below for a brief history of the custom in Chaldon.

Beating the Bounds is an ancient tradition and probably originated when maps were rare and there was a need to identify the boundaries of ecclesiastical parishes. The event traditionally took place on Ascension Day or during Rogation Week. The bounds of the parish were beaten with sticks or “wands” and it is said that choir boys were turned upside down so that their heads tapped on the boundary markers. The purpose was to pass knowledge of the land onto the next generation (with the notion that pain aided memory). An interesting article is available in the Bourne Society LHR Vol. IV 1965.

Over the years “Beating the Bounds” in Chaldon has become the Bounds Walk, taking place in June. It certainly took place in 1920-1923 while the footpaths of Chaldon were being negotiated and officially registered with the Commons & Footpaths Preservation Society.

Here is an item used for publication in 1990

“The Chaldon Bounds Walk will take place on ????, starting at 10.00 a.m. from the Welcome Tea Rooms on Farthing Down. The walk of approximately five hours duration, will trace the old Parish Boundary of the Village using existing footpaths, bridleways and roads. A lunch break at The Harrow will be included.”

A successful attempt to continue this tradition appears to have been undertaken in 2006, and in 2012 the Chaldon Footpaths Committee held a successful event following the ancient boundaries. In 2014 the modern boundaries were followed and a meeting took place with Caterham-on-the-Hill along Green Lane where our boundaries meet. This plan will be followed on our walk this year.

Extracts from news articles on Beating the Bounds in Caterham & Chaldon can be found here on the page Beating the Bounds.

Summer Walk 2019: Sunday 4th August

Chaldon Church from the Pond 1926
Chaldon Church from the Pond 1926

Following our Water theme:


A wonderful walk, through fields and woods, on footpaths and quiet roads, round the village to find the sites of most of the 25 ponds that existed in Chaldon 150 years ago (on a map from 1868).

On the way there is a real sense of history and place, with fields and meadows, a wealth of wild flowers, butterflies, spectacular views, and evidence of life in the past.

How many ponds are still there? What signs are there of where others were? What were they each used for? Where was the spring (in Spring Bottom Lane) from which Chaldon people collected water?

We did our rehearsal on Monday; the wildflowers were spectacular, we found some places neither of us knew, had a wonderful time, and are looking forward to sharing it all with you. We do hope that you can join us.
Sunday 4th August: 10:45 meet outside Chaldon Church, an all day walk, with lunch in the Harrow, and finish about 4:30pm to 5pm with teas and cake in a rather special setting near the Church.

£5 payable on the day. Advance booking required. Email or phone Liz Bonsall to reserve your place. or 01883 340508.

The walk is 10 – 12 km long with a steep slope down and steps up (in the afternoon). You can join us for part of the walk if not able to do all the day. Bring water, and dress suitably for the expected weather that day. Some paths have nettles and brambles beside them, and surfaces can be slippery with rain or after rain. Bring cash or card to buy lunch at the Harrow, and cash for tea and cake at the end.

All proceeds go to the Friends of Chaldon Church to preserve the ancient building.



The Well Tower at Wiley Farm, Chaldon
The Well Tower and pond at Willey Farm, Chaldon, early 20th century.


Archives Visit: postponed: new date to be arranged

Our visit this spring to the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) was planned for Wednesday 10th April but has been postponed. We are organising a new date and will give information on this as soon as possible. The visit will be for a group tour in the morning and to see selected maps and documents relating to Chaldon village and the church. There will then be the choice of staying on to undertake any personal research. The visit is suitable for both those familiar with Archives and those who have not visited one before.

The LMA is in Clerkenwell, half a mile from Farringdon Tube / British Rail. There are direct trains from Coulsdon South.

We will meet at the LMA at 10.45am in time for the guided tour starting at 11am. The short tour will include exclusive use of a meeting room with an opportunity to view original documents relating to Chaldon including a 1781 survey and map of the churchyard, some Church Faculty papers such as the levelling of the Tomlin family vault, the original Hassell painting of Chaldon Workhouse (Baker’s/Beggars’ Lodge) and the Burial Registers for the former Caterham Asylum. This formal element of the visit will finish about 12 noon.

The LMA has a vast library, original archive documents, computers to access digitised records including many wills of Chaldon people dating back to the 16th Century. Records include Chaldon Church records from the dioceses of Rochester, Winchester and Southwark and records from St Lawrence’s Hospital, whose lands and burial ground encroached on Chaldon.

The Archive is open until 7.30pm on a Wednesday so there will be plenty of time to order documents of personal interest or explore the huge library. To explore what is available go to

The cost per person is £5 (pay on the day) which will go to the Friends of Chaldon Church towards repair costs of the building.

Booking is needed in advance, and there are still places available. Email or phone Liz Bonsall to reserve your place. or 01883 340508.

Once your booking is confirmed, we will give further information about travel options, registration for your History Card, lockers, lunch etc.

Water in Chaldon: springs, water carts, ponds and pipes

The second Spring Talk 2019 was on Saturday 30th March in Chaldon Village Hall.

Water in Chaldon: springs, water carts, ponds and pipes
Looking at the history of water provision in the village; how water was carried up White Hill from the springs at the bottom, where the twenty five ponds were in the village, including the important one funded by the LeGrew family, and the historical development of the local water company.
It was presented by Liz Bonsall with material from Gwyneth Fookes who had surveyed and photographed ponds in the whole of Tandridge District in 1996.

Water had been a difficulty for Chaldon, as it is sat on top of a chalk hill and ponds, natural and man made, were apt to dry up in droughts. Before piped water, Chaldon was farms and a few cottages, and the only new houses built were those able to dig deep enough wells to provide an adequate supply of water, or it had to be brought in by water cart.

The talk included maps of the Parish and photographs of the remains of some of the forgotten ponds. The farms in the village each had two ponds, for people and animals, and the pond on Rook Lane was probably a travellers pond, where horses drank (the period equivalent of cars filling up with petrol at a petrol station). A watercolour drawing by Hassell from 1823 of Chaldon Workhouse / Beggars Lodge on Chaldon Common shows a pond in front of it, evidence for which is also clear from an early map.

Some houses in Chaldon had wells or underground water storage tanks filled by rainwater from the roof. Piped water eventually came to the village from the Caterham Spring Water Company founded by George Drew, a solicitor from London who owned much land in Caterham, at the time when the coming of the railway meant that new houses were being built in the valley. He spotted the business opportunity this gave for providing water to the new community. The first Caterham Waterworks were on Stanstead Road, shown in an engraving from 1862.

Nearly forty people attended the talk and display of maps provided by Liz to browse afterwards. The proceeds (after costs) were given to the Friends of Chaldon Church, for the upkeep and repair of the historic church building.


Spring talk 2019: Gleanings

Saturday 23rd February 2019

Gleanings from the Estate Records, and the stories they tell

by Madeline Hutchins
The west of Chaldon parish (Tollsworth and Chaldon Court farms) has been owned by the Jolliffe family / Lord Hylton since 1788, and for a long period of time they owned much more of the parish, including Rook Farm and Chaldon Common.

Madeline looked first at what can be learnt from the Sales Particulars of 1788, and the Estate map (from 1768) attached to them. Then using material from the accounts books of the Hylton / Merstham Estates held in the Somerset Archives, Madeline explored details from the records that told stories of housing, sanitation, farming and woodland management in Chaldon in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

In 1877 the Estate earned a considerable amount of money from the sale of bark. The accounts include:

Samuel Barrow & Bro. for bark

350 bags of bark £140 3s 10d

194 ditto £83 6s 4d

The bark was used in the process of tanning leather. Samuel Barrow & Brother ran tanneries in London and Horsham.


The accounts for 1901 showed the architect’s fee and the amount paid to R Whitaker to build the new cottage for the gamekeeper at Chaldon (now Keepers Cottage on Doctors Lane).


In 1902, the Merstham Estate accounts show £5 income from Mrs Ellen Harris for Furzebank. Ann Lardeur, who lives in Furzebank, 22 The Heath, off Chaldon Common Road, kindly showed Madeline the collection of deeds and documents she has on the house. From these it became clear that the Merstham Estate made a 99 year lease with Mrs Ellen Harris, wife of a builder, for the land, with a rental of £5 in the first year, then £9 a year. Mr Harris built the house Furzebank and later built three more on the plot of land.


33 people attended the talk which generated a string of questions at the end.


Recollections of Farming in Chaldon

Saturday 24th November 2018

My Recollections of Farming in Chaldon
A talk by Roger Hammond

45 people came to hear Roger talking about his experiences of helping on a Chaldon farm as a young lad. Within his talk, Roger showed a map of all the local farms/small holdings in the fifties, photos of now out-dated equipment, and told some wonderful stories from his times working on the land with ‘memory sketches’, delightful drawings of some of the characters he encountered.


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.

Chaldon in the Great War

034B264D-BE2D-4A74-AC5E-12776583CD80 The display Liz prepared to accompany her talk.
FAC35EC0-5399-439A-B9CC-4A6694DE323E Keith Robbins with his collection of First World War memorabilia.

0B2EE428-FF90-4484-8063-89B6F7DE32A7 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.

Summer Walk 2018: Sunday 5th August


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.

Plans for the rest of 2018

We have taken farming as one of our themes and are also commemorating the end of World War I with a talk about Chaldon people involved in it.

Autumn Talks:

Saturday 6th October
Chaldon People in the Great War, 1914-1918

A talk by Liz Bonsall

Saturday 24th November
My Recollections of Farming in Chaldon

A talk by Roger Hammond

Both talks will be held in Chaldon Village Hall, 2 – 4pm, £5 entry on the door.