History of the Hurtwood
The Hurtwood is full of surprises.
The first surprise is that the name Hurtwood may not derive – as is generally believed - from the hurts (the local name for wild blueberries) whose bushes carpet the woods and hills, but from the Old English word ‘ceart’ or ‘churt’ meaning a rough common overrun with gorse, broom and bracken.
The second surprise is that although The Hurtwood is the largest area of commonland in Surrey, it is still privately owned. Most of it lies within two of the ancient manors that make up the Shere Manor Estate – the Manor of Gomshall Towerhill and part the Manor of ‘Shire cum Vacherie et Cranley’, which was given to Sir Reginald Bray by Henry VII over 500 years ago and has remained in the ownership of the Bray family ever since. Legend has it that the knight found Richard III’s crown in a thorn bush after his defeat at Bosworth Field and he presented the symbolic trophy to Henry. The manors were his reward.
The parts of the Hurtwood at Albury, Blackheath and Farley Heath lie within the Albury Estate, which is owned by the Duke of Northumberland. By a twist of historical fate, the summit of Holmbury Hill, with the hillfort and Bray family memorial cairn, is part of the Ockley Estate.