Winter 2012/13

Putting Us On The Map

We are very pleased to announce that The Friends of Chertsey Museum have received funding for an exciting new Chertsey Museum App.

Work has already started on developing a Smartphone application (app) which will enable users to view items in the museum’s photographic collection whilst on the move.

The project has been made possible by a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) All Our Stories grant enabling us to increase public engagement with the museum collections.

The project will initially focus on the shops and offices in Guildford Street, London Street and Windsor Street, as this is the theme of our 2013 Discovery Zone exhibition. The app will be free to download and users will be able to click on the link and instantly see how the shops in the town have changed over time.

However, the great thing about the app is that, as it uses the mobile phone’s GPS, it doesn’t have to be available just for buildings. So, once the initial project is up and running we can continue to add to the app. All we have to do is calculate the longitude and latitude for each object in the local history collection, whether that be the location of the view in a photograph or painting or the location of where an object was found.  Then, when you’re walking around the Borough and want to know a little bit more about the spot on which you are standing, you can click on your phone and learn all about it. The app will also enable you to access additional information about objects on display whilst you’re visiting the museum!

So, if you need an excuse to upgrade your mobile phone to a Smartphone, maybe this is it?!


Happy Birthday Olive

Work in progress

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of Olive Matthews, and to commemorate the occasion the eponymous Trust established to care for her costume collection has commissioned a replica of one of her most beloved treasures.

Our wonderful Tudor/Jacobean nightcap, dating from 1600-1620, was bought by Miss Matthews in a London street market and our archives record how thrilled she was to discover it. Olive was a frequent visitor to the market and all the traders knew her by name as she looked through the boxes under the tables where the old costume items were to be found. One day, she spotted what she was told by the vendor was an embroidered ‘Victorian gentleman’s smoking hat’. It was lined with red silk and was topped with a dashing red tassel…It was late on a Saturday afternoon and Miss Matthews asked how much it was, and was told by the dealer “Thirty shillings to you dear”. Thirty shillings was a week’s wages to an ordinary clerk, in excess of £200 in today’s money. Olive emptied her purse into his hands as there was exactly that amount of money in it. “Here you are, my dear, there’s something for your bus fare home”, he said and popped a shilling piece back into her purse. Then he handed over her new acquisition wrapped in crinkly second-hand tissue paper. When she got home she proudly showed her father what she had bought. She unwrapped her purchase, which was in fact a Gentleman’s nightcap circa 1600, which she alone had spotted under the lining.

The Olive Matthews Trust approached Louise Taylor, winner of the Costume Society’s Patterns of Fashion Award, 2011, to recreate this stunning piece. Louise is excited by the project; “the replica nightcap is being constructed with techniques as close as possible to the original cap”, she stated. “I have researched and practised all the historical stitch techniques and spent a considerable amount of time trying to match and source hand-dyed silk threads in the colours that would have originally been used. So far one section is complete, and I hope to have it finished by January 2013!”

Runway Exhibition

Our new temporary exhibition in January will feature a project run by Surrey Arts which, for one night in October, brought to life the story of New Year’s Eve, 1943, when US Flying Fortress 42-31178 crashed on to Long Mead, Runnymede.

The crew had taken part in bombing raids on Bordeaux when they became disorientated in dense fog. Initially the airmen thought they had landed in occupied France. Imagine their relief when they stumbled across the Bells of Ouseley pub where they could see in the new year in comfort! Unfortunately their story was not uncommon; too often returning bombers were lost to fog. The airmen would have benefited from the FIDO system which the RAF had just developed, which saw runways lit with strips of fire to disperse fog and light the way home.

Runway was a dance-art-music collaboration between Mary Branson (Artist), Mat Clark (composer) and Rosie Heafford (choreographer) commissioned by Surrey Arts. The project worked with local people to create a light installation and inter-generational dance performance. The exhibition will show the film of the performance as well as items from our collection, and information about the project.

Runway will be on display from 12th January 2013 for 6 weeks.


The Friends of Chertsey Museum

Dear Friends,

The year began with Jubilee pageantry and was followed by London’s Olympic Games and Paralympics. Some of us may even have enjoyed the European Football Tournament! We in Chertsey did not have such a successful Black Cherry Fair as we would have wished, but there is always next years event to look forward to.

The visit to Smallhythe Place to see the home of the Victorian actress Ellen Terry was a success. Next year we plan a trip to Bexhill. Watch this space!

As many of you may have already seen in the Surrey Herald, we have received a Heritage Lottery Fund award for our project All Our Stories where locals and visitors will have the ability to enjoy the histories of shops and buildings through the use of mobile phone technology.  The development work has already begun.

On a sadder note, a number of us were at the funeral of Patricia (Patsy) Pardoe at Christ Church Ottershaw in November.  Patsy had previously contributed on the Friends’ Committee and organised events for the group. She will be missed.

If you are looking for a gift, do think of buying a Gift of Membership of the Friends for one year.  Forms are available in the Museum shop.  The Gift Membership includes a card from the donor. Seasons greetings to you all and hope you enjoyed the carol service and the mince pies!

Derek Weston, Chairman

Staffing Update

In November Grace Evans returned to work after extended maternity leave and so we said goodbye to Veronica Isaac. We thank her for all she has done over the past 20 months.  Grace is already back in the swing of things - it’s like she never left!

In the new year we will welcome Sally Turner back from maternity leave.  She will be returning as part of a job share with Heidi Dawley who has done a fantastic job of running the education service in Sally’s absence.  Sally will work the first part of the week, with Heidi working Thursday and Friday.  However, Heidi will also double up as one of our education casuals, going out to schools to deliver talks on our behalf, so she’ll still be around most days!

Fashion Update

Red chiffon evening gown, circa 1932-35 as featured in the display.

This Autumn we opened the new Olive Matthews Costume exhibition, Day and Night: From the Bedroom to the Ballroom, 1929 - 1939’.  If you have not yet had the chance, do make time to come and see is as it features many new and previously unseen pieces from this era of soft sinuous curves and rich, luxurious fabrics.

Chertsey Museum is working in partnership with the Southern Counties Costume Society to bring you a 1930s themed Fashion Study Day which will take place on the 11th May 2013. A number of speakers from a variety of backgrounds will give papers on fascinating subjects relating to the period. We also plan to visit Bexhill-on-Sea in March for an Art-Deco themed private view of the stylish De la Warr Pavilion and the Bexhill Museum. More details on both of these events to follow. 

Grace has now returned as Keeper of Costume, keen to get her teeth back into many fashion-related projects. She is working on the next costume exhibition (planning well in advance is essential with this type of exhibit), which will feature beautiful Edwardian pieces from the collection.

Grace is also working hard behind the scenes to ensure that the fashion collection continues to be stored, researched, documented and interpreted to a high standard. Talks and study visits abound and areas of the Accessories Gallery will shortly be redisplayed. If you would like to view items from the collection not currently on display, please call Grace to make an appointment on 01932 575373.

New Acquisition

Most of you will be well aware of the Olive Matthews Trust who, together with Runnymede Borough Council, support Chertsey Museum. However, many of you may not have heard of the Oliver Trust. Sydney Oliver was a local man and an antique dealer in Egham for many years, as well as a friend of Miss Matthews. Shortly before his death in 1986, Mr. Oliver arranged for a charitable trust to be set up to look after his personal antique collection, and to organised the re-housing of his antiques and historical documents in Chertsey Museum, and Royal Holloway University of London, Egham.

The S.A. Oliver Trustees continue to add to the collection held here when items of local interest come onto the market. To this end they purchased a lovely Victorian watercolour of The Golden Grove, Chertsey, in September this year. The landscape is by illustrator, engraver and painter Myles Birket Foster (4 February 1825 – 27 March 1899).

Foster started his career as an apprentice wood-engraver before setting up on his own as an illustrator in 1846. His designs were often seen in Punch and the Illustrated London News, but in 1858 he stopped taking commissions for illustrations to concentrate on his landscape paintings. In 1860 he moved to Witley, Surrey, into a house called The Hill, which he had built. The Hill became a focal point for his artist friends until 1893 when he was forced to sell it, along with most of his collection of paintings, due to ill health. He moved to Weybridge where he continued to paint up until the end of his life.

This painting, which was sold after his death in 1899 for the princely sum of 16 guineas, is now on display in the museum.