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Greywell is located in Hampshire
Greywell shown within Hampshire
Population 237 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid reference SU7159750982
Civil parish
  • Greywell
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town HOOK
Postcode district RG29
Dialling code 01256
Police Hampshire
Fire Hampshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°15′13″N 0°58′32″W / 51.253518°N 0.975456°W / 51.253518; -0.975456Coordinates: 51°15′13″N 0°58′32″W / 51.253518°N 0.975456°W / 51.253518; -0.975456

Greywell is a small village and civil parish in Hampshire, England.

Greywell village is a past winner of the Best Kept Village in Hampshire competition and a recent winner of Best Small Village in Hampshire.[2] The Basingstoke Canal runs underneath part of the village through the 1.1 km long Greywell Tunnel which is now no longer navigable due to a collapse which occurred in 1932. The eastern portal in Greywell village is the largest winter bat roost in the country, and the second largest colony of Natterer's bat in Europe.[3] The canal originally ran from Basingstoke to join the Wey Navigation near Pyrford. However the canal is derelict towards Basingstoke and only starts being navigable a mile or so to the east of Greywell tunnel and then runs towards North Warnborough, passing the ruins of King John's castle. A short section of the canal from the western tunnel portal exists and is a nature reserve and the original towpath can be walked.

The upper reaches of the River Whitewater also run through the village.

Greywell is home to two Sites of Special Scientific Interest, with the Greywell Tunnel and its bat colony, and Greywell Moors, which lies around the River Whitewater.

Greywell is on the other side of the M3 from Hook. It is about two miles from Odiham. The area is extremely popular with walkers and cyclists. Many photographers also visit the village, taking pictures of some of the local architecture. The nearby medieval Odiham Castle is of historical interest to many.

At the centre of the village is the Fox and Goose public house.

St Mary's church is in the village. Greywell is within the Anglican United Parish which is served by St Swithun's, Nately Scures.

The village was known as Grewell or Gruell until about 1850 and figures in the Domesday Book as such, forming part of the manor of Odiham. Becoming a separate manor in the 13th century, it was sold to Sir Guy Carleton, 1st Lord Dorchester, and the first Governor General of Canada in 1786, and it has stayed in the family ever since.

Originally a Saxon hunting settlement, the village’s economy is rooted in agriculture and more latterly timber, which flourished at the same time as the Basingstoke Canal, which was built at the end of the 18th century.  It runs through and under Greywell. However, the canal was never a commercial success and was soon overtaken by the advent of the railway; by the turn of the last century it had fallen into disuse.  These days, whilst agriculture remains the most important local industry, most residents of the village work elsewhere, commute to London or are retired.

St. Mary's Church[edit]

Greywell’s church, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, is an ancient structure of flint with stone quoins and dressings in the Norman and early English styles.  It consists of a chancel, nave, porch and tower surmounted by wooden belfry containing four bells.  

 At the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086 it is thought that the Chapel of St.Mary, beside the Whitewater, was one of the two churches within the Manor of Odiham mentioned in the survey. The church is of Norman origin and was built in the 12th century.

St Mary's Church, Greywell

 Restored in 1870, it still boasts many old features, the most important of which is the early 16th century rood-screen, made of carved oak which before the restoration was used as a men’s gallery with rood loft and circular stairs.  The narrow 13th Century Early English chancel-arch is also a prominent feature and one will also find, on the stonework to the left outside the church door, visible remains of several consecration crosses dating back to the period of the Crusades. Church Cottage, beside the lych-gate on The Street, is believed to have been originally the priest's lodgings.[4]

Greywell Tunnel[edit]

The Basingstoke Canal was authorised by an Act of Parliament obtained in 1778. The company was authorised to raise £86,000 by issuing shares, and an additional £40,000 if required. The route was around 44 miles (71 km) long, running from Basingstoke to the Wey and Godalming Navigations near Weybridge, with a large loop running to the north to pass around Greywell Hill. The loop cut through the grounds of Tylney Hall, owned by Earl Tylney, and he objected to the route. At the time, the American Revolutionary War was in progress, and no construction took place for some time. Finally, a favourable forecast of expected traffic was published in 1787, and the committee took action. A survey was made by William Jessop, who was appointed as engineer, and the contract for construction was awarded to John Pinkerton, part of a family of contractors who often worked with Jessop, in August 1788.

The route was changed, with the large contour-following route which had been surveyed around Greywell Hill being replaced by a tunnel through it, cutting nearly 7 miles (11 km) from the length of the canal. Construction started in October 1788, although Pinkerton was not initially responsible for the tunnel, the contract for which was awarded to Charles Jones. Jones had been dismissed by the Thames and Severn Canal company in 1788, after failing to complete the Sapperton Tunnel project. In his defence, he had been asked to build it bigger than originally specified and line it with bricks at no extra cost. He worked on Greywell Tunnel, but was again dismissed in 1789. Pinkerton had complained constantly about him. It is not clear whether Pinkerton supervised the cutting of the tunnel, but in 1789 the company sacked its brickmaker, and in 1790 required Pinkerton to ensure that the quality of the brick was adequate for the tunnel work. 223 yards (204 m) of tunnel had been completed by June 1791, and by November 1792 a similar distance was left to be completed.

Greywell Tunnel, Greywell

The eastern portal of the tunnel, in late 2013. The canal was opened on 4 September 1794, but two sections of the bank collapsed shortly afterwards, and parts of it were closed until the summer of 1795. The quality of the work on the tunnel was also criticised. The tunnel had no towpath so boats had to be taken through by legging, taking up to six hours to pass through the tunnel. The gated and locked western end of the tunnel, in late 2013. The former portal and a short section of the tunnel has collapsed into the canal and become overgrown. Trade on the canal was never as intensive as had been predicted, and several companies attempted to run it, but each ended up bankrupt. The last successful passage through the tunnel was probably in 1914 by the barge Basingstoke owned by Mr A J Harmsworth, carrying sand. The intention of this trip was to prove, at the request of the then owner of the canal, that it was still navigable and so avoid the possibility of closure under the Railway and Canal Traffic Act 1888. Harmsworth, the last trader working on the canal, bought the canal in 1923, but only the lower section up to Woking was used. The tunnel was finally closed when part of the roof collapsed in 1932, after which the canal to the west, including Basingstoke Wharf, was sold. It was still possible for canoeists to get through the tunnel until the late 1950s, but the blockage is now total.[5]

Upon walking further down the canal you will reach Odiham Castle.

Notable residents (and Former)[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Rupert Willoughby Greywell: Church and Village with illustrations by Nicholas Kavanagh 1997 Friends of St. Mary's, Greywell
  • Rupert Willoughby St Mary the Virgin, Greywell: An Architectural Note 1996 (available at the church)
Cottages in Greywell Village - - 1209048.jpg



  1. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Greywell village, Hampshire: Church: Home". Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  5. ^ "Greywell Tunnel". Wikipedia. 2016-11-20. 
  6. ^ "Driver Thomas Dawson Army Service Corps". Retrieved 9 April 2017. 
  7. ^ Commonwealth War Graves Commission. "Hampshire soldier commemorated 99 years after his death". Retrieved 9 April 2017. 

External links[edit]