A number of myths and misconceptions have grown up over the years about the history of the area, some of which are dealt with by Barbara Knight in an article to the Farnham Herald which is reproduced below.  

A member of an old Hale family who were formerly farmers at Hoghatch, Barbara Knight has made a detailed study of local history with particular reference to tithe maps and census returns.


                    opposite: a section of the Lindley & Crossley map of 1759.

                                Clearing up misconceptions about Hale

                                                                               by Barbara Knight


As far as can be ascertained, no written history of Hale exists. Oblique and often unflattering references to Hale appear in guides and histories of Farnham.  Plenty of anecdotes do exist and many of these are ill-founded. Now seems to be an opportune time to correct these misconceptions.

Misconception number one — that Hale owes its existence to the Army and the development of a permanent camp at Aldershot.  The War Office decided to build a camp at Aldershot in the early 1850s.  The 1839 Tithe map of Farnham presents a picture of Hale as it existed before the arrival of the Army at Aldershot.  Much of the land which the village now occupies was already settled by 1839.  Around 30 homesteads were to be found in Hoghatch.  Some were cottages belonging to former squatters, but both Lawday House farm and the Bishop of Winchester's farm in Hoghatch Bottom were tenanted by employees of the Bishop.  Hungry Hill gave its name to all the area south of its summit and extending as far as the present day Farnborough Road.  This area was liberally dotted with homesteads and plots of cultivated land.

Inappropriate Names !

Another concentration of population was to be found on Bricksbury Hill. The latter is crowned by Caesar’s Camp, a name given to it by antiquarians of the 18th century.  The name is very inappropriate as archaeologists have long considered that the fort on the site is an Iron Age con-struction.  Before the 18th century the area was known as Tukesbury or Tuxbury Hill, and at the end of the century the name Brixbury or Bricksbury began to appear in the Farnham Parish records.  A brickfield and kiln existed on the site as indicated by the Tithe map.  In passing, it is worth noting that the present-day Bricksbury Estate is situated on Hungry Hill and not Bricksbury Hfll — another inappropriate name !  Some 30 homesteads were to be found on Bricksbury Hill, and in winter it is still possible to find the flint and brick foundations of the old cottages.  Some of the ditches which marked the boundaries of the arable plots surrounding the cottages are still in existence.

     A study of the Census returns for Hale shows how the population increased throughout the 19th century.  Undoubtedly the arrival of the Army at Aldershot was a factor which influenced population change.  However England and Wales experienced a general population explosion in the latter third of the 19th century.

 Displaced Families

Misconception number two — that the Army drove cottagers off the Common and into Hoghatch. Once the construction of the permanent camp at Aldershot was under way, the War Office realised that it needed more heathland than was first envisaged.  It bought extra land at Ewshot, Crookham, and Hale.  It was necessary to displace the families who were living on Bricksbury Hill, in Longbottom, and around the summit of Hungry Hill.  In all some 40 or 50 families were displaced.  Many of these families were descended from the original squatters who had taken up residence in the latter half of the 18th century.  Around the turn of the century, the Bishop of Winchester had granted rights of allotment to many of the cottagers and these cottagers and their descendants had to be recompensed by the War Department for the loss of their properties.  The 1861 Census returns show that some of the displaced families moved in to Hoghatch and Hungry Hill.  A study of the Hale Parish registers would provide more detailed information about the fate of the displaced families: unfortunately these are not yet available to researchers.

Misconception number three — that the original squatters or cottagers were of gypsy origin.  That some of the cottagers were of gypsy extraction is evidenced by their surnames.  Many of today's senior citizens will remember the 'White City' area in Wings Road.  However the majority of the original cottagers were numbered among England's labouring poor. The 18th century was a time for revolutions — the Agrarian revolution followed by the Industrial revolution.  Many farm labourers were displaced from the land and not all found their way to the new factories springing up in the cities.  Many became squatters on the common and waste lands.  Towards the end of the 18th century the poor were beginning to squat on the common lands of the Parish of Farnham, i.e., the sandy wastes of the Bourne and Boundstone, and the gravelly wastes of Hale and Heath End. The descendants of these original squatters still populate the Farnham area.  In a sense these folk are more Farnhamian than the ephemeral population of the Town itself.  

 If Sturt had lived at Hale 

During the 19th century there was much civil disorder, often very violent in character, as the working class endeavoured to improve the working and living conditions of its vast number.  The wild and rowdy behaviour attributed to Farnham's poor at Hale and the Bourne was moderate when compared with the violence found in other parts of Southern England.  George Sturt’s works contain many kindly and humane references to the labourers of the Bourne, and one wishes that he had lived among their cousins at Hale.  Literal cousins is what they were, for many families had branches both north and south of Farnham town.

Ninety per cent of written history is concerned with the doings of the rich and powerful; the poor are so often overlooked. However it should be remembered that the remains of the cottagers' homes on Bricksbury Hill are as significant in Farnham's history as the elegant Georgian houses in the town. The hop-pickers were as essential to the economy as the hop-planters of Farnham.