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Antiquities and Peculiarities
of Normandy
(Willey Green)

During the second half of the 19th Century, "Watersfield" comprised a single area of good agricultural land of just over eleven acres, stretching southwards from Tickners Bridge on the Guildford Road (A323) to Bailes Farm in Bailes Lane. The northern boundary was the Guildford Road; the eastwards one was basically Bailes Lane (then known as Willey Green Lane) and the westwards boundary being the Union & Rural District boundary. The southern extreme of the area was the Right of Way footpath westwards from Bailes Farm to the parish boundary. This land was held as part of the estate of one Henry Collins, Yeoman, late of Wipley Farm, Worplesdon, who died the 4 February 1879 being the then tenant farmer to Henry William Richard Westgarth Halsey of Henley Park. Henry Collins held also the two Wipley Farm Cottages adjoining Wipley Farm near Cobbett Hill and Old House Farm (known as "Tickners"), Willey Green Lane, then occupied by H Taylor and G Goddard.

Watersfield, Willey Green - About 1916
Watersfield, Willey Green - About 1916

Henry Collins had four sons, John, James, Arthur and Albert. Henry's will (made July 1877) gave the option to any one of his four sons to purchase the Wipley Farm Cottages, Old House Farm and Watersfield, the latter described in his Will as "arable land containing 11 acres, 3 rods and 29 perches at or near Normandy in the Parish of Ash in the County of Surrey". His son Albert being under 21 years of age at the time of the death of his father was unable to take advantage of the option. James Collins, the eldest son, acquired Watersfield and held it until his death in 1917 when it passed to his widow Alice Frances, in whose possession it remained until 1928. In December of that year, Watersfield was sold to James Garman, builder of South Street, Guildford for £675. For Land Tax purposes Watersfield had a rental or Annual Value assessment of £17 being redeemed by James Garman in January 1930 for £15.18s.9d. For a short period in 1929, Watersfield was rented by Henry Crooke of Passengers Farm, Wood Street for £10 p.a. but excluded the land fronting Bailes Lane required for building plots in connection with the Willey Green Building Estate. The land had tithe rent charges payable to Queen Anne's Bounty; field reference numbers being redeemed in February 1933 by James Garman for the sum of £38.9s.8d capitalising an annual rental of £1.8s.8d.

In March 1930, James Garman sold part of the land, with a frontage on Bailes Lane of 650 ft, to Arthur Neane and Alec James Colborne and Alfred Harry Patrick Colborne, the latter two then residing at "The Quinta", Normandy Common now known as "Quinta Cottage", Normandy Common Lane.

During the mid 1930s, the Colborne brothers built both houses and bungalows of similar colour and brick mould and at first sight appear of similar design but each property whether house or bungalow have a slight dissimilarity in both external and internal layouts, making for individuality. Main drainage was provided to the area in about 1960 with subsequent "infilling" of modern houses, the last being "Wickets" in 1983/84.

John Garman built for himself "The Willows" (now called 'Hartswood'), in the northwest section of Watersfield. It is a fine sturdy individually designed house standing lonely and detached at Tickners Bridge and in which he lived until his death in 1951. His daughter, Ellen Rose Passingham, and her brother Gilbert James, jointly inherited The Willows and the remainder of the undeveloped land of Watersfield eventually disposing of it in 1959 to Russell Noel Barber, Dairyman of "Clover Lea" Westwood Lane, who subsequently transferred his milk delivery service to The Willows. In August 1961 he assigned the goodwill and business of the milk round together with The Willows to Leonard Taylor, who in turn expanded the business to include among other things, a newspaper round, all being dissolved in the late 1970s following his death. Leonard Taylor left a wife and two daughters, Dorothy and Jean. On the death of Mrs Taylor, The Willows passed jointly to Dorothy and Jean and on the death of Dorothy in 1984 passed to Jean, who died intestate in February 1999 having disposed of The Willows for an annuity agreement with Stolwort Properties. The undeveloped land adjoining The Willows was, during the 1960-1970 period, reserved by British Telecoms for the new Normandy telephone exchange in readiness to replace the over subscribed one in Glaziers Lane. That proposal did not proceed and the land was sold and remains undeveloped but continues to be used for grazing.

The Willows (now called 'Hartswood') c2000
The Willows (now called 'Hartswood') c2000

Sadly, no property in the area perpetuates the name of Watersfield. I am obliged, however, to a number of people (too numerous to list here), who provided me with copies of Titles and Wills about the development of this small part of Normandy but each will know that I am truly grateful for their help.

Peter Blakiston

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