Bound to be Different

How big is Headley? Where are the boundaries of the parish?

Up until 1894 this was an easy question to answer. The boundaries were those of the church parish which had existed unchanged for generations, and every now and then the parishioners would 'beat the bounds' to remind everybody where they lay.

But in that year the Local Government Act established elected parish councils in rural areas to take over secular responsibilities, and so the term 'parish' became ambiguous, still being used to refer to the old Ecclesiastical parish as well as to the new civil parish - and the boundaries of the two parishes began to diverge as the two authorities (church and state) made their own adjustments.

The first change to Headley's bounds occurred when Grayshott decided to go 'independent' - the church creating the ecclesiastical parish of St Luke's in 1901, and the state creating the civil parish of Grayshott in 1902, both having an identical boundary with Headley.

However, the civil boundary with Grayshott was adjusted in 1921 (for reasons which I've yet to discover) while the ecclesiastical boundary remained unaltered -  and we had the first instance of church and state boundaries differing in Headley. The Grayshott civil boundary came closer to Headley to include what is now Fairlands and the Heatherley Wood natural burial site, while the ecclesiastical boundary remained as it was in 1901. If you look closely when going up to Grayshott, you can see this boundary where the road name changes from Grayshott Road to Headley Road.

The next change came in 1927 when the Church of England split the ancient Diocese of Winchester into three parts, and both Headley and Grayshott ecclesiastical parishes were transferred to the new Diocese of Guildford (and hence their church records to Surrey). Our neighbouring parishes of St Mary Bramshott and St Matthew Blackmoor were transferred to the new Diocese of Portsmouth, while Kingsley, Selborne and all points west remained with Winchester. For reference, the point where the three dioceses meet is a long stone's throw from where the Hopkins recycling centre is now!

However, to make the split 'fair' the C of E took Trottsford and Sleaford out of Headley ecclesiastical parish and put them into that of Kingsley -but they remained (and remain) in Headley civil parish (see map).

Territory lost and gained by Headley civil parish since 1894

Two years later, in 1929, the civil authorities created the parish of Whitehill, taking Bordon and Lindford (apparently against the latter's will) away from Headley civil parish, but they remained in Headley ecclesiastical parish - and Lindford still does.

Things then remained static until 1982, when a local reorganisation gave Lindford its own independent civil parish - it was not permitted to re-join Headley - and ceded a small piece of Bramshott civil parish (along Gentles Lane) to Headley - or reasons which, again, I've yet to discover.

Nine years later, another local reorganisation took Frensham Pond Hotel out of Headley civil parish and into that of Frensham, Surrey, but it still remained (and remains) in Headley ecclesiastical parish.  Prior to this the parish/county boundary ran through Frensham Great Pond along the course of the old stream, and so pre-dated the creation of the pond in the 12th century.

Differences between civil and ecclesiastical parish boundaries today

Finally (so far at least) in March 2002 a new ecclesiastical parish of Bordon was created, taking from the ecclesiastical parish of Headley that part which was in the area of Whitehill Town Council - but we still 'kept' Lindford. The map above shows the current situation.

Jo Smith

June 2020

P.S. As a tailpiece, it's interesting to note that the Ordnance Survey now has records only of civil parish boundaries, not ecclesiastical ones - it seems that the Church Commissioners are the only people who have records of the latter.  Even incumbent clergymen can be confused as to who precisely lives within and without their domain!