Life is slowly getting back to something like “normal”. But we know that many things will have changed forever. There is, therefore, some comfort in reflecting on the past. In this week’s Reflection, Jane Woolley reminds us that our little village has a rich heritage. On this website, and within the Heritage archive that Jane keeps at her home, much can be discovered.
Ever wondered what your house used to look like? The chances are that it was one of Hambledon’s many small cottages, probably with no modern utilities, before it was “developed” to create a fair-sized family home complete with wi-fi and superfast broadband. Ever imagined what the noise must have been like when the empty expanse of what is now “Nutbourne Park” was a thriving brickworks? Ever been curious to know whether The Hydons and Hambledon Park always looked the way they do to-day?
Well, thanks to the Hambledon Heritage archive, it’s easy to find the answers to these and many more questions about the village, its activities, its inhabitants and its institutions. By charting the development of the village over the best part of 200 years, the archive also demonstrates how much the Hambledon of to-day owes to the Hambledon of the past: there’s nothing new about Hambledon’s community spirit.
The material in the archive has accumulated gradually over the last 60 or so years. It’s a real social history, in words and pictures, of families from all walks of life, their homes, their workplaces, their farms; of the village hubs – the shop, the Post Office (they weren’t always the same thing and the village had more than one shop in the past), the Village Hall, the church and the pub; the changing landscape; the sporting and social clubs, past and present; and the institutions (including the Hydestile Hospital and the Hambledon Institute, the predecessors of The Hydons and Hambledon Park respectively – and the Institute was originally the workhouse).
Disasters (from bombing raids to storms) are recorded; so are successes such as winning best-kept village competitions and saving the village shop and the school (now the Nursery School). Village fetes and celebrations of national events ranging from VE Day to jubilees are chronicled in detail. There are scrapbooks, booklets written by villagers, photographic albums, press cuttings and numerous individual contributions. On the whole they paint a picture of an ideal village – but don’t be fooled: less than 10 years ago the Surrey Advertiser reported that “A village regarded by police as one of the safest places to live in Surrey has proved to be the ideal base for two cannabis factories” – which led to the arrest of six people under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Never let it be said that the archive is a dull read.
When my mother bought Cobblers, little did she (or I) realise that the two outbuildings that go with it were almost more spacious than the cottage itself.
This means that I have been able to provide a home for the archive in the sun room. Anyone is welcome to visit and browse. You can find a list of all the documents with, in some cases, a list of their contents, on the village web site: just click on history/historical village documents/the Hambledon heritage albums. And do please consider whether you can add to this invaluable village resource: although everything that happens now is media-recorded, that used not to be the case. Our history is still dependent on paper documents and photographs.