I can’t believe that Rik Mayall died today! Just spotted it on Twitter. Such a shame. He was only 56. A very clever comedian/actor. A lot of people are going to be very sad. Ironic, when he made so many laugh.
Today is World Oceans Day. It has been recognised by the United Nations since 2008. Not sure what you’re supposed to do but I think it would be a good idea to befriend an ocean (if you haven’t already done so) and take it out to dinner tonight. Remember not to order seafood though, because all of us like a change now and then.
Sadly, I was nowhere near an ocean today. Happily, we had a lovely walk over Farnham Heath. To be fair, I didn’t know it was World Oceans Day until lunchtime and we’d already been for our walk. Otherwise, I guess we could have walked to Frensham Big Pond and pretended it was an ocean.
We returned along the bridle path that runs alongside Reeds Road. As we reached the break in the fence that leads to the garden centre across the road, I was reminded of Ralph Winstanley Wood.
He was originally from Lancashire, born in 1745. Clearly he wasn’t very happy at home in Wigan because he took off and joined the army. I guess there wasn’t a circus. He enlisted in the 36th Foot Regiment (now part of the Mercian Regiment). The 36th was called the ‘Saucy Greens’; obviously because their uniforms contained some green. I’ve not discovered what made them ‘saucy’ though.
Anyway, Ralph did quite well and took out a commission in the 8th Hussars before retiring from the army to become a salt agent…as you do. It might seem a bit odd but he made an awful lot of money in salt. He made so much that he bought Pierrepont Lodge in 1785, pulled the whole place down and built his own. He called this Highfield Lodge.
Pierrepont Lodge had been built by Lincoln the Fat, who called it Clinton Lodge. When Evelyn Pierrepont (Duke of Kingston) moved in with his paramour in 1761, he decided to change the name to Pierrepont Lodge, presumably to help the postman. Evelyn and his possibly bigamist wife Elizabeth, were big spenders and total party animals. They only lasted ten years before they had to sell the place; he was sick and she…well, she probably married someone else. The place went through a number of owners until it reached Ralph.
Ralph, clearly didn’t like the place, perhaps because ravers kept turning up wondering where the party was, maybe he didn’t like the wallpaper. For whatever reason, he razed it to the ground and built Highfield in a completely different part of the property.
Everything went well for Ralph and his family until some really stupid investments by his son-in-law saw his wealth vanish faster than the original Pierrepont Lodge. Fortunately, rescue came in the guise of another son-in-law who bought Highfield and let Ralph live there till he died.
This second son-in-law was Crawford Davison (such a cool name) and he’d made his money in rice. He was a lovely man, apparently, giving out free rice to the starving of Farnham. Still, he did quite well regardless of his philanthropy and the estate expanded to over 300 acres by the time he died.
Crawford the Second didn’t stay long at Highfield and, after renting it for a bit, he sold the house to the brewer Richard Henry Combe (responsible for Watney’s Red Barrel, among other beers).
Combe, in typical wealthy person style, didn’t like Highfield the way it was and made a lot of changes until by 1876, it became the Lodge that is there today. He also reinstated the name Pierrepont Lodge…even though it wasn’t the same building. He also expanded the holding to over 1500 acres, including Frensham Little Pond.
During the Second World War, the place was requisitioned by the army and, after the war, was purchased by Major Allnatt, a property developer. His daughter, Jo, eventually gifted the whole place to the Countryside Restoration Trust…who look after the farm now.
The reason I was reminded of Ralph in the first place is because where the bridle path leads off to the garden centre is the only remains of the original house. Two trees stand either side of a raised bit of ground which was the driveway to the house.
Interestingly, some mad Christians took over the lodge and set up the Ellel Ministry there. It’s where people can go and learn about how prayer works. Apparently, the first grand house they purchased was only managed because lots of people prayed for the money and, miraculously, they had enough (plus an extra £6) back in 1986. I’m sure it had nothing to do with people giving them money.
I do wonder why their greater power hadn’t just made it theirs without having to resort to that most evil of things, money. Still, I have never said I understand the religious and I’m not going to try now. I have enough problems with pixies. And cows.