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)