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The myth: Yateley had an extensive network of secret tunnels

contributed by Richard Johnston


Sources of the myth

G H Stilwell, History of Yateley (ca 1885, ed S I Loader, 1974), reports a myth about a tunnel between the Church and Yateley Manor School, but dismisses it as a large brick drain.

Townroe reports a tunnel from Yateley Hall to the Church in connection with the myth that Yateley Hall was a medieval Convent, and a further tunnel from Monteagle House to West End Farm (now Westfields Junior School)

A newspaper report in 1926, entitled Discovery in a Hampshire Gravel Pit mentions tunnels near Moor Place Farm.


Why the myth is false


The passages from Yateley Manor, and from Yateley Hall, both linking to the Church, are supposed to have been used by priests, presumably after the Reformation. However Roman Catholic priests did not use the churches at that time. The Yateley Hall myth anachronistically connects this to the pre-Reformation nunnery myth - but there was then no need for secret tunnels.


Some tunnels cross streams, which must have flooded them. Even without water from streams, the passages must have been flooded most of the time, as the groundwater in Yateley is notoriously high. They would have been dangerous, and normally impassible, unless very large and well drained.


Such lengthy and substantial structures must have been found during Yateley's post-war building boom - but nothing was found.


The tunnels at the gravel pit were blind, part of a Bronze Age burial site.



How did the story come about?


The story was triggered by the discovery of culvert drains for foul water from Yateley's mansions, or of the land drains needed to keep Yateley's wet fields usable.


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