SURREY LANDSCAPES

ORIGINAL ETCHINGS

BY

PERCY ROBERTSON
A.R.E.

Works by Percy Robertson
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Click here to view a larger image. Walton Heath

For weird wildness, few commons can compare with Walton Heath. This and the adjoining Burgh Heath form one of the largest stretches of open Common land outside what may be termed the central Surrey forest. It is or was, till recently, a great gipsy resort, and in the good old coaching days, many and sometimes sanguinary have been the encounters with enterprising highwaymen.

These knights of the road, however, have given place to another form of excitement in the shape of lovely artificial jumps made up for the use of the various horse trainers of the neighbourhood, and many have been the scampers over these, indulged in by the writer in years gone by. Not infrequently have they happened to come in the line of a fleeing deer in front of the Surrey Stag Hounds, brought up from the delightful weald below to the hill country which is so disliked by hunting men. In the times of the Duke d'Aumale and his successor Heathcote, Walton Heath was not an unusual " meet " for these hounds. The village of Walton on the Hill stands a little to the west of the heath, presenting nothing particular but its thorough Surrey-ness, if I may so express it.

The church, standing by the little green, has been so restored that all its antiquity has been restored away, leaving nothing to attract attention but a curious old and certainly handsome leaden font, more handsome than one would expect to be produced in so base a metal. A similar one is said to exist at Brookland, in Romney Marsh.

Near the church is Walton Place, originally a monastery, of which some of the piers and portions of wall are still extant. At a later period, it is said, Anne of Cleves resided here.

No pleasanter walk can be found than that from Walton to Headley, thence along to Boxhill or along the scarp of the hill to Marjory Grove overlooking Reigate.

Unfortunately, a sign of the times and no pleasant presage of the future has recently made its appearance in the form of a railway lately constructed by the South Eastern Company to connect Tattenham Corner with their main line.

This, though an eyesore, is not so much so as it might have been, as throughout its traversing Walton Heath, it has been kept down by cuttings and tunnel.

The old mill, so effectively treated in the sketch, speaks for itself. Though its forlorn appearance on the one hand saddens, on the other hand, its picturesqueness gladdens one, and we leave Walton Heath with the pleasanter anticipation of returning again and again to wander over its heathery wastes.


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