2023Gazette ArticlesRides

An October Ride Back in Time

Southern England experienced its first autumn frost on the 16th of the month, and Charlwood was the chilliest place in England at 29f , equal to minus 1.4c. Later the next day Storm Babet was forecast to arrive, followed by extreme rainfall for the rest of the week.
No doubt to make the most of the few hours of sunshine between these two weather events, there were two well attended bike rides from Shurgard – both heading out to Horne Golf Club. Martin Bates lead the first group away at 9.45 – on a longer and faster circuit – followed by my more relaxed group of 12 away at 10.00.

We headed off, taking a brief drink stop at the top end of Marden Park where Asif took a group photo.

Then it was off and down to Godstone Green, back lanes on to Bletchingley, and a left into Rabies Heath Rd. After about half a mile, on the right into a very minor lane signposted as a No-Through Road which leads down to South Park Manor House and some useful bridleways. I was heading for the Manor House and it’s outbuildings.

The small building with the clock tower, above, is the historic little manorial Chapel of St Mark, with it’s statue of the saint adorning the corner on high.

The building dates back to circa 1650, starting life as the stables for a hunting lodge. In later life it was converted into a lovely little chapel for the owners, staff of the manor house, and estate workers. Inside it now still appears to serve that function.

Note above that I am pointing at something. This was a row of heraldic shields which line the rear wall, just above our heads, at the top of the wood panelling – see below. These shields are a roll call of owners of the Manor from Tudor times.

Since the record in the Domesday Book, ownership of the manorial lands have passed in an unbroken line of descent until 1521 when the then Lord of the Manor, Edward Stafford 4th Duke of Buckingham, was executed by King Henry VIII  for plotting treason ‘in his palace of Blechingleagh’. The estate then passed on to Sir Nicholas Carew for 17 years, when he was also executed by King Henry. However the Carew family line continued as in Victorian times still owned the Manor of Beddington – what is now the local Council owed Beddington Park.

Keeping it in the family, in 1541 Henry gave the manor to his then wife, Anne of Cleves. As soon as Henry died in 1547, Anne’s steward, Sir Thomas Cawarden, got hold of the property.

Elizabeth I then granted the Manor to Lord William Howard whose son was Admiral of the Fleet when Francis Drake defeated the Spanish Armada. The old admiral died in 1624 and left it to his granddaughter who had married John Mardaunt, Lord Peterborough, and it was their son Henry who got into debt backing the King Charles I in the Civil War and was foreclosed on by his creditor Robert Clayton.
This would appear to be the same Clayton who became a Lord Mayor of London and then purchased the Manor at Marden Park – Sir Robert Clayton (1629 – 1707)

Being Lord of the Marden Park, the local inn was named the Clayton Arms.  In more recent times the inn has been renamed as The White Hart on Godstone Green. This renaming is quite recent.  The Clayton Arms was a favourite eating, drinking and social spot for the Anerley  Bicycle Club from the 1880s onwards.

And mention of eating and drinking it was time for us to get back on our bikes and take a tarmac bridleway to meet and join Outwood Lane, which for many years was the venue for our Club’s annual Down Hill competition. From the bottom of this hill, it is a challenge to ride the next bit at Time Trial effort up to Outwood Mill.

After getting our breath back it was a nice and easy downhill to our destination at Horne Golf Club where we met up with Martin Bates and his faster group who were already there.