My early memories of St Anne’s Hill; were about foraging, be it wooding, Blackberrying or Chest-nutting.
I did this from the age of about four, always with my brother’s or sister’s. We knew just about every corner of ‘The Hill’, we would spend the whole day up there.
The quickest way to get there was up Chilsey Green Road, jump over the ditch into the big field then a few hundred yards and we were in Monks Wood. Monk’s Grave, in St Anne’s Hill, has been mentioned a few times recently, with people asking where to find it, and some others have suggested where it was. Most of these locations were very close together; and are also where I remember the grave to be. My niece, Karen, placed the grave precisely.
I followed, Karen’s, instructions in my mind, and found, I was back in the woods all those years ago. The peaty smell of the leaf-mould, the little clear water spring, we used to drink from, flowing along the path along the edge of the trees. Then out of the woods into the top field, down past the hollow tree. Next to this was the big Mulberry tree, over laden with luscious red fruits—we were told they were deadly, so we left them well alone. The same went for the blackberries that smothered an old well. A horse had fallen into it and the well had been covered over. The blackberries looked so nice, but we wouldn’t eat them either.
The woods in the second field, were much closer to Thorpe Road, and curved around the hillside, for about 400 hundred yards till reaching the huge Chestnut trees, that swept down onto the road. In the field, was a stone water trough with a working hand pump, more fresh water.
It might be asked why all this information is still fresh in my mind. I suppose it was fixed all those years ago, just so that I knew my surroundings, and where to have a drink on a long day up the woods.
Like most stories, one leads to another. In one of these fields, some boys found the rear wheel of a British fighter plane. The plane which I think was a Spitfire or a Tempest, must have clipped the tall oak trees that lined St Anne’s Road. before eventually crashing near the top the hill next to The Old Coach Road.
Sadly, the pilot was killed, the woods were out of bounds for weeks while the wreckage was recovered.
When we were allowed back, all that could be seen was a large white painted cross on an Oak tree. The cross was still visible just a few years ago but now I think the tree has gone. I wonder if there is any record of the pilots name, perhaps Chertsey Museum would know.