Who would have thought there would be so many people of interest in an area officially described in 1831 as containing ‘no capitalists, bankers, professional or other educated men’?
What was the reason or reasons for this change?
From mediaeval times the district called Churt was a fertile island in the middle of a sea of ‘waste’ or common land. This whole area was part of the Manor of Farnham which was owned by the Bishop of Winchester. In the middle of the nineteenth century between 1850 and 1860 the commons were ‘enclosed’, and all of the land passed into private hands. The landowners in Churt, mostly small farmers, received an ‘allotment’ of land from the waste and a large acreage was sold to private investors to provide money for the costs of the enclosure. Some of this land was bought by developers and builders.
At the same time the railways came to both Farnham and Haslemere and these gave easy access to London. Wild countryside, and living in the country, became fashionable amongst the middle classes. They bought up many of the small farms and proceeded to develop them into ‘country estates’. They also bought the newly available land and erected their mansions and villas. Churt was very much on the map since the development of the artistic community at Hindhead (see The Hilltop Writers).
Two of the early arrivals were the astronomer, Richard Carrington in 1857, and the artist James Clarke Hook in 1865. Suddenly Churt appeared in the national newspapers through the scandal of the unexplained deaths of Carrington and his wife, and the fame of Hook and his very well-known artist friends.
This essay mostly concentrates on just a few of the less well-known personalities who came to live in Churt at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. This is not an exhaustive list – there are more to follow including Philip Snowden, the first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer who lived at Eden Lodge in Rushmoor from 1923 to 1937 and Baron Nathan of Churt (Harry Louis Nathan) an MP and Minister of Civil Aviation from 1946-1948 who lived at Old Kiln in from 1925 – 1947, following in the footsteps of his friend Lloyd George. Lloyd George, probably the best-known some-time inhabitant of Churt arrived in the 1920s.