The village of Norwood Hill is scattered around the crossroads at its centre, which is where the well-known landmark of The Fox Revived can be found.
It is approximately 2 miles north of Charlwood, on the edge of what was the Wealden marsh. There is an amazing view to the north, with the North Downs and Box Hill ahead, rising towards Leith Hill in the west.
The parish and borough boundaries run through the middle of Norwood Hill, so half the community is in Charlwood and Mole Valley, and the other half in Sidlow, Reigate and Banstead. It also falls within three parish church boundaries, Charlwood, Sidlow and Leigh.
In medieval times, Norwood Hill was much more heavily wooded. To those in Charlwood it was 'the North Wood' which became Norwood.
The most extensive remaining piece of woodland is Edolph's Copse. This was recovered from private ownership in the 1980s with the generous help of the Thomas Alexander Mason Trust, local residents and the Woodland Trust. It is home to a number of rare species of plant, for which it has Local Nature Reserve status. Butterflies include the silver-washed fritillary and the white admiral, which thrive particularly in the open meadow which is only cut every two years to help insects survive. Coppicing and selective felling are done every ten years or so.
Edolph's Copse has marvellous bluebells in springtime
Iron ore was mined around Charlwood and beyond, and smelted widely in the area around the village. Coppicing provided the charcoal, but timber was needed for housing and ship-building. Demand was such that Norwood Hill woods were steadily plundered. The formerly wooded areas were known as 'waste' and it became the custom to run pigs (or 'hogges' and 'all manner of swine') in these areas. There are still some orchards along the hill, but all the pigs have now disappeared.
Norwood Common covered much of the land around the crossroads, running from Roundabout Cottage in the north-west to Brittleware Farm in the south-east. The common provided grazing for those with small or no properties. It also provided overnight grazing for cattle being driven from Sussex, particularly from the Horsham Fair, to the meat markets in London.
The community has a great website if you would like to find out more. It is from there that we have kindly been allowed to use the aforementioned information: www.charlwoodandhookwood.co.uk.
The Fox Inn, before it was closed and then 'revived' the first time, was built on what had been the western edge of the
The commons were enclosed in the 1840s and in time the footpath to the west of the crossroads became a more
substantial road, thus leading to the crossroads as it is now.
The Fox Revived and the crossroads beyond taken in the 1950s
Horsehill used to be one of the main roads from London to Brighton, but in winter it was steep and muddy. Around 1815 the main road was re-routed (becoming the present A217) to make it easier for George IV to get to his Pavilion in Brighton. The coaching inn at the top of the hill, The Black Horse, then moved to Hookwood.
The names of the fields reflect rural life in former times - Hog Field, Lower Carthorse Meadow, Deer Field, Clover Field, Hayband Field, Cabbage Field and Daisy Field.
Although there has never been a church in Norwood Hill, there was a onconformist preacher's cross in the Saxon round field at the foot of the hill near Brittleware, probably dating from the 18th century.
In the 20th century a chapel was established on Collendean Lane for the United Reform Church but it eventually fell into disuse. The Norwood Hill Shop on Collendean Lane also contained a post office. When this closed in the late 1970s, the house name was changed to Post End.
The Fox Revived
We haven't yet been able to pinpoint when our pub was first built, but Elizabeth Wickstead, a local family historian, has traced her family, the Elsey family of Surrey, back to the 18th century. During her research she found in the 1881 census that her great-greatgrandfather Abraham Elsey, publican and farmer, was a licensed victualler at The Fox, where he lived with his wife Jane and their family.
This picture (by permission of Elizabeth Wickstead) is of their eldest daughter Mary Jane Elsey/Winchester and her son Charles. It was taken in 1870 when she and her husband William, also a publican, were living at The Holmesdale Inn at Reigate, which is sadly no longer in existence.
The Elsey family were followed by a succession of others at the helm of The Fox: in 1891 the census shows William Fegan, in 1901 Noah Frances and in 1913 Walter Nun. All of these entries show that the pub was still called The Fox. It was owned and tied for trade to Mellersh & Neale and run by William Fegan. It was said to have been frequented by 'respectable working men' and still had rooms in order to perform in the true sense of an 'Inn' - providing overnight accommodation for travellers.
Some say the pub was renamed 'The Fox Revived' after it was rebuilt following a fire sometime after 1913, but we can find no records of the event. Even so, it has kept that name ever since.
It isn't the first time that Brunning & Price have been involved in the history of this pub. When Jerry Brunning first started out, he owned the freehold of The Bell Inn at Outwood, after a few successful years he wanted to add another pub to his bow and took on The Fox Revived, obviously falling for its 'ranch style charm' and beautiful views across the Surrey hills. Graham Price then joined to form the partnership that was then called 'Pubs Ltd' and later became Brunning & Price.
Under their helm the pub became very popular, so much so that the 'big bad brewery' Ind Coope Friary Meux decided to take back the tenancy and try to run things themselves. So Jerry and Graham reluctantly left the area to establish B&P's heartland around Chester.
Many of the lessons they learned in The Fox Revived back then are now seen across the country. The original meal ticket was first handed out over the bar here and the very first B&P slow braised lamb shoulder was cooked here in response to the love of lamb of a group of Antipodean regulars, who all worked for Air New Zealand.
In those days the pub had a leaky glass roofed conservatory complete with 1970'sesque cheese plant. It also had a rather ugly, pipe-smoking, tankard-clutching stuffed fox that presided over things. On several occasions this fox was 'liberated' from its position over the door only to be found elsewhere in the village or meekly returned home the next day. Now that B&P have thankfully been able to take the pub back into its family for a second time, we hope that you will find the décor has a more quality finish, but still the same charm as it always had.
With enormous thanks to Elizabeth Wickstead, Richard Symmonds and all at The Parish of Charlwood and Hookwood website for their insight into the history of our pub and its surroundings.