Shackleford & Peper Harow Historical Walk

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Devised by Christopher Bell

The origins of the name of Shackleford are uncertain. First recorded in the 13th century. The name may derive from the Old English seacol meaning ‘shackle, fetter’, implying the possibility that there once was a chain across the ford, perhaps for people to cling to as they crossed it. The idea behind the name seems to be that of ‘loose movement’. A ‘shackleford’ might even be one with a shaky or loose bottom. The stream runs through the village to join the River Wey near to Somerset bridge joining Shackleford and Elstead.

The old Cyder House Inn in Shackleford used to be within the buildings that are now Aldro School. The 1904 Return of Licensed Houses in Surrey stated that the Old Cyder House was a fully licensed free house and had been licensed before 1869. Following on from the building of the Hall Place mansion (now Aldro School) the inn moved to its present site and was probably constructed between 1904 and 1907.

At some time the Cyder House was acquired by Hodgsons Kingston Brewery which was taken over by Courage in 1943 and then sold in 1978 since when it has been a free house. In 1994/5 the pub was extended and the car park enlarged.

The history of Shackleford is dominated by three families, that of Sir Edgar Horne (who owned Hall Place and surrounding land), Archdall Buttemer (who built St Mary’s Church, St Mary’s School and St Mary’s Rectory) and the Brodrick or Midleton family that owned Peper Harow house and surrounding land.

Looking south west, we have the new bungalow known as Rose Cottage which is on the site of the house of the commander of the second world war prison of war camp that housed Italian prisoners of war.

Looking north west, we have what is now Aldro School, a preparatory school for some 220 boys aged between 7 and 14. Buildings have been recorded as being on the site since 1486, when it was known as Hall Place and was then owned by Richard Bydon. It passed through various ownerships until in 1797 it was acquired with some 90 acres by George, 6th Viscount Middleton of Peper Harow, who pulled down the main part of the house, leaving the kitchen wing and the outbuildings. Later the kitchen wing was made into the Cyder House Inn.

In 1894 the site was acquired by Sir Edgar Horne, who was the chairman of the Prudential Assurance Company, and from 1910 – 1922 was the MP for South West Surrey.

The new house was built between 1894 and 1896 with the architect being Henry Tanner Junior (who incidentally designed The Regent Palace Hotel for Joseph Lyons and Co in 1912) and the local builder employed was William Jackson of Compton. The garden in front of the house was designed by Gertrude Jekyll.

In 1940 Sir Edgar Horne, whose wife had by then died, sold Hall Place to Frederick Ernest Hill, the headmaster of Aldro School in Eastbourne. The School had been founded in 1898 by Harold Browne who had named it after a farm in Yorkshire where he had spent his holidays as a boy. The school was forced to move from Eastbourne in the summer of 1940 as Eastbourne had by then been defined as a DEFENCE area and evacuation of children ordered. Aldro school reopened in Shackleford in September 1940.

The rest of the Hall Place Estate was sold off in lots in 1942.

The current post office was once a hay loft among a collection of farm buildings. Probably the first postman was a Towns Brewster, as in the Censuses of 1861, 1871 and 1881 he is recorded as living at what is the current post office and he is listed as ‘gardener and postman’.

Rokers was part of the Midleton Estate that was sold off in 1944. On Rokers Lane in the Second World War a stray bomb landed. To the north of the village, a doodle bug flying bomb landed in 1944, presumably having been intended for London. In neither case is there any loss of life or injury recorded.

The Old Parsonage is the site of a former home of the rector of Shackleford. The site was bought by the Church Commissioners from the Salvation Army in 1955 and a rectory for the rector of St Mary’s Shackleford built on it to replace a larger one close to the church which we will see later. In 1985 it was sold by the Church and then renamed by the new owners as ‘Seven Pines’. There have never been seven pines on the site, but from the Cyder House it was said that the pine trees on the site looked as if they formed the shape of a figure 7. After being sold by the church it passed into private hands,  being used as a bed and breakfast in the late 1980s; it is now a family home.

Going up past the Old Parsonage, we have on the right Fidlers Hall. The site was acquired in 1928 by a Mr Stanley-Evans who built his country house on the site. For a long time there had been a building on it which was known (probably ironically) as Fidlers Hall, asi tis was most likely a doss house used by wandering fiddlers. It was sold by the family in 1945 so that money from its sale could be invested in the adjoining mushroom farm that Peter Stanley-Evans was establishing on the site of what had been a chrysanthemum farm. The mushroom farm closed in 2008 and is now a housing estate.

The grounds of Fidlers Hall are the site of the Shackleford railway station that was seriously proposed in 1896.

Moving south east, we have on the western side, Norney Grange, which was designed in 1897 for the Rev Leighton Crane by architect Charles Voysey of what was known as the Arts and Crafts Movement. The architect was trying to discover the Englishness in architectural style – the house has Tudor style windows and slates from Westmoreland. First a lodge was built into which the Rev Crane moved while he designed the garden around the house. Parts of various films such as Shadowlands (1993) and TV episodes like Midsomer Murders have been shot here.

The Shackleford War Memorial is in the north eastern section of the St Mary’s crossroads and commemorates the lives of those from Shackleford and Peper Harow who were killed in the two world wars of the twentieth century.

Crossing the road we come to the lychgate to St Mary’s Shackleford which was given in memorial to the 8th Viscount Middleton in 1908. In 1971 it was moved as part of a road widening scheme to its current position to the east of its original position.

St Mary’s itself was built by Archdall Buttemer who was the rector from 1865 until his resignation in 1890. He had married Georgiana Dallas in 1853 and they had two children who died at a very young age – son – Charles who died aged five months and a daughter – Dorothy who died aged one day. Their grieving parents determined to build a church to God as an acknowledgement of his hand in their affliction. His wife, Georgina, however died after a fall in 1861. Archdall Buttemer was the curate of Farncombe, with his father-in-law being the vicar. Archdall was his father-in-law’s executor and was bequeathed all his estate after the death of his mother-in-law. This was a substantial estate with the Dallas fortune deriving from sugar plantations in Jamaica that had been owned by the family since the middle of the eighteenth century. St Mary’s remained in the Buttermer family until the 1980s.

The church was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott whose greatest well known building is St Pancras Station in London.

It was used by pupils from Charterhouse School for some two years from 1872 on the establishment of Charterhouse in Godalming until the school’s own chapel was completed. There is a bench commemorating this to the right of the church porch, presented in 1972. Aldro School boys used the church until Aldro’s own chapel was converted from a barn close to the main house.

There is access to an area below the spire from a little doorway in the western wall behind the Charterhouse commemorative seat.

In 1940 it was agreed that the living of Shackleford and Peper Harow should be held jointly and eventually, in 1985, Shackleford and Peper Harow joined Compton, which is on the eastern side of the A3, as a united benefice.

Among the gravestones in the churchyard is one which is maintained by the War Graves Commission, being that of Private Fry who died of pneumonia in 1919.

Archdall Buttemer was to marry again (twice) and the second time again to a wealthy lady, Louisa Percy, the cousin of the sixth Duke of Northumberland – and remember that the Percy family owns large tracts of land around Albury – Drummond Arms territory. Their son, Robert William (known as George), lived in Shackleford with a reputation as an eccentric owner of fast cars. He owned a Benz in 1894 which was said to be the first motor car to be seen in Godalming and the second to be seen in Surrey. He is also said to have built an early aeroplane in his garage.

Walking down the hill outside the churchyard, we pass the Village Hall which had been built in 1896 under the chairmanship of Viscount Midleton. After the first world war, the Hall and the adjacent house were extended west using timber from the huts then redundant at Witley army camp. In 1995 there was a fire that destroyed much of the Hall. This was rebuilt and is now the home to the Acorns pre kindergarten school and hosts many local activities.

Next to the Hall is the Old Rectory dating from the 1890s which has been a private family home since the 1980s. Further down the road is St Mary’s kindergarten school built by Archdall Buttemer. Note the school’s outside bell.

Crossing the road down a narrow public footpath, we see on the left Norney farmhouse. Norney farm was part of the Midletons’ Peper Harow estate until 1944 when it was acquired by the Buer family, who were the incumbent tenant farmers. At one stage it was known as a model farm and visited by other farmers from far and wide who wanted to know how it was so profitable, as it supported far more livestock per acre than equivalent farms. The current farmer, Buster Buer, has attributed this status to a degree to the involvement of ICI which provided chemicals to make the grass grow!

Looking out toward the A3 Guildford/Godalming by pass which was built in the 1930s reputedly using otherwise unemployed Welsh miners, this was realigned in the 1980s and was resurfaced in 2009, not least to reduce the surface noise.

Walking across Norney Farm fields, we come to a style and then cross onto the Peper Harow estate, owned from 1713 to 1944 by the Brodrick family, with the first family owner being Alan Brodrick, afterwards 1st Viscount Midleton. They had previously lived in Wandsworth and, significantly, four two-foot high Cedar of Lebanon trees were brought in 1735 to Peper Harow by carriage and formed part of the parkland the design of which was later laid out by in 1762-3 by the great landscape architect, Capability Brown.

Peper Harow is first recorded in the Domesday Book (1086) as Pipereherge. Pippa is an old English personal name and hearg is old English for ‘heathen temple’, from where we get the word ‘hearth’.

The cricket pitch to the left of the path as you look down towards the mansion held one of the first ever recorded cricket games in 1727 with rules between a team captained by the Duke of Richmond and a team captained by Mr Brodrick. There were two umpires under the rules, and another of the rules was to the effect that if any of the gamesters ‘shall speak or give their opinion of the game, they are to be turned out and voided in the match. This not to extend to the Duke of Richmond or Mr Brodrick.’

The construction of the mansion started in 1765 and was completed in 1777 from designs by William Chambers, the estate then extending to some 3000 acres. The third storey was added in 1913 by the 9th Viscount. The two direct Midleton heirs were killed in action in the Second World War and the estate was sold by the family at auction in 1944 with the Brodricks leaving Peper Harow in 1947. The house and 40 acres of surrounding land were acquired by the Trustees of Park House School for £15,000 and used as an approved school for children sent there by the juvenile courts. In 1969, when Approved Schools were abolished, the Park House Trustees decided to become a wholly independent therapeutic community and it was renamed The Peper Harow Community. A disastrous fire occurred in the house in 1989 – one of the principles of the community was that a fire should always be alight in the main hall – and the community did not survive. It was sold to developers in 1995 who in turn sold off parts of the estate to private owners, converting the house into flats.

As you approach the settlement, on the right is a game house for the hanging of game and after passing over a style in front of the church there is an old carriage wash.

A building of worship on the site of the current St Nicholas church had been there since medieval times and probably before that a pagan temple. In the churchyard there is a yew tree reckoned to be some 1500 years old.

The current church building was substantially rebuilt in the middle of the nineteenth century at the instigation of the 5th Viscount, who actually committed suicide in 1848, suffocating himself intentionally with charcoal fumes but not before he had engaged the services of Augustus Pugin, an architect who in the early years of his career had been involved on the Houses of Parliament. The lychgate dates from 1896 and was erected in memory of one of the Midletons – note the coffin rest.

The current church was substantially destroyed by fire shortly before Christmas 2007 and re-built around 2010-12.

Walking up the road (and all of the Peper Harow estate is private) on the right is Peper Harow farmstead, many of the buildings of which have now been converted into offices. In the middle of the farm quad is a former granary, probably of sixteenth century origin, the style and dimension of a good size market hall. It is tile hung and rests on 25 wooden pillars with four bays on each side.

On the left just before the roadway leaves the settlement is a pillar box from the reign of Edward V11 (1901-1910).

Leaving the estate and then turning up into Shackleford again, is a wooded area, with a house in the woods, Headlands which at one time was occupied by the carpenter to the Peper Harow estate.

On the right is an area known as Shackleford Heath with a disused lime kiln dating to the 18th century. Canadian troops were stationed on the heath during the second world war, and they also used Peper Harow House. A feature of this Canadian camp was the rodeos that were held here and the Aldershot News of the time records the marriage of two Canadian army privates who were part of the rodeo team, Private Lloyd Trotter and Private Christine Weed. They were married at Guildford Registry Office and had wanted to be married mounted on horseback. This the registrar declined.  However, the reception was held in rodeo format in Peper Harow park and the honeymoon was spent in Guildford.

Moving down the hill back toward the Cyder House, on the right is the Shackleford Cricket Club pitch which is in regular use. Prior to Shackleford having its own cricket club, the pitch was used by a team from Hewitts, who farmed in Shackleford and Hurtmore either side of the A3.

To the left is Mulberry House, the one time rectory for St Nicholas Peper Harow, and opposite is Glebe Farm, the former farm and workers’ cottages owned by the Church that went with the rectory. Until teh 1980s Glebe Farmhouse was owned by the Hewitts.