Guess the Object

Each Monday throughout 2017, starting on 2nd January, we are posting a photo of an item in the collection on our Facebook and Twitter pages for you to guess the object. Each Saturday we will reveal what the object is and tell you a little bit more about it here on our website.

Follow us on social media to join in!



Week 52

Viking Sword


This magnificent Viking sword was made in the Rhinelands of Germany for export to Scandinavia. This type of sword was greatly prized by the Vikings. It was designed as a slashing weapon to be held in one hand and has a double-edged steel blade (steely iron). On one side of the blade is the maker’s name ‘ulfberit’, usually known as ‘Ulfberht’, a famous 10th century maker. The sword is decorated with copper and silver lops and swags inlaid. The handle would have been made of bone or leather and has rotted away in river. The scabbard would have been made of wood and leather and lined with wool or other cloth, and has also rotted away.

Knowing the maker’s name is important as it tells us quite a lot about the sword as other swords have been found with this maker’s name on it. We think that Ulfbert was a smith from the Rhine region as there are many blades over Europe which bear his name.  Also the sword was slightly different from other swords in that it is more like steel than iron and therefore stronger.  It was certainly better than the Saxon swords – easier to hold. The new blades were much speedier and more mobile and therefore more effective. Earlier iron swords were very prone to breaking or shattering. We know this again from writing – the Norse sagas are full of references to the impatient warrior who has to retreat to the side of the field to ‘draw his sword under his foot’ in order to strengthen it.

By the 9th century there were Viking raids all over southern England and we know of several which took place at Chertsey Abbey. The Vikings are said to have burnt down the abbey at least once – probably in 871 or 884 – as well as much later in 1011, and killed the abbot, prior and 90 monks. 

Week 51

Christmas Lights

This string of Christmas tree lights date to the 1920s and would have been a bit of novelty at the time. They were connected to the light fitting, such as the hanging light in the centre of the room, rather than being plugged into a socket! 

The very first string of electric Christmas lights were displayed outside Thomas Edison’s laboratory in 1880. Prior to this candles were used instead resulting in many house fires, and so Edison’s lights were seen as a huge step forward in terms of safety. However, electricity in homes was still in its infancy and so few homes had the means to plug them in, and even fewer could afford them as they cost the equivalent of £1,500 today.

Week 50


This unmarked silver pomander, dating from c.1790, is part of the Olive Matthews Collection. 

The use of pomanders goes back to at least the 14th century when the wealthy would carry containers filled with aromatic spices as a countermeasure to the foul smelling air. The word pomander comes from the French for apple (or ball) of amber; “poimne d’ambre”. Amber-gris is a pleasant smelling waxy substance which is still used in perfume manufacturing today as a fixative to keep the scent fresh for longer, although mostly a synthetic version is used nowadays. It develops its sweet smell after it has aged a little, and is altogether less pleasant when it is first created. Ambergris is better known as sperm whale vomit!

Week 49

Cigarette Rolling Machine

We're sorry but we don't know anything else about this 1950s cigarette rolling machine other than it was donated by a gentleman from London Street, Chertsey in 1977!

Week 48

Market Charter

market charter

Chertsey was granted permission to have a market from at least as early as the 13th century, and this was reiterated by Elizabeth I in 1599, with the Chertsey Market Charter. It stated that a market should be held on Wednesdays on a piece of waste ground set aside for that purpose, and required that market Feoffees (Trustees) should be appointed for administration purposes. The Charter also stated that a Market House should be built. It was erected in front of St. Peter’s Church at the point where Guildford Street meets Windsor and London Streets. The building was half-timbered and quite substantial, with a granary above. Some market stalls were set up there, and it was a place for stallholders to go in bad weather. The Market House was also the location for the Court of ‘Pie Poudre’ (which means court of ‘dusty foot’) which was a summary Court of Record held by the Market Steward, and supposed to settle disputes arising at the market. There was also a ‘Cage’ or jail attached to the west end of the Market House, and a set of stocks next to that.

The Market House was the subject of a dispute in the early 19th century. One of the Feoffees of the market, John Brown, had it pulled down in 1809. Reasons given were that it was in a bad state of repair and that the local ‘youths’ were gathering there, especially during church services. It was also obscuring St. Peter’s Church from view. There was a long dispute as some felt that John Brown did not have the right to demolish the Market House. Eventually the dispute was settled, and in 1819 a new Market House was put up on the site of the Town Hall (now the Old Town Hall) on London Street. By 1851, the Market House had been rebuilt as the Town Hall we see today with the arcaded section used for markets until at least 1870.


Elizabeth &c TO ALL TO WHOM these present Letters shall come Greeting WHEREAS we are credibly informed by the Relation of Our welbeloved and faithful Concellor Sr. Thomas Egerton Knt. Keeper of Our Great Seal of England And our wellbeloved and faithful Cousin & Councillor Charles Earl of Nottingham Our Great Admiral of England, As also our beloved and faithful Serjeant Sr. William Howard Knt. Sir George Moore Knt. And other Our Justices of the Peace in the County of Surrey that would be very convenient and useful to Our Village of Chertsey within the sd. County of Surrey and a great relief to Our Tenants and other Inhabitants of out Sd. Village if a Market in every Week and a Fair or Mat (over and above besides the ancient Fairs & Marts held in sd. Village) yearly on Monday the first Week of Clean Lent were held within the sd. Village of Chertsey by Our Royal Grant & Ordinance We graciously therefore desiring the Common profit & Improvement of Our sd. Village of Our special Grace & certain knowledge & mere motion Have granted & given power And by these presents do for Ourselves our Heirs & Successors grant and give power to our beloved Subjects & Tenants Sr. Matthew Brown Knt. (and 20 others) their Heirs & Assigns for the relief of the poor that do & hereafter shall inhabit within Our sd. Village of Chertsey that the sd. Matthew Brown &c their Heirs & Assigns hereafter for ever do have hold & keep and may have to hold & keep within Our s. Village of Chertsey a Market on Wednesday in every Week in the year and One Fair or Mart over and besides the Fairs or Marts before time held & kept within the sd. Village which Fair or Mart shall begin on Monday in the first Week of Clean Lent & shall continue for all that Monday & for Tuesday then next following with a Court of Piepowder there in the Time of the sd. Market & Fairs or Marts & every of them to be held & together with Tolls Picage & Stallage & all Customs profits Commodities & Emoluments whatsoever to such Markets Fairs Marts & Court of Piepowder there & every of them belonging or appertaining or from such Markets Fairs or Marts be not to the hurt of other neighbouring Markets Fairs or Marts lying near And that in the Time of the Markets Fairs or  Marts aforesd. Or any of them the aforesd Matthew Brown &c their Heirs & Assigns may by themselves or their sufficient Deputy or Deputies have receive & collect for the relief of the Poor that do or shall inhabit within the aforesd. Village of Chertsey Customs & Tolls of all & all manner of Merchandise Wares Chattels & things hereafter sold or bought within the aforesd. Markets Fairs or Marts or any of them without any Interruption or Hindrance of Us Our Heirs or Successors or any Officers or Ministers of Us Our Heirs or Successors Wherefore We will & by these present for Ourselves our Heirs & Successors firmly charge Ordain & Command that the afsd. Matthew Brown &c their Heirs & Assigns hereafter for ever have hold & enjoy & keep & may have power to have enjoy and keep within Our aforesd. Village of Chertsey for the relief of the Poor that are or shall be Inhabitants of the sd. Village a market on every Wednesday in every Week & the aforesd. Fair or Mart yearly and every year beginning on the sd. Monday in the first Week of Clean Lent & to last all that Monday & Tuesday then next following together with the aforesd. Court of Piepowder & all & singular the Tolls Customs Rights & Jurisdictions Usages profits & Emolument whatsoever to such Market Fairs & marts or any of them belonging and appertaining or from such Markets Fairs or Marts coming or arising And for the better keeping celebrating and enjoying the Market Fair or Mart aforesd. We have given & granted and for Ourselves Our Heirs & Successors do give & grant by these presents to the afsd. Matthew Brown &c. their Heirs & Assigns for ever All that piece & parcel of vacant Plot & Waste Ground containing by estimation One Acre be it more or less lying with the afsd. Village of Chertsey between the Tenemt. commonly called the Black Swan & the Tenemt. Late of    Pigott on the West part & the Tenement now or lately in the Tenure or Occupation of Richard Chapman & the Tenement now or lately in the Tenure & Occupation of Henry Atwick on the East part & the Tenement now lately of Ralph Bager called the Anchor and the Tenement late of Wm. Gravell on the South part & the Church Yard on the North part To the Intent that the sd. (Grantees) their Heirs & Assigns may & have power to found erect build and make thereupon a Market House Giving & by these presents granting to the sd. Matthew Brown &c. their Heirs and Assigns licence to erect found and build as well the afsd. House upon the afsd. Piece of Ground as also many & so big Stalls & Standings from Time to time in and upon the afsd. piece Or in & upon any other places within Our Manor of Chertsey as many and as big as shall seem necessary & convenient to the sd. Matthew Brown &c. their Heirs  & Assigns for the better Commodity & profit of the Inhabitants of our sd. Village of Chertsey & of all that buy and sell within the Markets Fairs or Marts aforesd. For the buying selling & exposing to sale such Wares Victuals Merchandises & other things which shall be saleable from Time to time in Markets or Fairs or Marts To have hold and enjoy the afsd. Markets & Fairs or Marts together with the Court of Piepowder & the aforesaid piece of Ground and aforesd. Market House and all Houses Buildings & Stalls & Standings thereupon to be built & erected and all the profits from them hereafter coming & arising to the sd. Matthew Brown &c. their Heirs & Assigns To the use & Relief of the Poor that are or shall be Inhabitants of the sd. Village To hold the aforesd. Market Fairs or Mars & aforesd. House and Soil or plot thereof & the aforesd. Piece of Ground or Soil of Us Our Heirs & Successors as Our Manor of East Greenwich in the County of Kent [...] & not in Capite for all Services & Demands whatsoever Paying thereout yearly to Our heirs & Successors Two Shillings of lawful money of England at the Receipt of our Exchequer at Westminster of Our Heirs & Successors or to the hands of Our Bailiffs or Receivers of Our Manor of Chertsey aforesd. For the Time being at the Feasts of St. Michael the Archangel & the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by equal portion yearly to be paid for ever And further We will and by these presents grant & Ordain that these Our Letters Patents shall be valid & effectual in Law without any Writs &c. ad quod Dammim thereupon issued or be Any Statute Law Custom or Prescription to the contrary hereof set forth Ordained or provided notwithstanding Also we will & by these presents for Ourselves Heirs and Successors grant to the aforesd. Matthew Brown that they have shall have these Out Letters Patents duly made and sealed under Our Great Seal of England without fine or Fee great or small to be given paid of made to Us in Our Hanaper or elsewhere for Our Use On the Account that express mention is not made in these presents of the true yearly value of the Progenitors to the aforesaid Matthew Brown &c or any Act Statute Ordinance Provision or Restriction to the Contrary hereof heretofore had made set forth Ordained or provided or any other Cause or Matter whatsoever in any wise notwithstanding IN WITNESS whereof We have caused these Our Letters to be made patent Witness Ourselves at Westminster the Eighth day of February in the forty first year of our Reign which was in the Year of Our Lord 1599

Week 47

Money Box

14th century money box

This is an early 14th century money box. It is made from Surrey white ware, a common form of pottery in the medieval period. This is an early example, and as production methods improved over time the glaze became less speckled. This particular glaze became known as Tudor Green. This box was found in the Thames nearby, and was almost certainly manufactured in Kingston-Upon-Thames, a site known for its production of Surrey white ware.

This is the medieval equivalent of a piggy bank. During the 14th century people would have had to keep their money in their homes, rather than in banks as we do today, so money boxes like this were often hidden in walls or buried to keep them safe. There is no way to open to the box, so coins could not be stolen without the owner’s knowledge. If the money needed to be accessed the box had to be smashed. This box was probably never used: the damage to the top of the coin slot was caused when it was excavated, otherwise it is totally intact. Alas, there were no coins in it when it was unearthed!

Week 46



As long ago as 1839 people have been using stereoscopes such as this one to turn two 2D images into a 3D image. The Human eyes are set a few inches apart to give a slightly different view of an object from each eye. It is this that enables us to judge distance and give perspective. If you look closely at the card of the Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace, you can see that  there is slightly more of the horse and cart (dark area on left hand side) in the right hand image, compared with the left. Stereoscopic images are taken at slightly different points to recreate this effect and trick the brain into thinking that the user is seeing one three-dimensional object. 

Week 45

Print Roller

This 1930s printer’s roller came from Rawlings & Walsh, printers of the Surrey Herald newspaper.

In 1871 Thomas Rawlings, who was 26 at the time, lived with his parents at 29 Windsor Street, Chertsey. The family had moved to the town from Wiltshire where his father had been a cabinet maker and Thomas a master printer. In 1880 he published the Surrey Advertiser & County Times from the Windsor Street address, and in 1892 launched the Surrey Herald. The newspaper continued to be produced on the same site, albeit upgraded in the 1930s, until 1988 when the newspaper moved to new premises in Eastworth Road. The 1930s building was demolished and modern offices built on the Windsor Street/Alwyn’s Lane site.

Week 44

Gas Light Bracket

This ornate gas lamp bracket came from Cartwright’s jewellers shop at 104 Guildford Street. Successive members of the Cartwright family ran the business, part of the White Hart buildings on the site of the Sainsbury’s Centre, from 1840 until the 1970s.

Gas lighting came to Chertsey in 1837, and although most streets in London were gas lit by 1816, it was still unusual to have gas lights in houses until the 1860s when it became fashionable after their installation in the new Houses of Parliament. People were naturally wary of having such a fierce open flame in their homes, and the light from it shone upwards towards the ceiling rather than around the room where it was needed. This problem was solved in 1897 when a gas mantle was invented to burn downwards. However, the first viable incandescent electric light bulb had already been invented by then, and by the end of the First World War became commonplace in homes across the country.

Week 43

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker

Make your own ice cream sandwich with this 1930s Ergos Sheffield gadget for making wafers!

Week 42

Netting Tools

suitcase of netting needles

With these netting needles, cord or string and a lot of patience you have everything you need to make your own garden nets! The same principle of looping and knotting is used to make nets for all purposes, and is a technique that has been perfected over thousands of years.

Week 41

Lucas Bicycle Lamp

Lucas bicycle lamp

Marketed as part of the Lucas “King of the Road” cyclealities range of products, this is a 1920s carbide bicycle lamp.  A carbide lamp has a container with two compartments: one is filled with calcium carbide crystals, the other with water. When the water drips onto the calcium carbide it produces acetylene creating a bright white light. Joseph Lucas Ltd. of Birmingham, were famous for their cyclealities - or cycling accessories. Joseph Lucas started manufacturing hand-lamps and lanterns in 1870 and first produced his “King of the Road” lamps for bicycles in 1878.

Week 40

Grotto Fragment

grotto fragment & teahouse photo

This is a fragment from the grotto that used to stand on St. Ann's Hill, Chertsey. It is lump of cement with shells and quartz crystals embedded in it. The grotto formed the lower storey of a teahouse which was built in 1794 for the owner of the Hill, Charles James Fox.

Charles James Fox was Britain’s first Foreign Secretary and he and his wife, Elizabeth, lived on St. Ann’s Hill from 1781. They loved the Hill and developed the thirty acres of land with pathways, planting of exotic species of trees and shrubs, and adding small buildings such as a summer house and the teahouse and grotto. This became a favourite place for Charles and Elizabeth to take tea and entertain friends. The teahouse was a two-storey building which was open on the north, east and south sides. The interior of the ground floor, the grotto, was decorated with spar, tufa and shells which were brought down from the ceiling to imitate stalactites in a cave. The first floor, reached by a curved stairway on the west wall, opened up onto a small room with a fireplace and a balcony overlooking the newly landscaped gardens. The tearoom was still in reasonable condition in the 1930s, as shown in the photograph, but since then has unfortunately been reduced to a ruin by vandalism.

Grottos, which are natural or made-made caves, were very popular in Ancient Greece and Rome. With a resurgence in all things classical in the 18th century they became a very popular addition to fashionable gardens of the time.

Week 39


South Italian Greek Rhyton

This is a South Italian Greek rhyton or drinking horn dating to the 6th century BC. Rhyta were formed in the shape of animal heads, most commonly bulls, rams or deer, like this one.

These types of vessels were very common in Puglia, the region that forms the “heel” of the boot of Italy. The name rhyton, comes from the Greek rhysis meaning a stream. This is because early examples of these vessels have holes in the animal’s snout so that the wine flowed straight through. Later examples were designed as cups rather than spouts.


Week 38

Silk Fan

Circular fan, 1830

This 19th century silk and brass cockade fan folds out to full circle of green silk which is sewn onto brass sticks. It comes with a brass rod holder which can be attached to the rail of a theatre box or maybe a carriage, allowing the owner to easily pick up and put down the fan. The fan case has `May 2 1830' hand written on the inside of the lid.

Fans are as old as hot weather. The first must have been made from any suitable material that came to hand. As hunter-gatherers became food producers, fans were also used to separate wheat from chaff, and to keep fires burning effectively. At the same time, beautiful ceremonial fans, often made from ostrich plumes, were being produced in Ancient Egypt. The Romans also used fans for various purposes, and early Christians included them in the ritual of mass to keep flies from the Host. By the 14th century decorated fans were being used more generally. Beautiful jewelled feather fans appear frequently in 16th century portraits, and it was during this period that the folding fan, which originated in the Far East, started to appear in the West.

The advent of the folding fan in Western Europe coincided with the beginning of trade with the Orient. A new and sumptuous world of decorated goods was revealed to the West, and a fashion for all things Chinese took hold, reaching its peak in the 18th century. It was not long before high quality folding fans of exquisite design were being made here in the West. In the 17th and 18th centuries, strict rules governed their manufacture. Each section of the fan had to be produced by a different craftsman.

By the 18th century fans were carried as basic accessories by a large proportion of the female population. Fans could be amusing, topical, political, cheap or expensive, and this trend extended into the 19th and early 20th centuries. Different materials such as lace and silk were utilised, and exquisite, highly ornate fans co-existed with mass-produced printed ones. Fans were an excellent means of displaying wealth, elegance and taste. Equally, the shape and size of a fan lent itself to advertising, the dissemination of political slogans, and the commemoration of key events. Today fans are less commonly found in the West where they have lost their fashionable status. Widespread use is once again confined to the Far East, where they continue to fulfill their original purpose of keeping people cool. However, fans are frequently purchased by Western tourists hunting for attractive, lightweight souvenirs which epitomise the elegance of oriental design.

Week 37

Gin Trap

gin trap

This gin trap was used to catch small animals such as rabbit . It has been illegal to use such items since 1958 as they cause the animal untold suffering. The name is thought to come from ’engine’ a word often used to describe any mechanical item.

Gin traps have been around since the 16th century  and are simple, effective and dangerous. They consist of a pair of jaws with a spring and trigger mechanism. The jaws are opened and left in wait for the unsuspecting prey which would step on the plate, trigger the spring which would snap the jaws shut around its leg. Traps of this kind were also manufactured on a larger scale, large enough to trap a person. Man-traps were outlawed in 1827.


Week 36

Shop Till

This is a wooden Gledhill shop till from Ethel Taylor’s greengrocers, Chertsey. George H Gledhill originally ran a millinery business in Yorkshire. In 1886 he invented an automatic cash till and cash displayer to assist with his work. His invention was so successful that by 1892 he had moved premises and was solely making tills, expanding further so that eventually he was running three factories, two in Halifax and one in Huddersfield. In 1912 the firm bought  Frank Brooks time recording business to form Gledhill-Brook Time Recorders Ltd which was a great success. Factory workers up and down the land started their day ‘punching in’ at a Gledhill-Brook time recorder. As with many companies, during the Great War, they turned over production to help the war effort, developing a bomb-release mechanism for the Royal Flying Corp (later the RAF). Similarly during the Second World War they made military equipment including tanks and torpedoes. The company continued to trade until the mid 1970s.

Ethel Taylor’s grocers and florist shop at 8 London Street was run by the Taylor family from at least 1915 to its closure in 2010.


Week 35

Pair of Clogs

This is a pair of women’s clogs dating from c.1720-1740. They are made of leather with shaped sockets to keep the heels in place, and wool-lined leather straps that fasten across the front and would have been secured with a buckle. Clogs provided some protection for shoes when walking through muddy or dusty streets, preventing shoe heels from digging into the ground. Pattens were also worn at this time. They were similar in design to clogs, but gave greater protection as they had an iron ring or four-lobed hoop fixed to the sole, raising the wearer further above the dirt.

In the Olive Matthews Collection is a pair of silk brocade shoes (1735-1745) which are the same size as the clogs and similar in style and fabric, although not an exact match. Olive Matthews purchased the shoes from the Caledonian Road Market in London for half a crown. She was delighted when she found the clogs several weeks later at the same market.


Week 34

Powder Flask

This is a late 19th or early 20th century powder flask used by users of muzzle-loading guns to store gunpowder in whilst out shooting. They come in various shapes but this flattened pear shape, or poire-poudre (powder pear) is the most common. At the neck of the flask there is a measuring device to ensure an accurate amount of gunpowder is dispensed each time.


Week 33


This is an 18th century bourdaloue or boat shaped chamber pot. It was specifically designed to be used by ladies wearing the full skirts, petticoats and hoops that were fashionable at the time. Not to be mistaken for a gravy or sauce boat, the bourdaloue is shaped so that it is easily squeezed between the thighs, discretely hidden under all the clothing! Consider a typical 18th century lady with the wide skirts held out by layers upon layers of petticoat. It would have been very difficult to easily and discretely answer the call of nature. In an age before knickers or bloomers had been invented this was a handy thing to have around.

The origins of the name are unclear, presumably a “lost in translation” name from French. However, myth has it that it was named after the 17th French priest Louis Bourdaloue (1632-1704), renowned for his extremely long sermons which were so long that ladies would need to use a bourdaloue. A mistranslation from the French or a way of the English taking the …. mickey? You decide!

Week 32

Thatcher's Needle

This is a 19th century thatcher’s needle which was used to stitch cord, soaked in tar to give it extra strength and longevity, around the thatching material and onto the rafter or roof battens.

In Britain, thatching, or the use of straw or grasses for roofing, dates back to the Bronze Age when people lived in round houses    with wattle and daub walls. These wooden and mud built dwellings were unable to take the weight of a heavy roof, and thatch was by far the lightest material available at the time. It was also readily available and easily replaced. Whilst grand buildings of stone construction might use tiles, the majority of buildings would have been thatched right up until the 19th century. With improvements in transportation during the late 18th and early 19th centuries it was possible to move heavier building materials greater distances, and so Welsh slate became the fashion. This coincided with the use of combine harvesters which made the wheat straw unusable for thatch. The impracticalities of a straw roof in an urban setting combined with cheaper alternatives meant that thatching fell out of favour.


Week 31

Pathéscope Cine Projector

This 9.5mm Pathéscope "Ace" hand turned cine projector, launched in November 1935 it was designed to be a portable high quality way to show home cinema. It was the must-have Christmas present that year, with Pathéscope also selling a small projection screen for 4s 6d and a range of films including Mickey Mouse cartoons.

The projector originally sold for 37s 6d and was made in Britain, a proud boast given that previous Pathéscope had been designed and manufactured in France. It weighed 4.5lbs and could produce a good quality picture up to 24 inches (60cm) wide.

The original “Ace” was phased out during 1939 and when it was re-advertised in at the end of the 1940s it had been changed significantly.


Week 30

Vagrants' Plate

This is a vagrants' plate from the old Chertsey workhouse. In return for a roof over their heads and basic food the people consigned to the workhouse had a number of tasks to undertake. A vagrant would queue up each night to be admitted and would leave the following morning – once they had completed their tasks as payment for the overnight stay. A vagrant would be given a certain weight of rocks to break down into smaller pieces. When all the rocks were small enough to pass through this grille they would be allowed to leave.

In medieval times monasteries such as Chertsey Abbey were the main source of relief for the poor, sick or infirm in the area. With their dissolution in the 16th century there was no-one to help, and so the Act for the Relief of the Poor was passed in 1597 which introduced a compulsory tax. Each parish was responsible for taking care of its elderly and helpless population, and by the 18th century they were empowered to build workhouses. Between the passing of the Workhouse Act of 1723 and 1776 over 2,000 workhouses were built throughout England. The Chertsey Workhouse was built in 1726 on the site that is now Chertsey Station.

When the parishes from Walton-on-Thames to Windlesham, which included Chobham and Horsell) were joined under the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, the building of new, larger workhouses was encouraged. The old workhouse was sold off and a new one was built in Ottershaw in 1837 to replace the smaller parish workhouses. It was built in what was then known as Spinney Road, now Union Road, by Benjamin Butler of Chertsey to a design by Sampson Kempthorne, architect to the Poor Law Commissioners. It cost the princely sum of £4,277. The main block contained male and female ‘paupers’ quarters’ with a dining room behind, with wings for younger men and women and a separate infirmary. Later on more land along Spinney Road was bought, and a new infirmary, laundry, workshops, porter’s lodge, tramps’ ward and a school (behind the present Brook Hall) were erected. At the time of the 1871 census there were 177 male and 102 female ‘paupers’, including six with babies and 38 scholars. People who were considered to be “quiet ‘mental defectives’” were also admitted.

In 1920 the Poor Law Unions, with their Guardians, were abolished, and the Poor Law Institute was renamed Murray House and converted into a home for the ‘mentally handicapped’, with close links to Botleys Park.    

Week 29

Glove Stretchers

These 19th century glove stretchers were a must have in Victorian society. They were used to restore the shape of the fingers of gloves after they had been laundered. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries ladies were not properly dressed if they were not wearing gloves. Long, short, day, evening, gloves were an important dress accessory. Traditionally stretchers were made of rosewood, boxwood or ebony, although examples of ivory or bone stretchers can also be found. 

Week 28

Nutmeg Grater

This is an acorn shaped, 18th century nutmeg grater made of wood and ivory.

The spice nutmeg as many uses, both culinary and medicinal, and was highly prized for many centuries. The 1st century Roman writer Pliny details the use of nutmeg and other spices as incense, burned in the streets of Rome. The tree, Myristica fragrans, is native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia and yields two spices: nutmeg and mace. In the 6th century nutmeg were traded by Arab dealers who introduced it to Europe. Whoever controlled the Banda Islands controlled the nutmeg and mace trade. Limiting access to it increased its value, and so by the 14th century a pound of nutmeg was worth the same as three sheep. Of course, the spices were traded illegally by smugglers - as were the plants and so by the 18th century the trees could be found in British run Malaysia and French run Mauritius.

Nutmeg seeds are very hard and so are normally grated into cooking. It is the main spice used in pumpkin pie and is a vital ingredient in mulled wine!

Week 27

Tea Caddy

This is an early 19th century octagonal, black and gold lacquer tea caddy. Its two interior compartments are lined with beaten tin/lead alloy known as “tea pewter”.

Tea first came to Britain from China in the middle of the 17th century. Queen Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705), wife of Charles II and (for a brief time) Chertsey resident, is credited with the introduction of tea drinking to Britain. It was imported from abroad and as such was a valuable commodity, so much so that if you were lucky enough to be able to afford to buy it you kept it locked away in a tea caddy. The term caddy derives from “kati”, a Malay word for the unit of weight that tea was sold in. 

As demand for tea increased during the 18th and 19th centuries caddies became a fashionable, popular household item, but by the end of the 19th century tea could be bought pre-packaged and so there was no longer the need for fancy caddies.


Week 26

American Flag

This American flag was presented to Chertsey Town F.C. in 1982 by Reston Shamrock Soccer Team, Virginia, USA. It comes with a letter of thanks from Coach Kramer and a certificate of authentication. The letter reads:

This certifies that the American flag presented to you today was flown over the United States Capitol, in Washington D.C. on July 9, 1982. The Reston Shamrock Soccer Team requested that this flag be flown over the Capitol specifically for the Chertsey Football Club, and is presented to you as a symbol of our appreciation for all of your efforts on our behalf in making our European tour a complete success.

We are very grateful for all the kindness and hospitality you extended to us during our stay in Surrey, and for the many times you and your host families went out of your way to make our stay in England even more pleasant. The time you have spent planning for and participating in our trip is sincerely appreciated and perhaps in the near future we, the Reston Shamrocks, will have the opportunity to return the favour and host the Chertsey Football Club in America.


Week 25

Feeding Bottle

This is a blue Stafford torpedo-shaped ceramic feeding bottle, c.1855. Milk was poured into the large circular hole to fill the feeder, and a cork or rag was used to close it off.

Feeding bottles were commonly used during the 18th and 19th century. In an age where somewhere in the region of 5% of births resulted in maternal mortality, there were many children who needed to be bottle fed. However, the milk given to the child was often contaminated, and the shape of the feeders made cleaning difficult. Bacteria could build up in the traces of milk left behind causing sickness and even death to the baby. 


Week 13

Fireman's Helmet

This brass Chertsey Fire Brigade helmet has a detachable brass badge, and was given to the museum with a pair of brass epaulettes.

In the mid 19th century firefighters wore leather helmets for protection against ash and falling debris, but in the late 1860s they were replaced with metal ones.

The brass Merryweather-style helmet was based on the headwear of French Sapeurs-pompiers and was first introduced into Britain in 1868. It remained in use until 1936-1938 when it was replaced by helmets made of compressed cork and rubber. These were much more practical than the heavy brass helmets, and much safer. As more and more homes had electricity it wasn't wise to wear conductive, metal helmets.

Week 12


These are a pair of spats or short gaiters made of buff coloured wool. They were donated to the museum by Mr Johnston who ran a gentleman’s outfitters at 5 High Street, Addlestone, from 1910 until he retired in the mid-1960s.

Spatterdashes, or spats for short, were primarily worn by men in the late 19th century to protect their shoes and socks from mud and rain. As time progressed into the early part of the 20th century they became a fashion item associated with the wealthy and well-to-do, as immortalised in Irving Berlin’s classic, Puttin’ on the Ritz

Have you seen the well-to-do
Up on Lenox Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air
High hats and arrowed collars 
White spats and fifteen dollars
Spending every dime
For a wonderful time

If you're blue and you don't know where to go to
Why don't you go where harlem sits
Puttin' on the Ritz

Spats fell out of favour in the mid 1930s but their demise had started almost a decade before when, in 1926, King George V appeared at the opening of the Chelsea Flower Show without them. Rumour has it that as soon as spectators registered the omission they too discarded their spats, which could be found littering shrubbery across the Show! There was also a practical reason for their loss of popularity; with cleaner streets there was no longer a need for them.

Week 11

Roman Strainer sherd

This pottery sherd dates to the 1st century AD and is from a carinated (rounded base with inward sloping sides) bowl rim with a spout and strainer. It was recovered from the Thames near Magna Carta Island in the late 1990s during dredging work.

Bowls such as this were in use in Britain before the Roman occupation, but they tended to be in bronzework, whereas the earliest ceramic examples date from c.30AD. These bowls were initially used to strain local drinks such as beers.

Archaeological evidence from the Roman fort at Vindolanda, on Hadrian’s Wall, shows that the soldiers stationed there drank a lot of ale! Military accounts written on wooden tablets have been unearthed there, and at other forts along the defence, which give details of the ceruese (beer) the soldiers bought from local brewers.

Week 10

Fire Mark

This is a copper fire mark of the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society which was established in 1797.

In 1666 the Great Fire of London resulted in disastrous losses to buildings and possessions, and at the time there were no insurance companies.  By the end of that century the Fire Office (which became the Phoenix Fire Officer), the Friendly Society and the Amicable Contributors for Insuring Loss by Fire (latterly the Hand in Hand) had established themselves in business. During the 18th century and onwards to the present day, many more insurance companies were formed to mitigate against all sorts of losses.

At a time, in the 18th century, when house building was often unplanned and rather haphazard, buildings often had no street number. Therefore, it was necessary for insurance companies to distinguish which of the many houses they had a policy against. Hence the need for a fire mark bearing the company’s emblem and the policy number. Initially these marks were made of lead but were soon replaced by cheaper copper marks. If the policy lapsed, the mark was removed.

These marks were also important when it came to putting out any fires at the property. The catastrophic events of 1666 also resulted in improvements to the way fires were tackled and an improvement in the availability of firefighting equipment. The Fire Office realised that if they had their own, organised, fire brigade then maybe they could put out the fire and limit the amount of damage done. These small fire brigades continued until the mid-19th century when ten insurance companies came together to form the London Fire Engine Establishment, and even up until the early part of the 20th century some still existed in the provinces.

Week 7

Woolly Mammoth Tooth

Woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) roamed Europe, parts of Asia and parts of North America 400,000 years ago but became extinct c.12,000 years ago. They were the size of today's African elephants but were very woolly indeed!

These enormous creatues could be up tp 9ft (2.75m) tall with up to 16ft.(5m) long tusks which helped them to dig up vegetation in the frozen tundra of the last ice age. They had four molars which they replaced up to six time throughout their lifetime, so these teeth are not that uncommon to find. 

Week 6

Tobacco Jar

This lead tobacco jar with a fox on the lid belonged to Mrs Miles who lived in Eastworth Road, Chertsey, at the turn of the 20th century. Lead jars were first introduced in the 1750s and remained popular until the 1900s. They nearly always had an animal or a person on the lid.

Week 5

The Pedlar Doll

This is one of the most popular objects in the collection and was much played with by Olive herself when she was a young girl.

Pedlar dolls (also know as Dutch dolls, a misnomer as they were made in Austria but sold from Germany; hence Deutsch corruption to Dutch) were a popular child’s toy in the 18th and early 19th centuries and were accompanied by the wares they would sell, such as matches, books, candles etc. Olive’s doll is very traditional in its construction and dress, it is the wares which she sells which mark her out as exceptional. These include candlesticks, shovels, timepieces and candle snuffers and are all made of solid silver. They probably date from the late Stuart to early Georgian period with one piece, the two-handled dish, thought to date from the 1660s. Clearly these items are not original to the doll, but are thought to be from a doll's house.

The doll and her wares had already had an interesting history before it came to be owned by Olive. It had been owned by the Sassoon family, the wealthy family of bankers related through marriage to the Rothschild and was bought by Olive’s mother from the Sassoon collection (it is not known how and when the doll was bought). It was to be a treasured possession of Olive’s both as a toy when she was a child and as a rare object when she was an adult.

The elevation of what was when new a rather a pedestrian doll into an extraordinary example of its kind through its associated precious objects may have amused Olive as she grew out of childhood and may have even been an inspiration to Olive in her acquisition of rare and beautiful objects.

Week 4

Unmarked figurine of Charles James Fox, c.1850

Charles James Fox  (1749-1806)

Charles James Fox was born in 1749, the third and favourite son of Henry Fox, later Lord Holland.  From an early age Fox became infatuated with gambling, losing small fortunes at cards, such debts were always settled by his father.

With his father’s assistance he entered parliament at 19, before the legal age, as MP for the pocket Borough of Midhurst in Sussex.  Later, as MP for Westminster, Fox established a reputation as an eloquent political orator, speaking in support of civil liberty.  He was appointed Foreign Minister under King George III.

In 1778 Fox purchased a thirty-acre property on St. Ann’s Hill with commanding views of the surrounding countryside.  The house was ‘a plain irregular building, of no architectural importance … The gardens and pleasure grounds are laid out with great taste’ with ‘a small Temple’ and ‘a very neat grotto’.  Fox spent much time in this rural retreat away from the intrigues of political life in London.  Fox’s house was demolished in 1937, though two of Fox’s garden buildings still survive.

In 1782, a young German schoolmaster, Carl Philipp Moritz, during a visit to England, described Fox, ‘This same celebrated Charles Fox is a short, fat, and gross man with a swarthy complexion and dark; and in general he is badly dressed.’

He later aided his friend the Prince Regent, in his attempt to gain power during the illness of George III.  On returning to parliament in 1806, after a break of almost a decade, he strongly opposed the slave trade, but became ill and died of dropsy in the same year.  He had wished to be buried at Chertsey, but his friends considered his memory would be more honoured at Westminster Abbey.

Week 3

Day Dress by Redfern, c.1911

This stunning day gown is made from figured velvet and silk satin. It was made by the high status couture house of Redfern Ltd whose premises were located at 26 Conduit Street, London. The business was founded  around 1850. It eventually closed in 1940. Redfern was famous for quality tailoring, particularly women’s sportswear such as riding habits. It also produced beautiful day wear such as this piece. From around 1908 it led the way in producing women’s clothing in the columnar ‘Grecian’ style. This garment is an excellent example of this new silhouette.

 The dress is extremely complex in construction with a multitude of press-studs and hooks and eyes holding it in place, making it impossible to put on without assistance. It incorporates a hobble skirt with a slight train, a common style for day dress during this period. The fashion for the extremely impractical hobble skirt is attributed to the esteemed fashion designer Paul Poiret, who once famously stated that he had “shackled” women’s legs with his designs. Women had to take very small steps when walking and some even wore garters around their knees to prevent them from taking too large a stride.