Memorial obelisk on Hydon’s Ball Listed By Historic England

The obelisk on the flank of Hydon’s Ball, which commemorates the lives of two brothers who died in the First World War, has been given a Grade II Listing as a structure of special interest by Historic England.

The Listing gives protection to the monument and official recognition of its architectural and historic significance.

It is one of more than 2,500 memorials to the fallen that Historic England is listing as the nation remembers the 100th anniversary of the 1914-18 Great War. More than 740,000 military personnel from the British Isles alone died in the deadly global conflict.

The obelisk commemorates Second Lieutenant Laurance Robertson, aged 36, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who was killed in action during the Battle of the Somme on 30 July 1916, and his brother Captain Norman Robertson, 40, of 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, who died in a military hospital in Hanover on 20 June 1917.

Our photograph below shows the obelisk following the heavy snowfall in November 2010, two weeks after Remembrance Sunday.

Snow Nov 30th 2010 (12)

It was erected as a result of a bequest to the National Trust in the will of their eldest brother William, who died in 1937. The Trust already owned much of Hydon’s Ball and the bequest required the purchase of a small plot of land on Hydon Heath and the erection of the monument. This was completed in 1959.

The obelisk can be found beside the footpath below the summit on the south-west slope of the hill. It is easily reached from the lower end of Church Field, through the kissing gate, turning right to the little pumping station and then following the path up hill to the left. Many villagers leave poppies on the memorial around the time of Remembrance Sunday.

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Caring for Oakhurst

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Are you a student looking for a challenge during the summer holidays? Ever thought about becoming a National Trust Volunteer Conservation Assistant?

It is over 30 years since the National Trust, with the support of Hambledon Parish Council, decided to open Oakhurst Cottage to the public. A dedicated team of volunteer guides, largely recruited from within the village, give visitors a unique insight into the life- styles of Oakhurst’s inhabitants during the last four centuries; but the cottage itself, its fabric and its contents are an equally important part of the story. The contents in particular, many of which date from 19th century, need a lot of TLC – and that includes cleaning and conservation repairs.

Whether it’s a candle snuffer, a rag rug, a stool, a quilt, a piece of pottery, an item of clothing or anything in between, objects get dusty and dirty if they aren’t regular cleaned and, at the end of each season, checked to see if any damage limitation is required. This is where volunteer conservation assistants have a vital role to play.

The National Trust is recruiting Volunteer Conservation Assistants to help care for Oakhurst. From 15 August important repairs to the fabric of the cottage are being carried out, so the initial requirement is for someone to go in for half an hour on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings (at any time that suits up to 12.30) to sweep and tidy and generally remove the dust that will inevitably result from the repair works. But there’s more to it than that. If you volunteer for this task you will be given full NT training that will not only show you what to do for the half-hour cleaning sessions but will also teach you about conservation repair work and give you a set of skills and experience that will make a unique contribution to your CV.

You will be able to put these skills to good use not only at Oakhurst (where you will always be welcome whenever you find yourself in Hambledon) but also at National Trust properties throughout the country, depending on where your studies or interests may take you in the future.

Ready to get involved? If so, please e-mail oakhurstcottage@nationaltrust.org.uk. Should you require further information please get in touch with Jane Woolley, Chair of the Oakhurst Cottage Advisory Committee: j.woolley881@btinternet.com or telephone 01428 684213.

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The Pleasures of Oakhurst Cottage

Peter Cole thinks it’s well worth while travelling from Chichester to Hambledon to join the team of volunteer guides at Oakhurst. In this article he explains why he is so enthusiastic about the job. He and all his co-volunteers, from within the village and further afield, would love to welcome additions to the team. You can find out more about volunteering by clicking here.

Why did I sign up with the National Trust to be a guide at Oakhurst Cottage?  Because my wife thought that a) it would be a suitable outlet for my verbosity, b) I would enjoy it and c) it would give her some peace at home. She was right on a) and b) and, as for c), you’ll have to ask her. So what pleasure is there in playing estate agent to a damp, draughty, dark old cottage tucked away in a corner of Hambledon? Two things: the place and the people.

oakhurst-cottage-blue-sky-resizedI’m interested in buildings, history fascinates me and I like meeting people. The place is magical but not in a Disney sense – the feeling is far more real than that, and far less romantic. The cottage has been home to some two dozen families: that’s more than a hundred people because long ago families were large. It has stood on the same spot for over 400 years, altered and repaired by local builders (I hesitate to call them craftsmen for their work is crude). You
can still see those layers of history today, exposed, not covered to keep up appearances for that would have cost too much and Oakhurst was owned by people of the middling sort and rented to those with little money.

Before the industrial revolution most of our ancestors lived hard lives in places like this, called it home and made the best of it. Late Victorian artists created idealised images of these rural slums, but gradually the tenants moved to more comfortable homes and the old cottages were modernised into something acceptable to the middle class wife of a commuting husband or demolished. This left Oakhurst a rare survivor, a witness to the harsh reality of the ‘good old days’.oakhurst-cottage-interior

The cottage is special and so too are the people who are associated with it today. First, our cheerful guides, each telling the story of the cottage in their own way, variations on a theme within a symphony. They’re a friendly and helpful bunch. We share our knowledge and our experiences, put the cottage to bed in the autumn and in spring get it ready for the new season. We share the guiding when there are a lot of visitors and still find time to socialise. Then there are the National Trust staff, including the gardeners. I lock up the cottage at the end of my day and return a couple of weeks later to find the garden tidied and the hedges cut. If only my own garden were in the care of the same secret gardeners. The ladies of the National Trust kiosk at the Winkworth Arboretum are our marketing arm, suggesting to visitors that they make the trip to the cottage and giving them directions on how to find us.

The people I only meet once are special too – the visitors, a melange of humanity and another reason for my association with the cottage. Mostly they come from nearby, but some make the trip from the far corners of the earth. They come in all shapes, sizes and ages, singly, couples, families and friends. Some say little, others compensate with their chattiness, maybe remembering a granny who lived in a place like the cottage or asking questions that I can’t always answer. Ever appreciative of the guides’ efforts, our visitors are an endless source of interest and some have remained in my memory, like the Japanese lady whose grandson acted as translator and the couple who left their car at Winkworth and didn’t allow enough time to walk back. I gave them a lift on my way home.

Guiding at Oakhurst Cottage is a pleasure, as are the peripheral activities such as meeting people who are considering volunteering for the National Trust. I’ll be at Winkworth for the coffee morning on Tuesday 15 March between 10.30 and 12.30, hoping for lots of new volunteers – but not so many that I don’t have time for coffee and cake.

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Oakhurst Cottage reopening

Oakhurst, the National Trust-owned 16th Century farm labourer’s cottage, reopens next Wednesday (April 1St) after six months of restoration and repairs.

The process has unearthed much new and fascinating information about the history of the cottage, a remarkable survival of a largely-unaltered humble agricultural worker’s dwelling into 21st Century Surrey.

As usual, village volunteers will be responsible for showing visitors around the cottage and have been briefed on the restoration and research. Even those who have viewed the property before will find it worth another visit.

altFrom its beginning at the end of the 16th Century the little cottage has survived, not without alterations, but substantially much as it would have appeared to Hambledon residents 200 years ago.  It has been furnished in the manner of a mid-19th Century farm labourer’s home and provides an authentic impression of rural working class life of the time.

The cottage was given to the National Trust in 1954 by the Allfrey sisters, who let it out to tenants Elsie and Ted Jeffrey. Elsie died in 1978 and Ted continued to live in the cottage until he died in 1983.

Its un-modernised state gave the National Trust the idea of opening it to the public. Since 1985 Hambledon volunteers have formed a rota to show people around by appointment.

Last autumn the National Trust embarked on extensive renovations using specialist craftsmen and women. Sagging roof timbers were repaired or replaced and damaged plaster was attended to using traditional methods of lime plastering.

At the same time the National Trust undertook research in Oakhurst Cottage’s history, producing a timeline that is now contained in a pamphlet available to visitors. The work was overseen by NT curator Sarah Woodcock and the research was carried out by Sophie Clarke.

The traditional cottage garden is currently being restored by Matt Phelps, gardener at the nearby National Trust property, Winkworth Arboretum.

Oakhurst Cottage is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturday and Sundays between 2pm and 5pm from April to September and until 4pm in October. It is also open on Bank Holiday Mondays.

Advance booking is required by telephoning 01483 208936 or emailing oakhurstcottage@nationaltrust.org.uk

Further details can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oakhurstcottage

and on our village website, with a comprehensive gallery of photographs of the restoration and the interior of Oakhurst.

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