PEOPLE

Today Churt is a diverse community of about 2000 people who come from all walks of life.

In contrast, in 1831, the area was officially described as containing ‘no capitalists, bankers, professional or other educated men’.   As late as 1871 the West Surrey Times, (28 January 1871), carried this report:

DEPLORABLE IGNORANCE. Stephen Maidman was summoned as the putative father of the child of Mary Belton, of Churt, near Farnham. This case, which was dismissed for want of confirmatory evidence, was remarkable for the extraordinary ignorance of the prosecutrix and her father.—ln reply to the Chairman, former could not say what the present month was, or the names of any of the months in the year their order, or which were the summer months. It need hardlv be added that neither she nor her father could read or write. The Chairman remarked that great as he found the ignorance be among witnesses in this neighbourhood, the present was the most astounding case he ever met with.

According to the 1841 census returns the population was 432 and was almost totally agricultural in nature.  Only about 15% of the population was aged 50 or over which was more than double the national average at that time.  Most of the residents had been born in Surrey.  Fifteen men were described as farmers and a further 48 were described as agricultural labourers.  There were 2 pig dealers, l cattle dealer, 2 wheelwrights and 2 blacksmiths serving this farming community, and also 3 carpenters and 3 sawyers.  There were 5 potters and 5 shoemakers.  Churt was not well supplied with shops, 2 grocers being the only traders mentioned.  There was also l publican, l bricklayer, 1 nurseryman and a broom-maker.

In 1841 very few of the women had occupations.  There were 8 female servants, Elizabeth Marden age 65, presumably a widow, who was a grocer, and 2 other widows listed as farmers.  There were in addition 2 men and 2 women of independent means living in Churt.

The village had changed very little by 1851 although there were now five people described as annuitant, land or fund holder or land proprietor.

Between the years 1850 and 1860 the common land surrounding Churt was ‘enclosed’ and became privately owned.  Land was sold for development and many of the old farms were sold.  From this time on the population of the village changed.   Numbers of inhabitants increased, particularly the number of people who had not been born in Churt, and the list of occupations was more varied.  The number of farmers remained the same but there was a gradual increase in the number of carpenters, bricklayers and dealers.

The biggest change was the increasing number of Professional, Property Owning and Independent people who came to live in Churt.  One of the first to arrive, in 1866 was the artist, James Clarke Hook, who bought one of the old farms, Bulls or Bowles Farm, and built a house called Silverbeck.  In 1871 he was followed by the astronomer Richard Carrington.  He built a new house and an observatory on the Middle Jump.  Several other people of note arrived in the next few years and either bought up the old farms or built large new mansions particularly on the west side of the village.

Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century Churt grew and changed and began to develop from a totally agricultural and rather isolated community and become the vibrant community we know today.