The murder of a sailor in the Surrey amphitheatre of the ‘devils punchbowl’ seems as incongruous as a fish out of water. But cutting through this glen ran the road from Portsmouth to London and in 1786 one such jolly tar, making his way back to port encountered three fellow sailors This cost him his life as well as those of his murderers who robbed him, stole his clothes, and were eventually tried and hung on nearby Gibbet hill
A stone cross marked the spot where the body was found which was moved here when a new, lower road was cut in 1826. In turn I too have made changes to the landscape, using artistic licence to reverse the road to Portsmouth from right to left. It just looks more balanced that way.
One final note – the unknown man was interred in Thursley churchyard. I can’t help wondering if it would not have been kinder to bury him at sea and perhaps his spirit walked the 30 miles back to Portsmouth to make the final crossing of the bar.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
Highways & Byways in Surrey