The Guildford - Pirbright Road

This section covers the stretch of the Guildford Road between Rickford Bridge and the turning to Ash.  The left hand (ie west and south) side of the road is dominated by Pirbright Cottages, whilst the right hand (east and north) side includes The Fox Inn – probably the most well-known building in the whole of our area.

 

On this page we'll take an overview look at the area up until c1860, as things didn’t change much until then.  In the other pages under this menu item we’ll take a more detailed look at each property in turn, dealing separately with the southern side of the road (ie the left-hand side, starting from Rickford Bridge), and then the other side of the road.

The early days (until c 1860)

Up to the mid-1800’s, there were just 6 properties and 2 dwellings on this stretch of road – the afore-mentioned Fox Inn, and Tod’s Farm, on the site of the present house consisting of Suffolk House and The Squirrels.  The map below (which for practical reasons was oriented about 30 degrees clockwise from true north) shows the area in 1841.

Tithe Map - Speeches, Tods etc.jpg

The various properties have been coloured in as follows (using their original names):  

  • Red:  Speeches

  • Green:  2 fields carved out of Speeches

  • Orange:  Linnards

  • Blue:  Tod’s Farm

  • Yellow:  Hockford Farm

  • Purple:  Merristwood Mead

 

We will discuss the early history of each of these 6 properties in more detail when dealing with the house which currently stands on the property.  But on this page we will make some overall observations on the map.

 

  • The tracks marked on the tithe map all exist today – either as roads or paths.  

  • The path at the back of Pirbright Cottages (which has been the subject of some recent discussions regarding rights and ownership) is clearly shown, and would have been the shortest route from Pirbright to Rickford and Guildford..  

  • The right-hand side of the road was particularly sparse:  Malthouse Lane was just a track through to Pirbright (though not shown on this map).  Heath Mill Lane was a track leading to Heath Mill (then called Lower Mill to distinguish it from the mill at Pirbright, unsurprisingly called Upper Mill)).  

  • Linnards (on the site of The Fox Inn) was not a pub in 1841.  Instead, it was occupied by a farmer, and sat on a plot of around 2 acres (called Gander Hill), abutting what is now Heath Mill Lane as far as (but not including) where Dunreyth is now, and stretching about 20 metres further west along the road than it currently does.

  • The remainder of the right hand side of the road between Rickford Mill and the Ash Road turning was heathland.

  • The opposite (left) side of the road comprised both heathland and agricultural property.  At the easterly end, the track was bordered by heathland with some fields (“Speeches”) set back from the road, close to the Hoe Stream.  However, just as one would have approached the Ash Road turning, the fields of a sizeable farm (Tod’s) would have appeared on the left-hand side.  According to the Tithe Map, the Ash Road turning was actually 60 yards further east (ie towards Fox Corner) than it is today, but before the advent of metalled roads, tracks may well have shifted a little over the years.

It’s worth remembering that what we know as Fox Corner now was a sort of T-junction then:  The east-west track was the main route from Mayford to Pirbright and Normandy, and the south track was a short cut to the main Guildford-Bagshot road a little to the south (where the roundabout is today).  The north track to Heath Mill would have been used less frequently.  These tracks would have been wide enough to carry horse-drawn carts – perhaps half as wide as the road today – but there were no pavements.  The tracks would have been relatively open, but perhaps there would have been the odd tree here and there – oak trees grow well in the area today.


We can only imagine what the traffic would have looked like – perhaps a few horse-drawn carts travelling the short distance between Heath Mill and Rickford Malthouse (on the Bagshot Road), together with other carts making longer journeys.  At summer time, there would have been more traffic - many carts laden with freshly-cut crops from the Pirbright farms on their way to Guildford, (Old) Woking and other places.  In the mornings there may have been the odd labourer on his way from home to work, and in the evening back home again, but I can’t see that it would have been a busy walking route, as there weren’t many dwellings nearby.