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Brentmoor Road
The old ground & Common

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Brentmoor Road, looking toward Donkey Town circa1904

tiniball.gif (219 bytes)   Running east to west, Brentmoor Road was at one time a main route to Fimley and in the 1800's West End village centred on the green from which the photograph was taken. The green hosted the annual Whitsun Fair from the early 1800's until the Alate 1950's and was the meeting place for the local hunt until fairly recently. A Surrey journal reported on a cricket match being played on the Green over 150 years ago and it may well have been the venue for cricket even earlier in the 19th century. The name Brentmoor appears on no early maps and may have been titled after a house name.

tiniball.gif (219 bytes)   The "Hare & Hounds" (on the left) is seen before the upper floor was added above the two bay windows either side of the entrance. At the time of the photograph, the Hare And Hounds was a Lascelles & Tinckner house and the landlord (one William Daborn) even had his name on the inn sign. Prior to 1850 the inn was known as the Titch Tavern and was believed to be the headquarters of the "Titchfield Harriers" (more information required). Local businessman Eddie Harford was the last Landlord before the pub was bought by Hall and Woodhouse who closed it for a few months in Spring and Summer 1997 for a complete re-furbishment. Long tradition and availability of decent beer / lager / mineral water ("Badger" and "Robert's Pride" ales are recommended) makes the 'Hare' the preferred members' meeting point for matchdays/meetings to this day. The current Landlords' entertaining website keeps the punter up-to-date.

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The "Hare And Hounds" today
The "Hare And Hounds": much-expanded on the original

tiniball.gif (219 bytes)   Beyond the inn (just left of centre) are the shops. "Gordon's View" and the two "Jubilee Cottages" were all built in 1887 by Mrs. Elizabeth Lucock of Bagshot. Of the first two shops, one was a drapery & hardware shop and the other Harts' butcher's. (Their original shop in West End had been opposite Brook Place on the Chobham road. The building is still there.) The third was a branch of Benham's of Chobham, selling grocery, corn and meal. Today the shops have been converted into residential property, although there is a Barbers shop and Martins' Garage just beyond. Back to the photo, and behind the wooden fence was a well that served all the houses and cottages on both sides of the road. The ground on which the shops and cottages were built had once been known as "Turner's Plat" (Turner being a local name), which is certainly not rhyming slang in honour of one of our famous players. On the right can be seen Pelling House, the village grocery shop once run by Mrs. Mary Pelling. Noted for having its own cellar, the building also served time as the post office, as run by Miss Edith Hone. Of considerable age at the time of the photograph it was demolished some way into the last century.

tiniball.gif (219 bytes)   About a quarter of a mile further on the right is the area with the unusual name of Donkey Town. In 1815, the Onslow Family owned what was then West End Common and an agreement allowed poor locals in the Chobham area (a similar deal was struck for the East End of Chobham) to build their own dwellings using what was available on the Common, including turves, wood and stone. When surveying was done for the 1870 Ordnance Survey maps, one local said the area was called "Donkey Town", probably as much in jest as anything else (especially regarding the areas' generally poor nature), the name was "mapped" and simply stuck.

tiniball.gif (219 bytes)   Viewing the old Green today with its encroaching foliage it's difficult to imagine that once it hosted regular cricket, fairs and more. Now fenced off it forms part of the extensive Brentmoor Common covering some 75 hectares which includes some MoD lands, including Colony Bog, the Pirbright and Bisley ranges ans the training areas of West End Common. Wet and dry heath habitats, woodland, acid grassland and ponds are all found here and a variety of grasses and sedges are to be found in open areas. It is managed jointly by Surrey Heath Borough Council and the Wildlife Trust to keep it as heathland and so trees are discouraged from growing. This deliberately artificial "management" of the area differs to the old way, where the poor locals "farmed" the heath out of necessity for daily essentials like firewood and turves. This continued pillaging, done in the name of ancient rights ("Turbary" and "Estovers", for example) served to shape the heathland over many centuries.

tiniball.gif (219 bytes)   Brentmoor road wends its way west past Donkey Town and out toward the common over which it once wound its way across Colony Bog and crossing the ancient Maultway at Colony Gate on its way to Frimley. Once the Army closed off the Common between West End, Brookwood, Deepcut, Heatherside and Lightwater in 1879 they also excluded the commoner and his long-held rights to collect wood from the area; this was a much-valued source of fuel especially when times were hard. Today, you can follow the road towards Colony Bog where it now swings south first into Hook Lane, then into the unmade Priest Lane - complete with a handful of dwellings - before finally turning east. Here on, you are in Fenns Lane which comes out on the roundabout on the main A322 in the middle of the village. The Common is still out of bounds, of course, still doubling as an Army training ground.

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