Greetings from Bagshot - Christmas 2020

pink white and red blooms on large bushes, blue sky with white clouds and a distant tree.What a year we have had with Covid-19 precautions and three lock-downs.  But I'll start prior to that.

Winter had been mild and some of the trees and bushes were showing signs of new shoots before 2019 was out.  We had very little snow at all. 

It was not until I read my notes that I remembered that we had a train strike in December last year and the railway company ran buses as a 'rail replacement service'.  The destination display on the front of one raised a smile.  It declared "I'm a Train.  Choo choo!"  Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me.

When Covid precautions hit in March with a lockdown I guess most of us assumed that it would be all over by the autumn.  How wrong we were.  Although the instruction was "stay at home" we were allowed out for an hour's exercise each day.  Bagshot is surrounded by sufficient countryside to enable us to get out into the open quite easily.  The public footpaths across the local golf course were particularly attractive with no need to be on guard for little white projectiles!  At some points the route of the paths was not very obvious and people were to be seen walking all over - whether intentionally or accidentally I would not like to say.  The ground staff rapidly put up markers, which have now become permanent.  I gather that they were not too pleased to to find people picnicking on the fairways and building sandcastles in the bunkers!

The rhododendron show ground from Waterer's nurseries survived the housing development and in May the bushes make a wonderful show as seen above.

Traffic on the A322 road was a clear indicator of the response to lockdown.  Initially hardly a vehicle to be seen, then slowly traffic reappeared. 

a dark grey shop front with a pile of toilet rolls in the windowReports of people in Australia panic buying toilet rolls led to the same thing happening here.  One of our neighbours who used to live in the Balkan states observed that if things get really tough then toilet paper is the least of your worries!  One of our local shops put a stack of rolls in their window offering them free to anyone who really needed one. I'll not comment as to whether I think this was primarily a philanthopic gesture or an excellent publicity stunt - photos of the shop widow echoed around social media.

In June the bomb disposal squad got called to the the museum store in the council offices. An intact WW1 bomb had been found in a cupboard. It transpired that it was an inert practice bomb that was in a collection of material donated to the museum by the late Leon Chapman whose shoe shop was in Bagshot's High Street.   You can read about it here:

blackened burnt wood with green shoots rising from the groundChobham Common has featured here through the prisoner of war camp there.  In August it was the scene of an extensive heathland fire.  The fire appears to have started on the edge of Sunningdale Golf course and threatened some very expensive properties, crossed the Sunningdale to Chobham road to the main part of Chobham Common then across the railway line onto Wentworth Golf Course where it stopped a ladies golf tournament.  Drone footage can be seen on the BBC news website. If you want to orient yourself the sequence at the end of this link is taken from above the Victoria monument looking south with the main 'roundabout' car park in the top left corner of the image.  This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that the heathland burns. A couple of months later signs of new growth were already appearing.

a large hole with a burnt tree at its edge, new bracken growth and an extensive burnth area in the distanceThe fire cleared dead undergrowth revealing features that few people know about including several bomb craters of which this is one. The target of the German bombers would have been the Fighting Vehicles Research and Development Establishment situated at the edge of the common, but fortunately all fell short.

In October Surrey County Council implemented a one-way scheme in the High Street which, by taking out one lane, gave more space for pedestrians to be able to keep the mandated 2 metres apart on the north side.  It came in for almost vitriolic criticism on social media from people who objected to the inconvenience to motorists.  The council took it out again very soon. There were some significant flaws in the implementation which could probably have been corrected, but were not. To what extent the objections represent the views of Bagshot residents or of those people who use the High Street as a rat-run is not clear.

The village war memorial, originally sited on the A30 at the bottom of Church Road and now relocated to the church grounds, had been showing its age with significant degredation of some of its stones.  It has been comprehensively restored.  
I don't know who is responsible for them, but someone has been painting stones as commemorations and in November initiated a 'treasure hunt' for stones placed around the village.  

This year's Remembrance Day service was very different to the norm, being totally streamed.  You can view a recording of the livestream at From about 2 minutes in are photos of the memorial, its inscriptions and some of the painted stones.  Fast-forward to 21 minutes for the service.

In my last newsletter I described the history of Moscow Villa, a property whose near-derelict state had prompted many questions.  It has now been demolished and a block of apartments are being built on the site. 

Queen Anne House, also known in the past as Red House, is a large red brick building on the junction of London Road and Bridge Street.  It has been a private residence, a restaurant, a cafe and most recently offices. There is now an application to convert it into flats and to build more houses in its grounds. We have some history about it here, and I would welcome any more information about it and its uses.

Among the website contributions and questions since my last newsletter are: 

With best wishes to you and those you hold dear.
Keep safe.

The previous newsletter was last Christmas  



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