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COUNTY OF SURREY.
GRASSES, MEADOWS, AND PASTURES.
SURREY is not particularly famed for an attentive regard to the formation, or to the productiveness of its meadows and pastures. Being every where more or less undulated, with no considerable tract of level country in any one part of it, its position seems to bespeak it more of a corn than a grazing or a dairy county. There are, however, some parts of it where the system of meadows is well understood, where irrigation is uniformly practised, and its consequences carefully marked; such are those in Oxted, Tanridge, Crowhurst, and Lingfield parishes on the eastern side of the county, and the long famed Runneymead and other common meads of so valuable a quality, which by bordering on the Thames, were they in severality, would by proper management necessarily make no inconsiderable figure, as before the late inclosures of Walton and Weybridge parishes, they amounted together to near 1200 acres. There is VOL. III.
a small quantity of exceeding good meadow about Cobham.
In the parish of Oxted Mr. Wm. Saunders, of Stone Hall, (whom I have before had occasion to name;) has a large allotment of water meadow belonging to that farm, which has been formerly made at a very heavy expence; but he is far from being such a convert to the system, as to ascribe to it all the advantages which its advocates endeavour to maintain. He knew the farm before the meadows were flowed systematically, and he was acquainted with their products; and although he admits that the grass springs earlier, and is greatly increased in quantity, yet he is very
well satisfied that it is so much lessened and reduced in quality, that it does not nor cannot fat so much stock as it had used to do within a given period.
Indeed, it is pretty evident from the present appearance of particular large spots over which the water never flows, (and which exhibit the remains of the ancient herbage,) that the quality of it was once uncommonly fine and good, but that the flowing or irrigating had destroyed that particular sweet herbage, and introduced or brought on a species coarse and long, very productive, but certainly not by any means so profitable for cattle, and can only answer where hay can be sold for the London or some other great market. In these ideas Mr. Saunders is by no means singular, for several other farmers who had tried the system upon a small scale, found the same results, and have let their works go to decay.
In the parish of Tanridge, however, Mr. Tirrell, Mr. Hollamby, and Mr. Wm. Steer have each of
them very capital water meadows, and which the two former regularly irrigate, and when I looked over them early in the spring of 1803 when there was scarcely a blade of grass elsewhere, their meadows were in a high state of vegetation and over my shoes in grass. To them it pays well, because they are not restricted from selling their hay, and the barracks at Croydon afford them an extraordinary good market.
At Crowhurst and Lingfield along the sides of the river are some very good natural meadows, particularly Broad Mead in the latter parish, but not being in severalty they are but indifferently managed; they, however, contrive to flow some of them at some particular seasons of the year, when such a quantity of water as may be wanted for that purpose can be spared from the mills, which greatly conduces to increase the produce. There are several parts in those parishes, that would pay infinitely better in pasture than as they now are under the plough, but the great uncertainty under which they labour with regard to their tithes, deters the tenantry and even many of the proprietors from attempting any expensive and permanent improvement. I could name one gentleman who, as a farmer in the latter parish, ranks as high as any man in the kingdom, and as a grazier inferior to few, with a spirit to undertake, and a capital to execute whatever plans would tend to the improvement of his farm, and with a command of water that would enable him to irrigate a great part of it, now suffers his grass fields to lay idle and unproductive, and his corn land to yield barely enough to supply him with fodder and to cover his expences; when,
with a little exertion, the latter would, as some of them did this season, 1803, produce him six quarters per acre of fine marketable wheat;- and this on account of the unsettled state of the tithes. А considerable part of the several parishes of Godstone, Horne, Burstow, Horley, Charlwood, Newdigate, Ockley, Ewhurst, Okewood, Cranley, Cowfold, &c. &c. being fiat, of a strong tenacious soil, too moist for the plough, but not too much so for meadows, (because in a state of arable, and under corn, moist lands are extremely apt to swell greatly in hard frosts, and subsiding again in a thaw leave the roots of the corn quite bare upon the surface; which is not the case when under grass, because they are generally so compressed by treading and rolling, and the matting together of the roots of the perennial grasses, as to prevent the frost from taking such effect upon them,) might be easily converted into very good permanent pasture, and pay in my opinion better upon an average of years, than under corn. Indeed, Horley common of itself, was it inclosed, and proper sized ditches sufficiently deep carried round the inclosures, would naturally become as fine meadow as any in the kingdom. The same may be said of great part of Peas Marsh between Guildford and Godalming ; and as that tract of common is about to be inclosed, it will naturally find its value as such, and in all probability be so employed.
In the management of the meadows and pastures throughout the county I have seen nothing new; many of the noblemen, gentlemen, and principal farmers, paying more or less regard to the proper dressing, picking, weeding, bush harrow