Tag Archives: seale

Church Croft added to DEERLEAP LINE

I have in my library a copy of ‘Puttenham under the Hog’s Back’ by Ruth Dugmore. Published in 1972 by Philimore Press.  At long last it has risen to the top of the pile of my required reading and I was interested to find the following:

‘In the seventh century England was divided up into vast dioceses. And each of these dioseces would have a minster. And from these minsters priests and laymen would penetrate the rough countryside evangelising. They would stop at a cross which was possibly erected on an old pagan site and would preach to those who came to hear them. As they evangelised they would push further afield and chapels would be set up where once there was only a preacher’s cross. The minster however would remain the mother church. There was a minster at Tuesley and it is almost certain that the area would have been Christianised from the minster there. One of the duties of the travelling priests would be to discover sites dedicated to heathen gods. Here the priest would set up a cross and substitute a Christian service for a pagan one’.

Another extract from Mrs Dugmore’s book:

‘In Puttenham there is a possibility of a heathen centre which became a Christian place of worship at Church Croft; a small hill not far from the village, which is approached by a network of tracks and paths. The name Church Croft has no significance in later times and was never church property, but there must have been a reason for it. Could it have been an altar which had been erected to some god and where a preaching cross was later set up?’

And an extract from the highly recommended website ‘Surrey Medieval’ by Robert Briggs.

‘Another piece of evidence of a very different kind (but whose record we again have Rev. Kerry to thank for) suggests a more complex chronology. Local folklore maintained that the first church in Puttenham was sited almost a mile to the southwest of the village in a location known as Church Croft. Kerry told the story thus: “In the plantation near Mr Hewettʼs Barn [no longer in existence; its site lies west of present-day Gores Farm] is a spot where it is said by the old people that the church was to have been erected, but that their pious intention was frustrated by the fairies who removed in the night what had been erected in the day to the place where the church now stands”. It is not hard to be captivated by such a tale, and Knox interpreted it as signifying the destruction of an early church on a site of pagan worship by ʻsupporters of the old religionʼ’.

‘In the case of Puttenham, the name Church Croft may hold the key. We know a new rectory at the east end of the church – effectively in ʻthe place where the church now standsʼ to repeat Kerryʼs words – was provided for in the will of Richard Lussher who died in 1502. Its previous site is undocumented, but a decent case can be made for it to have stood atop Church Croft. For one thing, this would mesh with John Blairʼs observation that many medieval Surrey rectories were isolated from their churches. A simple explanation of the fairy story, one which accommodates its key components, is that it was the rectory removed from its original site at Church Croft and re-established on a site so close to the church as to count as being “where it stands”.’

Many of the barrows in the area of Puttenham, Seale, and around were dug into by the above mentioned reverend Charles Kerry, curator of Puttenham church from 1868 to 1877, and indeed it may be him responsible for the cross trench on the crown of Culverswell Barrow. Unfortunately he seems to have been a ‘hobby archaeologist’ and was lax in recording his finds. After spells in various livings from Bedfordshire to Northumberland, he ended his career in Derbyshire with all his notebooks. Upon his death these were left to Derby Public Library. There may be something of interest there but probably a long shot.

screenshot-church-croft-1

Church Croft appears to fall upon the DEERLEAP LINE, shown crossing as a red line above, it is  at the nineteen Druid Mile (DM) point in private land being used as a pheasantry. Last week I visited this point using my hand-held GPS to locate the precise location.  From the rough track, visible running up the left side of this Google Earth image, I navigated through mixed woodland to an unkempt field knee deep in weeds, seen in the centre of the image.  The point is in the north east corner of the field and is the edge of the top of this high ground.  The land to the east falls downhill on a shallow gradient towards the village.  It was difficult to judge but this area would appear to be at the highest point on the ridge which extends all the way back to Hillbury Hillfort.  In the LIDAR image below the red circle marks the 19 DM point and the shape of the field above can be made out.

puttenham-common-lidar_edited-1

In this image the high ridge of common land runs from Hillbury (266 degrees and 20 DM), outlined in red, through to the red circle of 266/19.  An ancient field system can be seen all over the high ground, little known before the introduction of LIDAR, with valleys running downhill on the north and south sides.  A trackway can be seen running from point 266/20 inside the south east corner of the fort fairly straight towards point 266/19.

Hillbury to Hogs Back looking NE View from 266/20 inside the fort looking north east to show the terrain.

Puttenham Church added to SEALE LINE

 

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270_7-puttenham-church-rev

Taking advantage of the glorious sunshine of the last few days, and ignoring the bitter cold, I visited Puttenham to revisit the church and look at Bury Hill. I had downloaded the Ordnance Survey of the area around the church to include Bury Hill to the immediate east and to show more detail around the church. The church itself is a very conventional restoration of 1861 with little to see of its origins. Only the Norman pillars between the aisle and the nave being of interest. The original street ran around the south of the churchyard, through the grounds of Puttenham Priory, and was diverted by the Lord of the Manor around the north side in the 1820s. Although the church stands on rising ground from the village, it does not stand at the highest point, this being the knoll behind the church to the east known as Bury Hill. It has been suggested that the name originates from the existence of a Bronze Age round barrow on the crown. Bury Hill is now in the grounds of Puttenham Priory, currently the home of Roger Taylor the Queen guitarist, and is not accessible. It is possible to walk the north and east limits along the road and it can be seen that the top of the hill is some five metres above road level and would have been a prominent landscape feature before the present dense vegetation developed. Once again we see the possibility of a religious site evolving from pagan origins.

screenshot-bury-hill-promap

Ordnance Survey extract of area

Puttenham Church from The Street

Puttenham Church from The Street looking East

The LIDAR image below, with the church outlined in red, shows very distinctly the extent of Bury Hill in the centre.

bury-hill-lidar_edited-1

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Referring to the plan at the top of the post it will be seen that the SEALE LINE passes through the inside of the above wall to the Manor Chapel on the left.  More clearly understood by comparing with the floor plan below.  The seven Druid Mile point is just off the east corner of the Manor Chapel.

plan-of-puttenham-church

To be added to Seale Church on the SEALE LINE

Churches dedicated to St Laurence are quite rare.  He was a christian saint who was martyred in Rome in AD 285 under the emperor Valerian.  It is basically a Norman structure dating to the late 11th century.  Extensive restoration in 1861 has not detracted from the very pretty facades and the church is certainly one of the most pleasant in Surrey, enjoying a perfect position just below the south slopes of the Hogs Back.  It may have enjoyed a vista all the way down the valley to the east to Puttenham Church before vegetation obscured the view.

Although the the Seale line currently has only four points it is of some interest as the distance from Shalford Church to Puttenham Church is six Druid Miles and the distances between Puttenham Church to Seale Church and from Seale Church to Badshot Lea Long Barrow are both 3627 metres (11900 feet).  It also has an orientation almost exactly east  to west.

This line has some attraction to me and I think investigation of the intermediate DM points may be worthwhile.

 

Badshot Lea Long Barrow

5/11/2014

The SEALE LINE at 270.5 degrees begins near Shere Church and passes close to Chilworth Priory. The true alignment begins at Shalford Church, which is on two other alignments, and passes through Puttenham Church and on to Seale Church.  The line terminates at Badshot Lea Long Barrow which is marked on the Ordnance Survey as the site of an Ancient Monument.  I have used the coordinates of the barrow as given in Surrey Archaeological Society archives. The distance between Shalford Church and Puttenham Church is precisely 6 Druid Miles.  An interesting coincidence on this line is that the distance between Puttenham Church and Seale Church and between Seale Church and Badshot Lea Long Barrow are identical at 11,840 feet.

270_13+ Badshot Lea

The only long barrow known to exist between the Kent and Wessex tombs and now completely destroyed. It was first discovered and excavated by the archaeologist William Rankine in 1936 not long before the surviving remains were removed by quarrying. It was thought that the barrow was originally some 140 feet long and orientated slightly north of east.

Looking north. The site is behind container with bund beyond. Access track is to right of Electricity poles.

Looking north. The site is behind container with bund beyond. Access track is to right of Electricity poles.

The site is accessed by parking in Hurlands Place (Sat Nav Farnham not Badshot) just beyond the entrance to Sainsbury’s superstore, and parking near the entrance to Hurlands Business Centre. A public footpath can now be seen at the end of the road heading east. Once the railway bridge is crossed the path comes out into the open and a container in a fenced compound can be seen on the left. The site is just the other side of this container. Although this is private land the chap running a dog-minding business in the compound proved very amicable although the mention of the long barrow left him looking rather blank.

Site co-ordinates are halfway to container. Hogs Back on horizon. Bund on left and behind camera shielding quarry.

Site co-ordinates are halfway to container. Hogs Back on horizon. Bund on left and behind camera shielding quarry.

The ground here has a slight slope to the south. The site is on high ground with views in all directions apart from a segment to the east where the ground rises even higher. To the south the Hogs Back is visible with the South Downs just being visible beyond.  To the south east Crooksbury Hill is prominent, and to the west and north the horizon is some miles distant. Without the current tree cover this would have been a pleasant spot but now it is in an area of rough scrub and small fields overshadowed by power lines and a radio mast.

Site co-ordinates are on green patch in centre of view. Railway boundary hedge behind.

Site co-ordinates are on green patch in centre of view. Railway boundary hedge behind.

The site of the barrow is now a patch of scraped rubble and soils with a soil bund a few yards on the north edge beyond which is a disused quarry. There is a railway embankment to the western edge, heavily overgrown.  Immediately to the south edge of the barrow site is a fenced compound housing the container.  A rough metalled track provides access from the north east.
The site is so damaged by industrial activity that it is difficult to make out the original ground levels. My impression was that so much scraping of the ground in association with earth moving and storing activities had taken place that the current levels are below the original landform and that consequently no evidence of the barrow would be found by excavation. This assumption is backed up by the proximity of a small cliff some 25m to the south east. The face of the cliff, which is some two to three metres high, is virgin chalk showing that cutting into the landscape has occurred in the past.

Chalk cliff showing how much the landform has been lowered.

Chalk cliff showing how much the landform has been lowered.