Iain Cameron's Diary
"Click here to access the Fruitful Album" - Click here to visit Music for the Highveld Project
2005-08-30 - 9:46 a.m.
There is a Huxley mass grave a couple of miles from my house in Gfd. Its in the Watts Cemetery - the place where there s a strange mausoleum containing the remains of G F Watts, the Victorian painter, who we mainly remember for his portraits. The place is just off the A3 going south after you’ve crossed the Hogs Back and the A 31 turn off. The cemetery is on the upper greensand - the next layer down after the chalk.
The grave must have been started when Hux’s mother died - I think that was 1908 - but it also contains his brother, Trev, who died about six years later. Then there’s his father who taught down the road, his father’s second wife, Hux, at least one of Hux’s wives - I think its Maria, Hux’s other brother, Julian and his wife and there may be some of the next generation. If you go there (which I recommend) its just behind the mausoleum. If you are walking along the Pilgrms Way then its about 200 yards south of the Watt’s Gallery and teashop. Its also very close to the site of the last scene in BNW which takes place between Puttenham and Elstead. Not far down the road is the school that Hux’s mother started in the early 1900s which seems to be going still.
I was talking to Mrs C about this and she reminded me of the place - James used to belong to the Charterhouse climbing club - they have a good indoor wall and a good teacher. We used to take him on Monday evenings and to get there you go up the Hog’s Back, down past the Watts Gallery and then on the back road to Godalming. On that road there is something that is obviously a school - mostly the buildings are in a stripped down 20C Arts and Crafts style. I knew that Hux’s mum started a school in a Voysey house but I had never tracked it down. But yesterday I worked out that this was the place.
Vita has decided to do her next textile project on art nouveau - and so there has been a great debate about possible UK architectural sources and the extent to which Arts and Crafts - of which there is a lot around that part of Surrey- does or doesn’t qualify. Mostly the view is that it doesn’t - although I maintain that some of the architect’s drawings have AN elements. I used to have a thing about AC_AN and indeed the house is 1913 and has a few decent period details - some of which were added by the previous owner after the event.
In the 70s I took quite a lot of photographs of Edwardian buildings - sometimes just details. I got those out and showed them to Vita - the one she liked best was the peacock relief over the doorway to the sweetshop at the back of the DTI HQ in 1 Victoria St. I used to go in there to get my sandwiches sometimes and I would wonder - if I took a screwdriver - how long it would take me to get the period door handle off the door and into my pocket.
The stuff V likes most is in Brussels hotels - but she decided to take some shots of the Watts cemetery - the mausoleum is a kind of strong neo-celtic which is extremely close to AN - and also v close to Tolkein imagery. Its an interesting example of early UK neo-paganism - and is according to Pevsner pretty much unique in the UK.
The other place where the end of BNW might be located is on the other side of Puttenham to the south west on what we call Putternham Common. This is said to be the site of an Elizabethan maze here where spring and midsummer dancing would take place - so I suppose the gap between paganism and neo-paganism isn’t all that long - only just over three hundred years - even in Surrey. I have never found the maze but I have found the Roman station. This came to mind because I was talking to someone at the weekend about a Roman villa on the other side of the Hogs Back which was new to me
One way of thinking about this in terms of Stane Street - the road from London to Chichester which you can still see in the fields around Leatherhead. Further south there is a branch of this going North West - and there is a villa on Black Heath that seems to be the destination for this. But there is speculation that this road carries on North West towards Silchester - outside Reading - and that the Puttenham station and the villa I have just found out about are all linked to that yet to be discovered road.
Silchester is the destination for a Roman road which goes from London through Chiswick and Brentford and across Hounslow Heath to Staines where it crosses the Thames. This road is about half a mile from where I went to school and even closer to where Emile Spira (Webern pupil) used to live. After Staines this road crosses the Surrey heathland and hereabouts it is known as the Devil’s Highway - other bits are known as the A 30.