What’s in a name? The origins of Heatherside
The Garden magazine 9 August 1873 published an extensive article about the nursery Mr Augustus Mongredien had recently established here, transforming 300 acres of “uncultivated wastes” into charming gardens and thriving plantations. He had purchased the site in 1862 and named the area Heatherside “as being still surrounded on every side by brown heather”. Previously according to authoress Mary Cox¹ it had been known as New Zealand; generally the area was shown on old maps as Chobham Ridges.
In his book My Life A record of Events and Opinions, Alfred Russel Wallace, the great Victorian naturalist, mentions that he was a frequent visitor to Mongredien’s house at Heatherside on the Bagshot Sands.
An Ornamental Nursery, Heatherside 1873
Accompanying the article was this fascinating illustration of the location entitled “An Ornamental Nursery, Heatherside near Farnborough, Surrey”. The view the article says “terminating in the picturesque hills of Aldershot.
Thanks to the National Library of Scotland website it is possible to get some idea of the lie of the land. A late 19c Ordnance Survey map (left in the illustration below) would suggest that the view appears to be taken from the grounds of Heatherside House where the Mongredien family lived.
The fountain in the centre of the illustration would have been at the bottom of what is now Augustus Gardens. Many of the conifers shown on the ridge on the left of the illustration survive today notably above Arundel Road and Byron Avenue.
Augustus Mongredien was the author of several books, a political commentator and an accomplished amateur chess player. More on his life can be found in the 1894 edition of Dictionary of National Biography.
Mongredien’s first published book was entitled “Trees & Shrubs for English plantations: a selection and description of the most ornamental trees and shrubs, native and foreign, which will flourish in the open air in our climate; with classsified lists of the several species, under the heads of size and habit, peculiarities of foliage and flowers, seasons of blooming, soils, situation, etc., for the purposes of practical application”.
Towards the end of the book there is a chapter entitled “A list of fine collections of trees and shrubs in various parts of the United Kingdom” which mentions the best that each county of England has to offer. The county of Surrey has seven locations listed, including Kew Gardens, but perhaps it comes as no surprise to find a mention of his own Heatherside – “Numerous collections of trees and shrubs, including 550 of the species described in this volume; and an avenue of Wellingtonias one mile in length, but all too lately planted and all to small to afford any interest at present, except to a botanist”.
A few years later he published The Heatherside Manual of Hardy Trees and Shrubs.
Heatherside rave review 1875!
This article in a 1875 edition of The Gardener paints a vivid impression of Mongredien’s Nursery gardens.
¹ Heatherside -A Gardener’s World, Mary Cox
Taking the air at Heatherside
The 25 June 1904 edition of British Medical Journal published an article about the newly opened Heatherside Sanatorium and Convalescent Home of the Brompton Hospital for Consumption.
“The site in the neighbourhood of Bagshot Heath, notorious in the days of highwaymen, is in the midst of some of the most beautiful country to be found in the South of England. On the crest of the Chobham Ridges it overlooks the wild common land round Aldershot, the view extending over miles of pine woods and heath to the Hog’s Back and Crooksbury Ridges in the distance. Standing 400ft above sea level, the building is surrounded by the pine woods of the Heatherside Estate, of which the twenty acres acquired by the Brompton Hospital formed a part. These pine woods afford shelter from the winds from the north and north-east.
No better place could be imagined in which to place the town dweller, pulled down by illness, to regain his strength, or for the early consumptive to pass the weeks of enforced idleness which are necessary at the commencement of treatment. “
From The Lancet 5 August 1906:
“The surrounding area was known of old as Bagshot Heath and the Chobham Ridges border the large tract of uninclosed moorland belonging to the public, over which the War Office has acquired certain rights for military purposes.
The sanatorium grounds face for the most part south and command a fine view over Frimley Common, Farnborough and Aldershot. A distant horizon is thus obtained. This is a matter of some importance. A limited horizon is likely to have a depressing effect on patients confined to bed or to their rooms from any cause, whilst a fine view of distant country produces an opposite effect. Except on the south the grounds are surrounded by the pine woods of the Heatherside Estate.
In the 20 acres belonging to the institution are to be found specimens of numerous varieties of pine, in addition to the pinus sylvestris. Numerous seats have been placed amongst the trees for the benefit of the patients who thus pass a large portion of their time in an atmosphere impregnated with the aroma of the pines. These woods afford an excellent shelter to the sanatorium from north and east winds and give needful shade in summer.
The soil is gravel and sand and belongs to the Upper Bagshot series. The meteorological observations taken in the district show a dry sunny climate of a bracing character. The mean rainfall is 23 inches, the number of rainy days 183, the relative humidity 82.8 per cent, and the amount of cloud 7.4 percent. The mean annual temperature is 48.6 °F, the mean maximum 57.1 °F and the minimum 40.5 °F with a range of 16.2 °F.”
Illustration from the Encyclopædia of Medicine 1904.
The Sanatorium was opened by the Prince of Wales, the future King George V, on 25 June 1904 (see below).
Heatherside is built on Chobham Ridges which at their highest point on their eastern edge is just over 400ft (123 m) which makes it a few feet shy of nearby Surrey Hill which at 427ft (130 m) is the 11th highest mountain in Surrey according to themountainguide.co.uk website!
Perhaps we live on the 12th highest mountain in Surrey?
The above Photochrome photograph appears on the United States Library of Congress website among a collection of photographs around Camberley taken between 1890 and 1900. Today the area is inaccessible to the general public as it is part of Bisley and Pirbright Ranges but the same view may be enjoyed from the road that runs parallel to its perimeter fence. Red Deer have recently been introduced to the area and can often be sighted close to the fence.
An early picture of our neighbourhood?
The position of the milestone in this famous painting Horseman on the road to Bagshot by artist Francis Sartorious (1734-1804) would suggest that the horseman is indeed heading to the village. But riding uphill to Bagshot with a very obvious ridge in the background?
Although of a different appearance a milestone exists today on the A30 downhill from the American Golf shop. Perhaps there was some “artistic license” involved and Satorious moved the milestone to the other side of the road to improve the composition – possibly setting the painting beside Red Road, on the approach to Heatherside Corner. If that were the case we could reasonably claim that it is a Horseman on the road to Heatherside!
Artist Charles Wellington Furse (1868-1904) used Chobham Ridges as the backdrop to his painting Diana of the Uplands. The subject of his painting is his wife Katharine. The family lived for a number of years at Yockley House on Heatherside.
© IWM (Art. IWM PST 2766) © National Portrait Gallery © IWM (Art. IWM PST 8286)
Furse formed the Association of Wrens, became head of the Sea Rangers (formerly known as the Sea Guides), and for a number of years was director of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
Charles and Katharine Furse are buried in the churchyard of St Peter’s Church, Frimley.
The roundabout where the Upper Chobham Road crosses the Maultway and becomes Red Road has been referred to as Heatherside Corner for over a hundred years and appears in many early documents and newspaper articles. Another Photochrome photograph, it dates from 1890 – 1900.
Postcard published c1910 by William King (see below).
Heatherside’s Sarsen Stones
Sarcens in Gravel, Chobham Ridges
Sarsens are blocks of silicified sandstone which are found on or near the surface of the ground or in the beds of gravel and are most famous for their use at Stonehenge. They were according to H W Monkton FLS FGS probably derived in part from the Reading Beds and in part from the Bagshot Beds. The illustration above from Monkton’s book Berkshire published in 1911 shows three sarsen stones lying at the bottom of a thick bed of gravel in a gravel pit on Chobham Ridges.
Several can be found on Heatherside and the Frimley Fuel Allotments.
Sarsen Stones in the grounds of Heather Ridge Infant School
The Redwoods of Heatherside
A distinctive landmark on Heatherside is the majestic avenue of over 200 Redwood trees which were planted in 1865 by Frederick Street. Common name Giant Redwood, Wellingtonia, or Giant sequoia Sequoiadendron giganteum the tree was introduced to this country in 1853.
Wellingtonia Avenue, Heatherside. An aerial view from Bing Maps
Camberley, Wellingtonia Avenue early photograph
The above Photochrome photograph entitled Camberley, Wellingtonia Avenue, appeared in a book entitled Views of the British Isles and published by the Detroit Publishing Co., Detroit, Michigan in 1905. It was taken between 1890 and 1900 according to the United States Library of Congress website.
The photograph shows somewhat shorter trees with accompanying rhododendrons which also used to be a feature of Heatherside (see below). It surely must have been a wonderful sight when the shrubs were in full bloom.
Frederick Street who died in 1906 at Heatherside Nurseries also designed and planted the famous Wellingtonia Avenue, Wellington College, in Berkshire. Many newspapers reporting his death recorded that the avenue was considered the most beautiful in the country.
Wellingtonia Avenue, Heatherside 2016
This photograph taken from Inglewood Avenue, shows the low afternoon sun of a November day picking out the avenue of Redwoods, made all the more striking by the recent clearing of invasive self-seeded trees, nettles and fly tipping.
The first manager of Augustus Mongredien’s nursery was Thomas Thornton. Certainly by early 1865 advertisements for the enterprise appeared regularly in horticultural magazines.
Around the mid 1870s Frederick Street from Bisley took over the management of the garden and subsequently acquired it following the death of Augustus Mongerdien. He was succeeded by his son, also named Frederick, in 1895 who was in turn succeeded by William King after Frederick jr left to set up his own business in nearby West End.
The 1911 census records William King’s occupations were Nurseryman’s Salesman and Correspondent and Sub-Postmaster of Heatherside Post Office.
These three postcards (courtesy Rosemary Leonard) appeared in the early 20c . The first two were published by William King. The third was published by Frith & Co., Ltd, Reigate.
Rhododenron Field, Heatherside. Three men at work among hundreds of plants, likely turning over the soil between and around their roots.
Post Office, Heatherside c1911. Two Postmen pose with their delivery bicycles in front of William King’s Post Office which was subsequently known as Pickwick Cottage on Prior Road. It was demolished in 1989.
Heatherside Post Office from Golf Links, Camberley.
Rhododendron “Heatherside Beauty”
In 1953 F J Street of Heathermead Nursery, Woking introduced a hybrid rhododendron he named Heatherside Beauty
IN THE NEWS
Some of the following articles appear in full on The British Newspaper Archive website.
Sunday Mirror, 1 July 1904
ROYAL VISIT TO CAMBERLEY
In spite of frequent heavy showers, the grounds of the new Sanatorium and Convalescent Home at Heatherside, Camberley, presented a gay and animated scene on Saturday on the occasion of the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales. In front of the main entrance was a crimson coloured platform under an elegant awning of red and gold and encircled with flowers and plants. Lining the road from the gates were on one side the guard of honour of the 2nd Battalion Royal Lancaster Regiment, under the command of Captain Johnson, and on the other the boys and girls of the Royal Albert Orphan Asylum, which is situated in the neighbourhood. The band of the regiment was stationed on the lawn, where had assembled a number of visitors, friends of the Brompton Hospital, who had come from London by special train. As the hour fixed for the opening drew near, the weather improved, and when the Prince of Wales’s motorcar entered the grounds, escorted by Surrey Yeomanry, the sun was shining brightly.
The Prince and Princess of Wales, with Sir Charles Cust and the Countess of Airlie in attendance, arrived at four o’clock, and were received by Major General Lord Cheylesmore (chairman of the committee), the Duke of Wellington, and Sir E. D. Stern (High Sheriff of Surrey), Viscount Midleton (Lord Lieutenant of the county) was unable to be present.
The Bishop of Southampton then offered a special prayer for a blessing on the Sanatorium and a hymn was sung led by the surpliced choir of St Peter’s Frimley.
The Prince of Wales made the following reply to the address: Lord Cheylesmore, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Princess and I thank you sincerely for your kind welcome. It gives us great pleasure to be present here today to assist in the inauguration of the Sanatorium and Convalescent Home of the Brompton Hospital. We trust that our presence may be considered as evidence of a desire to preserve the connection which has existed between our family and the hospital ever since the first stone of the of the original building was laid by my grandfather, the Prince Consort, sixty years ago. We are also glad to be present at the opening of another new institution for the open-air treatment of tuberculosis, for, although the death rate from tuberculous affections in England and Wales has decreased, the dread disease is still one of the principal causes of death in the United Kingdom. Nor do the number of deaths from consumption, amounting to upwards of 60,000 a year, represent the terrible havoc which it produces in the population; for, alas, being a chronic disease, many persons pass a lingering existence through its different stages, and being mostly incapacitated for work are a burden to their families and the State, and it was with earnest desire to alleviate the sufferings of his thus afflicted subjects that the King recently devoted a large sum of money, which had been handed over to his Majesty for charitable purposes, to the founding of a home and sanatorium for the open air cure (cheers). I have now much pleasure in declaring the buildings open, and the Princess and I join with you in the prayer that Divine Providence may bless this institution, and prosper the work of those now or hereafter connected with it (applause).
The architect having presented his Royal Highness with a special key, the Prince of Wales opened the doors amid renewed cheers, and the Princess was the first to enter. Their Royal Highnesses spent some time in the building, and signed an official record of its opening. Before leaving, the Prince of Wales inspected the guard of honour and the escort, and took kindly notice of the orphan children. Their Royal Highnesses drove away just before five o’clock, the spectators cheering heartily.
The Prince of Wales at Heatherside 1904
Penny Illustrated, 30 November 1907
Surrey Advertiser, 27 May 1916
Fire at Prior Place. An outbreak of fire occurred in the grounds of Prior Place, Heatherside, Camberley, the residence of Mr F H Goldney JP on Sunday afternoon, a considerable quantity of trees and undergrowth being ablaze. The Camberley Fire Brigade were called out at 4.20, and although their efforts to extinguish the fire were hampered by a strong breeze, they succeeded in subduing the blaze by about a quarter to six, and prevented any damage being caused to the house.
Get Surrey 15, June 2015
The Wheatsheaf public house.
Lost somewhat behind Trees and shrubs, the distinctive lines of the Wheatsheaf are not readily apparent, but when it was opened in 1971 its exterior and interior merited approval from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The building was designed by John and Sylvia Reid who were established and well-renowned designers.
In April 2018 the premises were designated a Grade II listed building by English Heritage. The principal reasons for the listing were:
an inventive and highly distinctive architectural design for a post-war pub by John and Sylvia Reid, influential and experimental pub architects of the period.
a sophisticated example of desegregated pub, reflecting and responding to widespread social changes in the post-war era which prompted the rejection of the traditional arrangement of pubs into distinct bars;
a rare, well-preserved and highly unusual example of a post-war estate pub.