A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Ash is a parish on the western border of the county, 36 miles south-west from London, 8 miles from Guildford, bounded on the north by Frimley, formerly part of the same parish, on the east by Pirbright and Worplesdon, on the south by Wanborough and Seale, on the west by Aldershot in Hampshire. The shape is irregular, but the furthest extension west to east is over 4 miles, from north to south over 3 miles. The southern part of the parish, including St. Peter's Church and Ash village, is on the London Clay; but the greater portion, once including Frimley, covers the western side of the ridge of Bagshot Sands, which is divided from Chobham Ridges by the dip through which the Basingstoke Canal and Railway run, and is known as Ash Common, Fox Hills, Claygate Common. The high land, largely covered by heather with plantations of conifers, slopes westward to the alluvium of the Blackwater River between Surrey and Hampshire. The parish is traversed by the road from Guildford to Aldershot; by the Basingstoke Canal; by the London and South Western Railway, with Ash Green station opened 1852; by the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, with Ash station opened 1849, and Aldershot North Camp station; and by the Pirbright, Aldershot, and Farnham branch, 1879; and the Ascot, Frimley, and Aldershot North Camp branch, 1878.
The area of the parish is 6,292 acres, including the district of Wyke, formerly in Worplesdon, but added to Ash in 1880. (fn. 1)
The making of Aldershot Camp has revolutionized the whole of this neighbourhood. The camp itself is in Hampshire, but ranges have been established in Ash parish, and houses in connexion with the camp have turned what were desolate heaths into a succession of straggling villages or even towns. Henley Park (q.v.) lies on the other side of the parish. It is one of the numerous parks formed in the Surrey bailiwick of Windsor Forest. Cobbett, the famous political and social reformer, farmed land at Normandy in this parish.
There are Wesleyan and Congregational chapels in the village. There are also Wesleyan chapels in Ash Street and Normandy. Wyke is an ecclesiastical parish formed out of Ash, Worplesdon, and Wanborough in 1847 (vide infra).
The parish, separated from Ash in 1866, is bounded on the north-west by Berkshire, on the north-east by Windlesham, on the east by Chobham and Pirbright, on the south by Ash, on the west by Hampshire. It is 30 miles from London. It contains 7,800 acres, and measures 4 miles from north to south, and 3 miles from east to west. The parish covers the western side of Chobham Ridges, and extends down into the valley of the Blackwater, which bounds the county. The soil is, therefore, Bagshot sand and alluvium, with patches of gravel and large beds of peat. In the latter conifers and rhododendrons flourish exceedingly. The Heatherside Nurseries, where are some of the finest Wellingtonias in England, may be taken as the typical industry of the neighbourhood, which is otherwise a residential district, or occupied by those connected with Aldershot, the Staff College, which is in the parish, and Sandhurst which lies just outside it. A very great part of the parish was open land, heather-covered, before the Inclosure Act of 1801. Much of it is still uncultivated. The main road from London to Southampton crosses the northern part of the parish. It is substantially on the line of the Roman road. On the top of the hill, near the Golden Farmer Inn, named after a notorious highwayman, the road to Farnham branches south from it, and passes through Old Frimley village. The main line of the London and South Western Railway cuts the middle of the parish. The Ascot, Aldershot, and Farnham branch traverses it from north to south. The Basingstoke Canal also passes through Frimley.
Palaeolithic flints have been found in the drift gravels on the hills, and a few neolithic implements at places unspecified in the parish. On the hill, near the southern end of Chobham Ridges, is a very large round barrow called Round Butt; south of it Mainstone Hill probably preserves the name of the Standing Stone, which formed a boundary mark of Chobham in the early Chertsey charter. Dr. Stukeley, in his Itinerarium Curiosum, records a Roman urn and coins as found here.
The Royal Albert Orphan Asylum was built by subscription in 1864. It has about two hundred inmates, boys and girls. A farm is attached to it. Schools (National) were built in 1842, and enlarged in 1897.
York Town with Camberley is a small town which has grown up on the road in the northwestern part of Frimley parish, and increased owing to the proximity of the Military College, Sandhurst, over the Berkshire border, the Staff College at Camberley, and the Albert Asylum.
The Royal Military College, founded by Frederick, Duke of York, was removed under his direction to Sandhurst, close to this neighbourhood (but in Berkshire), in 1812. The houses which grew up near it in Surrey were called after him, York Town. When under a later royal commander-in-chief, the Duke of Cambridge, the Staff College was built in 1862, the extension of York Town was called Cambridge Town, but was soon changed to Camberley for postal convenience, and under that name has become the most important place of the district.
Schools (Provided) were built at York Town in 1883; at Camberley in 1897; at Camberley, Infants, in 1902. There is a Roman Catholic school, built in 1877. There was a Church school at York Town from 1818 to 1883.
It seems probable that the manor of ASH (Esche, xii cent.; Asshe, Assche, xiv cent.) was included under Henley in the land which the Domesday Commissioners say that Azor granted for his soul to Chertsey in the time of King William. (fn. 2) The fact that the parish was known as Ash by Henley in the 14th century (fn. 3) lends colour to the suggestion that Henley in early times was regarded as the more important place.
Ash was definitely asserted to be the property of the abbey in 1279, when the abbot with his men was declared to be quit of all forest dues in his vill of Ash. (fn. 4) The chartulary of Chertsey Abbey (fn. 5) records that shortly after the statute, 'vulgarly called Mortmain,' 11 acres in Ash with sufficient common pasture for his flocks and herds were held by Robert de Zathe, while Geoffrey de Bacsete (Bagshot) and his brother William had 28. The Atwaters of West Clandon also held land in Ash. (fn. 6)
In 1537 the abbey granted Ash with its other lands to Henry VIII, (fn. 7) and for a few years it seems to have remained as Crown property. Edward VI, however, shortly after his accession granted it to Winchester College, (fn. 8) which still holds it.
There is no mention of a mill under Henley in Domesday Book, but it is certain that a mill existed at Ash from comparatively early times, for in 1322 the Abbot of Chertsey ordered a new windmill to be built at Ash. (fn. 9) Windmills were comparatively new in England then, and it may have been in place of a small water-mill of earlier date. There seems no later record of it.
HENLEY (xi cent. onwards; Henle, xiv cent.; Suth henle and Henle on the Heth) was granted in William's reign to Chertsey by Azor, a wealthy Englishman who had retained land after the Conquest. (fn. 10)
It would appear that before the 14th century the abbey had sublet the manor and certain lands at Fremelesworth (Frimley) to a family who were known as 'of Henley.' Deeds in the possession of Mr. Woodroffe of Poyle (q.v.), quoted by Manning, (fn. 11) refer to a John of Henley, and in 1306 to a William de Henley, and in 1324 William enfeoffed Edward II of it. (fn. 12) The document further states that since the transfer the rent of 22s. 8d. and 12 measures (lagenae) of honey (fn. 13) due to the abbey had been in arrears, which furnishes a significant comment on the lawlessness of the end of the reign of Edward II. In 1338 Edward III granted the manor to John de Molyns, together with view of frankpledge and fines for breach of the assize of bread and ale. (fn. 14) In the next year other privileges followed, including the right of erecting gallows on the soil of the manor, and of passing judgement on malefactors apprehended there. (fn. 15)
In 1343 the manor was reported to be in the king's hands owing to 'the rebellion' of John de Molyns, who was one of the ministers disgraced in 1340 for alleged misappropriation of money, and the abbot took advantage of his tenant's disgrace to renew his demands for rent; he pointed out that Henley had been held of his church since the time of its foundation for the service of paying a sum of money with twelve gallons of honey yearly, and suit at the abbey's court at Ash. (fn. 16) The rent is said to have been wrongfully withdrawn by John de Molyns.
John de Molyns' disgrace appears to have been of only short duration. In 1343 the manor was again granted to him to hold in the same way as before, (fn. 17) and the next year he obtained a confirmation of that grant. (fn. 18) Possibly the manor or part of it may have been granted to Henry de Stoughton (fn. 19) during de Molyns' disgrace; at any rate, in 1349 Henry released to him all his right in the manor. (fn. 20) Some two years later John granted Henley to the king in return for special privileges in his Buckinghamshire property, (fn. 21) and in 1359 the king levied a fine against William son of John, (fn. 22) by which he made his possession more secure.
From that time Henley Manor remained Crown property for upwards of three centuries, and the evidence for its history consists chiefly of appointments of stewards and parkers. In 1633 Charles I granted it to Robert Tyrwhitt and Arthur Squib, (fn. 23) who sold it soon after to Sir John Glynn. (fn. 24) In 1724 the Duke of Roxburgh, Lord Justice in the absence of George I from England in 1723 and 1725, seems to have been residing at Henley Park. (fn. 25) Bowen's map of about 1736 also names him as occupier. Sir John Glynn's son left three daughters, two of whom died unmarried, and the manor passed to Dorothy, the third daughter, who married Sir Richard Child, created Earl of Tylney in 1731. In 1739 the earl sold the manor to Mr. Solomon Dayrolles, (fn. 26) who in 1784 conveyed to Henry Halsey. (fn. 27) The Halsey family are still owners, but the late Lord Pirbright lived in the house, and Sir Owen Roberts is the present tenant.
In 1338 John de Molyns received licence to impark his woods of West Grove and Goddard's Grove in the manor of Henley. (fn. 28) In 1356, after the manor had returned into the king's hands, he bought out twenty tenants, and seems to have laid all the land into the park, granting the rector of Ash compensation for the loss of tithes. (fn. 29) The office of parkkeeper, with a residence in the manor-house, was a valuable piece of preferment bestowed among others upon Sir Thomas St. Leger by his brother-in-law, Edward IV, on Sir Reginald Bray by Henry VII, and on Viscount Montagu by Queen Mary. Montagu frequently resided at Henley, and it was notoriously the refuge of recusants and suspected priests (fn. 30) during his tenure. Henley Park is among those surveyed by John Norden in 1607. (fn. 31) The house may contain some ancient walls, but it was mostly rebuilt by Mr. Dayrolles in 1751, the year of his marriage, and bears the date upon it. Lord Pirbright made further additions during his tenancy.
The manor of CLAYGATE (Cleygate) was apparently of late formation. In 1399 a grant was made to Richard Rayle and Nicholas Churchill of lands called Claygate lying at Henley. (fn. 32) These lands probably came into the hands of Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, later Duke of Bedford, and on his attainder in 1461 lapsed to the Crown. In 1475 Sir Thomas St. Leger received a grant of the manor of Claygate (fn. 33) for his expense in keeping the game in Guildford Park. (fn. 34) Claygate returned into the possession of Jasper, Duke of Bedford, (fn. 35) on the reversal of his attainder in 1485. He died in 1495. (fn. 36) It is said, however, that Claygate was granted for life to Sir Reginald Bray in 1488 with the custody of Guildford and Henley Parks. (fn. 37) Bedford died without issue, and his lands passed to his nephew, King Henry VII. Elizabeth granted the manor to Edward Lord Clynton and Saye, afterwards Earl of Lincoln. (fn. 38) A deed of 1564 (fn. 39) records that Lord Clynton owed money to a certain Christopher Draper, citizen and alderman of London. The manor was in Draper's hands in the same year, (fn. 40) so that probably Claygate was ceded to him in payment for debt. Draper apparently lost little time in selling, for a year later William Harding of Wanborough was in possession. (fn. 41) He died seised in 1593, (fn. 42) leaving by his wife Catherine daughter of Sir John White of London a son and heir William, who died unmarried in 1610, when the manor passed to his sister Mary. (fn. 43) Mary married Sir Robert Gorges, who in 1620 joined with her in conveying the manor to Sir Thomas White. (fn. 44) According to Manning and Bray, (fn. 45) who had access to Mr. Woodroffe's papers, Sir Thomas settled it on his cousin, Robert Woodroffe, son of Catherine wife of William Harding, by her second marriage with Sir David Woodroffe. From him it descended in the family with Poyle (fn. 46) (q.v.).
The manor of FRIMLEY, although part of the parish of Ash, is in Godley Hundred, and is reckoned in it in a court roll. (fn. 47) It may have been the land in Ash purchased for Chertsey Abbey by Bartholomew de Winton, the abbot, in 1277, from a Sir Walter Raleigh. (fn. 48) William de Henley 'held land in Fremelesworth' of the abbey, together with Henley (q.v.), in 1324. It came into the possession of Henry VIII in 1537 (fn. 49) with other monastic lands, and was apparently held by the Crown in demesne for some years. It was granted to Sir John White of Aldershot, (fn. 50) who died seised of it in 1573, (fn. 51) leaving a son and heir Robert, then aged twenty-eight. Robert died in 1599, (fn. 52) when the manor passed to his daughters Helen and Mary, who had respectively married Richard and Walter Tichborne.
The manor remained in the Tichborne family until 1790, when Sir Henry Tichborne and Elizabeth his wife joined in conveying it to James Laurell. (fn. 53) He died in 1799 leaving a son and heir James. (fn. 54) He sold the Manor House to Mr. Tekell. This and the manor were subsequently bought about 1858 by Mr. J. F. Burrell. The manor has since been sold to Messrs. Pain & Brettell, solicitors at Chertsey.
The reputed manor of FORMANS in Ash does not appear before the 16th century. Henry Vyne died seised of it in 1571, leaving a son and heir Stephen. (fn. 55) In 1598 Jane Vyne, presumably the widow of Stephen, joined with her son Ralph in conveying the manor to Robert White of Aldershot. (fn. 56) At his death it came with Frimley into the hands of the Tichborne family, who alienated to Sir Thomas White in 1609. (fn. 57) From that date it seems to have followed the descent of Poyle in Tongham. It is now a farm.
The church of ST. PETER ASH consists of two parts, an old and a new. The former has a chancel 18 ft. by 15 ft. 7 in., nave 42 ft. 10 in. by 20 ft. 6 in., west tower 14 ft. 9 in. by 13 ft. 7 in., and the latter, consisting of a large modern chancel, nave, and vestry, has been added to it on the north side. The new chancel is 30 ft. long by 14 ft. 3 in. wide, and the nave 58 ft. long by 24 ft. wide. The older part of the church has been a good deal repaired, but has been an aisleless building of nave and chancel of 12th-century date, the tower, built of Heath stone, being a 15th-century addition. The earliest details are in the south door and a lancet in the old chancel, both of early 13th-century date, and in the new north wall of the nave is reset a small 12th-century roundheaded light, much repaired.
The east window of the old chancel is modern, of three lights in late 13th-century style. On the north are two double bays vaulted between, with foliate or moulded capitals, opening into the new chancel. West of this is a modern squint directed towards the new chancel. In the south wall is a 13th-century lancet with external rebate, in which are a few old stones. The south door is modern and has a continuous chamfer; and west of it is a square-headed window of two trefoiled lights, 15th-century work repaired. Under the lancet is a small piscina with pointed head and half-projecting bowl. The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders with modern moulded capitals and bases and half-octagonal responds; the jambs perhaps date from the 14th century. The north arcade is modern, of four bays, each of two chamfered orders and with moulded circular capitals, ornamented with heads carved in high relief.
In the south wall are three modern two-light windows. The south door dates from c. 1200, and is round-headed, of two orders, the inner with an edge-roll on jambs, the outer with a filleted roll between two hollows in the arch, and filleted shafts with foliate capitals in the jambs. The porch has wood framing, probably of 16th-century date, filled in below with brick, and is covered with ivy. The tower arch is of two chamfered orders with halfoctagonal responds and moulded capitals and bases. The tower is a fine massive building of Heath stone, modernized as regards its windows, with a tall shingled broach spire. The modern chancel has a five-light traceried window in the east wall. On the north and south walls is a wall arcade, and there is also a single traceried light on each side. The north vestry has a single and a two-light window. The chancel arch, in 15th-century style, rests on moulded corbel capitals. In the north wall is inserted a small 12th-century light, and there are also three modern three-light windows, with a similar one of two lights in the west wall. The roofs are all of steep pitch and modern. The font is of wood, as at Chobham in this neighbourhood, probably of 17th-century date, the bowl octagonal, cut from one piece and lined with lead; there is a central stem with eight octagonal detached shafts.
The church of ST. PETER FRIMLEY.—The present church was built in 1825 in place of the old chapel and is of stone with a low west tower of debased design. It was restored and added to in 1882, 1884, and 1888. The old chapel was a picturesque timbered building with a thatched 100f; a good engraving of it is preserved in Cracklow's Surrey Churches.
The advowson of Ash, like the manor, belonged first to Chertsey Abbey (fn. 58) and later to Winchester College. (fn. 59) In 1311 the presentation was in the king's gift 'by reason of the late voidance of the abbacy of Chertsey.' (fn. 60)
Under Edward III some supplementary provision was made for the parson of Ash, after the inclosure of Henley Park (q.v.), on condition of his celebrating divine service daily within the king's manor of Henley. (fn. 61) This grant was confirmed under Richard II (fn. 62) and subsequently. (fn. 63)
There was a chapel at Frimley, built at an unknown date. After the foundation, but again at an unknown date, a chantry called John Stephen Chantry was founded in the chapel, worth £5 14s. 11½d. in the time of Edward VI. (fn. 64) It was served by an ex-canon of Newark. It was not demolished when the chantry was suppressed, for by the registers baptisms took place there in 1590. In 1607 Bishop Bilson licensed the chapel and churchyard for marriages and burials, the inhabitants undertaking to raise £6 and the rector of Ash to contribute £4 a year for a curate, Winchester College, the patron of Ash, consenting. (fn. 65) In 1636 the warden and fellows of the college protested to Archbishop Laud against the inhabitants of Frimley, who had petitioned him 'for the allowance of a yearly stipend pretended to be due from the parson of Ashe, for the maintenance of a chaplaine at their chappell of ease in Frimley.' It was pointed out that the people of Frimley, like the other inhabitants of Ash, ought to repair to the parish church. The archbishop's decision is not recorded. Services were intermittent; but in 1735 an agreement was made by which the rector of Ash was to pay £10 a year for a curate, the inhabitants £8, and the bishop £2. (fn. 66) The inhabitants appointed the curate; (fn. 67) but the patronage is now in the hands of Winchester College. It was made a separate parish in 1866.
The ecclesiastical parish of Wyke was formed out of Ash, Worplesdon, and Wanborough in 1847. The greater part of it was in Worplesdon, but was surrounded by Ash and is part of the civil parish. The living is in the gift of Eton College.
A parcel of land in Ash, called Parish Close, was let for the benefit of the poor of Ash and Frimley. (fn. 68)