“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Friday, 12 July 2013

The Camberley Obelisk - Signalling Hellfire

Having lived and worked in the Camberley area for a number of years in my 20's I had often wondered why the town had a street called “Obelisk Way”. It was only after visiting the Hellfire Caves and the Dashwood Mausoleum in West Wycombe that it all became clear to me.

If you ever visit Camberley look out for Knoll Road and the Council Offices, behind which you will find the small Camberley Park. At the back of this park on top of a small hill there is an interesting structure, which is known as the Camberley Obelisk.

The Obelisk is the remains of a brick tower that today is about 30 ft high. Originally the tower would have been around 100 ft high, and would have consisted of a number of storeys with access provided by an internal staircase. The Obelisk was built by John Norris around 1765 to 1770 (before Camberley existed), and in that era the surrounding land would have been open heathland, allowing for good visibility from the top of the Obelisk for a number of miles.

It is not fully known why the Obelisk was built, but the most popular theory was that is was built on the top of the hill as a signalling tower. Some believe that this particular tower was a heliograph, a signalling tower that reflects sunlight to send messages. One of John Norris' known friends was Sir Frances Dashwood (founder of the Hellfire club), and in 1751 Dashwood built St Laurence's Church atop the Hellfire Caves in West Wycombe, around 20 miles away from Camberley. St Laurence's church is adorned with a large golden ball (for a picture see my previous blog post “The Home of Hellfire”) and one interesting, but unproven, theory is that the golden ball on St Laurence's church and the Obelisk at Camberley were used to relay messages between the two friends. One theory suggests that they used the heliographs to pass bets to each other and another suggests that they were involved in an espionage network and used the system to exchange secret messages.

What ever the truth, the history of this well hidden building is likely to be interesting.

Entering Camberley Park from the Council Offices car park.
The Obelisk at the back of the park, hiding behind trees.
First view of the Obelisk.
The Obelisk.
A peek around the back.
Inside, looking up.
View over Camberley, from the base of the Obelisk.
Some coincidental graffiti.
The information board in the park.

Pictures, Camberley - Surrey (July 2013).

If you find this post interesting please share it using the buttons below.

No comments:

Post a Comment