Fringe Box



Some Grizzly Surrey History Recalled For Flog It Presenter Paul Martin

Published on: 22 Nov, 2016
Updated on: 23 Nov, 2016

flog itWhen anyone has a question about local history in the Guildford area who better to ask than the official “Remembrancer”?

So when Paul Martin, the host of popular TV programme Flog It, wanted to know something of the activity that took place around Hindhead 200, or so, years ago he arranged to meet Matthew Alexander, Guildford’s Hon Remembrancer and former Guildford Museum curator, in order to pick his brain.

Paul Martin Matthew Alexander Flogit

Paul Martin (left) of Flog It enjoying a pint with Matthew Alexander in The Withies pub, Compton

Matthew told Paul that although Surrey today is known as a wealthy commuter county with scenic countryside, it used to be much more dangerous place, at least in parts, as a particular type of criminal roamed its heaths and highways, the notorious highwaymen!

Having heard of the local tales over a pint at the Withies pub in Compton, Paul set off to the scene of one of the crimes, the Devil’s Punchbowl at Hindhead.

It was a notorious place that the radical author, journalist and politician William Cobbett deemed “the most villainous spot that god ever created” in his 1830 book Rural Rides.

Here Paul traced the infamous tale of an unfortunate sailor whose generosity at inns en route was repaid with treachery when he was murdered by his acquired travelling companions in 1786 on the London-Portsmouth Road, a crime that has gone down in history for it’s grizzly cut-throat ending.

The cross at the summit of Gibbet Hill, is a monument to the victim. It stands near to where highwaymen were once hung on a gibbet, in full view of passers-by, as a terrible warning to others who might be tempted to follow in their footsteps.

A Flog It valuation was held at Watts Gallery earlier this year, followed by an auction at Ewbank’s recently at which the valued items were sold. The programme is due to be broadcast in the new year at a date to be confirmed.

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