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HE parish of Selborne lies in the extreme eastern corner of the county of Hampshire, bordering on the county of Sussex,
and not far from the county of Surrey, is about fifty miles south-west of London, in latitude 51°, and near midway between the towns of Alton and Petersfield. Being very large and extensive it abuts on twelve parishes, two of which are in Sussex, viz. Trotton and Rogate. If you begin from the south and proceed westward the adjacent parishes are Emshot, Newton Valence, Faringdon, HarteleyMauduit, Great Ward le ham, Kingsley, Hedleigh, Bramshot, Trotton, Rogate, Lysse, and Greatham. The soils of this district are almost as various and diversified as the views and aspects. The high part to the south-west consists of a vast hill of chalk, rising three hundred feet above the village; and is
divided into a sheep down, the high wood, and a long hanging wood called the Hanger. The covert of this eminence is altogether beech, the most lovely of all forest trees, whether we consider its smooth rind or bark, its glossy foliage, or graceful pendulous boughs. The down, or sheep-walk, is a pleasing park-like spot, of about one mile by half that space, jutting out on the verge of the hill-country, where it begins to break down into the plains, and commanding a very engaging view, being an assemblage of hill, dale, woodlands, heath, and water. The prospect is bounded to the south-east and east by the vast range of mountains called the Sussex Downs, by Guild-down near Guildford, and by the Downs round Dorking, and Ryegate in Surrey, to the north-east, which altogether, with the country beyond Alton and Farnham, form a noble and extensive outline.
At the foot of this hill, one stage or step from the uplands, lies the village, which consists of one single straggling street, three-quarters of a mile in length, in a sheltered vale, and running parallel with the Hanger. The houses are divided from the hill by a vein of stiff clay (good wheat-land), yet stand on a rock of white stone, little in appearance removed from chalk, but seems so far from being calcareous, that it endures extreme heat.* Yet that the free
• The geology of the district is very peculiar. The Selborne range of hills, which unite the South with the North Downs, are for the most part “denuded” along their base. Like the South Downs they have coatings and patches of chalk and flints near the eroded surface of the lower greensand hills. This débris of chalky flint is supposed to have been transported, in some period of geological confusion, from the range of fractured chalk hills westward of Petersfield, and carried through the depression lying between Selborne Hanger,
stone still preserves somewhat that is analogous to chalk is plain from the beeches which descend as low as those rocks extend, and no farther, and thrive as well on them, where the ground is steep, as on the chalks.
The cart-way of the village divides, in a remarkable manner, two very incongruous soils. To the south-west is a rank clay, that requires the labour of years to render it mellow; while the gardens to the north-east, and small enclosures behind, consist
a warm, forward, crumbling mould, called black malm, * which seems highly saturated with vegetable and animal manure; and these may perhaps have been the original site of the town; while the woods and coverts might extend down to the opposite bank.
At each end of the village, which runs from southeast to north-west, arises a small rivulet : that at the north-west end frequently fails; but the other is a fine perennial spring, called Well-head, little influenced by drought or wet seasons, inasmuch as it produced on the 14th September, 1781, after a severe hot summer, and a preceding dry spring and winter, nine gallons of water in a minute, at a time when many of the wells failed, and all the ponds in the vales were dry.
and the higher part of Wolmer forest. Round Selborne the stratification is very regular. The Hanger presents first chalk and flints, then chalk without flints; the latter is sometimes burnt as lime. The upper greensand crops out in the malm rock, on which the village is built; gault shows itself in the Emshott road, and the lower greensand extends to Wolmer forest on the east, where it is succeeded by the upper Wealden clay. The angle which the North Downs here make with the Selborne escarpments having probably, as Sir Roderick Murchison thinks, been the scene of great geological ruptures.-ED.
* Black malm is decomposed greensand mixed with vegetable débris.-ED.
This spring breaks out of some high grounds joining to Nore Hill, a noble chalk promontory, remarkable for sending forth two streams into two different seas.
The one to the south becomes a branch of the Arun, running to Arundel, and so falling into the British channel; the other to the north. The Selborne stream makes one branch of the Wey; and, meeting the Black-down stream at Hedleigh, and the Alton and Farnham stream at Tilfordbridge, swells into a considerable river, navigable at Godalming; from whence it passes to Guildford, and so into the Thames at Weybridge; and thus at the Nore into the German ocean.
Our wells, at an average, run to about sixtythree feet, and when sunk to that depth seldom fail; but produce a fine limpid water, soft to the taste, and much commended by those who drink the pure element, but which does not lather well with soap.
To the north-west, north and east of the village, is a range of fair enclosures, consisting of what is called a white malm,* a sort of rotten or rubble stone, which, when turned up to the frost and rain, moulders to pieces, and becomes manure to itself.
Still on to the north-east, and a step lower, is a kind of white land, neither chalk nor clay, neither fit for pasture nor for the plough, yet kindly for hops, which root deep into the freestone, and have their poles and wood for charcoal growing just at hand. This white soil produces the brightest hops. As the parish still inclines down towards Wolmer
White malm, as it is called locally, is decomposed greensand, mixed probably with chalk, for, in opposition to its name, greensand is white, only tinged by the salts of iron occurring in connection with it. This soil, as we learn from a note to the original edition, produces good wheat and clover.-ED.
forest, at the juncture of the clays and sand, the soil becomes a wet, sandy loam, remarkable for its timber, and infamous for roads. The oaks of Temple and Blackmoor stand high in the estimation of purveyors, and have furnished much naval timber; while the trees on the freestone grow large, but are what workmen call shakey, and so brittle as often to fall to pieces in sawing. Beyond the sandy loam the soil becomes a hungry lean sand, till it mingles with the forest; and will produce little without the assistance of lime and turnips.