The Sailor’s Stone

A comment by Becky of It Caught My Eye in Portugal and The Life of B on my post about the Eassie headstones mentioned an unusual stone hidden on the Hindhead Commons. I say hidden, because when I used to explore this area before the Hindhead tunnel was completed in 2011 (yes just as we were about to move to Shropshire) it was not easy to find. Nowadays I believe there is a track / walk signposted from the car park at the Devil’s Punchbowl. The stone itself is quite unremarkable, but the story behind it is not.

This stone commemorates the events of 24 September 1786 when an unknown sailor travelling on the old Portsmouth Road was murdered by three men.

The sailor had befriended the men  in the Red Lion Inn at nearby Thursley when they appeared to have no money to buy food or drink. He paid for ale with a golden guinea which he had received after his last sea trip.

After leaving the inn the three men set about him and robbed him of his money, slitting his throat and leaving him to die. The men, Edward Lonegon, Michael Casey and James Marshall were arrested at the Sun Inn, Rake in neighbouring Hampshire several hours later as they were trying to sell his clothes. They were brought to Haslemere on a longcart to be questioned by the JP, the Rev James Fielding (allegedly a Highwayman himself) and later tried at Kingston Assizes 6 months later and sentenced to death.

The sailor was buried in Thursley churchyard with a much more impressive headstone.

The gibbet where the three men were hanged in chains was set up on the hill where the Celtic cross now stands. The bodies remained there for three years until brought down by a storm. A hideous reminder of the crime and the punishment.

Gibbet Hill is the second highest point in Surrey and provides extensive views over the countryside.

(The Sailor’s Stone is found on Hindhead Common, just off the old A3 road near the Devil’s Punchbowl Surrey and information has been taken from the plaque next to the stone)

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

36 thoughts on “The Sailor’s Stone”

    1. It’s a lovely area, very open and hard to imagine you are an hour from London’s suburbs. But maybe that sailor shouldn’t have flashed his cash, so’s to speak!

  1. Grizzly! There was a lot of that skullduggery went on though, wasn’t there? Tony Robinson is doing a Walking in History series which I’ve found quite interesting and much of it has been on the south coast. 🙂 🙂

  2. All comes flooding back now 🙂 most impressed you managed to find all the photographs. Goodness knows where mine are as was all pre-digital and a lifetime before MrB so I’ve probably not kept them!!

    Thank you so so much for finding it all.

    1. We lived very close to this spot for 7 years so got to know it well, all my digital photos are stored by county and country so I can generally find anything taken since 2003!!

        1. I keep all mine on a storage drive with copies on my laptop so I can work on them. One day I’ll have them properly sorted!

    1. Well, the stone itself is pretty unimpressive and very difficult to photograph as it was/is in a dark spot under some trees. We only came across it by accident after going to look at the tunnel works, although we knew it was somewhere on the commons.

    1. Well hidden Sue! This was practically our back yard for 7 years and we only found it by accident! Walked around the DPB once and I think we must have gone wrong somewhere as we ended up miles away alongside the A3! Might find some photos to write about that too 🙂

  3. That’s a horrible story! The 3 hung men no longer suffer after they are dead, but the people who live in the area have to live with 3 hanging corpses for 3 years! Needlessly harsh judgement punishing the wrong people.

    1. I think it was a warning to anyone else not to commit murder – I wonder if it worked? And I think the gibbet must have been close to the road then, certainly not close to a hamlet or village, so perhaps only travellers saw it. Must admit it must have been a gruesome sight.

        1. OK. Hold your breath and wear a blindfold. I promise there will be no more gibbets on here. Might have a look at the Devil’s Punchbowl though 😉

        2. You have a Devil’s Punchbowl too?
          Here it refers to a geological feature in the Niagara Escarpment with a 37 metre drop. I have tried – and failed – to get there twice. You’ve reminded me that I need to try again.

        3. 😀 😀
          Local legend says that the punch bowl got its name because the Devil used to live at the ‘Devil’s Jumps’ and battled with the God of Thunder who lived at nearby Thor’s Lie (Thursley).

  4. Gruesome story Jude. Sadly that sort of thing still happens over here, but nowadays the sentence is not so harsh. In fact sometimes ridiculously light for what the crime was.

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