Pirifrith and Pirifright (xiii cent.); Purifright
Pirbright is a parish, formerly a chapelry of Woking, 5½ miles north-west of Guildford. It contains
4,674 acres, and measures about 3 miles each way.
It is bounded on the north by Chobham and Bisley,
on the east by Woking, on the south by Worplesdon
and Ash, on the west by Ash and Frimley. It is
almost entirely upon the Upper and Middle Bagshot
sands, and is therefore generally unproductive. It
lies upon the western side of the ridge of Bagshot sandhills, of which Chobham Ridges is the general name,
and a great deal of it is open heath-land. No less
than 3,070 acres, nearly three-quarters of the parish,
have been acquired by H.M. War Office for military
purposes, training and musketry especially. An encampment of the Brigade of Guards is permanently
maintained here, and extensive rifle ranges are laid
Pirbright Common and Cow Moor (the latter
name appears in the boundaries of the earliest Chertsey charter) are the names of the principal wastes.
The main line of the London and South Western
Railway and the Farnham line pass through it; and
it is also crossed by the Basingstoke Canal.
The village lies in the only fertile part of the parish,
between higher ground both east and west, in the
valley of a small stream. A by-road leads west from the
village for a short distance to the church, which stands
in a large graveyard, recently extended and thickly
planted with a variety of shrubs. It is long and
wedge-shaped, being widest at the west, where a small
stream runs along its southern boundary. At the
east end is the grave of Sir H. M. Stanley, the African
explorer, a great block of unworked stone bearing his
name cut deeply on it.
The Court House, now called the Manor House,
is the seat of Major Armstrong. It is a stone house
of 16th-century date, but on the site of an earlier
house surrounded formerly by a moat. The manorial
courts were formerly opened here.
Heatherside is the residence of Mr. F. C. Selous,
the famous African big-game hunter, and contains a
remarkable collection of hunting spoils and native
African curiosities. The Lodge is the residence of
Mrs. Mangles, widow of the late Mr. Ross Mangles,
V.C., of the Indian Civil Service. In the 18th century
this house was the property of Admiral Byron, the
explorer, grandfather of Lord Byron. He planted
an avenue of Scotch firs, still called the Admiral's
Walk, which extends for a mile over the Government land attached to the ranges.
There is a Congregational chapel in the parish.
A drinking-fountain on the village green was presented by Lord and Lady Pirbright as a memorial of
the Diamond Jubilee, 1897. The same benefactors,
then resident at Henley Park in Ash, presented a
village hall and recreation ground in 1899, completed
in 1901 as a memorial of the accession of H.M. King
Edward VII. The Church of England Institute, at
the Guards' Camp, was built in 1892, enlarged in
1894, and rebuilt in 1902.
Schools (Provided) were built in 1870, and enlarged
in 1889. An infants' school was built in 1902.
The manor of PIRBRIGHT (Pirifright, xiii cent.) does not seem to occur
earlier than the 13th century, when it was
reported to be held of the honour of Clare by Peter
de Pirbright. (fn. 1) John Trenchard died seised of it
under the Earl of Gloucester in 1301–2. (fn. 2) His heir
was Henry, aged 18; but in 1314 John Bishop of
Bath and Wells held it. (fn. 3) The overlordship passed
to Hugh le Despenser, who was holding in 1324. (fn. 4)
After Hugh le Despenser's forfeiture in 1326 the
manor was granted to Edmund, Earl of Kent, (fn. 5) who
not long afterwards was executed for treason and lost
his estates. (fn. 6) Sir John Mautravers in 1330 received
Pirbright from Edward III, (fn. 7) but this grant was probably only temporary, since Sir John's name does not
occur in a descent given less than a century later. (fn. 8)
Edmund son of Edmund was restored in blood and
to all his lands in the same year in which his father had
been executed. He died a minor. His brother John
succeeded, and died in 1352 holding Pirbright. (fn. 9) His
wife Elizabeth had Pirbright in dower, (fn. 10) but subject to
her right of dower it passed to Joan, Princess of Wales,
John's sister, whose son by her first husband, Thomas
Holand, Earl of Kent, died seised of it in 1397. (fn. 11)
He was succeeded by his sons Thomas and Edmund
in turn, but they both died without issue, (fn. 12) and from
them the manor passed into the family of Mortimer
by the marriage of their sister Eleanor with Roger
Mortimer, Earl of March. (fn. 13) Edmund, Earl of March,
son of Eleanor, died seised of the manor in 1425, (fn. 14)
leaving three co-heirs : Richard, Duke of York, son of
his sister Anne, and his two surviving sisters, Joan
wife of Sir John Grey, and Joyce wife of Sir John
Tiptoft. (fn. 15) Probably some deed of partition was executed by virtue of which this manor was assigned to
the Duke of York, for some years later it was held by
his widow Cecily as part of her dower; (fn. 16) and passing
later to her son Edward IV, became merged in the
possessions of the Crown. Edward inclosed a great
part of the lands pertaining to the manor for a park,
and appointed Sir Thomas Bourchier first keeper. (fn. 17)
There had been a park before, disparked under
Richard II. (fn. 18)
Holand. Gules three leopards or in a border argent.
Mortimer. Barry or and azure a chief or with two pales between two gyrons azure therein and a scutcheon argent over all.
During the reign of Henry VIII the manor
changed hands several times. It formed part of the
marriage portion of Queen Katharine of Aragon, (fn. 19) and
was later successively in the possession of Sir Thomas
Boleyn (fn. 20) and Sir William Fitz William. (fn. 21) Finally it
was granted to Sir Anthony
Browne, afterwards Viscount
Montagu, (fn. 22) with whose family
it remained until the middle
of the next century. In 1677
Francis, Lord Montagu, greatgrandson of Sir Anthony, conveyed it to John Glynne of
Henley Park. (fn. 23) At Mr.
Glynne's death the manor descended to his daughter Dorothy, (fn. 24) who became the wife of
Sir Richard Child, afterwards
Earl Tylney of Castlemaine. (fn. 25)
The earl sold Pirbright in
1739 to Solomon Dayrolles (see Henley), (fn. 26) who in
1784 disposed of it to Henry Halsey. (fn. 27) The Halsey
family are still in possession.
Browne, Viscount Montagu. Sable three lions passant bendways between two double cotises argent.
The church of ST. MICHAEL AND
ALL ANGELS consists of chancel with
north vestry, organ bay and south chapel,
nave, north aisle with gallery extending also round
the west end, west tower, and south porch. The
building is of little architectural interest, being mostly
of 18th-century date or later, the chancel and tower
being of Heath stone and the nave of red brick with
a stone plinth. The chancel is in 15th-century
style with an east window of three traceried lights, a
moulded arch and door on the north to the vestry
and organ bay, and a similar but wider arch to the
chapel on the south. The chancel arch is of 15th-century style, and consists of two moulded orders,
which continue nearly to the ground.
The north arcade is formed by three wooden
Tuscan columns carrying a panelled architrave. The
north aisle has three large round-headed windows, and
in the south wall of the nave are two like them, and
between them a round-headed brick doorway opening
to a simple but pleasing wooden porch. All internal
fittings, including the octagonal font by the south
door, are modern.
The tower has a tall round-headed west doorway,
the upper part glazed, plain round-headed belfry lights,
and two circular lights in the second stage. It is finished
with a small shingled spire and battlements. On the
exterior of the south walls of the nave and tower,
which has been recently in part repaired, are various
initials and the date 1785. In the south aisle of the
chancel is a plain and ancient three-lock chest of oak.
The six bells are modern, by Mears & Stainbank.
The plate comprises a chalice made in 1654, with L\LR
pricked on the bowl, a small flat paten made in
1739, a modern paten and modern flagon. There are
also two London pewter plates and a pewter flagon.
The first book of registers contains mixed entries
1574 to 1600, the second is a transcribed copy of
this book, but contains baptisms to 1655, burials to
1642, and marriages to 1641. There are also further
burial entries 1650 to 1664; the third book contains
mixed entries 1653 to 1733, the fourth baptisms and
burials 1733 to 1812, the fifth marriages 1733 to
1754, and the sixth marriages 1754 to 1812.
The chapel of Pirbright was in
early times attached to the church of
Woking, and was granted by Peter of
Pirbright to the Prior of Newark in 1240. (fn. 28) It was
still part of the priory possessions in 1535, and was
then worth £6 8s. 4d. (fn. 29) It was served separately
from Woking, and after the Dissolution was in all
respects a parish served by a perpetual curate.
In 1640 the family of Stoughton were holding the
advowson; (fn. 30) in 1694 they released it to George
Martin, (fn. 31) in whose descendants it remained till 1779,
when George Tate, second husband of the widow of
Martin's grandson, presented. It was probably bought
by the Halseys with the manor, they being now patrons.
In Pirbright were two plots of land called Torch
Plot and Lamp Plot, let at 12d. and 8d. a year respectively for lights in the church. They do not
appear among lands devoted to such uses in Surrey in
the certificates of Edward VI. They were granted
by Elizabeth to John Dudley and John Ascough,
17 May 1575.
Smith's Charity is distributed as in
other Surrey parishes. There is a
charity of about £6, left by Mr.
George Poulton of Pirbright, which is distributed in
clothing to old persons.