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Our Story

Written by local author John Owen Smith


The Frensham Pond Hotel used to be known as The White Horse, one of the six old pubs of Headley. It was run by the Marden family for many years from before 1800. The census of 1841 shows George Marden as the Publican, with his wife Elizabeth, three daughters and three sons, two servants, four guests and a wheelwright, a carpenter and a turner / grinder all living in.

George was still there in the 1851 census, aged 52, now called  a Licensed Victualler, and by this time he and Elizabeth had had four more children – another son and three more daughters.

The Headley trade directory of around 1862 still shows him there, but by the time of the 1878 directory the licensee was a Mrs Mary Ann Marden, who we assume was his daughter-in-law. 


Up until the boundary changes of 1991, the Frensham Pond Hotel stood firmly in Hampshire, in the parish of Headley. Now it is in Surrey, but still in Headley – as far as the Church of England is concerned.

Since the advent of Parish Councils in 1894, civil and church parishes have had separate boundaries, and this has led in many cases to anomalies arising between the two. So, until the Church Commissioners decree differently, the official parish church for this hotel remains in Headley, not Frensham.


The pond was originally one of several fish ponds built for the Bishop of Winchester. These used to be drained by rotation every 5 years or so, and barley grown for a season on the exposed bed. It was said this cleansed it, and prevented growths such as the blue-green algae from appearing.

During the last war, the pond was drained for a different reason – to confuse the German air raiders who had it marked on their maps.


In the autumn of 1830, what has been described as the last labourers’ revolt took place in the south of England. The ‘Swing’ riots, so called after a mythical ‘Captain Swing’ whose signature appeared on threatening letters circulated at the time, started in Kent during August of that year, and swept across through Sussex and into Hampshire in the course of a few weeks. 

The targets of the rioters were the new agricultural machinery, which was seen to be taking away their winter work, and the clergy, who were pocketing so much money from the farmers in the form of tithes that they were not able to pay a fair wage to their labourers. However, when Selborne and Headley rose up, their mobs not only attacked machines and clergy, but also ransacked the village workhouses. In doing this they were unique – at no other place in the land were workhouses attacked at the time. The government of the day viewed the matter so seriously that at the subsequent trial in Winchester, seven of our local men were sentenced to be transported to Australia for their crime, never to return. 

Recently, over 160 years later, East Hampshire District Council has commissioned the author to write a community play about these events. The investigation unearthed a number of interesting facts, some of which were at odds with established legends circulating in the area. The play was performed to full houses in October 1993, and the book One Monday in November was published to tell the full story revealed through the new research. 

Since then, renewed interest has brought to light many descendants of the rioters, some of whom were unaware of their link with the troubles, and at a ceremony on St. George’s Day in 1994, four great-great-grandchildren helped to plant a yew tree in the grounds of the old Headley workhouse, to the memory of their ancestors who they felt were so unjustly treated. 


When Canadian troops arrived in Great Britain during the Second World War, they were given quarters in old, cold, damp barracks buildings in the military town of Aldershot. For these young men thousands of miles from home, and in many cases away from their families for the first time, it was a depressing experience. 

Imagine their joy then, when they found their next station in England was not another military camp, but a charming rural village with pubs, girls, dances – and a welcome from the local population. As one Veteran put it: “We soon got to know the natives, who we found very agreeable – it was really nice meeting our first English folk”. This first introduced them to the ‘real’ England, which they still remember with affection.

All Tanked Up is the story of their benign ‘invasion’ of the local village of Headley over a period of four years, told form the point of view of both the Villagers and Canadians. The troops involved were mainly from Armoured regiments, using the local heathlands of Ludshott, Frensham, Hankley and Thursley Commons to practice manoeuvres with their tanks in training for the D-Day and Italian invasions. 

Canadian veterans visiting the area will find this book a welcome reminder of the happier days spent in England during the prolonged run up to the European campaign. Written with the help of Canadian veterans themselves and the villagers of Headley, it contains maps, diagrams and photographs of the period.