History of The Crown Inn at Arford

As displayed within the pub

At the time of the Domesday Survey, 1086 AD, Headley and Arford were located in a detached section of the Hundred of Bishop Sutton, the Esselei Hundred, surrounded by the lands of the Alton Hundred to which this enclave was transferred between 1831-41. At this time, the large Parish of Headley which incorporates Arford consisted of 6,923 acres, which included 1,500 acres of arable land; 1,100 acres of grass lands; 852 acres of woods and plantations; and with 52 acres covered with water. In Arford there is plenty of water, with springs at elevations of up to 225 feet. The parish was, in origin, a "settlement in a clearing", and the village, lying round a heath, has a character of its own, with plenty of sand on clay or loamy outcrops.

The parish church of All Saints consists of a nave, chancel and vestry and south porch built in Early English style. The existing tower [note 1] was built in 1838. The church itself was nearly all rebuilt in 1858-9, replacing a much earlier church, the Registers of which go back to 1537. At the time of the first national census in 1801, the population of the parish was only 858. This number increased in each subsequent decade: by 1841 the population [note 2] was 1,265, reaching 2,497 in 1901.

In the early years of the 19th century there stood, at the foot of Arford Hill, beyond the boundary wall of Arford House on the west of the road, a cottage which was a beer house and inn. It bore the sign of The Duke of Richmond's Arms, and in 1817 a lease of the property, which had then recently been renamed The Castle, was granted by the Bishop of Winchester to Messrs Cobby and Savory. The building is said to date from the latter years of the 17th century when it was built abutting the road, on the ground which ran down from the thatched building Overton Cottage on the hillside.

For the 60 years following 1817 the story of The Cottage which, at that time, served as an inn and beer house, lacks continuity. However in 1858 the Church Commissioners sold the land for £76. For the next 18 years the cottage was owned by a 'wax chandler'; then a miller (nearby, today, there is a residence designated The Old Bakery); and finally by a Mr J Upton [note 3] who, by 1876, had turned publican and then sold the property to a Mr CH Master for the then 'vast sum' of £1,000. (Mr Master subsequently became the first chairman of Friary Holroyd & Healey's Breweries (of Guildford) formed in 1890 by the merging of the Friary Brewery with Messrs Holroyd, Healey & Co.). It was in 1876-77 that the Arford property was referred to as The Crown Inn. The name 'The Crown' is that of over 1,000 inns and public houses throughout the country, arising from the fact that in earlier days these inns were located on Crown lands, but without doubt the numbers have grown in popularity as a symbol of loyalty to the throne.

In his 'History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Hampshire' published in 1878, William White made references to Arford in his record of Headley which he described as, "a small village, 9 miles east south east of Alton and 4 miles north north west of Liphook". The parish of Headley then included [note 4] the small hamlets of Barford, Deadwater, Greyshott, Hearne, Hollywater, Lindford, Standford, Whitmore and Wishanger and "many scattered houses in the valleys of the rivulets and on the higher heathlands of Woolmer Forest.

The Lord of the Manor of Headley was then the Bishop of Winchester, but the lands belonged mainly to the Rt Hon Henry Singer [note 5], Kt P.C., of Headley Park; Sir A MacDonald; the Hon JT Dutton; the Hon F Foley; Mr Henry Allen of Eveley House; Mr W Chalcraft; Mr Edward I'Anson, J.P. (an architect of Grayshott) and Mr JR Phillips, also of Grayshott.

William White's record tells how the village post and money order office and savings bank was, in 1878, at the residence of Mr William Speakman in Arford, who was described in the directory as 'post master and parish clerk'.

At this time letters were received at Arford at 7.30 am and at 3.10 pm and despatched, via Liphook and Petersfield, at 10.45 am and 6.10 pm. White's directory listed eleven of Arford's residents [note 6]:– Mrs Elizabeth Windus, resident at Arford House; Brindley Samuel, a carrier, who operated a service to Farnham every Thursday; Charles Boxall, listed as a 'shopkeeper' also ran a daily carrier service, except Thursdays, to Liphook. James Curtis was the Arford grocer. There were two other 'shopkeepers' – Mrs Sarah Tipper and Miss Elizabeth Knight – the proprietors of Tipper & Knight; and Mrs Parfect. Henry Knight was recorded as a builder, and Henry Burson was 'farmer of Arford Farm'. There were two victuallers [note 7], Richard Marshall at The Wheatsheaf, and Jesse Rivers at the Crown Inn.

The area served by the Crown Inn has changed but little throughout the years, and neither for many of those years did the customers, which were in the main farmers, agricultural labourers, herdsmen, market gardeners, carriers, local tradesmen and foresters from the Royal Forest of Woolmer and Alice Holt Woods.

Then, after the mid 1870s, when the Crown lands around Bordon and Longmoor became military training areas, they were used by troops stationed at 'the camp at Aldershot' (which was established in 1854-56). It was then that cavalry on manoeuvres and infantry on route marches, made the sharp descent from the western end of Fullers Vale down into Arford en route through to Frensham and Churt. Then, after 1903, following the establishment of the then new military camp at Bordon and Longmoor to accommodate troops on their return from South Africa, The Crown at Arford came within walking distance of soldiers when off-duty, whilst troops on 'field days' from the mounted infantry school (infantry men under instruction from the regular cavalry regiment stationed at Longmoor) would halt in Arford to rest and water their horses, whilst troops would enjoy a quart of ale at The Crown.

In the 1914-18 war, proximity to Bordon and Longmoor brought Arford within the area covered, during manoeuvres and route marches, by countless troops on training, including members of the Canadian and South African armed forces. The same situation applied throughout World War II, 1939-45, when considerable numbers of Canadian troops were stationed at Bordon [note 8]. A number of war-time constructed Nissen and wooden hutted camps in the area, including the Canadian army 'Erie Camp', stood on ground to the north of Headley Down, and no doubt many of the Canadian soldiers stationed there made their way down into Arford village - and The Crown - when off duty. (In 1946 Erie Camp became, temporarily, a detention camp following the vacating of the old Aldershot Detention Barracks) [note 9].

Throughout the years The Crown Inn at Arford has served and provided accommodation for all types and classes of passing customers as well as providing a social centre for local residents. The customers have arrived on foot, horseback, walking with pack ponies, in carriages, gigs, traps, vans, cycles and every type of motor vehicle of the present century. The Crown is a good example of a typical small English country village inn, and as such has served the community over the past two centuries.

Notes:

  1. The church tower is in fact 14th century. It used to have a spire, but this burnt down in 1836, along with the west gallery, and was never replaced. The present 'battlement' top to the tower was added later.
  2. Population in 1901 was only 1,831 according to other sources. Present-day population (1991 census) is about 5,600 (but for reduced parish boundaries, see 4 below).
  3. Almost certainly this was Mr James Upperton, who appears on the 1871 census at the Crown Inn as innkeeper and grocer. He was son-in-law to Matthew Triggs, one of the seven men transported for life for their part in the Headley Workhouse riot of 1830, having married his daughter Sarah. We also know that Matthew's wife, Mary, eventually died in The Crown in 1876. For further information on the Headley Workhouse Riots, see the book 'One Monday In November' by John Owen Smith.
  4. The parish also included an intriguingly named hamlet called 'Bank of England' – opinions differ as to where this was situated. In 1902, Grayshott became a separate civil parish, and in 1929 the civil parish of Whitehill was created to include Bordon and Lindford, which took away a substantial portion from the western end of the old Headley parish. The ecclesiastical parish of Headley, however, still covers most of Bordon and Whitehill.
  5. In fact the Rt Hon. Sir Henry Singer KEATING.
  6. For a fascinating account of some of the older properties and families of Headley and Arford, see the booklet 'To The Ar And Back', by Joyce Stevens.
  7. It is interesting to note that by this time James Upperton (see 3 above) was described as being victualler at the Holly Bush.
  8. During the Second World War a considerable number of Canadian troops, particularly tank regiments, were stationed in Headley and Arford, and many tales are told of their times in The Crown and other local pubs. See the book 'All Tanked Up' by John Owen Smith for more information.
  9. Erie Camp was one of four Canadian camps constructed locally in 1941, each named after one of the Great Lakes (the others being Superior, Huron and Ontario) – but Erie was different from the others, being built exclusively as a detention centre for misbehaving Canadian soldiers.

Notes written 1994


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