August 2014 marks the centenary of outbreak of The Great War and we are remembering the sacrifices made by the fallen heroes of the Borough. In total nearly 600 men from Addlestone, Chertsey, Egham, New Haw, Ottershaw, Thorpe and the other Runnymede villages gave their lives during the conflict.
Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War grant stream, Chertsey Museum is able to organise a programme of activities and events to commemorate the War.
Work has started on a major research project to record the details of the 1914-1918 conflict as it was reported in the Surrey Herald newspapers at the time. Volunteer Jim Knight, author of a book about Addlestone’s Victory Park war memorial, is painstakingly photographing each reference in the rather fragile editions at Egham Museum. The images are then transferred to Chertsey where museum staff and volunteer Judith Norman are recording the details
into a vast spreadsheet. So, when the project is complete, we will have somewhere in the region of 4,000 images and an index of all the names, places and events for visitors to view when researching their family history.
We will also be staging an exhibition in the summer detailing the War in the Borough and the impact it had on its residents, and we will be holding two events. The first, in June, is a trip to the Royal British Legion Poppy Factory on Richmond Hill (full details nearer the time), and on 20th September we will be hosting a First World War re-enactment on Abbeyfields. The day will enable visitors to learn more about the life of a Tommy in the trenches, with actors telling tales from the Front. There will also be a replica bi-plane, modelled on those that flew over enemy territories; of which 80% had propellers made at the Lang's factory in Addlestone.
The grant from the HLF has also enabled us to work with the re-enactors to provide free visits to local schools to help bring the history of the Great War to life for a new generation who owe so much to the fallen of the Borough.
Chertsey Museum is grateful to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Runnymede Borough Council, the Friends of Chertsey Museum, and to Jim Knight, Judith Norman and all who have made this project possible.
Adding to the Treasures of the Olive Matthews Collection
The Olive Matthews Collection Trust have added to their considerable and important fashion collection this winter with a few judicious purchases at auction. From time to time it is considered appropriate to invest in items that fill gaps in the collection, whilst always adhering to our strict collecting policy.
We were successful in bidding for three pieces at the ‘Passion For Fashion’ sale held by Kerry Taylor Auctions in London on December 3rd. These include a rare and important pair of sleeve puffers from around 1830, worn to support the enormously wide sleeves that were fashionable during the late 1820s and early 1830s. They are made from heavily stiffened cotton calico.
We also purchased a wonderfully stylish 1940 evening dress by couturier Agnes Drecoll and a stunning evening gown from 2007 by the controversial designer Alexander McQueen (see right).
Look out for these items in our forthcoming exhibition Fashion Statements which opens in the Autumn.
Thank You & See You Soon!
After nearly 17 years as a Museum Assistant we are saying goodbye to Margaret Hunt at the end of March. She is very much the face of Chertsey Museum, the person who greets you when you visit, the person who answers your enquiries when you telephone!
Margaret has been an invaluable member of the team, supporting the museum through the refurbishment of 2002, taking up the challenge of an ever expanding museum service, developing the shop and caring for the garden. After all this, she has decided to retire and put her feet up - well, not exactly! She has very kindly offered to come back as a volunteer and continue maintaining the garden, with one exception. Margaret is very glad that she will no longer be responsible for mowing the grass! Everyone at Chertsey Museum would like to take this opportunity to thank Margaret for all her hard work over the years, and we look forward to greeting her in a new capacity in April!
Pull the Other One - it’s got bells on!
In January a new temporary exhibition about the history of bell making in Runnymede opened to the public. Curated by Malcolm S. Loveday, Chairman of The Chertsey Society and Tower Captain of St. Peter’s Church, it tells the story of Eldridges which made bells at their Chertsey foundry from c. 1619 to 1716.
On display, amongst other things, is one of the earliest bell ringers books in the country. Dating from 1760, it has been loaned to us by Horsham Museum which has an interest in bells because the Eldridge family also had a foundry in their town.
The exhibition includes a short film of the legend of Blanch Heriot and the Curfew bell.
The Friends of Chertsey Museum
We may have had too much rain during the past couple of months, and have been inconvenienced by it, but the good news is that the weather will eventually get back to normal and we can look forward to sunshine during the spring and enjoy a great Black Cherry Fair in July!
The Friends are still in need of a Membership Secretary. Ideally, we do need a person who can drop in to the museum occasionally and deal with any membership queries that may arise. Perhaps the busy period are the months of September and October when members' send in their subscriptions and these need to be formally recorded. However, the rest of the year is generally quiet, so it’s not too onerous! If you feel you can help, or if you would need anymore information please get in touch.
Do come along and enjoy the new display at the museum on Eldridge bell foundry and I look forward to seeing you for our First World War day on Abbeyfield later during the year.
Derek Weston, Chairman
Evening Craft Activities for Adults
Looking ahead to warmer months our evening craft activities for adults are back by popular demand. These proved to be very well received last year and we hope to encourage more crafting converts to join us. No previous experience is needed, and all materials are provided. All you need to bring with you is a tipple of your choice (wine glasses and nibbles provided) and your creativity!
The first evening session of the year is on Friday 14th March, 7pm to 9pm, when we will be making a bag from a recycled pillowcase! This will be followed on 28th March with a chance to make stamped greeting cards with ombré effect (graduating dyed) backgrounds, and on 25th April with another recycling project, this time making cloth bunting ready for your summer garden parties. The fourth session on 23rd May will see you making a fabulous bowl out of old t-shirts!
Each activity costs £8 per person but there is a discount for members of The Friends of Chertsey Museum (£7 per session). So, if you’re not already a member there’s even more incentive to join up! Friends membership forms are available on our website; www.chertseymuseum.org/friends or at the museum. For more information, or to book a place, please contact the museum.
All materials are provided, although donations of old t-shirts (for the bowls), men’s shirts or other striped/check fabric (buntings) or pillowcases (bags) would be greatly appreciated!
Curious about Carson or hooked on Hudson?!
Has the style and glamour of Downtown Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs inspired you to find out more about the daily life of an Edwardian butler? If so, then we have just the event for you!
On Saturday 8th March you will be able to meet our very own Edwardian butler, Paul from Discover History, who will talk you through his day, from tips on how to keep the silver sparkling to how to lay a table for dinner. These two talks can be booked separately or as a whole day event. The day will start with morning coffee followed by the first session on housekeeping duties and the tips of the trade. After lunch (not included), our attention will turn to entertaining in an Edwardian house.
Programme for the Day
10.30 Tea/coffee on arrival
11.00 Tips of the trade - housekeeping tips from our Edwardian butler
12.30 Break for lunch (not included)
1.30 Tea/coffee on arrival
2.00 Entertaining in an Edwardian country house - talk & demonstration
Cost: both sessions £12.50 (Friends £10) or one session £7.50 (Friends £6)
Places contact the museum on 01932 565 765 to check availability and book your place.
Payment can be taken over the phone for all events. If you leave a message regarding this event please state if it is one or both sessions you are enquiring about, and let us know if you’re a Friend to claim your discount!
Chertsey Museum has an ever expanding collection of items relating to the history of the Borough of Runnymede. The vast majority of these objects have been given to us over the years. Here are a few of the newer additions to the collection:
- An engraving of Queen Catherine of Braganza, who owned Hardwick Court Farm, Chertsey, from 1666 until her death in 1705.
- A collection of items relating to Fan Court School and the Festival of Britain in 1951.
- Coloured pencil drawing of Ryall Cottage, Chertsey.
- Collection of letters, detailing a local mother’s quest to track down the remains of her son, Charles Longland, who was killed in action during the Second World War.
- Collection of papers, blueprints and diagrams relating to tanks designed by Borough resident William Kilbourn during both World Wars.
- An engraving of Charles James Fox, seated in his library at St Ann’s Hill, Chertsey. Fox was Britain’s first Foreign Secretary and resident in Chertsey from 1778 until his death in 1806.