SURREY LANDSCAPES

ORIGINAL ETCHINGS

BY

PERCY ROBERTSON
A.R.E.

Works by Percy Robertson
rule
Click here to view a larger image. St Martha's Chapel

Dominating the country around for many miles is the interesting church, or chapel as it is called, of St. Martha, finely perched on a spur of the North Downs stretching out southward between Guildford and Shere.

Its situation is unique as our sketch shows, looking north-west from Albury : but who can convey in black and white the wondrous effects of colour and atmospheric perspective which are such prominent elements in this mid-Surrey scenery, and which are here seen in their highest perfection?

We may talk of the view, ranging over the South Downs in one direction to the hills overlooking Oxford in the other, or to the heights north of London and the wooded bluffs and sandstone ridges extending from Leith Hill to Hindhead, but how does this help us to realise the loveliness of these incomparable landscapes?

The combination, or rather alternation, of wild heath, beautiful stretches of pine and beech, chalk down interspersed with the most delicate touches of sylvan and pastoral softness, are surely nowhere else found so charmingly blended.

The Pilgrims of old must have had an eye to the picturesque when they flocked along the still visible well-beaten track to pay their devotions at this fane on their way to the shrine of Thomas à Becket at Canterbury. Perhaps, though, it was more with a view to obtain the indulgences offered by the priests, than any mere æsthetic feeling that brought them here.

The church was more or less in ruins for many years, but during the last century it has been almost entirely reconstructed from the old materials and now service is held there on certain Sundays. The churchyard is used as a burying ground for Chilworth, the little village in the Tillingbourne valley below.

It would pay any enterprising pedestrian to descend on the eastern side and make his way over two or three fields and up the open down to Newland's Corner, whence he will get a view greatly resembling that which we have been noticing but, because of higher elevation, superior. It has, too, of course, the advantage of having the picturesque St. Martha's as a foreground in that direction.

The naturalist will find it interesting to seek specimens of the large edible snails, descendants of a colony established in these regions many years ago by a Countess of Arundel. The writer encountered one on the way over White Down ; happily, however, it was not sufficiently formidable to upset him on his bicycle.


Go to top