History of Shere
Sheep stealing was rife in the Shere district during the years 1830 to 1840. The parish constables were unable to cope and horses and sheep that disappeared in the south of the county of which most found their way to London. One of the gang's meeting places was The White Horse Inn, Shere and it was not uncommon to see a great deal of poached game on the premises as the men enjoyed themselves. They appeared immune from punishment but then two of the gang took to housebreaking at a large house at Wonersh. MORE
The cottages in Shere present a mixture of styles from the 15th to 20th centuries, but the central part of the village is still fundamentally 16th and 17th century, with many timber-framed houses. The names of the cottages in Lower Street, indicate the growth of population and increased prosperity during this period, produced by the woollen industry. Lower Street runs alongside the River Tillingbourne to the Ford. Here you can see The Old Forge, The Old Prison, Weavers House and Wheelright Cottage.
Middle Street contains a working forge and village shops and leads to the bridge across the River Tillingbourne, where the wooden Old Fire Station, dated 1885, can be seen. This was the Shere and Albury Volunteer Fire Brigade Station. In 1977, it was converted to public toilets.
The White Horse Inn, opposite Church Square, is an attractive black and white timbered building, which in 1450, was a house called, "Cripps". About 1600, a chimney with stone back-to-back fireplaces, was added. It became an inn in the late 17th century. From 1866 – 1945, it was managed by the Askew family and the inn became frequented by literary and artistic figures.
The William Bray, was once known as the Prince of Wales and formerly Cook's Beer House. It was built in the late 18th century, the frontage being an early 20th century addition.
The Church of St. James has been a place of worship since 1190. The spire, built between 1213 and 1300, is an excellent example of a brooch spire. It was covered with cedar shingles, but in 2000, these had to be replaced and handmade oak shakes were used. There are several brass plaques in the chancel dating from 1412, excellent for those who seek to take brass rubbings.
An intriguing aspect of St. James' Church, is The Anchoress of Shere. Christine Carpenter, in 1329 made a solemn promise to devote her life to God and live in a holy place. On 14th August 1329, the Bishop of Winchester gave permission for her to be enclosed in a cell which was built in the North wall of the chancel. Food and drink was given to her through a grating on the outside wall. On the inside of the church can be seen the Quatrefoil through which she received the bread and wine of communion. Through the squint window, she could see the altar. Not surprisingly, after three years, she decided to leave her cell, but for reasons unknown, it is recorded that on 10th November 1332, the Bishop of Winchester agreed to her request to be returned to the cell so "she may be enabled to achieve her salvation". William Carpenter, her father, it is believed, lived where the Willow and Ash Cottages now stand in Lower Street. These were built about 1475.
The Lych Gate was designed in 1902 by the architect, Edwin Lutyens, who later became Sir Edwin Lutyens and designed the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London. He designed various buildings in Shere for the Bray family, who have been Lords of the Manor of Shere since 1487. These include The Manor House Lodge and Western Cottages in Upper Street and the building in Middle Street, now used as the Tea Room, "The Lucky Duck", which was formerly known as Asters Tea Shop.
Extracts taken from the 'Home' page "Shere is..."
The River Tillingbourne (also known as the Tilling Bourne) runs along the south side of the North Downs and joins the River Wey at Guildford. Its source is near Tilling Springs to the north of Leith Hill at grid reference TQ143437 and it runs through Friday Street, Abinger Hammer, Gomshall, Shere, Albury, Chilworth and Shalford. The source is a semi-natural uninhabited area. The catchment is situated on sandstone which has a low rate of weathering. The Tillingbourne is 18 km (11 mi) in length.
The Tillingbourne initially flows northward for 4 km (2.5 mi) down the northern slopes of Leith Hill over a series of weirs and cascades, before turning west to run for 14 km (8.7 mi) through Abinger Hammer and Chilworth towards the River Wey at Shalford. The river is classified as a subsequent stream, since its course is determined by the direction of the stratum of softer rock for the majority of its length.
The river has four principal tributaries: the Friday Street stream joins at Wootton House; the Holmbury St Mary stream joins at Abinger Hammer; the Sherbourne Brook drains the Silent Pool and Sherbourne Pond and the Law Brook joins near Postford.
The river used to power a number of gunpowder, paper and flour mills in the area. The gunpowder mill was at Chilworth. Present day users include a trout farm, watercress beds,a business growing reeds and is often studied by students from nearby field studies centres, such as Sayers Croft.
The River Tillingbourne supports a healthy fish population of both wild brown trout and coarse fish. The Environment Agency has been working with local fishermen to improve the habitat for these fish by recreating a pool and riffle habitat and by cutting back overhanging vegetation.
This page will be updated frequently with new additions - if you would like to add, change or contribute to this or any other page, please contact me - I would love to hear from you.
1329 - Anchoress of Shere
On the north side of St' James' Church is where Christine carpenter was immured for several years in the 14th Century.
On the north side of Shere's church is where Christine carpenter was immured for several years in the 14th Century.
Four page leaflet: Christine Carpenter, Anchoress of Shere - Available from St James church
St James' Church, Shere, was built in 1190 (but its lychgate was designed by the architect Edwin Lutyens). It is a rare example of a church in the Early English Transitional Style (with the round Norman arches giving way to pointed ones). The nave pews have numbers - at one time people paid rent to the church for them.
The Alms Chest in the church dates from about 1200 and was used to collect money for the crusades fought in the Holy Land.
1671 - Shere Cricket Club
CLUB HISTORY - THE EARLY YEARS
"Why doesn't glue stick to the bottle?", "Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word 'lisp'"? and "From where and when did Cricket originate?" are just three of life's unanswerable questions. In an attempt to answer the third, some aficionados will point you towards the first recorded game played at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford, in 1550. It must have been a particularly long game, as the next definitive reference to a local match crops up in 1671. In the same year that saw King Charles II pardon Colonel Thomas Blood for attempting to pinch the Crown Jewels, a similar criminal was at work on the Sabbath, playing Cricket for Shere. His name was Edward Bound - and he too was pardoned. It should be pointed out that over recent years there have been a number of team performances which can only be described as 'criminal'. However, in a cloth-cap tipping homage to our distant forefathers, the current team also got away with it - without even an ASBO.
Moving swiftly on, the next notable entry can be found in the astonishingly-long diaries of William Bray (1736-1832).
"The White Horse was built in 1475 as a farmhouse. It stood in two acres of ground known as Marysee. Made of timbers the inglenook fireplaces were added in the 1600s. It became an inn in the 1700s which coincided with the expansion of Shere into a township (sic) an increase in prosperity from wool and sheep. The inn had its own brewhouse and grew its own hops.
"The area was one of the wildest in Surrey with sheep stealers, smugglers and poachers who all found refuge in the hills. Local legend linked the White Horse with the smugglers. This was confirmed in 1955 when a hidden cellar was discovered filled with casks of brandy dating back to 1720.
"In Victorian and Edwardian times it was a meeting place for writers and artists. J.M Barrie and Sir Alfred Gilbert (1) are among the many famous names. We also have our own ghost - a young girl whose body was found in the chimney during the 1955 refit."
(1) JM Barrie (1860 - 1937) author of Peter Pan. Sir Alfred Gilbert (1854 - 1934) sculptor who created Eros statue at heart of Piccadilly Circus, London
1777 - The Workhouse
A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded three parish workhouses in operation in Guildford — Holy Trinity (for up to 20 inmates), St Mary (24), and St Nicholas (20). There were also parish workhouses in Albury (18), West Clandon (4), Godalming (76), Pirbright [Purbright] (30), Send and Ripley (4), Shiere [Shere] (40), Wisley (8), and Wokeing [Woking] (40).
Shere had a "parish house" — a 17th century cottage known as "Allens" — which was in trust for the use of the poor between 1697 and 1802.
In 1784, the running of the Shere workhouse was contracted out under a system known as "farming the poor". Thomas Hornsby was paid around 2s.6d. per week for maintaining each of the inmates who numbered between twelve and twenty. The experiment appears not to have been successful as the following years, Mrs Pellate resumed as governor. However, a new contractor, James Gadd, was employed from 1786 to 1789 and paid 2s.3d. per head per week. The farming system continued, with a succession on contractors being employed. In the early 1800s, the numbers in the house rose steadily and reached a very overcrowded peak of 44 in 1819.
Conditions in the Shere workhouse were generally comfortable. An 1836 inventory includes "stump" bedsteads (i.e. no headboards), feather beds, flock mattresses, sheets, rugs, bolsters, oak chests, "earthen chambers". A large 15 foot dining-table was used for communal meals which were eaten off wooden trenchers with spoons. The workhouse also had its own bakehouse and brewhouse.
OTHER REFERENCE: Book by: Noyes, Anne (1996) Shere Poverty (Twiga Books)
1830 - Policing the Victorian Countryside
The Early Years
1830-1840: Sheep stealing was rife in the Shere district during the years 1830 to 1840. The parish constables were unable to cope and horses and sheep that disappeared in the south of the county of which most found their way to London. One of the gang's meeting places was The White Horse Inn, Shere and it was not uncommon to see a great deal of poached game on the premises as the men enjoyed themselves. They appeared immune from punishment but then two of the gang took to housebreaking at a large house at Wonersh.
A constable from Godalming believed to be Biddlecombe traced the men concerned to an inn in Sussex. Enlisting the help of local harvesters they came across the suspects and joked with them and somehow Biddlecombe persuaded them to allow him to handcuff them. Once handcuffed the men were arrested for breaking into Squire Spark's place, taken to Guildford where they were convicted.
In addition to the Shere mob there were gangs at Elstead and a team known as the Hut Men at Peper Harow which were broken up soon after the Surrey Constabulary was formed.
1843 - Sir Henry Cole - The Man who Invented the Christmas Card
Sir HENRY COLE (1808 - 1882) - The man who invented the Christmas card
Autumn of 1843, an English gentleman named Henry Cole, decided to commission and send printed greeting cards with images that would be marked down in history as the man who invented the Christmas card.
This is the first commercial Christmas card issued in London, England in 1843,
Henry Cole lived at Elm Cottage, Gomshall Lane, Shere during his retirement (shown below):
CONFUSED? - This is a picture of 'SEAFORTH COTTAGE' in Gomshall Lane (opposite the School)
...not to be confused by the present day 'Elm Cottage' in Upper Street, southside, Shere - formerly Gibbles (Grade II listed)
As the home looked like in 1856
Henry was also a photographer and the following four internal photos were taken on 18th May 1856 at Elm Cottage.
Viewed HERE (39 minute mark into the lecture) "The inaugural Henry Cole Lecture, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on 30 October 2008. The purpose of the lecture is to celebrate the legacy of the Museum’s founding director, and explore its implications for museums, culture and society today."
"But another more personal example of Henry Cole's own tastes in the 1850s is evidenced by a fascinating series of snaps he took on 18 May 1856 of the drawing room and bedroom at Elm Cottage, his country retreat in Shere, Surrey. These photos were made in the year he purchased the very first example of the art of photography for the Museum's collection; and they were acquired by the V& A as recently as 1987 to add to that collection. There are three photos of the drawing room - some with watercolour retouches by Cole - and one of the bedroom. The contrast between daylight and dark isn't always successful but the glimpse of Cole's domestic arrangements is fascinating - very rare to have photographs of domestic interiors of this kind. The interiors are filled with the clutter of pictures and ornaments - plus Cole's
carefully posed daughters: May(on the left), Tishie (in the middle), and Hennie, seated. This one of the drawing room - you can't really see it - but the framed item on the right is a lithograph of the nave of the Crystal Palace, on the floor, a portrait of Cole in his twenties, and behind them, geometrical, flat wallpaper - which he had selected in London, with Richard Redgrave RA for moral support,on 22 February 1856.
Another of the drawing room has inset fragments of stained glass in the window, and on the table a Parian ware Shakespeare; and one of the rarer products of Felix Summerly's Art Manufactures - the 'Bride's Inkstand' - in the middle. In this one Cole's daughter Mary stands in the bedroom, with its very busy curtains, the wallpaper again, and on the left Shaker-style pegs for hanging things up. Again, not exactly proto-Modernism, although the wallpaper does indeed obey some of the Marlborough House commandments: it doesn't imitate nature, it repeats well, and it takes account of the dimensions of the room. "
Research from - Victoria and Albert Museum - The world’s greatest museum of art and design
As a footnote, 'Elm Cottage' (now Seaforth', was Read and Sons Family Butchers around 1900 - I am unsure as to what the house name
was at this time but a wonderful photo (one from my postcard collection)
Elizabeth Worsfold (1867-1935) whose husband Ernest Worsfold was village butcher at Peaslake from 1910 to 1962. Her father Frederick Read and her eldest brother - James - were village butchers at Shere - two miles away; a younger brother - Jabez - had a butcher's shop at Abinger Hammer.
Seaforth Cottage - Shere - alongside what was then her father's shop - was Elizabeth's birthplace and her life was lived out in this cluster of Surrey villages and shaped by what was expected of a Victorian daughter - an Edwardian wife. READ MORE
1851 - William Biddlecombe - Surrey's First Detective
1856 - Charles Goodwin Norton
(1856 - 1940)
British lanternist, filmmaker, projectionist
C. Goodwin Norton was born 8 April 1856 in Shere, Guildford, Surrey and in 1899 made a film:
Fire Brigade turn-out in the Country (c. 1899) - BFI
Volunteer firemen at Shere, Surrey, harness a fire engine and ride away.
Archive format 35MM
Original format 35mm Film
Thanks to Don Longhurst for the information - Cheers Don
1882 - Shere and its neighbourhood
THE ART JOURNAL - May 1882
This 130 year old 4-page article makes interesting reading, published in the Victorian publication, The Art Journal. Exciting also to see sketches of Shere Mill (Netley Mill), Shere Village (The Square and Lower Street).
The Illustrating Sporting and Dramatic News - January 27th 1883
A Surrey Village in Winter Description - LARGER VIEW
November 21st 1884 - The Building News
There is a small Drinking Fountain situated opposite the Post Office in Middle Street, Shere.
This was given to the village in 1886 by two maiden ladies (Misses Spottiswoode of Drydown). They were very religious and saw alcohol as the devil. They wanted visitors to the nearby White Horse Pub to have an alternative 'local' drink and thought water was a good option.
The well, 286 feet in depth. A plaque states that water flowed here until the 1970s, when Thames Water sunk fresh bore holes in the area, thus lowering the water table 18 inches. and stopping the spring.
In 1984 many local people subscribed to the refurbishment of the well as an ornamental asset to the village and its many visitors.
1893 - The Pilgrim's Way
Print measure 9 inches by 7 inches.
The art is by the highly acclaimed and hugely prolific artist, A. R. Quinton.
Source: The Pilgrims' Way, 1893.
BOOK PLATE - 1893
Shere Parish Hall in Surrey, which was built to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1898.
When the men of Shere returned from serving in the First World War the Parish wished to honour them, by building and completing the present Village Hall in 1922 (the white building in photo above). The then Original Parish Hall (the current location of the Shere Museum), was built to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1898 then became available for The Shere Working Men's Club. The Shere Working Men's Club closed in 1997 and the hall lay empty until 2006 when a team of volunteers started work on converting the building to house the museum collection.
1904 - Train Crash
1904, March: A serious railway accident occurred as a troop train was passing through Gomshall Station. Although the engine and two coaches were overturned and smashed after the engine had left the rails, no one was killed but several soldiers and the driver and fireman of the train were severely injured.
THE TATLER - June 6th 1906
Photo 3: A view of Shere Church, a few miles from Guildford. This photograph is typical of the rural beauty of this neighbourhood
1908 / 1909
Extract from Highways and Byways in Surrey
The White Horse is a pattern of an old village inn, with panelled rooms and dark beams over its ceilings, and a parlour hung with oil paintings,
Published just over 100 years ago in 1910
1914 - Wedding
Wedding outside St.James' Church
Thanks to a reader of this website, who sent in the photo - anyone know who the happy couple are?
Shere village war memorial consists on a 'nameless' stone cross to the west of the St James's Church, and a bronze plaque bearing the names of the fallen on the inner northern wall of the church.
It features 33 names. In the 1800's the parish of Shere also encompassed Gomshall and Peaslake, hence some men on the Peaslake War Memorial being referred to as born or resident in Shere.
1918 - World War I Gun and shell
This Gun and shell sat next to the tillingbourne in Shere until World War II where it was taken and melted down for the war effort - The gun can be viewed in many old postcards leading up to this time.
Shere Football Club Winners - 1924
1923-1924 Winners of the Guildford & District League - Five years after World War 1, these young men played for the Shere Football Club and were District league winners:
Back row -
left to right:
Front row - left to right:
Shere Football Club logo
1926 - Agatha Christie
AGATHA CHRISTIE - The undisputed queen of crime, Agatha Christie has sold millions of books across the world. But in a bizarre case of life imitating art, the strangest story of all concerns the night that she faked her own death at Newlands Corner in December 1926, near Shere, and vanished into thin air...
10th December 1926
Daily Mail - Friday 10th December 1926
1937 - Gomshall and Shere Railway Station
This photo was taken on 24th July 1937
Closer shot on the Station Platform
Does anyone know anything about the following story, posted HERE
Crash at Gomshall, Surrey - 2nd World War?
My Uncle was a fireman on the Southern Railway. I have a photograph of a smashed up locomotive. The story that has been past down to me over the years is roughly as follows: My Uncle was on the footplate of a freight train, carrying shells in a southern direction through Gomshall station. I am lead to believe an express passenger train was given priority and my Uncle's train was diverted off the main line and crashed into a siding at Gomshall. I have trawled the internet and can only find a record of a crash at Gomshall in 1904. This has lead to me questioning the story behind the photo I have in my possession. If anyone has any information on the authenticty of this accident I would love to hear from them, and if there is a possible line of investigation I will download a copy of the photo to aid any research.
Front cover photo - St. James' Church
Locating magazine - will post any updates
Here is a taste of life back in the early fiftees, as featured in the County Magazine
1988 Shere Pottage
Stapled booklet with 44 pages. Illustrated with b/w photos of local scenes & characters. Collection of Local history with recipes.
1894 to 1994 - A Pictorial Record
This book was pblished to celebrate the centenary of the formation of Parish Council's in general and Shere Parish Council in particular.
Can be purchased from the Shere Museum - Highly recommended as its packed with over 80 pages.
St James' Churchyard
A great source, reference and enjoyable read, these suite of three Historical books
Can be purchased from various locations in and around the villages - All revised and reprinted in 2003
Old Houses in the Parish of Shere
Shere, Gomshall and Peaslake - A Short History
The Tillingbourne Story
First published version (reprinted 1985 version)
First published version (1984)
The Medieval Combat Society
Local History Society
A great and fun place to start finding out more about the village history is by visiting the 'Shere Museum'.
"The extensive displays include objects of daily life - tools, toys, domestic items, wartime and leisure - mainly from Victorian times to the 1950s and some surprising finds from earlier periods. The collection covers all aspects of the history of the parish of Shere, which encompasses the villages of Shere, Gomshall, Peaslake, Holmbury St Mary and parts of Abinger. Visitors can browse the collection in a friendly and informal atmosphere; children are particularly welcome, volunteers are always on hand to answer any questions you may have" - Shere Museum
Shere Museum is now housed in the original Shere Parish Hall in Surrey, which was built to commemorate
Tel: 01483 202769 | WEBSITE
The first Reffell brewery was at nearby Gomshall, and was located behind the Black Horse and originates from 1817.
There are currently two public houses in Shere; the White Horse and the William Bray (previously the Prince of Wales and before
Listed Buildings in Shere
Other links / contacts