YHA Tanners Hatch Surrey Hills is a centuries-old cottage a world away from the stresses of…
A number of lovely old houses grace the main street of West Horsley and some of them date from the time of its greatest prosperity, in the 15th and 16th centuries. Before that time it was a small, agricultural hamlet and was decimated by the Black Death of 1349. Afterwards there were still a few villagers and some spare land so they started rearing sheep, and incomers also began arriving. It was not long before cloth manufacturers and wool merchants came to the village and they built themselves some fine houses. The wool trade reached its heyday in the 16th century but 100 years later the trade had all but disappeared due to the privations of the Civil War.
St Mary’s Church
One of the oldest buildings in the village (actually some way outside it) is St Mary’s Church. The village used to be closer to the church, but over time the village has moved away. The church is a beautiful place to visit, with many items of interest, including a fragment of a 14th-century alabaster reredos (ornamental church screen) and three 17th-century bells in the bell tower, but of particular note are the wall paintings. They probably date from around 1200 and have been carefully restored since their discovery in 1970. Originally the whole of the interior would have been decorated but most of the paintings were destroyed when the church was renovated in Victorian times. One of the scenes is the story of the Passion and another is of St Christopher. Although they are now quite faint, they suggest a view of what the church must have looked like at one time. The church is still well-used, as is evident from the splendid organ that has been recently installed.
Sir Walter Raleigh
An intriguing story associated with the village involves Sir Walter Raleigh, whose son, Carew, owned West Horsley Place. When Sir Walter was beheaded in 1618 his head was secretly given to Lady Raleigh who had it embalmed. When Carew came to live in the house, his mother came with him, and the story went that the embalmed head was kept in a cupboard in the hall. It now lies under the floor of the side chapel of the church, where Carew's two sons and his granddaughter are also buried.
Walk from the car park past the church and towards the A246. Cross it, with care, and walk towards the wooden kissing gate opposite. Through the gate there is a fingerpost showing two public footpaths. Take the left path and walk into an open field, keeping to the left side. Go through a small copse and meet a fingerpost, and follow the signed footpath to the left. Again, there are trees on the left, and the path eventually leads, left, to a metal gate. Go round the gate and meet a metalled track. Turn left into Cranmore Lane and pass a school on the left. Go past the right-hand turning signed Mount Pleasant, keeping straight ahead.
On meeting The Street turn right and walk towards The King William IV pub. Before you reach it, turn right up School Lane. At the top of the road there is a narrow path leading ahead. It is marked by a fingerpost showing a public footpath and it starts between the signs for Overbrook and Mount Pleasant. It runs between high fences at first and then a path joins from the right. Keep to the main track, which bears left by a fence and meets a gravel drive. Turn left by a fingerpost with a public bridleway sign and along a (sometimes muddy) tree-lined path with a stream on the right then left. This ends at a group of houses and you turn right down a waymarked path beside Fairlawn. Reach a waymarker showing two public footpaths. Turn left. The path narrows ahead between a hedge on the left and a livestock field on the right. Continue on the path. After passing some houses on the left you arrive at a metalled road. Bear left to pass a grassy area and a seat on the left to reach The Street.
Turn right at The Street and continue for 100yds (91m) towards the railway bridge but before reaching it there is a stile on the right, with a public footpath indicated on the fingerpost. Go over the stile and pass a field on the right. Continue on the path, a livestock fence on the right-hand side and an intermittent tree-lined hedge on the left. Pass a footpath sign, carry on the path as it bends to the right, with fields on both sides. At the far corner of the field the path turns left and then right into another field. A path joins from the right, by a waymarker, but continue ahead with trees, left. Along this path another two paths join from the right but carry straight on. When the fence on the right ends keep ahead and there are views of West Horsley Place to the left. Join a path coming from the right and head towards the road. Go through a kissing gate to meet the road, cross with care, and return to the car park.
Mainly well-defined footpaths across open fields; 1 stile
Farmland around the village
Good, but must be on lead near livestock
AA Walker's Map 23 Guildford, Farnham & The Downs
Sheepleas St Mary’s Car Park, West Horsley
None on route, nearest Sutherland Memorial Park, Clay Lane, Burpham, Guildford
WALKING IN SAFETY
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
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