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The Fascinating World of Worplesdon’s Historic Perry Hill

Published on: 6 Apr, 2019
Updated on: 4 Apr, 2019

The view towards Guildford from Perry Hill, Worplesdon.

By Janet Ashton

Encouraged by Gavin Morgan’s articles Focus on Heritage on Guildford’s Heritage, I would like to highlight another historic part of our borough, Perry Hill in Worplesdon. It has has a fascinating past.

The top of Perry Hill, where several footpaths converge, has been a meeting place for millennia. To the south-east, there are exceptional views over the canopy of trees to Guildford and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) beyond.

Once an outpost of Windsor Great Forest, some of the trees here are hundreds of years old. There is a magnificent maritime pine, though beware standing underneath when it drops a cone.

The arms of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in St Mary’s stained glass.

There are also several “sacred” yews, Britain’s longest-lived tree. Revered by Druids and Pagans, known for their powers of regeneration and healing properties, some of these ancient sentinels can live for more than 4,000 years, although those on Perry Hill are about 700. Their presence indicated an already spiritual and holy site at which to build a church.

That church is St Mary’s, itself with Norman origins.  It houses some of the oldest stained glass in the county, from 1300, and a fine example of an enamelled panel on glass, the augmented coat of arms of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Queen Elizabeth II has visited the church more than once, as have other members of the royal family who signed the register.

An example of Sidney Sime’s work.

Perry Hill also hosts several listed historic buildings, each with their own rich history, and an art gallery housing the remarkable early 20th-century works of Sidney Sime.

His work includes mesmerising fantasies with mythical creatures and landscapes. He is also known for his caricatures of actors from the London stage and the fascinating characters who frequented the local pub, each with a lively story. Galleries around Europe often ask to borrow these captivating works.

Close by too, are Roman and Bronze Age remains, and the precious remnants of an ancient landscape at Whitmoor Common, which forms part of the Thames Basin Heath, one of the most important natural heritage sites in Europe.

Perry Hill is an intriguing visit and is integral to any historic tour of the borough.

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test One Response to The Fascinating World of Worplesdon’s Historic Perry Hill

  1. Jan Messinger Reply

    April 7, 2019 at 12:03 am

    A visit to the Sidney Sime gallery within the Worplesdon memorial hall is a must when visiting Perry Hill. One of Worplesdon”s hidden gems.

    We have so many wonderful historic things in the borough of Guildford residents are so fortunate as are the visitors to the borough.

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