If you’ve been walking or are intending to walk the Limpsfield Way, you will come across 2 main boards in the Village and Chart Village areas containing the maps and some local landmarks; and 4 smaller boards containing interesting facts about each area as you walk or cycle through it…
Here’s all the information for you to read at your leisure!
INFO BOARD A – GRUB STREET
The Common was called “the Waste of the Manor of Limpsfield”. The Manor originally belonged to King Harold, the last Saxon king, but after 1066, it was given by William the Conqueror to the Abbey of Battle. Since the Waste was largely land that provided no income from farming, local people were allowed to use it. They were called “Commoners” – there are two still remaining. After the dissolution of Battle Abbey in 1538, the manor was sold to Sir John Gresham. In 1972, the last Lord of the Manor, Major Richard Leveson Gower, gave the Common to the National Trust.
A Local Committee works with the National Trust Rangers and is supported by local Friends of Limpsfield Common and by a Task Force who help with its maintenance.
There is much sand in this area and quarrying was a major industry for sand and gravel – and still is today at Broomlands just along the A25, on the other side of the allotments.
AIR RAID SHELTERS
Constructed at the outbreak of WW2, the air raid shelters and gun emplacement were built to protect the Limpsfield School children (see on other side of golf course and cricket pitch). There was no lighting and no toilet, so buckets were used! The teachers stood at the entrance and gave a running commentary of which aircraft could be seen. In 2006, one of the 2nd World War air-raid shelters was restored, and two other shelters are used for bat roosts. There is a Gatling machine gun mount nearby.
LIMPSFIELD CHART GOLF CLUB
The fourth oldest in Surrey, it was founded in 1889, permitted by the then Lord of the Manor, Granville Leveson Gower. The first match in 1889 attracted, according to the Times, “the largest crowd ever seen on Limpsfield Common”. Heather and gorse provide unique obstacles for golfers, resulting in many lost balls.
The British Legion building at Grub Street was donated by the Titsey Estate for returning servicemen and the people of Limpsfield. Celebrations were held on this part of the Common to mark the end of the 1st World War. The then lord of the Manor, Charles Leveson Gower, agreed to the erection of a Club house to house the Limpsfield arm of the Royal British Legion, founded in 1921. The club is well supported locally and in 1995 over 3,000 people attended the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of VE day. Memberships can still be bought on an annual basis and there are a lot of community events held here. The club even has a much loved boules court.
Limpsfield cricket ground (part of Oxted & Limpsfield Cricket Club) is on the other side of the Golf course. The Leveson Gower family were patrons of cricket, and Henry Leveson Gower brought great cricketers, including W. G. Grace to play at Limpsfield. More recently, Colin Cowdrey, the England batsman, lived in the village and his sons played for Limpsfield before becoming County cricketers. Limpsfield has now amalgamated with Oxted Cricket Club for form the Oxted & Limpsfield Cricket Club. The Chart has its own club, Limpsfield Chart Cricket Club, which you will pass later in the walk.
FLORA AND FAUNA
This is a very important area of heathland, being one of the last in the region, with plenty of heather and gorse, and wildlife includes deer, bees, beetles and many birds such as buzzards, red kites and woodpeckers. Many wildflowers thrive on the Common and the image shows just a few – heather, honeysuckle, bluebells, poppies and primroses.
INFO BOARD B – RIDLANDS GROVE
OTHER LIMPSFIELD COMMONS
Apart from Limpsfield Common itself, other parts of the Waste of the Manor of Limpsfield were designated as Commons under the 1925 Law of Property Act. They include the Common that you will enter after the next part of the walk.
You are now at the edge of Ridlands Grove, the only area of woodland on the Common that is designated “Ancient Woodland”, which is an area of land with a continuous cover of trees since 1600. Ancient Woodlands have been relatively undisturbed by human development, and as a result, are unique and complex communities of plants, fungi, insects and other microorganisms.
THE VANGUARD WAY (VGW)
You soon join the Vanguard Way (VGW), one of three long distance footpaths crossing Limpsfield. The VW was created in 1980 as part of the 15th anniversary of the Vanguards rambling club. It runs 66 miles from East Croydon station to Newhaven, passing through the North and South Downs, Ashdown Forest and Cuckmere Valley. This part of the VGW is close to an old Roman road, and some of the foundations can still be glimpsed.
JOHN BURNS & MARJORY PEASE COTTAGES
The first local Council Houses are close by on Ridlands Lane. Marjory (sometimes spelt, Marjorie) Pease, whose husband Edward founded the Fabians, became a Liberal Councillor in 1911 and persuaded the Council to build one of the first rural council house developments. It is named after a well-known Liberal MP, John Burns, who had supported Council House development in London. Later council house developments named after Marjory Pease are further down Ridlands Lane.
INFO BOARD C – PASTENS
THE GREENSAND WAY
You are now on the Greensand Way, a long-distance footpath running from Hamstreet in Kent to Haslemere on the south-western edge of Surrey.
You have just passed Tenchley’s Park, built by the Teulon family in the early 19th century. Their land extended to Itchingwood Common Road, but they wanted to add Limpsfield Common to their portfolio. In 1845 the Inclosures Act was passed which delegated to an ‘Inclosures Commission’ the power to enclose common land. Seymour Teulon was a friend of one of the Commissioners, but was unable to persuade enough other local gentry – let alone the Lord of the Manor to agree – so the Common has remained free for public to use.
PAINS HILL CHAPEL
In the early 19th century, a group of non-conformist Christians met in a farmhouse kitchen. When their numbers outgrew the accommodation, they purchased some land and built a Chapel which opened in 1823. On the lower side of the property was a stable used by worshippers to stable their horses. The mangers were removed about a century later and the current building dates from 1989.
There was a brick works on Limpsfield Common until the beginning of the 20th century. Red bricks and tiles were manufactured, and it’s likely that grey stock bricks were also produced. A pit where the brick-earth was dug is to be found on the golf course in Brick Kiln Lane.
RUSSIANS AT LIMPSFIELD & LITERARY FIGURES
On the left in Pastens Road is Pastens Cottage with a plaque to the Russian anarchist Sergey Stepniak, a Russian journalist and writer who published ‘Underground Russia’, a book on the Russian revolutionary movement. Stepniak knew E. Nesbit and it is said that he was the model for the Russian exile in her book, ‘The Railway Children’. Sergey was tragically killed by a train in 1896.
The Russian connection with Limpsfield centres mainly around Constance Garnett who lived locally. Constance learned Russian and translated into English for the first time 71 works of Russian authors, including Tolstoy, Turgenev and Dostoyevsky. Her Russian tutors were refugees – some settled in local cottages. Sydney Olivier (uncle of Lawrence Olivier) started the Limpsfield Land Club which supported the acquisition of land for council housing. He was a founder of the Fabian Movement with the Pease family and others such as George Bernard Shaw.
David Garnett, son of Constance, was a member of the Bloomsbury Group, whose first novel, ‘Lady into Fox,’ was inspired by sitting in the Chart woods with his first wife, Ray. The Pease family lived in Pastens Road, at a house then called The Pendicle.
INFO BOARD D – THE POUND
This circular enclosure was used to impound stray animals. A fine was imposed by the manorial courts in Limpsfield to recover any animals so impounded. Next to the pound was a lock-up, stocks and in the days of Elizabeth I, a whipping post. The brick building next to the pound was erected in 1904 to house the village fire engine, but is now used as the office of the Civil Parish (Limpsfield Parish Council).
ST MICHAEL’S SCHOOL
Erected in 1886, this was a school for children of missionaries of the Church Missionary Society. It later became a girls’ boarding school and in later years, was also patronised by children of parents from the very African countries to which the missionaries had been sent out. The School closed in 1996 and was converted into flats.
WOLFE’S HOUSE CARE HOME
This was originally the Limpsfield Convalescent Home. Built on church land by a group headed by the Rector of Limpsfield in 1886, it provided convalescent care for ‘exhausted women’ and children from the East End of London (the Rector had formerly been Rector of Limehouse). By the 1960s, it was no longer needed for this use and is now a care home for older people. It (and the road itself) are named after General James Wolfe who grew up in the area.
THE WORKHOUSE & STONEWALLS
The Limpsfield Workhouse was built in 1722. A thriving industry was run from it, making White Rose Ointment from a white rose that climbed over the Workhouse building. Local resident and shopkeeper, George Wickham built the house Stonewalls on the site of the old Workhouse. Part of the original boundary wall of the original Workhouse is still visible today.
The house was later inhabited by Ursula Thorpe, mother of the former Liberal Party leader, Jeremy Thorpe.