1803 AD: Closure of Parsonage Lane
Parsonage Lane (now known as Stychens Lane) closed to wheeled traffic
The lane had been the main route from the North (London) to the village but was closed when tree routes and rocks made further maintenance as a road impossible. It is now a footpath for much of the way.
1816 AD: Sale of Village (First)
The reason for the sale? It was all about power. As a rotten borough Bletchingley returned two Members of Parliament. The Claytons had gradually been buying control of the village (and ergo the two MPs) from 1682 onwards and from 1750 the Kenricks followed that tradition.
The conveyance to Matthew Russell of Brancepeth Castle, County Durham in 1816 allowed him to be elected as one of the MPs followed very shortly afterwards by his son for a few months.
1827-28 AD: Lord Melbourne
William Lamb (later Lord Melbourne) Prime Minister 1834-41, elected MP for Bletchingley
1831-32 AD: Lord Palmerston
Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston, Prime Minister 1859 – 1865, elected MP for Bletchingley
1832 AD: Reform Act
The Reform Act removed Rotten Boroughs from the Parliamentary system meaning that the voters of Bletchingley lost the right to elect their own MP - let alone two.
1834 AD: Poor Law Act
The Act replaced all previous versions of poverty relief including “Parish Relief”; it was implemented to try and reduce costs, to standardise methods and to reduce some of the abuses of the system.
All poverty relief was in future to be administered through workhouses – it was judged that the set of rules should be such to deter all applicants other than the most destitute.
1834 AD: Murder of Mr John Richardson of Bletchingley
On the 26th February Mr Richardson was returning to his home in Bletchingley after visiting the market at Epsom when he was set upon and murdered. Two men, one 5 feet 10 inches tall and “powerful looking but thin” and the other a little shorter and “remarkably ill-looking” had been seen leaving Walton Heath where Mr Richardson had been shot “through the lungs”. Bank Notes to the value of between £20 and £30 with some cash had been stolen.
Mr Richardson’s family immediately offered a reward of 100 guineas on hearing of the “melancholy facts”.
1835 AD: Sale of Village (second)
Following the Reform Act and the subsequent loss of political influence the village was put up for sale at a knock-down price. The land and buildings were sold in separate lots.
The Historic Association has copies of the Sales Particulars including maps.
1839 AD: Godstone Union Workhouse
The new institution was built on land north of Bletchingley Church (now Clerks Croft)
1841 AD: The coming of the Railway
The original railway line between Redhill and Dover was built in almost a straight line. As the objective was to reach the coast in the shortest possible time little consideration was given to servicing villages along the way. Much of the railway is actually underground as it passes through the parish of Bletchingley.
The railway was formally opened by Queen Victoria on the 28th June 1843.
1855 AD: Death in Bletchingley Tunnel
“At an early hour on Friday morning (22nd July 1855) a man and his son, named George Bamon, living at Bletchingley, went to the Godstone Station to put a female relative in the train for London. Returning, young Bamon, despite the remonstrance of his father, determined, for a short cut, to go home through the Bletchingley Tunnel. On returning home old Bamon found his son had not arrived, and after waiting some time he communicated with the authorities, and on search being made, his body was found in the tunnel.... frightfully mangled”.
Note: Article edited to remove graphic injury information.
1873 AD: Update on School
The building in Stychens Lane was erected as the new school. Since replaced by the school at White Post.
1894 AD: Local Government re-organisation
1911 AD: Derby Day thunderstorm
31st May 1911, the Derby was moved from its traditional day so as not to clash with the Coronation of George VI. That day there was a huge thunderstorm which not only affected the Race but also the surrounding area with 159 lightening flashes counted in one 15 minute period at 5.30pm. It was reported that “...water, three feet deep, made the road through Bletchingley impassable...”; hail lay fifteen centimetres deep on the Bletchingley Road, Godstone and a landslide at Hooley blocked the railway.
It was also reported that at Bletchingley House between 5pm and 7pm there was 1.94 inches of rain and three houses were struck by lightning. A wall and motor house were wrecked and one woman was badly injured with three children slightly so. Another report stated that a 10 year old boy was hit by lightening in Bletchingley – he survived but was left with a fern-leaf shaped scar.
(courtesy of Steve Jebson, Met Office June 2011)
On June 2nd 1908 there had been another major thunderstorm when Jarvis Kenrick remarkably captured bolts of lightning on camera.
1912 AD: Introduction of first buses
In 1911 Arthur Hawkins set up a regular and reliable motor bus service initially with two buses between Redhill and Reigate. A trial run of Bus No. 5 between Redhill and Godstone was completed on the 12th February 1912. The new route was finally established between the White Hart and Redhill in June the same year – the driver was told to take great care when descending Redstone Hill. In snowy weather, passengers had to walk up the same hill. The bus made hourly return trips from 08.30am till 10.00pm every weekday. By April 1914 the route was extended to Godstone and then on to Riverhead soon afterwards. Another route took passengers to Hartfield.
1914-18 AD: The Great War
All Bletchingley people who served in the Great War, received an individual certificate in recogntion of their service. The recipients did not necessarily undertake military service.
Those that did serve in the forces are also commemorated on the Rolls of Honour housed in the Village Hall. Unusually, the Rolls include all names, not just those that died.
1921 AD: Dedication of War Memorial
The War Memorial dedicated to the Fallen in 1921
1929 AD: Local Government Act
Local Government Act transferred Poor Law Institution (Clerks Croft Workhouse) from Board of Guardians to Surrey County Council
1929 AD: Bowling Club
Bletchingley Bowling Club set up
1939 – 45 AD: World War Two
Like WWI Bletchingley played its part in the Second World War, in particular eighteen names were added to the War Memorial
The Society holds a copy of the small book “Bletchingley in the World War 1939 – 1945” compiled by Bruce E Money which details the activities of the village at the time. It covers everything from the Meat Pie Scheme and Jam Making to a Salute for the Fallen - eighteen men gave their lives fighting on the Front.
The village also saw its own share of casualties on the Home Front. There were four people killed (including a mother and young son) on the night of 24th September 1940 during a raid by German bombers. A “hostile aeroplane” was brought down in flames in 1943 on White Hill which killed the three occupants who were subsequently buried in Bletchingley cemetary. And in 1944 the house at South Park Farm was destroyed by an exploding V1 flying bomb killing the then sole occupier instantaneously – her two children survived unhurt in the air-raid shelter built alongside the house in the garden. Her husband was away serving in Africa.
There was also a secret wartime factory in the village.
1949 AD: May Queen Festival established
May Queen Festival set up
1955 AD: Bletchingley Football Club set up
Village Football team set up
1956 AD: St Catherine’s School
New, purpose built school built as a Secondary Modern School replacing the old buildings at top of Stychens Lane
1961 AD: Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha is a group of volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (it is classified as the most remote archipelago in the world). In 1961the volcano, St Mary’s Peak on the main island, erupted forcing the entire population of 264 individuals to evacuate to nearby Nightingale Island. From there they were picked up by a Dutch boat and taken to the nearest land, Cape Town, 1,511 miles away. As a British Overseas Territory, Tristan da Cunha came under the United Kingdom who welcomed them temporarily. They arrived to a big press reception and initially housed in the old Pendhill Army Camp between Bletchingley and Merstham.
Though made welcome, Bletchingley was not like the home the evacuees had left behind – primarily it was forty miles from the sea. After a few weeks, the islanders moved home to Calshott, on the coast of the Solent where they felt much happier. Most families returned to the Islands but one or two stayed behind in the UK having found romance.
1961 AD: Hawthorns School
Move of Hawthorns School from Gatton to Pendell Court
1965 AD: Desmond Tutu
A young Desmond Tutu is appointed as Assistant Curate at St Mary’s Bletchingley for a period of two years where he lived with his wife and children. He is now rather more well-known as the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and the former Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission following the elelction of the post-apartheid government in South Africa.
1966 AD; St Catherine’s School
The school at White Post becomes a new County Primary School
1972 AD: M23 motorway
The route of the M23 mirrors the parish boundary with Nutfield and goes directly through the old golf course. Northern end of M23 follows the route of the original Surrey Iron Railway.
Woolpits House on M23 knocked down; it is reported locally that two women were killed when struck by earth-moving machinery crossing the A25 road (where the high level bridge is now).
Also built at the same time was a very short part of M25 between Junction 6 and Junction 8 in anticipation of its final completion as the London Orbital Motorway (in 1986)
1973 AD: Historical Association
Bletchingley Historical and Conservation Society set up under the guidance of Uvedale Lambert (Junior)
1986 AD: Extended Adult Education Centre
Located in the "old" Village School at the top of Stychens Lane, the Adult Education Centre was extended and formally opened by Sir Yehudi Menuhin
1995 AD: First female Rector of Bletchingley
Clare Edwards was appointed as the first female rector in the village. She served until 2004 when she became the Canon Pastor at Canterbury Cathedral.
2000 AD: Millennium celebrations
To celebrate the millennium, the Historic Association arranged for a photograph to be taken of every house (and proud owners where possible) in the parish. This important, now historic, record is available for viewing by arrangement.
"Flash of lightning" taken by Jarvis Kenrick 1908 for the Photographic Survey. Orginal held at Surrey History Centre
The first bus from Bletchingley to Redhill getting ready to leave
2012 AD: The Olympics
Bletchingley was one of those places that had the honour of hosting the Olympic Torch Relay for the second time.
In 1948, the torch was carried aloft through Bletchingley by a Mr AE Young of Monotype Athletic Club who had had to run from Godstone to Nutfield; one of the 1,688 torch bearers on the way to Wembley.
In 2012, nationally, over 8000 volunteers carried the torch; in Bletchingley on the 20th July a relay of four people “merely” had to take their torch from Chevington Villas to Barfields where it was then transported direct to Redhill. These torch bearers were Simon Hawkings, Coreen Egege, Hayley Fordham and Mariusz Czerkawski (none of them local to the village). Huge crowds were in attendance on both occasions enjoying the spectacle of the event (no Coca-Cola lorry in 1948).
After the 2012 parade The Big Village Sports Day took place in Grange Meadow. The passing of the torch through Bletchingley is commemorated on the Village Sign.
2012 AD: Diamond Jubilee
The nation, and Bletchingley, celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It was wet – very wet.
Nonetheless, the village put on a show with a Sing-Along-a-Jubilee at the Church in the evening of the 2nd June and a planned Big Jubilee Lunch in the Churchyard the next day. As it was so wet, this was moved with very short notice to the Village Hall. Then back to the Church for Jubilee Songs of Praise in the evening.