The parish of Headley, showing today's civil parish (light shading), and the greatest extent of the parish as it was up until the start of the 20th century (darker shading). In 1902, Grayshott became an independent parish; in 1929, the parish of Whitehill was formed taking away Bordon and Lindford; and in 1991, the south bank of Frensham Great Pond became part of Surrey.
Map of the area, first published circa 1896 in A Souvenir of Headley written by Charles H. Beck (slightly reduced in scale) There are a number of inaccuracies shown on this map, for example the county boundary at the time should have gone through Frensham Great Pond, and Liphook is placed too near to Haslemere.
High Street to Arford
The High Street in Headley lies on high ground between the valleys of the River Wey and the Arford stream, and was simply called The Street in past times. The focal point of the parish, here we have the parish church of All Saints, its rectory and tithe barn, the Holly Bush inn, and the commemorative chestnut tree planted at the triangular road junction.
Over the years, there have been several shops and tradesmen operating here, but, as with so many rural communities, these have now dwindled to a mere handful.
In this section, we make a circular tour from the High Street, down Long Cross Hill to Arford, and back again by way of the Village Green, side-stepping to include a couple of properties, Benifold and The Grange, each of which has its own interesting story to tell.
Headley Down and beyond
Going east from the centres of Headley and Arford, the ground rises to an area of heathland. This was called Headley Down on maps even as early as 1801, and Mr Laverty had also proposed it in 1913, but the name was not formalised for the area until the post office announced in March 1923 that 'the official name of the Telephone Call Office which has been established on Stone Hill will be Headley Down.'
In earlier days it was relatively unpopulated due to the poor nature of its soil, but from about the 1870s onwards, a fashion developed in favour of the healthy air which this high ground was supposed to offer. Houses began to appear on the estates there known as Beech Hill and Stone Hill, and, to the extreme east of the parish, the rapid development of Hindhead as a notable health resort promoted the growth of Grayshott village in its wake. By the end of the 19th century, Grayshott had become so dissimilar from its mother village that it was decided to create a separate parish there, centred round the new church of St Luke's.
In our tour of the eastern parts of the parish, we shall visit the 'new' buildings on Headley Down, and the open expanses of Ludshott Common which, although a natural 'playground' for Headley residents, in fact lies almost totally in Bramshott parish. Then, following the old parish boundary, we pass by the top of Waggoners Wells, go through Grayshott, and along the line of the county boundary with Surrey down Whitmore Vale, ending up in Barford.
But first, we stop at a once-lost beauty spot in Fullers Vale …
Along the Wey
The southern arm of the River Wey runs through the west of the parish in a loop, flowing from south to north, with various smaller tributaries joining it. In the past there have been a number of water mills along its length-now only Headley Mill remains in working order. We start our journey in Hollywater, one of the 'forgotten' hamlets of the parish. It sits at the point where three parishes join. In the old days, the boundaries of Headley, Bramshott and Selborne met opposite the Royal Oak pub at the 'centre of a chimney of a house inhabited by a person named Eade'. This house was demolished between 1881 and 1890, leaving no trace as to where the chimney stood. A joint party from Bramshott and Headley in 1890 then determined it to be: "in a small garden lying due north and 23 paces from the door of the house inhabited by Charles Fisher; the spot being 5 yards from the S. bank, and 7 yards from the W. bank, and 12 paces from a wild cherry tree situated on the E. side of the garden." A tributary of the Wey flows through the hamlet from Hollywater Pond, whose water, tradition says, had curative properties.
Greetings from Headley, printed before 1911
We end our tour around the parish of Headley with a composition of six pictures printed in the first decade of the 20th century.
Clockwise from top left:- Lindford bridge, All Saints' Church, Headley Park, Standford ford, Headley High Street, and Headley Mill. Note that the car at bottom centre appears to have been 'superimposed' on this and several other postcards of the time, since identical pictures can be found without it.
The text of this Theme is taken with permission from the book Headley's Past in Pictures published by John Owen Smith (ISBN 1-873855-27-3).