2015 is a year for anniversaries at Chertsey Museum. Of course there are the national commemorations for events such as the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, the 75th anniversary of the sailing of the Little Ships to Dunkirk and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, not to mention the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta. Not to be left out of this year of festivities, Chertsey Museum is celebrating two anniversaries of its own - 50 years of the museum and 21 years of The Friends!
Over the last half a century the museum has been incredibly fortunate to have the support of the local community; our official and unofficial Friends. Without their hard work raising the profile of the museum, raising funds and coming along to events we would not have been able to achieve many of the projects we have done. From past experience we know that when we ask for your help you come to our aid, and we hope this time will be no exception!
To mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of Chertsey Museum we are staging an exhibition in September called 50 Favourite Objects, and we need suggestions from you! Are you partial to our pedlar doll? Do you have a crush on one of our clocks? Or maybe you hanker after our doll’s house? Whatever it is, let us know, and if you’re not sure what your favourite object is take a look at our online collections database at www.chertseymuseum.org/search_collection. Once you have picked one, or maybe two, of your favourites either let us know by email or complete the form enclosed and return it to us before 25th July.
The second project we need help on is for an exhibition in 2016. That might seem a long way off, but it will soon be here!
In the spring next year we are planning an exhibition on the origins of some of the Borough’s street names. Some of them, like Abbey Road or School Lane, may be easy to trace but others might be more complicated. So, can you spare us some of your time to look through our maps and records to see how far back your street existed? Or maybe you are able to visit the County archives at the Surrey History Centre, Woking, to investigate there. There are over 1,300 streets, roads, avenues and lanes in the Borough so any help would be greatly appreciated! Get in touch by email at [email protected] or complete the enclosed form and return it to us. Thank you all in advance!
Fashioning the Past
Education staff Sally Turner and Heidi Dawley and Grace Evans, Keeper of Costume, have recently been involved in an exciting new initiative which is all about connecting schools with museum objects. Called Learning on My Doorstep, it builds upon the extensive Education work the museum already does and helps us to reach out to students in secondary education - an area where we are keen to build links. On a busy morning in May, a group of gifted and talented children from Warwick School in Redhill came for a tailored visit. To complement work they are doing to create a pop-up museum on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in their school library, they wanted to learn all about Regency Fashion and how to be a curator.
This was a chance to get out some beautiful early 19th century costume items from the Olive Matthews Collection. They learnt all about the garments and accessories worn by both men and women during the early 1800s, getting up close and personal with real pieces from the reserve collections. They also gathered lots of information on how to curate an exhibition, using the current fashion displays as inspiration. After doing their research, students were then able to get hands-on; making a variety of exhibits for their museum which were inspired by the items they had seen. They decorated fans in neo-classical style, drew patterns for waistcoat fronts and, ably assisted by volunteer Barbara Prowle, created wonderful bonnets decked with silk, ribbons and feathers. We are looking forward to seeing the final exhibition of their work when the pop-up museum comes into being.
Runnymede Remembered Project Update
Whilst our year of commemorating the fallen of Runnymede is drawing to an end, the project to record the First World War in the borough through the Surrey Herald newspaper is continuing. For nearly two years we have been photographing any reference to the Great War that appeared in the press at the time to give us an extremely valuable archive of material. Thanks to funding by The Friends of Chertsey Museum we are now able to make this compendium of c.4,000 images available to all online. Working with our website designers, Surface Impression, we hope to have all this resource up and running by the autumn. The project will see the information that is currently available in the exhibition available to anyone, anywhere.
Meanwhile, we are still working with volunteers Jim Knight and Judith Norman to photograph and index further editions of the local newspaper which are part of the collections of Egham Museum. We have just started photographing 1921 and, whilst mentions of individuals serving and killed in action ceased some time before, the reports of local wrangling over how best to remember the Fallen makes for interesting reading!
The exhibition Runnymede Remembered runs until mid August 2015
The Friends of Chertsey Museum
Dear Museum Friends
Seven months into my term as Chair of the Friends and I am pleased to say it has been a very active time, with a number of informative, interesting and often fun events being available and which have been very well supported.
The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta (MC) has of course been Emma and her team’s focus over the past few months. The opening of the ‘Freedom under Law’ exhibition, our day with Baron Harding (Paul from Discover History) and our visit to Salisbury Cathedral for a guided tour of the cathedral and their MC exhibition were all excellent events. We also have the Thorpe Players providing a MC skit and Richard Williams (Vice-Chairman of the Egham-by-Runnymede Historical Society) giving a lecture on the very local aspects of MC.
Some future events the Friends are also supporting are:
- 14th June Join us 3-5pm for our Magna Carta Liber Tea, an afternoon of music from the Addlestone Singers, tea and cakes as the nation sits down to celebrate their liberties (tickets £4)
- 20th June Runnymede Association of Arts (RAA) showcase from 6.30pm at Chertsey Hall, as a local society the FoCM will have a stand (a free event)
- 27th June The ‘60s Fashion Phenomenon talk by Sylvia Ayton, designer, 2-3.30pm (tickets £4 or £3 for Friends)
- 11th July The museum will have a presence on the Abbey Field at this year’s Black Cherry Fair (BCF), including a 'monk’ teddy bear trail, and an article in the BCF programme to encourage people to visit the museum as a ‘free addition’ to their day out.
The Friends celebrate their 21st anniversary this year and as this also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the opening of a Museum in Chertsey, the committee have decided to mark this occasion by donating a gift to the museum – our Vice-Chairman Victor Spink has raised a number of suggestions and these are being considered; I will let you know the outcome.
I look forward to seeing some of you at the above mention occasions.
Magna Carta to the Masses
Magna Carta fever has definitely hit the Borough with over 65 booking in June alone for our school’s assembly about the events at Runnymede. That means that education casuals Denise Wakeford and Euan Roger are delivering sessions daily and sometimes twice or three times a day! So we owe them a big thank you for helping us meet the demand, and also to Sally and Heidi who have handled all the bookings. The interest doesn’t stop there as we have Cub and Scout groups visiting us too and, at the beginning of June, we were even visited by His Excellency, Mr. Ranjan Mathai, the Indian High Commissioner.
Mr. Mathai was one of the individuals kind enough to agree to be interviewed about the importance of Magna Carta to the Indian Constitution for our current exhibition, and he was given a tour of Runnymede by the Mayor, Cllr. Derek Cotty.
A New Angle
The last of our guest loans has arrived in our exhibition, Magna Carta: Freedom Under Law. The Anglesey Magna Carta is loan to us from Monday 1st June until Saturday 4th July so come and see it while you can!
Two hundred years ago the nation was getting ready to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, and a book was published to mark this momentous event. The Anglesey Magna Carta is one of these books. Using a secret process, the publisher, John Whittaker, devised a means of printing using gold leaf. It hence, in 1816, became the first book to be printed in gold – in honour of the Great Charter of Liberty.
This magnificent copy of this ground-breaking book is known as the Anglesey Magna Carta as it belonged to Lord Fairhaven of Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. In 1929 the site of Runnymede was threatened by development and so Urban Broughton, a wealthy Anglo-American, bought the site for the nation. His generosity earned him a peerage but he sadly died later that year before the title could be conferred. Instead, his eldest son became Lord Fairhaven and, in 1931, he and his mother presented Runnymede to the National Trust in his father’s memory.
A Fond Farewell
In mid June we said farewell to Museum Assistant Rosemary Christian after many years of service. Rosemary is our longest serving member of staff having first joined the museum team in early 2000.
Over the years Rosemary was most often found in our Research Room helping visitors with their enquiries, but she has performed an even more vital role for the museum. It was Rosemary’s task to catalogue all the objects that enter the museum and record their details to go on our database. Since she took over this role in 2003 she has accessioned over 4,000 objects into the collection!
We all wish Rosemary a happy and relaxing retirement, but know that she’ll be back to see us regularly!
Our heartiest congratulations and best wishes to Doreen Weavers who was recognised for her work with the elderly of the Borough at the recent Runnymede Volunteering Awards. Doreen, shown here (on right) at our Memory Box Café which she runs, also delivers reminiscence sessions on our behalf to groups across the area.
The Memory Box Café is a dedicated drop-in cafe offering free afternoon tea and cake to people living with dementia and their carers. As you can see, there are activities to do or just people to chat with so if you are a carer, why not pop along? The Memory Box Café take place on the third Friday of each month from 2pm to 3.30pm.