The walk followed a 4 mile route past some of the houses on the Chart connected with past literary figures. Tony Pearson led the walk, which had been fully booked, and began by suggesting the reasons why the Chart became a happy hunting ground with such an array of characters in the early 1900s and beyond. The railway had arrived in Oxted in 1884, resulting in people being able to travel to London to work, yet live in the countryside. Many of the personalities to be covered were social friends or had similar interests.
The walk started near the retirement home in Chapel Road of Arthur Rackham, the illustrator of books including Peter Pan.
Then on to the former home of Edward and Marjorie Pease, founders of the Fabian Society and prominent socialists of the time. Then on to Pastens Cottage, where a Russian dissident, who had assassinated the head of the Secret Police in St Petersburg, lived for a while after fleeing Russia.
Several other houses were passed with literary connections, including Chartlands Farm, where Bert Hardy, the well known photographer lived. Whilst Tony was describing Bert Hardy's career, who should come along but his widow! It was fascinating to talk to this lovely lady.
Continuing on past homes where other Russian dissidents once lived, we reached The Cearne, a house that was built for Edward and Constance Garnett, also prominent members of The Fabian Society. Edward was a literary editor and publisher's reader and became friends with numerous well known authors of the early 1900s, including Galsworthy, George Bernard Shaw, H.E. Bates and Joseph Conrad who all visited the home. D.H. Lawrence wrote part of his novel Sons and Lovers whilst staying at The Cearne. Tony even referred to the sexual exploits of the Garnett's son, David, a prominent member of the Bloomsbury Set!
At the end of the walk there were many comments about how interesting the afternoon had been. Maybe a walk to be repeated next year?
Written by Tony Pearson. Photos by Rehana Uddin.