History of Hindhead Commons and the Devil's Punch Bowl

Gibbet Hill and the Sailor's Stone at Hindhead Commons, Surrey

Legend says that the Devil lived at the 'Devil's Jumps', near Churt. He would torment Thor, God of Thunder, who lived at Thor's Lie (Thursley), by jumping from hill to hill. Thor would try to strike the Devil with thunder and lightning and once scooped up a handful of earth and hurled it at the Devil. The depression that remained is the Devil's Punch Bowl.

Days gone by

Local people used to graze their cattle on the Commons and Broomsquires made besom brooms from the heather and birch. The Broomsquires lived in cottages on the heath and sold their brooms to grand establishments like Windsor Castle and Hampton Court. George Mayes, was the last broomsquire to live at the Devil’s Punch Bowl and lived at the original Highcombe Farm situated on Sailors Lane.

Did you know?

  • Sir Robert Hunter, one of our co-founders, lived near Hindhead
  • our properties at Hindhead were some of our first acquisitions, in 1906
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, used to walk on Hindhead Commons and it’s said that he used Hindhead as the inspiration for the book ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’
More famous people with Hindhead connections

Portsmouth to London Road, Hindhead

The road snaking through Hindhead Commons was originally built for just horses and carriages. It was re-routed, improved and widened over many years but with the opening of the new A3 Tunnel its existence is disappearing...
More about the road's history

Highway Murder

The road from Portsmouth to London across the wild heathland at Hindhead was a notorious haunt for highway men and footpads (highwaymen on foot).
Find out more about the murder on the highway

Robertson Memorial, Highcombe Edge

William Alexander Robertson lost his two younger brothers in the First World War and when he died in 1937 he left a bequest to us to commemorate them. His legacy allowed us to buy various properties.

Temple of the Four Winds

At the remote hill top at Hurt Hill are the remains of a grand old hunting lodge or belvedere.