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For a map of Ewhurst Village click here

Ewhurst can be found at the foot of Pitch Hill, between the North and South Downs in the Surrey Weald.

The soil is a very heavy clay; when William Cobbett visited the village in 1823 and stated that Ewhurst was 'A very pretty village' in ' The real Weald where the clay is bottomless', he also greatly admired the scores of now vanished oak woods.

Until the advent of tar macadam, Ewhurst and other Surrey Wealden villages were isolated areas by the very nature of this soil, and in earlier times, were harbours to 'lawless vagabonds and sturdy knaves' - some things don't change!

The environment determined their industry; this included charcoal- burning, broom-making and smuggling. This latter occupation can explain the double or 'Smugglers Roof', that exists in some older properties in the village, and it is just a one-night stage from the coast.

Pitch, Hurtwood ('hurt' or 'whort' are the old words for bilberries), and Holmbury Hills are all part of the ridge of Greensand Hills, so named because of the green hue of the sandy soil lying beneath the peat-surfaced heath. This, combined with charcoal from the prolific oak woods, produced the necessary products for the foundation of the glass industry from Roman times until the 17th century.

The Wealden clay was used for the local manufacture of bricks and tiles over the last thousand years.
Numerous springs occur in these hills, which helped in these industries, and today you can still hear them bubbling on the hillside fields. One of the streams that run off these hills is Coneyhurst Gill, which eventually joins the Wey at Shalford on its journey through Guildford to the Thames at Weybridge.

Two habitats predominate in Ewhurst.
The mixed heath and scrubland on top of Pitch Hill with pine, birch, heather and gorse, and the oak and beech deciduous woodlands at the bottom of the hill. Dog's mercury, wood anemones, bluebells and foxgloves each take their turn in decorating the woodland floor.

While the banks of the lanes are covered in celandines, primroses, dog violets, and cow parsley. On some more secluded banks wild strawberry plants and bilberries can still be found.

The remnants of the oak woods reverberate to the drilling of woodpeckers in the Spring. Summer comes not just with the cuckoo, but the song of the chiffchaff in these woods, whilst warblers and sometimes nightjars can be heard on the hills.
Like a growing number of English villages in the last 30 years, Ewhurst has seen an increase in traffic.

H.M. Alderman, in his book published in 1929, 'The Charm of Old Surrey', remarked that it was 'Away from the din of the motor traffic', not so true today.

Every year the preservation of the quality of our environment becomes increasingly difficult, we must learn to cherish what remains.

Useful links listed below

The Woodland Trust >>
Council for the Protection of Rural England >>
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds >>
Surrey Wildlife Trust >>
Waverley Borough Council >>
Surrey County Council >>
The National Trust >>
Ordnance Survey Maps >>

This piece kindly written by Julia Burley

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