Friday, 11 February 2011

Walton to Merstham

A few days ago I had a few spare hours and went out to geogaph and look at a few local churches. First stop was Walton on the Hill. I wasn't over inspired with the town (or is it a large village) but St. Peter the Apostle’s church was a nice mix of old and new.

One highlight was the rare late 12th century lead font.

Walton on the Hill is also home to a Coal (or City) Post. These were boundary marks set up by the Corporation of the City of London under various coal duties Acts.

I found a website all about these posts - The duties were originally levied on coal entering the Port of London, but with the coming of the canals and later the railways the duties were extended to coal brought to London by these means. Later the duties were extended to coal brought to London by any means of transport, initially from 1845 within a 20 mile radius of London and then from 1861 within the Metropolitan Police District.

The posts or markers were erected under the London Coal and Wine Duties Continuance Act 1861. Evidently there are today about 210 boundary marks in position, including some which been moved to new locations or are in museums. The original total was probably about 275-280 so about three quarters have survived.

The post in Walton on the Hill is a standard "City Post" which form 85% of the surviving boundary marks. It is a square post about 1.2m high made of cast iron. The shield is from the City's arms and there is a raised inscription wich indicates it dates from 1861.

I then made my way to Banstead Heath in search of the windmill shown on the OS map. However it was not at all obvious where it was.

I eventually noticed it behind a tall hedge. Tadworth Windmill dates back to the eighteenth century. It is a Post Mill reportedly the tallest in England. It was probably built about 1760 and is thought to be unique among Surrey mills as it had a two storey roundhouse. The mill lost one pair of sweeps in 1893 and continued working with one pair until 1902. The second pair fell off in 1921. The mill was damaged by a bomb in 1941 and again by a flying bomb in 1944. The body of the mill had been well maintained until recently; it has now been placed on the Buildings at Risk Register.

After that disapointment I decided to visit the church in Kingswood that lies alongside the busy A217 dual cariageway. St Andrews Church was built 1848 -1852:the church is a replica of the the 14th century Church of St. John the Baptist, situated on the Shottesbrooke estate in Berkshire by the architect Benjamin Ferrey. Unfortunatly, despite the sign on the door saying welcome, the church was locked so I was unable to look inside.

I had time to look at one more church so headed to Merstham.

St Katharine's Church at Merstham sits close to the A23 and M25 which was probably once a peaceful setting! I hadn'd driven past it for a while but I remembered it as being quite picturesque - unfortunately the exterior stone is starting to deteriorate and it is now covered in scaffold. Nevertheless it had quite an interesting interior - see my churches blog.

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