The Rioters' Walk

— a guided walk from Selborne to Headley and back again
— distance approximately 7 miles out and 7 miles back


Anniversary Walk: Exactly 180 years after the rioters did it —
Twenty-one of us (plus a dog) walked from Selborne to Headley on Tuesday 23rd November 2010.
In the party were two Holdaway descendants and a Triggs descendant and Jean Vivian (gt-gt-gdr of John Newland, 'The Trumpeter') was at the Holly Bush to meet us for lunch.

To the walkers: please send me photos of the day if you have any.
You may be interested in details of the flint arrowhead which Hugo picked up.


Selborne to HeadleyNotesHeadley to SelborneNotesMap3D Fly-by (select 3D button)



The walk starts from the Queens Hotel (the Compasses in 1830) in Selborne going to the Holly Bush in Headley by way of Whitehill and Standford, and returning by way of Kingsley and Oakhanger.
Refreshment is available at the start and end points, and also at the Royal Oak (Hollywater), Robin Hood (Standford), Cricketers (Kingsley) and Red Lion (Oakhanger).
Note that suggested routes through Military and National Trust land between Whitehill and Standford, while open to walkers at the time of writing, are not marked as public rights of way on maps.
No difficult climbs, but the walk can be very muddy in places.
Recommended map: Ordnance Survey Explorer No. 133


Selborne to Headley — see Notes

From the Queens Hotel, take Hastards Lane which runs by the side of the hotel garden and drops down to Dortons. This becomes a bridleway, muddy in places, above the valley of the Oakhanger Stream through a beech hanger and then across fields. At Priory Farm, turn right up a metalled road to the top of the hill where it meets Honey Lane. From here there is a view over the Oakhanger valley, today noted for its satellite tracking stations.
Take the footpath down through fields towards Oakhanger for about a mile. At the five-way junction of footpaths (which you will also meet on the way back), turn sharp right, cross a stile in a hedge and go through a couple of metal kissing gates then pass a small reservoir and turn left to emerge by the car park of Springfields Nurseries. [At the time of writing (Nov 2010) neither of these footpaths is very well marked or maintained] Cross the road here, taking the track almost opposite the Nursery entrance. After crossing the stream take the track to the left of a house. This passes through Blackmoor Golf Course, joining another track known as Eveley Lane before becoming a metalled road.
Follow this road (which soon has a pavement) straight to the roundabout on the main road (A325) at Whitehill—cross here with care.
You now have the choice of following the metalled road (Liphook Road) ahead, or cutting into the Military land of Woolmer Forest just to the right of it. Even when the red flags are flying, it is possible to walk outside the danger zone following close to the course of the old Longmoor Military Railway towards Hollywater.
On this route you pass close beside two distinct hills, or 'clumps', on your left—probably these would have been treeless and therefore more prominent landscape features in 1830.
After about a mile, join the line of the old railway and look for a barrier leading to a grass track on the left, alongside the garden of Stone Cottage, which becomes a vehicle access road, crosses the stream from Hollywater Pond, and re-joins Liphook Road opposite Passfield Common (which is National Trust land).
The Common is fenced to allow for stock grazing, but there is a kissing gate to enter it. You will have to discover your own track across—be warned, paths are not pbvious and it is extremely boggy in places. If you are not dressed for walking over very wet ground, you may prefer to take the next entrance into the common, through a gate further up the road beyond the house. Head for the north corner of the common and another (somewhat obscure) kissing gate about 50 yards from the corner, emerging on the B3004 Liphook to Bordon road at a point where a small rivulet passes under the road, marking the boundary between Bramshott and Headley parishes.
Cross the road and turn left along the verge path, passing both the Methodist Church and Gospel Hall on your left before going downhill to Standford Village Green. Here the Robin Hood (now renamed Whiteley's) offers refreshment.
Leave the village green by the small road which leads to a ford across the River Wey. There is a footbridge. Keep straight on at its junction with Tulls Lane, following the metalled road uphill between hedges to a triangular junction at the top. Turn left here, along (another) Liphook Road.
This is the road by which the rioters entered Headley in 1830. The old workhouse (now Headley Grange) is about half a mile away on the right hand side—and if you wish, you may walk past it into Headley as the rioters did. However, if you have had enough of walking on roads, take the footpath to the left immediately after the first sharp bend (by an electricity sub-station) and follow it to emerge in the centre of Headley where the Holly Bush stands.

Notes on the walk — Selborne to Headley

We don't know for certain which route the rioters took in their march from Selborne to Headley, and it could be that several groups went different ways. The most direct route from the centre of Selborne in those days would probably have been some near variation of the one we have chosen. However, we are told that Robert Holdaway went to collect signatures from farms near Empshott and Greatham on the way, in which case his route would have been considerably longer.
The communities of Bordon and Whitehill did not exist then, but I was interested to know if the Farnham to Petersfield turnpike (now the A325) had been constructed at that time. If so, it might have formed a convenient route for the marchers to move from Greatham to Whitehill instead of cutting across the uncharted tracks of Woolmer Forest on their way to Hollywater. But I discovered that although the turnpike had received Royal Assent in 1826, it was apparently not completed until 1832.
When William Cobbett rode through Woolmer Forest in his Rural Ride of 24th November 1822, he said of it, "The road was not without its dangers, the forest being full of quags and quick-sands." He also said of it, "This is a tract of Crown-lands on some parts of which our Land Steward, Mr Huskisson, is making some plantations of trees, partly fir, and partly other trees. What he can plant the fir for, God only knows "
Close to Hollywater Clump is the spot where the old parishes of Selborne, Headley and Bramshott met, at the chimney of a house which has since been demolished.
The hamlet of Hollywater is still located where three parishes meet—and as such is claimed by no-one and forgotten by most. It has had a reputation in the past of being a place where the people who joined the march described as "forest dwellers and travellers" might well have lived.
Standford was one of the main local centres of industry in 1830, with two paper mills and a corn mill operating on the River Wey. The Warren family, who ran the paper mills there from the 1820s until the early 20th century, were staunch Methodists, and the 'non-conformist' nature of the community is in evidence even now with its Methodist Church and Gospel Hall.
Although paper mills in Buckinghamshire were being attacked by mobs in the very week that 'our' riot occurred, those at Standford were not touched as far as we can tell. Perhaps there was no machinery installed in them at that time, or at least none that could be seen to be causing unemployment. For whatever reason, the mob appears to have passed through Standford, crossed the ford and headed up Tulls Lane towards the workhouse.
The Headley 'House of Industry' had been built in 1795 at an estimated cost of some £1,500 for the parishes of Headley, Bramshott and Kingsley, to shelter their infirm, aged paupers, and orphan or illegitimate children. After the 1830 riot, the building was repaired, and in the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses it is shown still being used as a workhouse. It was sold in 1870 to a builder for £420, and he converted it into a private house, now known as Headley Grange. In November 1872, he resold the building to Mr Theophilus Sigismund Hahn for £490.
After two further changes in ownership, Headley Grange was used during the 1970s as a recording studio, and there, early in 1971, "Out of the clear blue pool of creativity arose the eight-minute extravaganza which would become Led Zeppelin's ultimate trademark, a song of shimmering and flourishing beauty, a supreme accomplishment which Robert Plant would later describe as 'our single most important achievement' Stairway to Heaven." ['Led Zeppelin, the definitive biography,' by Ritchie Yorke]
Today the house remains a private residence. On St George's Day 1994, descendants of four of the rioters, along with representatives from Selborne and Headley, assembled in the garden to plant a cutting from the old Selborne Yew in memory of the transportations.
The present Holly Bush in Headley High Street is not a building which would have been present in 1830. In fact we believe the old Holly Bush to have been situated across the road in the house now called Wakefords. William Cobbett mentions visiting here on his Rural Ride of 24th November 1822.
Mr Lickfold's shop is still to be seen, though no longer a shop—it is the building now called Crabtree House which faces north along the length of the High Street, with a good view of what was going on there at the time.

Headley to Selborne — see Notes

From the Holly Bush, turn right along Headley High Street, past the church and the old rectory, and just before Belmont take a path to the left. This crosses a road and then passes along two sides of the Holme School grounds, emerging in Church Lane at a right-angle bend.
Turn left along Church Lane (a cul-de-sac) and at its end pass through a footpath gate and downhill across fields. You emerge by Huntingford Farm, at the junction of Curtis Lane and Frensham Lane. The original route to Trottsford would have gone right and then left here, past Linsted Farm and Headley Wood Farm, but this is now closed as a right of way. Instead, turn left, following Frensham Lane towards Lindford for a short distance, then take the footpath to the right, which follows the road uphill for a while before bearing right and becoming sandy.
After passing through some woodland, this diverted right of way crosses the River Wey across an old aqueduct and zigzags sharply uphill. At its junction with a track at the top of a rise, look back the way you have come—if the trees are not obscuring it, and if you know where to look, you may just make out the top of Headley Church tower nestling among the treetops.
Here you rejoin the original route. Turn left along the track and follow it for just under a mile to Pickett's Hill road. Turn left, and follow the road down to its junction with the main A325 at Sleaford. Here there is a set of traffic lights. Cross the main road diagonally, and follow the nearby side road towards the back of the New Inn, then turn sharp right on the old road which passes over the River Slea.
After crossing the river, take the public track leading off through Army land across Kingsley Common. Note that the route is not as straightforward as the OS map suggests—about 100 yards after crossing the open space by Coldharbour, look for a less significant track branching to the right, just past a 'crossroads' of vehicular tracks. Follow this until it passes the pond on the left. Here, in Kingsley village, you will find the Cricketers available for refreshment.
To continue the walk, follow the track between the pub car park and the pond, pass Ockham Hall, and shortly turn along the first track on your right past some houses. Follow footpath signs left and right, past the aptly named Meadowgate Farm, over a stile and along a fence across a flat field.
After another footpath joins at a double stile, you pass the garden of Kingsley Mill on your left. Cross a stile and a stone slab bridge over a culvert, and cross the drive to the mill, then follow the footpath diagonally across the orchard and over the mill leat, and round a bend to another stile.
Cross a field and go over a disused railway embankment. From here the original course of the path has been diverted due to sand works. Follow the path round the edge of a field, then cross a stile onto Shortheath Common. Once again, the route is not as straightforward here as the OS map suggests. Keeping all houses to your left, cross one vehicular track, then join another. Go along this track, ignoring turns—it becomes less well-used by vehicles as it continues south-west across the common and into the centre of Oakhanger village. Here, at the village green, turn left along the pavement of the metalled road through the village. The Red Lion soon offers refreshment on your right.
At the bend in the road as you leave the village, take the footpath to the right, along the garden wall of an old thatched cottage. Cross the field, and follow the footpath to the left, arriving at the five-ways junction you met on your outward journey.
You may, of course, return to Selborne by following the outward route in reverse from here. Alternatively, turn right and follow the course of the stream more closely towards Priory Farm. Be warned—this can be tough on the ankles if muddy hoof-prints have hardened! Cross the stream by a footbridge, then cross over a track by Priory Farm to continue on the footpath towards Selborne.
After walking through a portion of Coombe Wood and past some ponds, you arrive at the end of the Long Lythe which is National Trust property. Follow the path along both Long and Short Lythes to emerge in the meadow below Selborne Church. Climb the hill and go through the churchyard to the Plestor. Turn left along Selborne High Street to arrive back at the Queens Hotel.

Notes on the walk —Headley to Selborne

Next to the church stands the old Rectory, which had been under repair in 1830. It was described in 1783 as: 'A very good house, consisting of two parlours and hall, a kitchen and pantry on the ground floor; four bed-chambers, six garrets, four underground cellars, with a brew-house, milk-house, and other convenient offices; also of two spacious barns, a stable, cow-pens, granary, waggon-house, fuel-house, ash-house, etc. The gardens, yard and rick-yard amount to about one and three-quarter acres'.
The Holme School takes its name from Dr George Holme, Rector of Headley 1718-65, who had given the parish a school in 1755. The original building stands beside the Village Green.
Church Lane takes its name from the fact that it forms part of the old track from Headley church towards the outlying parts of the parish on the way to Farnham. You will follow it, with some modern diversions, as far as Trottsford.
Huntingford Farm was built around 1774, according to a rent-roll of that date which has an entry for John Huntingford of: "one close called Church-field with a tenement thereon newly erected containing 4 acres lying at Lackmore-cross on the south part of Curtis Lane"—we assume it is this building. It was thatched until 1959, when the roof was lost in a fire.
The aqueduct over the River Wey is part of an extensive system of channels which would have extended along the river in 1830, through this parish and beyond, to regulate the watermeadows. Water was diverted from the river into a header ditch by a weir—this ditch had a number of sluices along its length allowing water to be spread evenly over the meadow in a controlled fashion before draining back into the river. This system added nutrients to the land, allowing early crops of fodder to be produced, and a second cut to be made later in the year.
As you arrive at Pickett's Hill road, note the footpath straight ahead which marks the old route to Farnham prior to the building of the turnpike.
Near the point where you cross the A325 at Sleaford there once stood a tollhouse, opposite the New Inn. It was eventually removed when the road was widened. The New Inn itself consists of a 'new' section facing the turnpike, and an older section behind facing the road which existed prior to the turnpike's construction. [The site was redeveloped in 2002, retaining the original buildings]
In crossing the River Slea you pass from Headley into Kingsley parish. There is a stone set into the west side of the old bridge indicating this.
At Kingsley Pond, note the area on higher ground to your right behind the church which was called 'Kingsley Green' on old maps. It was at Kingsley Green, we are told, that Holdaway "called out ten persons as the representatives of the ten parishes of which the labourers had formed your dangerous and illegal assembly" and shared out the spoils of the day. The church would not have been here at the time, having been built only in 1876.
In reality, the various men from 'ten parishes' must have made their separate ways home from here in several different directions—but we follow a probable route of those heading back to the centre of Selborne.
Kingsley Mill is of some antiquity, and legend says that it may even have been the mill that Geoffrey Chaucer had in mind when writing his Miller's Tale! His son Thomas was Lord Warden of Woolmer and Alice Holt Forests at the end of the 14th century, and is said to be buried nearby at East Worldham, where he lived.
The disused railway viaduct belongs to the spur from Bentley to Bordon, opened in 1905 and closed in the 1960s.
Oakhanger is a hamlet in the parish of Selborne, and so to some of the 'Selborne' rioters it would be home. In particular, the Heighes brothers lived here. For others, there were still a few miles to travel cross country.
Priory Farm is on the site of Selborne Priory, closed in 1484 due to bad debts and the stones reused for various local and not-so-local building projects.
The Long Lythe and Short Lythe (pronounced 'Lith') are footpaths well known to Gilbert White.
Within the church of St Mary, Selborne, is displayed the collar of vicar Cobbold's large mastiff, which he bought to protect himself after the riot.
The Great Yew of Selborne sadly blew down in 1990, and never recovered. According to Mrs Cowburn, men climbed into its branches on the evening of Sunday 21st November 1830 to overlook the vicarage and make sure Cobbold would not get away in the night.
The Queen's Hotel was, in 1830, stated as being the only public house in Selborne. At that time it was called the Compasses, or some say the Goat and Compasses which may be a corruption of 'God encompasseth us'. Robert Holdaway was the landlord here until about a year before the riot. It was renamed the Queens Inn in 1839.


— This site maintained by John Owen Smith