Autumn 2013

A Decade of Success

Over 85,000 visitors through the doors, an additional 57,000 school children inspired by history, 69 exhibitions, over 75,000 contracted staff hours and well over 12,000 volunteer hours - that’s what it takes to make a decade in the life of your borough museum!

On 23rd September 2003, Chertsey Museum was officially re-opened by HRH Duke of Gloucester after a year-long refurbishment project which saw an overhaul of the Georgian townhouse as well as the installation of a lift, and the construction of an education room and new reception area. The project, funded by the Olive Matthews Collection Trust and Runnymede Borough Council, was the springboard needed to re-launch the museum and expand the services offered.

In the past decade we have strengthened our core services with an increased number of exhibitions and events. We have created a new gallery in the former museum shop to display a fine array of shoes, hats and other accessories. The fashion gallery has been refitted with high quality cases that ensure the very best care of the collection, and the local history gallery has won awards for its accessibility and novel approach to display. We have increased the number of resources on offer to schools and introduced a reminiscence or memory box service for the elderly of the borough. We have launched a young archaeology club, an under 5s club, as well as an adult craft group and have increased our virtual presence with a new website and Smartphone app.

In the forthcoming years we aim to build further on this and extend our reminiscence service, provide online resources to support teachers with curriculum changes, and continue with a range of exhibitions celebrating local and national events and people.

None of the decade of achievements could have been realised without the support of Runnymede Borough Council, the Olive Matthews Collection Trust, the Friends of Chertsey Museum, and staff and volunteers past and present. Thank you to you all, and here’s to the next ten years!


Farewell to all That: new exhibition & publication

This year’s Olive Matthew’s Fashion Exhibition opened on 11th September and pays homage to that quintessentially English era of the Edwardians. Farewell To All That details the years from the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 to the outbreak of war in 1914, a period looked back on with a sense of romantic nostalgia. Often portrayed as a time of luxury and privilege it was also a time of great social and political change.

The sumptuous garments worn in the decades before the conflict are explored through iconic pieces of underwear, sports clothing, daywear and dazzling evening dress from the Olive Matthews Collection. Items of particular interest are two diaphanous tea-gowns, rigidly boned corsets, a complete tennis outfit and a voluminous lady’s bathing costume. Eveningwear includes a lavish opera coat attributed to seminal designer Paul Poiret and a stunning salmon pink satin evening gown with a long, sweeping train.

This year Grace Evans, Keeper of Costume, has written a catalogue to accompany the exhibition which is on sale in the shop for £2. The publication, funded by the Olive Matthews Collection Trust, has extended text from the exhibition as well as a detailed catalogue of the fashion on display. This is the first time such a publication has been produced by the museum and we hope that it will prove a popular addition to our bookshop.


Chertsey War Damage Incident Map 1939 - 1945

Those of you who are visitors to our Research Room on the top floor of the museum will be familiar with our War Damage Incident Map which is displayed there. It plots the location where high explosive and incendiary bombs, as well as V1 and V2 rockets landed in the old Chertsey Urban District Area during the Second World War.

The information for the map was painstakingly gathered, night after night, by the team of volunteers who made up the civil defence in this area. In 1951 their reports were used by CUDC to compile this map. It is an extremely popular object with both old and young who are fascinated to see the amount of damage the Borough sustained during the conflict and so, it is now possible to have your very own copy of the map to cherish!

Copies are available in the museum shop priced £9.45, but don’t forget, members of The Friends of Chertsey Museum get a 10% discount when they show their membership card!

To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War next year, Chertsey Museum is collecting information regarding the residents of the Borough  who fought and died for their Country between 1914 and 1918.

Their names are listed on memorials across Runnymede but who were the people?  Please help us put a face to the names.

We are interested in hearing from anyone who has photographs of their relatives who lived in the Borough and who fought in the War, or who assisted with the war effort in other ways. The information gathered will form part of an exhibition which is planned for May 2014.


Evening Craft Activities for Adults

Over the summer we have held a series of new, and very popular, evening craft activities especially for adults. Our monthly Fun With Fabric sessions, which are held on the third Friday of each month, have been going for nearly three years and so we felt it was time to expand the experience so that those who can not join us during the day can also come along and join in!

The next three evening craft activities are on 25th October when Benta Hickley will be showing everyone how to make a chicken pin cushion; 15th November when Claire Jackson will be getting in the festive mood with Christmas cards using mica powders; and 29th November when Benta returns to get creative with cushions!

Sessions run from 7pm to 9pm and cost £8 per person/session.  All materials are provided, and no prior knowledge or skills are required - please book in advance.

The Friends of Chertsey Museum

Dear Friends

We had a good day for the Black Cherry Fair this year. The event brought about 150 persons through the door to enjoy refreshments, and the music and the bubbles blowing through the garden.

The museum also hosted a beer tasting evening with a  local microbrewery providing a speaker to talk on the craft of beer production. We also enjoyed three samples of different types during the evening as well as having the opportunity to buy what we tried, plus other varieties too!

Our AGM is on Wednesday 30th October at the Museum.  The Friends will be looking for a new Membership Secretary, in particular, and for other committee members too. So, if you’re able to give up 4 to 6 evenings a year and would like to support the committee do let me know, we’d be pleased to welcome you on-board!

Derek Weston, Chairman

Remember When ...?

Thanks to a grant from Runnymede Borough Council, as a result of public-private partnership funding, we are able to offer Borough care facilities free reminiscence sessions for the elderly. Working with Erica Boylett, RBC’s Community Links Officer, Chertsey Museum staff will be visiting Borough independent living centres with our memory boxes.

Reminiscence work is more than just a chance for a group of elderly people to get together and have a ‘in my day’ style natter, although it is enjoyable to do that. The sessions give the elderly and dementia and stroke patients objects from their past to handle which then spark an interest and evoke memories with proven health benefits – whether that be in the act of remembering, encouraging group interaction to combat isolation, or developing motor skills.  

These free sessions will be lead by one of our specifically trained education team using our memory boxes on themes such as going out, holidays, schooldays and toys. So, if you run a Borough care facility and would like to book a free session, please get in touch with our education department on 01932 575 374. Unfortunately the funding only allows us to offer free sessions within the Borough of Runnymede, however, fear not, if you’re based a little further away we will still be able to arrange reminiscence sessions for you.

For more details please phone or email the museum on [email protected] for a service catalogue and details of how to book.


Museum Smartphone App Launched

Thanks to support from a Heritage Lottery Fund’s All Our Stories grant we now have a museum app! All Our Stories was created as a way to fund projects that helped local people connect with their heritage, and what better way to do it than literally getting connected.

Anyone with a smartphone can go on to the Google Play or App Store sites and download it for free. Then they’ll be able to access historic photographs from the museum’s collection.

Initially we launched with a series of photographs of shops in Chertsey, but we have just added the next theme - Borough pubs!

To help users we have also had free Wi-Fi installed at the museum, thanks to The Friends of Chertsey Museum and the Olive Matthews Collection Trust. It is hoped that this will encourage people to download the app without having to worry about their data usage. It will also enable us to take the app one step further and develop it into a gallery guide. Plans are afoot for 2014 for additional information about the objects on display to be made available via visitors’ smartphones. Instead of using handheld audio guides which are now common place at heritage sites, similar information can be made available using visitors phones. So, if you needed an excuse to upgrade your current mobile phone, perhaps this is the incentive you need!