History of the Witley Scout Group (work in progress)

Extracts from documents

5 April 1898    Minutes of school managers

Mr Chandler has consented to let the schools on a 99 year lease and had forwarded a draft lease for the consideration of the managers. Items then discussed and chairman asked to communicate with Mr Chandler.

Question of the lease and additional managers was discussed and an amendment re the number of managers between 9 and 12 was made.

School managers dealt with education department Whitehall letter 7/12/1897 

December 1919 parish magazine

Proposed purchase of army heart during the summer the GFS started a social club open to all girls on Wednesday afternoons at the institute it met with such success says the application was made to the men to ask if they could give up Institute on Wednesday evenings. This the men generously consent to and the  girls met meet now from 4 to 9 PM and from 30 to 40 present each week.

We want now to go a step further and by an Army hut to use as a girls club and the social entertainments. The cost of a new sectional hut is £250.The cost of direction light heating etc will be another £150.

Towards this Witley who provided so faithfully throughout the wall a band of voluntary helpers for number 1 YMCA hut will receive about £130 from the sale of the huts used by the YMCA  (4 huts originally supplied by Witley Camp for recreation for troops). The girls are getting busy to provide an entertainment or Christmas and a sale of work at Easter and summer £85 has been promised.

The new clubroom will be a great boon to a big number of persons and therefore they ought to be a big cooperative movement in raising the money. Everyone who sends subscription will have a bit of the credit in providing their hut. Will you join in and help? If so send your name and promise of help to the vicar or to Miss Ashdown, The Larches, Witley.

January 1920 Parish Magazine.

The girls club. Subscriptions towards the heart has to wanted. This Ashdown or the vicar will gladly give information and knowledge any gift

March 1920 Parish Magazine

Girls club. Jonah month the girls are expecting to see great things happening on the patch of ground above the drill ground at the school. The heart ought to have arrived from the camp before the month is out. It is an expensive journey. We want £220 for the ticket. Will you help?

May 1920 Parish Magazine

The girls club. It is hoped to open the heart in Whitson week. The girls club have a sales work there for the first fixture. This is fine and has promised to declare the sale and heart open. More than £100 still needed.

22 June 1946 PCC minutes

The vicar reported as saying raising £24 the hat fund. There was a discussion on the need for repairs upon the approach rent and Brig Portman an application for license is as he stressed it was acquired by the surveyor by Wednesday following.

9th October 1946 PCC minutes

Work on the rent is been completed. Mr Swallow stated the new caretaking is helping with you club. Rev WC Underhill reply to questions on use activity Will stop

Seventh of February 1947 PCC minutes

£1..1.0 to the Hut

4th May 1948 PCC minutes 

Mr Thornhill chairman of the council of the Whitney Houston movement seeking a grant to £12.10 costs of materials renovation of the heart undertaken by the club additionally to the Surrey county council grant. Mr Swallow stated permission to carry out the work is been given. The question of activity of the heart committee was raised. It was agreed that the grant should be made to the PCC And That the Lease of the Heart Should Be Maintained Provided the Proper Organisation of the Club Was Managed.

1st October 1948 PCC minutes

The vicar and Mr Swallow stated their work done by the youth club had added to its value considerably. The question of letting was discussed. A further grant of £5 was sanctioned the similar work on the smaller rooms.

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The Scouts trip which was launched under the scoutmaster Denyer in 1913 and renewed in 1925 and 1934 had their first headquarters in Mill Lane Witley and one must not forget the girl guides also established under Miss Houston before the war. 

Mr WT Palmer’s “Wanderings in Surrey” contains the following: “passing under the railway arch from Sweetwater into the big field, the church, hotel and houses of Witley could be seen. Half of the big field was being cleared of hay in the ample Surrey wagons. The other half was the rounders ground for a large party of girl guys. Does anybody remember this?

The village role of honour of the Armed Forces in World War I was presented at the Institute which was to become the home of the British Legion. It showed a total of 300 names in the list amount of 1600.

From the very first, these new centres like the old when not regarded as adequate by those who wanted a village Community Centre to attract and satisfy every possible interest and need through the year, indoors as well as out of doors.  So from 1921 we find pressures in Witley, Brook and Sandhills as well. From the point of view of sporting activities and the freedom of the children, the growing motor age was making such delightfully casual habits as kicking balls or stones or roll of marbles along the highway, increasingly suicidal, although some older villagers saw no reason why such practices, harder on parental pockets the local rates, should not be sufficient even in 1927.  Children were apparently evicted from the park in 1921. From the point of view of the accommodation Brook was worse off than Witley. There was the school – in 1866 in Master Combes’ cottage and run by Mrs Coombes – which was followed by an ex laundry in 1872, and school opened by Mrs John Foster in 1882 and sustained by Miss Alice Foster .   

It is therefore not surprising that some of the earliest meetings and money raising ventures for Brook were held in the Witley hut – for example a chamber concert organised by Miss Foster in November 1921 and the sale of work and adults promoted by the already active Brook and sandhills Women’s Institute. The former we’re told raised over £500. That’s the fund for what was to be the Pirrie Hall was substantially helped by functions for which broke itself had no facilities at that time.

The pressure for a public recreation ground in Witley itself did not meet the success until 1932. Previously games and access to that portion of the Park used by village folk depended on the goodwill of the landlord and tenant of Witley Manor which had in fact not been denied. Finally thanks to the goodwill of Mr Edward Chandler and the efforts of Mr Robert Holmes ,Chairman of the Parish Council, there was established a recreation ground with a perpetual guarantee of access and use for all. Subsequently constructive improvements could be made – notably in the cricket area. It was no longer necessary, said one member, to clear the square of Mr Stovold’s grazing cows before play could begin. Also the moving of the outfield with its buttercups was possible. New seats were provided under the wall and under trees and in our own day, some equivalent to children at play.   The two clubs still shared the wooden pavilion, but two years later a hall comparable to Brook’s Pirrie Hall was made possible by the generosity of Mrs Spencer Chichester of Enton Hall in memory of her husband Maj. Spencer Chichester who died in 1931. Colonel Portman had called a public meeting to stimulate the support for such a hall in 1931 and now in January 1935 the completed Chichester Hall was there. So the community centres in Brook and in Witley were at least realised. 

Chichester Hall Witley 1936

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After 1918.

The developments in health and transport noted in the earlier chapters our match my progress in the social atmosphere and the steps taken to meet it. Emancipation from early restraints. They had travelled. Also the new openings in secondary education introduced by the act of 1902 had had time to produce young sons of what had been called the working classes able to pursue their opinions as individuals. They were to have the vote. An expanding train service, and as far as weekly was concerned, virtually the beginning of the older shop bus service to Chiddingfold from Guildford, widened the opportunities to continue to travel and a sample new forms of entertainment there or in London.

Again as in other fields we need to be reminded how recent some of these were. There were no talkies until the 30s. Old programs for village enjoyment went on side-by-side with the new dance rhythms. Between the wars again we are in a transition. The final development of radio and still more that of television, entertainment still in the home but not of the home is not yet taking over the country and challenging the new world of the 20s.

Partly for these reasons unfairly because of circumstances there was not a tremendous changing the setting of the village in tight entertainment and games in the 20s. In 1920 apartments from the dismantling of Whitley Kentwood K to provide what we called the women’s hut and the working men’s club. The former so named after the services of Whitney women the atmosphere and scope of entertainment was not greatly changed in those years.

The working men’s club in Mill Lane provided an alternative meeting place for the men near what was to be a developing party quickly. The club again on 17 December 1920 with 120 members and fittings. In its first year service it was used by the new girls club which like the girls friendly society was led by Miss Maude Ashdown. The first concert for the children’s home are perfect for what came to be the Witley cot was held there as worst school treats and the infants Sunday school.

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Jubilee Hall built 2005

Scouts for Witley Milford Hambledon