Stunning views from the second highest hill in Surrey
Overlooking The Devil’s Punch Bowl, at 272 metres high, on a clear day it is possible to see London’s skyline, in particular the iconic Gherkin and Wembley Stadium from Gibbet Hill, the second highest hill in Surrey.
Much of Gibbet Hill is dominated by Bell and Cross-Leaved Heather as well as Dwarf Gorse, Common Gorse, bracken and grasses such as Purple Moor Grass.
On the summit of Gibbet Hill stands a Celtic cross that was erected there in the 19th century.
In one account the cross was erected in 1851 by Sir William Erle to dispel the fears of the local residents about evil spirits.
The area was one of disrepute due to the activities of highwaymen and robbers, the corpses of three of whom were formerly displayed there on a gibbet as punishment for their crimes.
Another account has the cross as Erle’s unmarked memorial erected after his death.
The area had a reputation of having pagan and heathen origins, and it is described in Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby.
A trig point on top of Gibbet Hill has a brass plate on top of it pointing out distant landmarks and has various National Trust plaques attached to it.
A monument to the memory of a sailor murdered by three men, later captured and hanged on Gibbet Hill. He had been trying to return to his ship in Portsmouth and fell in with three men. Some say they were sailors some say they were simple footpads. He bought them drinks at an inn and foolishly paid with a gold coin. The three men thought that he had large amounts of money on him. They left the inn together and murdered the sailor in the hills above the Devil’s Punchbowl.
His body was soon discovered by a broom-squire tending his sheep. The murderers were apprehended at the nearby village of Rake, having flaunted their ill-gotten gains to the locals. They were tried at Kingston Assizes, found guilty and, as a warning to other criminals, were hanged and left hanging on Gibbet Hill, near the spot where the murder took place.
The inscription on the monument reads:
“Erected In deteftation of a barbarous Murder Committed here on an unknown Sailor On Sep. 24th 1786 By Edwd. Lonegon, Mick Cagy & Jas. Marshall Who were all taken the fame day And hung in Champs near this place Whofe theddeth Man’s Blood by man thall his Blood be thed. Gen: Chap 9: Ver 6″
The murder was so infamous that Charles Dickens even wove the tale into his third novel ‘Nicholas Nickleby’.
A very old stone milestone stands alongside the old London to Portsmouth road outside Hindhead now a cycleway, bridleway and BOAT.
The top of the milestone states that Hyde Park Corner is 39 miles away.
According to the OS database the cut mark is 253.8 metres above sea level.
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