I remember seeing a note printed in the Surrey Archaeological Society Bulletin a few years ago from someone enquiring about Beggars Bush place-names. It caught my eye because it mentioned one on the edge of Puttenham parish, but regrettably I never responded with what I knew at that stage about its site and documented history. Happily someone else did, and moreover the author of the original note, Neil Howlett, has since gone on to set up an excellent website on the topic: www.beggarsbush.org.uk.
The site includes an entry for the Puttenham example which provides a good summary of the site and its occurrences in published works. The one gripe I have with it is the date apportioned to its earliest record (1819), since I am unaware of any such reference. Indeed, this may be an error for 1869, the year in which the-then Curate of Puttenham church, Rev. Charles Kerry, first wrote about it in his journal (he would go on to make a number of brief entries about the site as and when information was volunteered to him by parishioners). From my research all of what we know about the Puttenham Beggars Bush derives from Kerry, who went beyond the question of the skeleton to take in ghosts and impromptu fairs soundtracked by the Puttenham village band. When I next have access to my own writings on the subject based on a thorough reading and evaluation of all of his jottings on the subject (exploring the various possible interpretations of the skeleton beneath the bush and others found in the vicinity) I will post an update to this piece.
(As it happens there is a useful online handlist of the contents of volumes 2 to 12 of Kerry’s journals compiled a few years ago by J Goucher, who has since set up a Yahoo group, Puttenham_ops, at www.puttenham.org.uk – membership required.)
Finally, it’s worth adding that the Surrey Historic Environment Record entry for the site, HER 2286, has a more serious failing, inasmuch as it places Beggars Bush and the skeleton beneath it in the wrong location (although to be charitable this can be explained as a literal reading of Kerry’s rather ambiguous description of their site). I did notify the SHER of this error a couple of years back but I think they were undergoing staff changes at the time and the entry was never amended. Perhaps it’s now time to make fresh attempts to send some emails and make the full details of Beggars Bush available to all.
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