A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Ockley is 7 miles south-west of Dorking. It has been bounded since 1879, when the outlying portions were consolidated with neighbouring parishes, by Abinger and Wotton on the west, by Capel on the north and east, and by the county of Sussex on the south. In 1901 (fn. 1) a further rectification of the boundary with Wotton and Abinger was made. The parish contains 2,992 acres, and measures about 4 miles from north-east to south-west, and about 1½ miles from west to east. Since the outlying portions on Holmbury and Leith Hills have been separated the parish is entirely on the Wealden Clay, but in the northern part considerable beds of paludinae, forming the conglomerate called Sussex marble, occur.
The Portsmouth line of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway passes through its eastern side. Ockley and Capel Station, in Ockley, was opened in 1867. Through the whole length of the parish the Roman road from London to Chichester, called the Stone Street, runs. For a considerable distance it is still used, but at both extremities of the parish the modern roads turn off abruptly from it, though the old line has been traced through the fields and copses. Ockley Church, Ockley Court, the remains of a fortified place to be noted presently, and probably the original Ockley village, lay a little distance off the road to the east. Along the line of what is called in the manorial rolls Stone Street Causeway, and all round Ockley Green, a large stretch of open common lying along the west side of the road, cottages and houses sprang up. These are now known as Ockley village, but were formerly called Stone Street. (fn. 2) There is no doubt that near here was fought the great battle in which Ethelwulf and Ethelbald defeated the Danes, probably in 851. It was at Aclea, among the Suthrige, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the existence of the road explains the movements of the armies. (fn. 3) The discovery of human remains on Etherley Farm in 1882 may place the actual scene of conflict on the dry hillside north-west of Ockley Green. (fn. 4) Ockley in Surrey does not seem, however, to be the scene of the Synod of the 8th century; the circumstances of which point to a place in the north of England.
On the far side of the field north of Ockley Church, among some trees, is an earthwork. It was apparently a pear-shaped inclosure with the broader end to the east. The length is nearly 300 ft. At the eastern end is a broad mound with an extension thrown back at a right angle to face north. Outside this north-eastern angle is a ravelin or platform with traces of a ditch round it. The southern side is bounded by a stream in an artificially-straightened ravine. The eastern front may have been covered with an inundation. On the northern side only the traces of a ditch remain, but in the angle where this joins the stream, to the west, are traces of a small mound. West of this angle again are traces of an artificial bank, perhaps to make another inundation. Aubrey in the 17th century recognized the 'mole and mote' of a castle, and a small castle of the De Clares, built in Stephen's time and dismantled by Henry II, is not impossible. It is a likely spot, near a main road, which was then no doubt in use for its whole length.
Aubrey has preserved a tradition, repeated and ridiculed by later writers, that there was a castle here destroyed by the Danes, who placed battering engines on Bury Hill. All who notice the story take Bury Hill to be Anstiebury Camp, 2 miles or more away. But where the road ascends from Ockley towards Dorking, just before the branch to Coldharbour goes off on the left, the hill was called Bury Hill. (fn. 5) It is very much nearer, under half a mile away instead of over two, and although too far for a catapult to act, it is not an impossible camp for some force attacking a strong place near Ockley Church. Danes may be, of course, any enemy, described by that name from confusion of traditions.
In the southern part of the parish, near Oakdale Farm, is a considerable moated inclosure with a double moat on two sides. The lane near it is called Smugglers' Lane. It is a way out of Sussex which avoids the high road.
Dotted about on the village green are several houses and cottages embowered in trees; and some of the trees along the main road are also of great size and beauty. Opposite to the turning that leads to the church is a picturesque old cottage with rough-cast walls and stone-slab roof, and several others in the village street are evidently of some antiquity. But it is the group of exceptionally fine old farm-houses within the borders of the parish which specially demand attention.
The finest of these is King's Farm, in the southwest of the parish, a large rambling structure, chiefly
of half-timber, but largely covered with weather
tiling, with overhanging stories, projecting oriel bay
windows, having moulded bressummers and shaped
brackets and tall chimney stacks—the shafts of the
chimneys set diamond-wise upon square bases. Almost
equally interesting are Boswell's or Bosell Farm,
close to King's Farm, and Buckinghill Farm, in
the north of the parish, both having overhanging
timber-framed gables and stone-slab roofs. Holbrooks is another ancient farm-house. All have
great open fireplaces and other characteristics of
a past age, and their remoteness from railways and
main roads has aided to preserve their primitive
character. One called Trouts, though close to the railway line, is not easily accessible. It used to be known
as Farley lands. (fn. 6) On a beam in the kitchen was
lately a carved inscription:—
'Look well to thy house in every degree
And as thy means are so let thy spendings be 15 . .'
*****p10***Eversheds is an old farm-house and reputed manor, in the eastern part of the parish. It was the property of an old yeoman family named Evershed. Mr. John Evershed bought the manor of Ockley, as noted below, in 1694, and Eversheds was sold with the manor in 1717. Its claim to be a manor rests only upon a mistaken identification with the Arseste of Domesday. Evershed is a place-name which gives its name to a family. Eversheds is the house of an Evershed. Arseste is possibly Hartshurst, a farm in Wotton under Leith Hill.
Vann is the seat of Mrs. Campbell. It was held of Ockley Manor by a family named Margesson in the 17th century. Vann Pond is an extensive sheet of water, made by damming a stream in a narrow valley, with a view to providing water-power for a linen mill in the 18th century; but the mill was never built.
Elderslie, on Ockley Green, is the seat of Mr. J. W. Arbuthnot. Mr. George Arbuthnot, grandfather of the present owner, resided there and died in 1843. The fountain on the green was built by Miss Jane Scott, governess in the Elderslie family, in 1841.
The present Rectory House, by the side of the Stone Street Causeway, was built at his own expense by the Rev. Thomas Woodrooffe shortly after he was instituted as rector in 1784. The older rectory was 1 mile further south, 2 miles from the church. This was not the original rectory, but was a farm-house on the glebe.
The Domesday Survey (fn. 7) records that OCKLEY (Ockley, Okeleigh, Ocklie, Hokeleye, Okkle, Ockele, &c.) was held by Ralph of Richard of Tonbridge, and that Almar held it of King Edward; also that Richard himself held half a hide in this manor. The manor is here put under the heading of Woking Hundred. This may probably be merely a mistake; but it is worth notice that Manning and Bray record that there was land in Ockley held of East Horsley Manor, in Woking Hundred, (fn. 8) and there was an isolated bit of Ockham parish inclosed in Ockley, Ockham being also in Woking and a manor of Richard of Tonbridge. This may be Richard's half-hide, valueless because it was on the barren slope of Holmbury Hill.
In the early 13th century Alice daughter of Odo de Dammartin held inter alia one knight's fee in Ockley of the honour of Clare. (fn. 9) She held Tandridge also, and her lands passed to the Warblington family. (fn. 10) It seems probable that one of Alice's predecessors enfeoffed the Malemayns family with Ockley, to be held by one knight's fee of their manor of Tandridge, (fn. 11) for they seem to have been already established in Ockley, as well as elsewhere in Surrey. In 1213 Walter, Prior of Merton, made an exchange with Nicholas Malemayns of land in Ockley. (fn. 12) In 1241 John de Plessets paid 100 marks for the custody of the land and heirs of Nicholas Malemayns. (fn. 13) Nicholas Malemayns in 1278 claimed to have a park in Ockley in his manor. (fn. 14) In 1293 the king presented to the living of Ockley on the grounds of his custody of the lands and heirs of Nicholas Malemayns, 'tenant in chief.' (fn. 15) The reason why he is called tenant-in-chief may be explained by a possible minority of the Warblington heir and also by the fact that in 1289–90, when the Earl of Gloucester married Joan of Acre, daughter of Edward I, he surrendered all his lands to his royal father-in-law. He received a grant back of most of them, but not all, the same year. The king clearly reserved some manors in his own hands till his daughter's son should be of age; when the earl died in 1295 Ockley does not appear in his Inquisitio as part of his lands. When, however, the son of his royal marriage, the young earl, was killed at Bannockburn, 1314, Ockley was one of his fees, (fn. 16) together with several other Surrey manors which are not mentioned in connexion with his father. Edward I is said to have presented the manor by patent (fn. 17) to Nicholas Malemayns. No such entry is in the Patent Rolls, but in a Charter Roll of 20 January 1296 it appears that Nicholas Malemayns surrendered Ockley to the Crown, and that the king, after holding it for some time, re-granted it to him and his heirs by his wife Alice. In 1300 a grant was made to Nicholas Malemayns of the assize of bread and ale and view of frankpledge in his manor of Ockley, as his ancestors had them, (fn. 18) and in 1302 he received a grant of free warren, a weekly market on Tuesdays, and a fair on the feast of St. Margaret (the patron saint of the church). (fn. 19) Nicholas died at an unknown date. Another Nicholas died in 1350. This Nicholas Malemayns married Alice and left three daughters: Beatrice, who married Otho de Graunson; Catherine, who married Sir Henry Newdigate; Parnel, who married Sir Thomas Sentomer. The manor was divided between them. When Sir Otho de Graunson died in 1359, seised of one-third of the manor, it was said to be held of the manor of Tandridge, in spite of Nicholas Malemayns having been called tenant-in-chief. The succession to the various parts is very uncertain; but Beatrice the widow of Sir Otho de Graunson, the Newdigates, the descendants of Sir Thomas Sentomer, and in 1450 Richard Wakehurst, presented to the living. The heirs of the Graunsons do not appear again; but they may be represented by Margaret, wife of John de Gaston (or Garton), who in 1368 conveyed one-ninth of the manor to William Newdigate. (fn. 20) The Newdigates continued to present to the living at intervals till 1407. Meanwhile Parnel Malemayns and Sir Thomas Sentomer had two daughters, Alice and Elizabeth. The latter disappears; Alice married Sir William Hoo. His son Thomas granted Ockley to his brother John and John Glemham. Glemham, the survivor, or his heir, enfeoffed Sir Thomas Hoo, Lord Hoo and Hastings, who died 1481. He left four daughters, but by a previous arrangement the manor passed to Richard Culpepper. Whether he represented any of the other branches or not is unknown. Probably the rights of the others, much broken up, had been conveyed to the Hoos, (fn. 21) or forgotten.
Ockley remained in the possession of the Culpepper family until the time of Charles I, when it was sold to George Duncombe, of Weston, (fn. 22) who held his first court in 1638. He died in 1646, and was succeeded by his grandson George, son of his elder son John, deceased. This George held his first court in 1648, but on his death soon afterwards, childless, the estate went to his uncle George of Shalford, who held his first court in 1654. He in his lifetime conveyed it to his second son, Francis, who held his first court 22 March 1658–9. Francis was created a baronet in 1662. He died before his father, in 1670; his widow Hester and her second husband, Thomas Smyth, held a court October 1671. Sir William Duncombe, her son, succeeded in 1675, and in 1694 sold the manor to Edward Bax of Capel. Bax retained the manor-house and a little land round it, which was now separated from the manor, and in 1695 sold the manor to John Evershed, of an old yeoman family, which appears, in different holdings, in the rolls and parish books. (fn. 23)
John Evershed received from Queen Anne a grant of three fairs yearly at Stonestead Causeway, 6 October, 10 May, and 3 June. (fn. 24) Evershed in 1717 conveyed to John Young, (fn. 25) who in the same year released to Thomas Moore or More. (fn. 26) Thomas More held courts till 1734. His nephew William (fn. 27) held courts till 1745, and died in 1746. He left the manor in trust for Frederick son of Lord North of Guildford (who held courts 1746–9), but the estate was sold under a private Act in 1751 (fn. 28) to Frank Nicholls, Ph.D., who had some lively controversy with the tenants on the subject of heriots. (fn. 29) Dr. Nicholls died in 1778, and was succeeded by his son John. He sold in 1784 to Lee Steere of Jays in Wotton, who died before the conveyance was completed, leaving his interest in the estate to his grandson Lee Steere Witts, who took the name of Steere. His great-great-grandson (Mr. H. C. Lee Steere) is the present owner. (fn. 30)
Ockley Court, the residence of Mrs. Calvert, widow of Colonel Calvert, is the old manor-house of Ockley. In 1744 Nathaniel, son of Edward Bax, sold it to Mr. Thomas Tash, who died in 1770. His son William married a Miss Calvert, and having no children left the property to his wife. She left it to her relative (? nephew) Charles Calvert of Kneller Hall, Middlesex, M.P. for Southwark. He died in 1833. His son Charles William succeeded, and was followed by his brother Colonel A. M. Calvert. His son Mr. W. A. Calvert lived recently at Broomells in Capel.
Holebrook is a farm in Ockley. William le Latimer (vide Wotton), who died in 1327, held Holebrook in Ockley of Nicholas Malemayns by payment of 40d. a year. (fn. 31)
ST. MARGARET is prettily situated in a well-kept churchyard abutting upon the high road, and surrounded by some exceptionally fine trees. The site is level and low-lying, at some distance from the present village, and close to a patch of woodland. It must originally have been surrounded by woods.
The building is of sandstone and rubble, dug from the neighbouring hills, with a small admixture of clunch, or hard chalk. Before 1873 it consisted only of a nave about 40 ft. by 22 ft., and a short chancel 22 ft. wide by 19 ft. long, with a large tower, about 17 ft. square internally, and a porch on the south of the nave; but in that year it was enlarged by the addition of a spacious north aisle, with an arcade of pointed arches, and an organ-chamber and vestries on the north of the chancel, while the chancel itself was nearly doubled in length.
There are two windows at present in the south wall of the chancel, one of which, to the west, is partly ancient and indicates a date of about 1300. It is of two lights, cinquefoiled, and has a trefoiled spherical triangle, inclosing a trefoil, in the head. In the eastern window, which may have been removed from the north wall at the enlargement, the latter figure has six foliations. The roof and all other features in the chancel are modern.
The south wall of the nave appears to be slightly later—circa 1320—and has two good buttresses and two well-proportioned traceried windows, each of two lights. The eastern of these retains the original net tracery, executed in local sandstone, but that to the west has been restored. Next to it eastward is the south entrance doorway, which is a plain example of the same date. It is approached through a most picturesque porch of open oak framework on a base of herringbone brick and timber. This has an arched opening to the front and two others on the sides, with arched braces inside, and the sides are partly filled in with a rail and turned balusters. The foliated bargeboard is a restoration of that shown in Cracklow's view. Although probably not earlier than the first half of the 17th century, this porch retains all the spirit of the mediaeval carpentry in design and execution. The framework is put together with projecting oak pins, and the roof, of somewhat flat pitch, retains its heavy stone healing.
The massive western tower is another instance of the clinging to a traditional style. It is rude Gothic of 1700 — that being the date, with the name William Bvtler sen[d..], inscribed on the slope of a buttress on the west wall. William Butler was a leading parishioner, perhaps churchwarden, in 1700. The builder was Edward Lucas. The parish account books give the date as 1699, when the contract for building was signed. The heads of the twin openings in the upper stage and of those below are elliptical or obtusely pointed, while in the interior the arch of the nave and the blind arches in the other walls are pointed, but with classical mouldings and imposts. The present battlements were heightened at the restoration of 1873.
There is a curious square-headed two-light window of diminutive proportions next to the buttresses at the south-east end of the nave. Its openings, though only 8 in. wide, are further protected by stanchions and cross-bars. Its height from the floor removes it from the class known as low side-windows, but it corresponds very curiously with similar openings at Send and Woking churches in Surrey, which also occur in the eastern part of the nave and in the neighbourhood of an altar. All are of late date (c. 1480 to 1520).
In the eastern window of c. 1320 in the south wall of the nave is preserved some good glass with crocketed canopy-work, borders, and grisaille quarries of coeval date. There are no old wall-paintings.
St. John's Church on Ockley Green was consecrated 5 December 1872 by Bishop Wilberforce. It is a plain building of stone, with pointed windows and a bell-turret. The first reference to the church of Ockley is in the Taxatio of Pope Nicholas, 1291.
In 1293 the king presented to it on behalf of Nicholas Malemayns his ward. (fn. 32) The advowson remained with the manor until 1694 when Sir William Duncombe, at the same time that he sold the manor, sold the advowson to John Constable of Ockley. Edward Bax, who bought the manor (q.v.), was a Quaker, and would not buy the advowson. Constable sold it in 1711 to Edward Bingdon of Dorking, who left it in 1719 in trust for his sons James and Edward. It was sold in 1724 for £1,000 to Clare Hall, Cambridge. (fn. 33) The College probably then knew nothing of the ancient ownership of Richard de Tonbridge, ancestor of their foundress.
In 1731 Mrs. Elizabeth Evershed left £100 to be invested in land to provide education 'according to the canons of the Church of England' for poor children of the parish. With other benefactions of the late Mr. George Arbuthnot and the late Mr. Lee Steere, this provides an endowment of about £43 a year for the schools.