Parishes: Headley

Pages 290-293

A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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In this section


Hallega (xi cent.); Hadlee and Hadlig (xiii cent.); Hedleghe (xiv cent.); Hedley (xvii cent.).

Headley is a small parish on the top of the chalk downs. The village is 2 miles north of Betchworth station, and about three miles south-east of Letherhead. The parish measures about two miles from north to south, under a mile and a half from east to west, and contains 2,066 acres. The subsoil is that of the chalk downs, which is on the surface in the valleys and on the slopes of the hills, but in the higher parts is crowned with brick earth and hill-sand deposits. The church, and the few houses which form the centre of a scattered village, stand on the brow of a steep slope some 600 ft. above the sea, at the head of the valley up which the road from Juniper Hall in the Mickleham valley runs to Walton-on-the-hill. The church is a conspicuous landmark for many miles round. Headley Heath is a large extent of still open ground to the south of the parish, lying back from the southern edge of the chalk range.

The parish is agricultural, and formerly fed large numbers of sheep.

On Headley Heath, and scattered at other points in the parish, are numerous neolithic implements and flakes, and fragments of a coarse earthenware vessel have been found near Toot Hill. (fn. 1) Less than a mile south-west of the church, west or north-west of Headley Heath, on the slopes of the valley up which the road from Juniper Hall comes, excavations have revealed the inclosing trench of a large inclosure. In the loose soil overlying the undisturbed chalk Mr. Gordon Home, of Epsom, found in 1907 fragments of hand-made pottery, with bones of many different animals, and one worked flint. At a higher level he found the broken point of a bronze weapon. Near the trench, but not in it, was some good glazed pottery, and in another place several signs of fires, burnt stones, and charcoal. A young plantation unfortunately is on the spot. The names Toot Hill, and Elderbury, and Nore Wood (a name often found in close juxtaposition to old fortifications, for which we may compare Nore under the banked hill at Hascombe) suggest an ancient settlement or settlements.

No Inclosure Act or Award is on record.

Headley Court is the seat of Mr. Walter Cunliffe, Headley Park that of Mr. J. N. Mappin, and Headley Grove that of Miss Bridge.

There is an iron Congregational chapel; and there is an institute and club in the village.

A school (Church of England) was built in 1868. In 1725 there was a school of 20 gentlemen's sons kept by Mr. Stubbs.


Before the Conquest the Countess Goda held HEADLEY in chief of King Edward, and at the time of the Domesday Survey it was in the hands of Ralph de Felgeres. (fn. 2) By the end of the 12th century it was held by Gilbert de Tilers, who paid 40s. for it into the king's treasury in 1199. (fn. 3) His daughter Agnes, who married Philip de Crois, (fn. 4) was one of his heirs. (fn. 5) Another daughter Joan married Thomas Malesmains, who held land in Headley in 1210, which had been given to him with the daughter of Gilbert de Tilers by the king's grant. (fn. 6) Hilary, one of Agnes's daughters, succeeded to part of the manor, including the capital messuage, and her husband James de Banelingham did homage for it in 1233. (fn. 7) James was an alien, and in 1246 the estate had escheated to the king. (fn. 8)

In 1253 John d'Abernon was granted free warren in his demesne lands at Headley, (fn. 9) and twenty-five years later his son John was summoned to prove his right to this privilege. (fn. 10) This, however, may not refer to the manor, but to a half-carucate of land there which Giles d'Abernon acquired in 1217–18 from Martin and Eva de Covenham, possibly one of the heiresses of Agnes de Tilers. (fn. 11) The next mention of Headley occurs amongst the possessions of John de Plesey, who held it for the service of a quarter of a knight's fee. John died in 1313–14, (fn. 12) leaving three sons: Edmund his heir, Robert from whom were descended the owners of Headley at a later date, and John. (fn. 13) At the death of Edmund, who was said to have held in free socage owing no service to the king, (fn. 14) two parts of the estate were assigned in dower to his widow Maud. (fn. 15) He was succeeded by his son Nicholas, at whose death in 1357 the property was taken into the king's custody on account of the minority of the heir, (fn. 16) John de Plesey, who died shortly after. Nicholas his brother also died without attaining his majority, and Headley then passed to their sister Joan, (fn. 17) the wife of John Hameley. Hameley continued to hold the manor after her death for service of a quarter of a knight's fee, until he himself died in 1398–9. (fn. 18) As Joan's only son had died unmarried before his father, the property should then have reverted to Peter de Plesey, Joan's uncle, and Sir Nicholas's only brother. Peter, however, apparently never held the manor, for having no son to succeed, he granted it to Joan's distant cousin, John de Plesey, who being descended in a direct line from Robert, Edmund's younger brother, was the next heir after Peter. (fn. 19) From about this date the estate is referred to as 'three parts of the manor,' and it is possible that one quarter was settled upon Elizabeth, Joan Hameley's daughter and only surviving child. (fn. 20)

De Plesey. Argent six rings gules.

John de Plesey died in 1406, and his son John succeeded him. (fn. 21) This John left no children, and the manor reverted in 1417 to his father's first cousin, John Camel. (fn. 22) In 1438 Camel conveyed one-third of the manor to William Wikes and John Aleyn, (fn. 23) and a William Wikes died seised of the property in 1518, his uncle, Richard Wikes, being his heir. (fn. 24) In 1526 Richard received licence to alienate the manor and lands to Sir David Owen and others, (fn. 25) probably in trust for Andrew Windsor, afterwards Lord Windsor, who died seised of the manor of Headley, also called Wikes Manor, in 1543–4. (fn. 26) The year before his death he likewise became possessed of property in Headley which had formerly belonged to the Abbot of Westminster, who had claimed liberties there as early as 1278–9, (fn. 27) Henry VIII granting him these lands with all the other possessions of the dissolved abbey in a forced exchange for the manor of Stanwell. (fn. 28) In this document this monastic land is said to be one quarter of Headley Manor; (fn. 29) it may have been so called from the fact that since John de Plesey had inherited the estate in 1398–9 it had only consisted of three-quarters of the manor; the remaining fourth seems to have been lost sight of, and when Lord Windsor acquired the Westminster land it was accounted for in this way. (fn. 30)

Lord Windsor was succeeded by his son William, who in 1554 acquired Headley Farm from the trustees of Nicholas Leigh, the heir of one Michael Leigh, (fn. 31) who had held it ten years before. This farm had previously been in the possession of John Wikes, (fn. 32) having apparently been excepted from the sale of the manor by Richard Wikes in 1526.

In 1560 Edward, Lord Windsor, leased the manor to the family of Puttenham, (fn. 33) and seven years later he sold it to John Vaughan and Anne his wife. (fn. 34) Anne was the daughter of Sir Christopher Pickering, and had been three times married: first to Francis Weston, (fn. 35) who had been involved in the accusation against Anne Boleyn; secondly to Sir Henry Knyvett; and thirdly to John Vaughan. (fn. 36) By a curious chance Francis Weston was descended from John Camel's daughter Katherine, sometimes called Anne, who married Edmund Weston. (fn. 37)

Anne Vaughan outlived her third husband, and dying in 1582 she was succeeded by her son Henry Weston. (fn. 38) His son Richard became lord of the manor in 1592, (fn. 39) and he probably conveyed it to William Stydolf, amongst whose lands it is mentioned on his death in 1600–1. (fn. 40) In 1677 William's grandson Sigismond settled the manor on himself and his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Francis Rolle, (fn. 41) and having no issue he left it to her in fee. (fn. 42) She married secondly Michael Hyde, (fn. 43) and thirdly Thomas Edwin, who owned Headley after his wife's death in 1734. (fn. 44) He died shortly afterwards, childless, and his nephew Charles Edwin inherited the estate. Charles Edwin died in 1756, leaving the remainder at the death of his wife Lady Charlotte, daughter of the Duke of Hamilton, to his nephew Charles Windham, who took the name of Edwin, (fn. 45) and who in 1784 sold the estate to Henry Boulton. (fn. 46) The mansion house was sold by Boulton to Colonel Alexander Hume, who, having married the daughter of William Evelyn of St. Clare, Kent, took the name of Evelyn. (fn. 47) Colonel Evelyn afterwards sold it to Robert Ladbroke, who, having purchased the rest of the estate in 1804 from Mr. Boulton, was lord of the manor in 1809. (fn. 48) Not long after the manor, but not the manor-house, was again sold, and passed into the hands of Richard Howard of Ashtead. (fn. 49) He was the brother of Sir William Bagot the first Lord Bagot of Bagot's Bromley, Staffordshire, who on his marriage with the heiress of Ashtead had assumed the name of Howard. (fn. 50) His only child and heir, Mary, married in 1807 the Hon. Fulk Greville Upton, who also took the name of Howard on his marriage. (fn. 51) Mary Howard survived her husband a great many years, dying at the age of ninety-two in 1877. (fn. 52) Headley then became the property of Colonel Charles Bagot, one of the sons of her first cousin, also Charles Bagot. (fn. 53) After his death in 1881 the manor was purchased by the Hon. Henry Dudley Ryder, who succeeded his brother as fourth Earl of Harrowby on 26 March 1900. He died on 11 November following, and his widow the Dowager Countess of Harrowby is the present lady of the manor.

A fair held at Headley on 24 August is mentioned by Symmes. (fn. 54)

The manor-house, where Mr. Ladbroke resided after the manor was sold, is now the property of Mr. Walter Cunliffe. It has been turned into a farmhouse. When Mr. Cunliffe bought it the strong-room with arrangements for securing the prisoners' hands was still existing.


The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel 31 ft. by 15 ft. 9 in. with a small north vestry, a nave 59 ft. 6 in. by 25 ft. 6 in. with a south porch, and a west tower 13 ft. square inside.

The present building was erected in 1855, excepting the tower, which was added a few years later. The nave is in 13th-century style. The tower, the ground story of which serves as a porch, is capped by a shingled wooden spire changing from square to octagonal above the eaves. The former church had a low square tower at its west end, and is said to have been much dilapidated before it was pulled down. All that is left of it is set up in the churchyard over the grave of the late rector, the Rev. Ferdinand Faithful, who died in 1871, in the form of a small rectangular ivy-covered building with a 15th-century arch at the west, and in it are preserved a few details, such as the tracery of a two-light window with trefoiled heads, and the bowl of an 18th-century font. The present font is modern.

In the vestry are preserved two painted wooden mural tablets, one to Elizabeth Leate, daughter of Mr. Nicholas Leate, Turkey merchant, 'a worthy and eminent citizen of London,' and aunt of a former rector, Richard Wyld; she died in 1680. The other is to Margaret daughter of William and Mary Warren of London, who died in 1675. There are several 18th-century monuments retained and reset in the tower.

In the tower is a mediaeval bell used for striking the hour only. It is inscribed 'Sancta Katrina ora pro nobis,' and bears the 'cross and ring' shield of Richard Hille of London, c. 1430. There is also a set of eight cup-shaped gongs, put up in 1876.

The communion plate consists of a cup of 1752, a standing paten of 1706, a flagon of 1854, and a small cover paten without hall marks.

The registers date from 1663.


The right of presentation to the church of Headley belonged from the beginning of the 14th century to the abbey of Westminster, (fn. 55) until its dissolution in 1539– 40. (fn. 56) In 1350, during a vacancy in the abbacy, Nicholas de Plesey tried to establish a claim to the advowson, declaring that his great-grandfather Robert had given the benefice to a certain Bartholomew de Plesey, and that the advowson had passed with the manor to Robert's son John, and from John to Edmund, Nicholas's father. It was proved, however, that the last incumbent was there by the gift of the abbot, and the temporalities being for the moment in the king's hands, that the king ought to present. (fn. 57) Nicholas, however, seems to have tried to assert his right in spite of this judgement, for the next entry in the index to the episcopal registers of Winchester shows that Nicholas actually did present to Headley, (fn. 58) while certain officers were in this same year to arrest anyone who attempted to uphold the claims of de Plesey against the court's decision. (fn. 59) Immediately after the Dissolution the advowson was granted to Thomas Thirlby, Bishop of Westminster, (fn. 60) who seems to have ceded his right, as Henry VIII granted it in the same year, with the rest of the estates of the abbey of Westminster, to Andrew, Lord Windsor; (fn. 61) and from this date, excepting a lease of the right to the Bishop of London in 1550 and 1553, (fn. 62) the living has always been in the gift of the lords of the manor, (fn. 63) until the death of Colonel Bagot in 1881, after which the advowson passed into the possession of Mr. H. Thompson. (fn. 64) The present patron is Mr. H. St. John O. Thompson.

Headley Church was rated at £5 in the 13th century, (fn. 65) and in 1428 it was taxed for the same amount, paying a subsidy to the king of 6s. 8d. (fn. 66) Under Henry VIII the total value was said to be £8 7s. 6d. (fn. 67)


Smith's Charity is distributed as in other Surrey parishes.

There is also a small rent-charge of £4 12s. 2d. on the manorial estates, it is supposed in compensation for a right of cutting brushwood on certain waste, given in bread and coals.


  • 1. Neolithic Man in North-east Surr. 154–62; and personal observation. There seem to be traces of terracing on the sides of the slopes.
  • 2. V.C.H. Surr. i, 326.
  • 3. Pipe R. 6 Ric. I, m. 1.
  • 4. Add. Chart. 5527.
  • 5. Ibid. 5526.
  • 6. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 225; Red Bk. of Exch. (Rolls Ser.), 562.
  • 7. Excerpta e Rot. Fin. (Rec. Com.), i, 246.
  • 8. Chan. Inq. p.m. 31 Hen. III, no. 8.
  • 9. Cal. of Chart. 1226–57, p. 434.
  • 10. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 738; Symmes' Coll. for Hist. of Surr.; Add. MS. 6167, fol. 215.
  • 11. Feet of F. Surr. East. 2 Hen. III. There may have been another manor in Headley, as in 1204–5 the sheriff of Surrey was ordered to deliver seisin to Richard de Clare 'quod de feodo suo est' (Close, 6 John, m. 12, no. 110). This de Clare holding, which does not, however, appear in the inquisitions on later Earls of Clare and Gloucester, possibly explains the appearance at Headley of the d'Abernons, their sub-tenants in other places. The holding of the d'Abernons, who were lords of Albury, may have included the land in Headley called Eldebury, which afterwards appears amongst the possessions of the Pleseys, in which case it would seem that the two holdings became united.
  • 12. Chan. Inq. p.m. 7 Edw. II, no. 5.
  • 13. Berry, Surr. Gen. 56; Visit. of Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 7.
  • 14. Chan. Inq. p.m. 1 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 42.
  • 15. Ibid.
  • 16. Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com.), ii, 244.
  • 17. Chan. Inq. p.m. 36 Edw. III, pt. ii (1st nos.), no. 15.
  • 18. Ibid. 22 Ric. II, no. 25. In this inquisition Headley is said to be held of the honour of Boulogne, a reminiscence of its having been held before the Conquest by the Countess of Boulogne, Goda (Godgifu), Edward's sister, though it had not apparently gone to her son Earl Eustace.
  • 19. Ibid.; Berry, Surr. Gen. 56.
  • 20. Ibid.
  • 21. Chan. Inq. p.m. 8 Hen. IV, no. 63.
  • 22. Ibid. 4 Hen. V, no. 31; Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 10 Hen. VI.
  • 23. Chan. Inq. p.m. 29 Hen. VI, no. 32.
  • 24. Ibid. (Ser. 2,) xxxiii, 87.
  • 25. L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv, 2673 (2).
  • 26. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), lxviii, 28.
  • 27. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 745.
  • 28. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, 285 (18); Harl. MS. 1880 [copy of indenture].
  • 29. The property was possibly granted to the abbey with the advowson by one of the heirs of Agnes de Tilers.
  • 30. Or this quarter may have been acquired by Westminster at some time after 1398–9.
  • 31. Pat. 36 Hen. VIII, pt. xxviii, m. 29.
  • 32. Pat. 1 Mary, pt. xiv, m. 21.
  • 33. Feet of F. Div. Co. Mich. 2 Eliz.
  • 34. Ibid. Surr. East. 9 Eliz.; Recov. R. Trin. 9 Eliz. rot. 141.
  • 35. Visit. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 7.
  • 36. Manning and Bray, Hist. of Surr. ii, 640; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cc, 60; Pat. 29 Eliz. pt. xiii, m. 11.
  • 37. Visit. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 7.
  • 38. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cc, 60; Pat. 29 Eliz. pt. xiii, m. 11.
  • 39. Two documents, Pat. 31 Eliz. pt. vi, m. 17, and Feet of F. Surr. Trin. 31 Eliz. record a conveyance of Headley to Thomas Foster and Thomas Cowper, but from the wording of the inquisition on Henry, and from the fact that Thomas Cowper acted as trustee formerly for Lady Vaughan, it seems most probable that this transaction was for the purpose of settlement upon Richard.
  • 40. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cclxiv, 175.
  • 41. Feet of F. Surr. Mich. 29 Chas. II.
  • 42. P.C.C. 193 Smith.
  • 43. Aubrey, Antiq. of Surr. ii, 303.
  • 44. Manning and Bray, Hist. of Surr. ii, 640; Brayley, Hist. of Surr. iv, 421.
  • 45. Ibid.; Recov. R. Trin. 24 Geo. II, rot. 262; P.C.C. 164, Glazier.
  • 46. Feet of F. Surr. East. 25 Geo. III.
  • 47. Manning and Bray, Hist. of Surr. ii, 640; Brayley, Hist. of Surr. iv, 421.
  • 48. Ibid.
  • 49. Ibid. 422.
  • 50. Records of the Ashtead Estate and its Howard Possessors, 173; Burke, Peerage.
  • 51. Records of the Ashtead Estate and its Howard Possessors, 176; Burke, Peerage.
  • 52. Ibid.
  • 53. Ibid. Surr. Dir. 1878, 1882.
  • 54. Symmes MS., Add. MSS. 6167, fol. 215.
  • 55. Index Winton Epis. Reg.; Egerton MSS. 2031–2034, ii, 8, 58, 138; iii, 17, 88, 138; iv, 15, 45, 78.
  • 56. Dugdale, Monasticon, i, 280.
  • 57. De Banco R. 360, m. 79d. (23–24 Edw. III); Index Winton Epis. Reg.; Egerton MSS. 2031–34, iii, 17.
  • 58. Ibid.
  • 59. Cal. Pat. 1348–50, 597.
  • 60. Pat. 32 Hen. VIII, pt. vii; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, 503 (33).
  • 61. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, 285 (18); Harl. MS. 1880.
  • 62. Pat. 4 Edw. VI, pt. iv, m. 16; 1 Mary, pt. iv, m. 16.
  • 63. Feet of F. Surr. East. 9 Eliz.; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cclxiv, 175; cc, 60; Recov. R. Trin. Eliz. rot. 141; Inst. Bks. P.R.O. 1663, etc., etc.
  • 64. Clergy List, 1885.
  • 65. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 280.
  • 66. Feud. Aids, v, 114.
  • 67. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 39.