A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Hambledon is a small parish inclosed on the north, east, and west by Godalming, bounded on the south by Chiddingfold. It is about 3 miles from north to south, rather over 1 mile wide in the south, but tapering to the north. It contains 2,721 acres. The village is 4 miles from Godalming town. The northern part of the parish is on the Green Sand, which rises into a considerable elevation towards Highden Heath (Hyddenesheth in 1453). Hyde Stile is near it; High Down is a probable corruption. The clay in the south of the parish is very thickly wooded, chiefly with oak; and Hambledon Hurst, an oak wood, through which a clay track runs, the old highway from Godalming to Chiddingfold and beyond, is, when passable in dry weather, one of the most picturesque woodland walks in Surrey. This highway was continually being presented as out of repair in the Godalming Hundred Courts in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. (fn. 1) It is crossed more than once by a stream, which ultimately joins the Arun. On 21 September 1340, Thomas le Beel, rector of Hambledon, was presented for having dug a ditch in the highway.
Brick-making is carried on in the clay soil. Iron also occurs in considerable quantities in the same soil; Lord Montague claimed an iron mine at Hambledon, (fn. 2) and Mine Pits Copse no doubt preserves the name of it, though the part of the wood now so named is over the Godalming border. On 20 February 1570 Lord Montague had had trouble with the commoners who resented his cutting wood for his ironworks, perhaps in Hambledon Hurst. (fn. 3)
A small outlying portion of Hambledon, an enclave of Godalming and Hascombe, was transferred to Hascombe by the Local Government Board in 1884. It included Lambert's Farm on the road through Hascombe village.
HAMBLEDON MANOR included lands in Chiddingfold, Godalming, and Witley. In the time of Edward the Confessor, Azor held Hambledon. (fn. 4) After the Conquest it was held in chief by Edward of Salisbury, ancestor of the first Earl of Salisbury, and remained for some time a member of the honour of Salisbury. (fn. 5)
The immediate tenant in 1086 was Randulf. His successors in the 13th century took their name from Hambledon. In consideration of a grant to William de Brademer of certain land in Fetcham and Letherhead in 1207, Robert of Hambledon obtained a release of William's claim to a hide of land in Hambledon in favour of his own son, Richard of Hambledon. (fn. 6) This hide had formerly been held by Robert de Smallbrede, and may therefore have been identical with the lands called Great and Lesser Smallbredes, which were attached to the manor in 1621. (fn. 7) In 1251 free warren in Hambledon and Prestwick was granted to Robert Norris, but there is no proof that he held the manor. (fn. 8) Richard of Hambledon, the son of Henry of Hambledon, was lord of the manor later in the same century. (fn. 9) His successor in 1316 was Walter of Hambledon; (fn. 10) he apparently died leaving heirs who were minors, for in 1321 the king granted Hambledon to John de Toucester during his pleasure. (fn. 11) Before 1324 it appears to have been acquired by Robert Fleming and Alice his wife, for in that year they had licence for a chapel in their manor of Hambledon. (fn. 12) A 14th-century extent of the purparty of a certain inheritance assigned to Thomas Fleming includes a hall at Smallbredes with a solar and kitchen and a chapel. (fn. 13) The history of the manor during the next century is obscure. It would appear from the patronage of the church, which both before and after this period belonged to the lords of the manor, that it changed hands several times, for the advowson was successively in the possession of Edward the Black Prince, John de Bursebrigg, Richard Earl of Arundel, John Ryouns, William Petworth, Robert Payn, John Wintershull and Henry Payn, Robert Marshall and Richard Payn, Richard Monsted and Edmund Sumner, and Robert atte Mille and John Busbridge and others. (fn. 14) It is directly stated that Richard Earl of Arundel held the lordship of Hambledon by reason of the custody of the heir, a woman; it is therefore possible that the above-mentioned patrons of the church were also holding the manor either as guardians or feoffees to the use of the heir of the at Hyls or Hulls. In 1350 Thomas at Hyl was lord of the manor and Maud was his wife. (fn. 15) She was clearly seised of the manor and is said to have been Maud of Hambledon.
At his death in 1489 John Hull was lord of Hambledon. (fn. 16) Probably he was a descendant of Maud wife of Thomas Hull whose death was presented at Godalming Court, October 1410. (fn. 17) The sons of John Hull were Richard and Edward.
In 1538 John Hull of Hambledon died. John Hull of full age was his heir. (fn. 18) He held in 1547–9 (fn. 19) and Giles Hull in 1567 and 1572. Giles was father to Samuel and Joseph who sold in 1606 to Lawrence Stoughton. (fn. 20) In 1613 he sold to Laurence Eliot of Busbridge, (fn. 21) a yearly rent being reserved to Samuel Hull during his life. (fn. 22) Laurence Eliot who held a court in 1614 died holding the manor in 1619, (fn. 23) and left a son Sir William Eliot who settled the manor on himself and his wife Joan in tail male. (fn. 24) He died in 1650. His son Sir William with his wife and son William barred the entail in 1692. (fn. 25) William the son died 1707. The manor was mortgaged and in 1710 was sold to John Walter (fn. 26) except the next presentation to the church, which William had already granted to his brother, Laurence Eliot. John Walter settled the manor on his son Abel's wife Anne Nevill in 1729, and they conveyed it in 1737 to James Jolliffe and others, (fn. 27) possibly trustees for Hitch Young. (fn. 28) In 1759 it passed to the latter's grand-nephew the Hon. William Bouverie, created Earl of Radnor 1761. His son Viscount Folkestone was in possession in 1770. (fn. 29) In 1800 his son Jacob Pleydell Bouverie sold it to Henry Hare Townsend of Busbridge. (fn. 30) Mr. Thomas Mellersh of Godalming purchased it from him in 1823, and it has since remained in the Mellersh family.
The lands of Great and Lesser Smallbrede, Shadwells and Durcombes are mentioned in another deed of 1622–3. (fn. 31) In 1707 Shadwell Field and Upper, Lower, and Little Darkham were included in Hyde Style Farm in the northern part of Hambledon, and Shadwell is an existing name north-west of the farm-house. These seem to be the latter two. Smallbrede was probably adjoining them, and perhaps Great Smallbrede is preserved in what is called the Great House on the right-hand side of the road from Hambledon to Godalming, south of Hyde Style Farm. Smallbrede was on the road, for the Hundred Roll of the Court of 21 September 1340 refers to injury to the via regia at Smallbrede.
The lord of Hambledon Manor had court baron, and in Manning and Bray's time court leet in 'High Hambledon.' (fn. 32) View of frankpledge and assize of bread and ale were claimed by Robert parson of Hambledon in 1278–9. He failed to appear and justify his claim, whereupon the Bishop of Salisbury was allowed those liberties as pertaining to his hundred of Godalming. (fn. 33) As late as 1808 the lord of Godalming Hundred was paid 2s. when a court leet was held at Hambledon. (fn. 34) The steward of the bishop regularly held a view of frankpledge at Hambledon on St. Matthew's Day, and tried cases of trespass, assault, failure to maintain highways and bridges, breaking of the assize of bread and ale, &c. (fn. 35)
The church of ST. PETER is a small building almost entirely rebuilt in 1846, consisting of nave, with small north aisle and vestry, south porch, and chancel. There is a bell-turret at the west end. It is most picturesquely situated, with very fine views from the churchyard, in which are two splendid yews; the trunk of the larger, which must be of an immense age, measures about 30 ft. in circumference and is hollow. The smaller one measures 17 ft. at 5 ft. from the ground.
Cracklow (1824) describes the old church as consisting of a nave and chancel, 'of rough materials, covered partly with tiles, and partly with stone slates,' with 'a small open chapel on the north belonging to the manor, with a gallery on the north sides and another at the west end. The floor of the church is paved with bricks, and the entrance is by a path at the west end; there is a wooden turret, rising through the roof near the middle of the nave, containing one bell, and surmounted by a small spire covered with shingles. The basin of the font is cut out of a solid block of stone. The style of the architecture affords but few data on which to form any idea of the period of its foundation. The Royal Arms are painted on the shell of a turtle placed over the pulpit, which was presented by the Earl of Radnor, patron of the church. Among the monuments are some for the family of Hull, of the early date of 1489.'
Cracklow's view, taken from the south-west, shows a porch of timber at the west end, a somewhat lofty nave, with its modern bell-turret nearly central (as in the neighbouring church of Hascombe, before rebuilding), a square-headed blocked doorway in the south wall, and eastward of it a two-light window, apparently of 13th-century date, beyond which again are two two-light windows, square-headed and probably 'churchwarden' insertions: one is quite low down in the wall. In the south wall of the chancel is a lancet of 13th-century character, probably a low side window.
The approximate dimensions of the old church were: nave 30 ft. by 16 ft., chancel 16 ft. by 13 ft., and north chapel 16 ft. by 7 ft., and the new church is of about the same size. As might be expected from the date of the rebuilding, the present church has not much to recommend it, but the design is pretty good in parts, and there is a profusion of carving, quite excellent for the period, especially a cornice on the outside of the south wall of the chancel, with minute heads and paterae by the same hand as the restored heads in the wall-arcade of 'the Round' at the Temple Church, London.
A good deal of chalk has been used in the interior, especially in the arcade of three arches to the north aisle, and in the chancel arch. The font, octagonal and modern, is a copy of that in Bosham Church, Sussex. The original font appears to have been of 11th or 12th-century date and to have resembled in design that in the neighbouring church of Alfold. The roofs are modern.
There is no mention of a church at Hambledon in the Domesday Survey. A church existed in 1291. (fn. 36) The lords of the manor presented to it in the 14th century, and the advowson of the church remained in their possession (fn. 37) till the last William Eliot (who sold the manor to John Walter) granted the presentation to his brother Laurence Eliot. (fn. 38) His son Francis Eliot sold it to Lord Folkestone in 1761. (fn. 39) It is now in the hands of Lord Radnor, his descendant.