Headley four bridges walk

A short history of Headley

The village of Headley (meaning ‘clearing in the heath’) stands on high ground above a loop of the Southern River Wey.

The Domesday Book mentions it as ‘Hallege’. The parish borders on Surrey and comprises a number of hamlets as well as the village itself.

By the River

Headley Mill still grinds corn using the power of the river on a site where a watermill has stood since Saxon times. The mills along the Wey were used for different purposes: some grinding corn, others making paper, fulling cloth or smelting iron. Standford, a hamlet of Headley parish, straddles the river – its stony (or sandy) ford still exists. A little upstream of the ford is an aqueduct, restored by the River Wey Trust, which once took water across the river to feed water meadows.

The Heart of the Village

At the heart of the parish is All Saints’ Church. There has been a Church on the present site since the 12th century, possibly succeeding a Saxon Church of timber. Most of the nave and chancel was reconstructed in the late 1850s. The tower dates at around 1380, and had a shingled spire until 1836 when it burnt down. The present battlements and pinnacles now replace the original spire. The clock on the tower was added in 1900 in memory of the son of Sir Robert Wright. On a grass triangle in the High Street stands a chestnut tree which was planted in 1891 on the site of the old stocks. Around its base is a circular metal seat, which has six of the old ways of spelling Headley inscribed on it.

Headley Down

These days the area known as Headley Down, standing on high ground in the direction of Grayshott, forms a second centre to the parish. Once heathland, the Down was developed gradually from the early 1900s onwards - originally as a place for people to build small, country retreats in the healthy air near to Hindhead. The area was known then as the English Switzerland. During the Second World War the Canadians built an army camp on heathland at the top of Beech Hill.

Key

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    • Route
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    • Temporarily closed
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    • Restricted use

Directions

Using rights of way, which includes some steep steps, and returning along country lanes.

This walk starts and ends in Headley High Street. It passes through Trottsford, Cradle Lane, Dockenfield, Huntingford Bridge, Saunders Green, and The Hanger. The walk crosses the River Wey and the River Slea, with bluebells in spring.

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