Leatherhead & District Local History Society
Museum Funding Appeal 2007
for other recent years, see current programme page
2007 Programme Fred Meynen
19th January - Rowhurst by
Rowhurst is a 14th century private house owned by Lucy Quinnell opposite the Fire and Iron Forge and Gallery in Leatherhead. A recent tree ring survey has dated the building and discovered it to be 660 years old.
Friday 16th February -
The Kohler-Darwin Collection
by Chris and Michele Kohler
Chris and Michele, Dorking antiquarian book collectors, have over the last 20 years built up a unique and extensive collection of 3,500 Darwin archives including a first edition of The Origin of Species and a hand-written letter by Darwin. The collection has recently been acquired by the Natural History Museum.
Friday, 16th March -
The Palace of Nonsuch by Jeremy Harte
'Nonsuch Palace, once one of the architectural wonders of the Western World. was razed to the ground more than 300 years ago. No interesting ruins, no visitor centre. This unique outpouring of Tudor opulence, literally there was 'none such', was most efficiently erased from the face of the earth.' This is how the palace is described in a recent article by Jane Garrett in Surrey Life magazine.
The story of the palace, before, during and after its intriguing existence, will be told to us by Jeremy Harte, Curator of the Bourne Hall Museum at Ewell which among its many exhibits now has an interactive computer model based on three artistic impressions offering different views drawn over 144 years.
Friday, 20th April - Annual General
Meeting (see News page for a report of the AGM)
This will be followed by a talk Leatherhead Aviation Services by Peter Tarplee
Hear about William George Chapman, who operated Leatherhead Aviation Services and the plane, the propeller of which is now in the Societys collection and on display in our museum.
Friday, 18th May - Esher, Claygate and Oxshott in old
Photographs and a short History of Postcards by Paul Langton
Picture postcards arrived in Britain in 1894. This was the start of the Golden Age of the postcard as people around the world used them to communicate with one another. In this country it was half the price of a letter, half of an old penny as opposed to a penny in postage. One topic of the talk will be the local photographer FWJ Fricker who lived in Park Road, Esher. His production of picture postcards started about the end of the Victorian Period.
Many images will be shown of Frickers work as he created picture postcards of local scenes. Images will also be shown of other local publishers and photographers from the Oxshott, Esher and Claygate areas with emphasis on the local publisher WJ Martin of Claygate.
Thu 31st May and Fri 1st, Sat 2nd June - Craft Days at the Leatherhead Museum - see Museum News page
Saturday 9 June - Coffee Morning at the Museum 10-noon - see Museum News page
Saturday, 16th June - Bookham Village
A day of festivities involving most of the local organisations. Our Society will as usual be exhibiting on a stand featuring our many activities and a glimpse of the museums treasures. Venue : Bookham Barn Hall.
14-21 July National Archaeology Week, 2007 - see Museum News page
The Gardens at Cherkley Court: After
being inaccessible to the public for many years the gardens, but
not the house, were announced as being open from 1st April until
30th September. More details by ringing 01372 375532. The
following write-up may be of interest : -
"Cherkley Court, set in 400 acres of park and woodlands, is the former home of the press baron and cabinet minister, Lord Beaverbrook. The garden has been designed by Simon Johnson, who specialises in country house work. Recent projects include work on an English Heritage garden at Walmer Castle in Kent for the late Queen Mother. Although the house itself is not open to the public, it will be available for private parties. Back in the 1930s and 40s the house was as important as Chequers is today, playing host to leading industrialists, government ministers and literary figures, many of whom would have appreciated the stunning views across the Mole Valley. Now 60 or 70 years later, the Beaverbrook Foundation is very much looking forward to opening these wonderful gardens to the public and offering visitors the chance to sample these same views and more."
6-9 September 2007 Mole Valley Heritage Open Days (as a pdf file) report
Friday, 21st September The
History of Pub Signs and Names by David Roe
David is the treasurer of the Merton Historical Society and a member of the Inn Society. He has spent the last ten years researching the subject which will include a reference some of our local signs.
19th October The Epsom Riot
by Tim Richardson
Mr Richardson is the Metropolitan Police Historian. He will relate the tragic result of an incident in 1919, and tell us of the people, places and memories of the event.
Friday 16th November The
Lushingtons of Cobham by David Taylor MA
David Taylor is a well known local historian, writer and speaker. He is president and founder of the Esher and District History Society, and has published numerous works on local history including one of Cobhams famous families the Lushingtons whose circle included John Ruskin, William Morris and Charles Darwin.
14th December Preserving the past for the
Future - the Work of the Surrey History Centre
by Matthew Piggott.
This lecture will be preceded by coffee and mince pies.
Our lecturer who is the Archivist and Modern Records Officer will describe the development of the new Surrey History Centre at Woking, and then concentrate on the work carried out within the building relating to the collection and preservation of Surrey's past. Reference will be made to the geographical development of the county, the different types of records collected by and deposited with the Centre, what happens when the records are received at Woking, methods used to ensure their long-term preservation, and the uses made of the records by the local community and their wider audience.
SUMMARIES OF TALKS AND EVENTS
Friday, 19th January - Rowhurst
by Lucy Quinnell
The spring lectures got off to a flying start with the lecture theatre filled with a large audience listening to Lucy, a local resident, talking about the history and love for her family home Rowhurst, a 14th century hall house. She explained that since moving into the house in 1990 she has been involved in researching the history of the house, and has found that showing people round the house and giving lectures has increased her knowledge as well as her archive and photo collection of the house
The story starts when Lucy's parents Richard and Jinny married in 1963, first living in D'Abernon House near the Malden Rushett border and then moving into 8 Clinton Road which had been Leatherhead's first cottage hospital built in 1893. She has happy memories of her childhood there, listening to the clock chiming at the Royal School for the Blind (now SeeAbility) and the singing in the chapel.
Her grandmother was living in Rowhurst at the time, with Richard working at the forge, and Lucy remembers summer parties, barbeques and playing in the gardens and woods around the house. Lucy went to Exeter University, her mother dying tragically during her final year . Soon after Lucy and her brother inherited Rowhurst from her grandmother, and she described graphically moving into the house in 1990 with her son Tom. It was mid winter, with no heating, damp beds and icicles hanging from the taps, and sleeping in the attic with strange sawing sounds coming from the floorboards, later identified as a rat dragging a piece of toast through a hole!
Lucy showed photographs of Rowhurst demonstrating the seven floor levels and the various sections of the house. She took us pictorially through the rooms, including the basement, main room with fireplace and a recess possibly used for a coffin, a blue room with a mural, a Victorian bathroom with a roll-top bath giving views over the countryside and Lucys favourite attic room, all of the rooms having exposed beams demonstrating the timber-frame structure of the house.
The earliest clue to the history of the site is a Celtic gold coin found in the garden of Rowhurst in 1960, probably minted at Maiden Castle in Dorset. During the Roman occupation there was plenty of activity close to the site, with Roman occupation at Woodlands Park, artifacts found south west of the house, and the proximity of a Roman villa on Ashtead Common. It is considered that there had been an earlier hall house with a service wing being added later.
Dendrochronology undertaken in 2005 dated the house to 1346, the oak trees having been felled a year previously. This was during the reign of Edward III just before the battle of Creçy. A few years later the Black Death or bubonic plague devastated Europe. The house was plundered for timber by Sir Ivor Fitzwarren and remained in a semi derelict state till the reign of Charles I when the hall was replaced in 1632 by a brick house, square in design, 7.2 metres wide and having mullioned windows. A witch pot thought to be of German origin and dating to early 17th century was found in the basement floor containing hair, nail clippings and urine, and relating to the time when scores of witches were being put to death.
The name Rowhurst first appeared on maps in 1418, hurst denoting wood. Lucy has compiled a comprehensive record of people and owners connected with the house starting with King Alfred in the 9th century through to 1780 when more detailed records from land tax returns and farm censuses show the occupations of the owners to be those of farm workers and farmers. Richard Quinnells parents bought Rowhurst in 1932, and Boggy Quinnell. Richards father, started the forge in 1948. A gas explosion two years later did extensive damage to the out-buildings which were rebuilt to form the present gallery. The forge has gained national and international reputation, products of which can be seen in Leatherheads town centre. The house is currently undergoing restoration work : the presence of the M25 causing subsidence. Lucys kitchen sink is only 100 yards from the hard-shoulder !
Lucy ended a memorable talk with visions for
the future including archaeological research into the possible
site of a minster church and a dovecote, together with
establishing an archive centre and reintroducing farm animals.
Her enthusiasm and love for Rowhurst will ensure that the house
will remain one of the most important buildings in Leatherhead.
Friday 16th February -
The Kohler Darwin Collection
by Chris and Michele Kohler
Chris and Michele Kohler, antiquarian booksellers living in Dorking described how they became interested in collecting and dealing in antique books which in turn led to a unique collection of some 5000 items relating to Charles Darwin, the natural historian.
Charles Darwin was born in Shropshire in 1809, educated at Shrewsbury School and for a short while studied medicine at Edinburgh University. He obtained a degree at Cambridge University where he developed his interest in natural history and geology and it was the voyage in HMS Beagle round the southern hemisphere that started him thinking about species and evolution.
He published his first book "The Voyage of the Beagle" at the age of 30 which was followed in 1859 by "On the Origin of Species". This book arose from years of meticulous note taking and study leading him to conclude that the evolution of species arose as a result of natural selection. Darwin also wrote about animal breeding, worms, botany and coral reefs, his books setting standards of our understanding on these subjects.
Darwin had a local connection with this area. In 1893 he married Emma Wedgwood while his sister Caroline married Emma's brother Josiah, the couple living at Leith Hill Place. Charles and Emma visited Holmbury St Mary and Abinger Hall, and met Alfred Wallace who was also working on the theory of evolution at that time. A letter found recently written by Darwin to Wallace he says : I hope that you find Dorking a pleasant place ".
Chris' interest in books started when he was at boarding school in York and when he found that bookshops were safe places to smoke cigarettes! He found a job with E. Joseph in the Charing Cross Road where he was introduced to the world of secondhand bookselling. At the age of 21 he started his own business buying an initial stock of books with a legacy from his grandmother and working from his parents house in West Humble. With the aid of an Underwood typewriter and a duplicator he sent out catalogues to libraries all over the world. Business flourished and in -1968 he moved to an office in Dorking High Street.
He married Michele in 1973 who started cataloguing the books. This led to the acquisition of collections which were sold to university libraries in Japan, Australia and America. Buying a collection of 75 books on evolution in 1986 sparked his interest in Darwin which in turn was followed by the purchase at auction of the first edition of The Origin of Species 1859, a special presentation copy to a scientific colleague W.B.Tagetmeier.
Over the next few years the collection grew to some 2000 items and the Kohlers decided to assemble "the largest ever Darwin collection. Darwin constantly revised his ideas, resulting in many differing editions in over 40 different languages. Chris and Michele felt that scholars studying Darwin would need to have access to all these editions, ideally located in one centre. The collection was extended to include archives relating to any aspect of Darwin including anti-Darwin and creationist material. The last 20 years saw the collection grow to 5000 items, acquired through trade journals (the Clique ),book fairs such as Hay-on-Wye, auctions and recently the Internet. In 1992 he bought 10 lots from a Californian bookseller Jeremy Norman for £12,000. The collection contained an autograph letter to Heinrich Bronn, a German geologist who was translating The Origin of Species into German and in which Darwin politely told Bronn that he had not found the correct words for natural selection'
By 2002 the collection contained 1628 Darwin items, 3392 items about Darwin and evolution and 152 autograph letters. Some of the old and valuable books were rebound and repaired, the whole collection catalogued and put up for sale. Eventually the Kohler Darwin Collection was bought in April 2006 for £950,000 by The Natural History Museum with the aid of a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
Friday, 16th March
- The Palace of Nonsuch at Ewell by
Like a magic castle in a fairy tale the sumptuous palace built by King Henry VIII arose, flourished, then dissolved into nothingness. Not a sign remains : people walk over the site in Nonsuch Park, Ewell without seeing any trace of what was once there.
Our speaker who is the curator of the Bourne Hall Museum at Ewell told the story to a full audience at our March meeting. He painted an eloquent verbal picture of Henrys ambitions, the politics of the period, the people who created the palace and its surroundings. He helped us to visualise how it looked in its prime, reminding us that the village of Cuddington and its church were blotted out in the process. Finally we learned why it survived little more than a hundred years, and he described its ultimate fate.
Only four images survive to give an impression of how it looked. These leave no doubt about its splendour. Archaeology has contributed to our knowledge of the ground plan : it seems that there were two courtyards, one in brick, similar to that at Hampton Court, the other, to the South, more grandiose with two vast octagonal towers. Contemporary writings tell much about the construction, especially concerning the exquisite artefacts which were incorporated : the bleached-white stucco panels, the statues and the fountains. It is known that Welsh, French and Italian workers were involved.
Besides this visual insight we were given an interesting picture of how things were in the Tudor court and particularly what the king had in mind at that period. Prestige counted above all else : the rival François I of France had to be upstaged. Even in those days public relations performance was everything, so the building became the palace to which there was None Such else. Construction began in 1538 and was complete by 1548. A lot of material was taken from the plundered Merton Abbey. Close to the buildings were gardens, some ornamental, others having fruit trees and vegetables for the kitchen. The records include a mention of six lilacs, probably the first to be grown in this country.
It seems that the king did not make frequent visits but when he came there was always the royal hunt. Nonsuch Park as it exists today, a wide swathe stretching from Ewell to Cheam, is only a fraction of the size of the original park which extended northwards to include what is now Worcester Park and Stoneleigh. The main approach to the palace was from the north but the most imposing elevation was the southern flank.
Henry died before the palace was fully complete. It seems that royal visits by Queen Elizabeth were not frequent, and it eventually passed into private hands. The end came in 1682 . The question in the minds of the audience was : how could such a gem with all its treasures be dismantled or destroyed so heartlessly. Our speaker now explained that it was not just a question of an insolvency : in fact it had outlived the purpose for which it had been designed an era now past. Had anything at all survived ? And the answer came : Very little. Fragments of Tudor brick and Reigate stone were found during the excavations. One stucco panel, badly damaged, was recovered and is now in the Museum of London. These had been so remarkable that Evelyn, the last person known to have written about them, said They should have been put in a gallery for artists to view. Of the statues, the goddesses, the Amazon queen, the mythological images and the Roman emperors, not a trace remains.
Jeremy had given us a brilliant depiction of Nonsuch in all
its elements. He added a point of great interest to anyone
wishing to know more. He described a display, now set up at
Bourne Hall museum using the latest virtual reality
techniques. With this a viewer can explore the palace
from all possible angles and gain an impression of how it might
have appeared in its glory days.
20th April, Leatherhead Aviation Servicesby
Peter Tarplee, Past Chairman.
When Mr. Finch of Eastwick Road, Bookham, presented an aircraft propeller to the Leatherhead Museum, Peter Tarplee's interest was aroused, and he uncovered other, and more local, connections which made a fascinating talk at our April meeting.
The 8-foot laminated wooden propeller now in our museum was one of many made during the First World War by Betjemans (the family firm of the late Poet Laureate) which had turned from furniture making to war work. It had been found in Luff's garage in Kingston Road, Leatherhead (now occupied by Hardy Engineering), where William George Chapman had operated Leatherhead Motor Services. Chapman had been a valet, a racing cyclist and motor mechanic before setting up on his own, as a car repairer and a bus operator, but he also taught himself to fly in 1913.
After the war, licences were granted for numerous private airfields all over England. Chapman bought three war surplus Avro 504K aeroplanes and a de Havilland DH 6 from which our propeller came, and set up Leatherhead Air Services, sharing the flying with ex-RFC pilot Captain Muir. In the DH 6 the passenger sat in front of the pilot, and a short flight cost a guinea. As many as a thousand people flew from another airfield near Guildford. Cobham and Ripley also had airfields. The airfield used by Leatherhead Aviation Services was at Byhurst Farm on the other side of the Chessington Road from the present Malden Rushett flying field, A hangar had been bought from Brooklands, and the first flight took place on 16th February, 1920 (before Croydon). A flight as far as Cheltenham is recorded. The three Avros crashed separately, one injuring Chapman, and the business collapsed in 1922. Chapman later worked for Hawkers at Kingston and Brooklands for a while. Byhurst Farm passed to Prewett's Dairies and was bought by the Crown Estates commissioners in 1939.
Chapman's DH 6, registration letters G-EANU, was a two-seater trainer biplane which was painted blue which had received its certificate of airworthiness on 17th December, 1919. It was sold on to Mr. J.V.Yates of Croydon. Prices had come down : Surrey Flying Services ran five-shilling flights round the airfield there, or over central London for a guinea. They became part of Laker Airways, the early budget airline.
Peter concluded by reading two accounts from The Aeroplane,
showing the informality of early flying. In one case a farmer
immediately cut down two trees which were preventing an aeroplane
which had just 'dropped in' from taking off again!
Friday, 18th May - Esher,
Claygate and Oxshott in old Photographs and a short History of
Postcards by Paul Langton
The speaker who is the Chairman of the Esher & District Local History Society showed many images which were postcards produced by local photographer F.W.J Fricker who lived in Park Road, Esher, and local publisher W.J. Martin of Claygate who had a shop in the High Street in the old village of Claygate and continued to publish postcards into the 1930s.
To set the scene Paul gave a brief history of the postcard. Plain postcards arrived in Britain in 1870, picture postcards in 1894 but the picture was often a vignette, as the message had to be written on the same side. Britain was the first country in 1902 to divide the back of the postcard and allow the message to be written on the same side as the address.
Our journey started at The Swan Inn, Leatherhead. Quickly moving on to Oxshott, we were shown images of the original Bear Inn (the original inn was much closer to the road, than it is today) ; the Victoria public house, and the well known cyclists rest, Scovells Tea Rooms ; the village school, now a petrol station ; finally the war memorial. It was erected on Oxshott Heath, rather than in the village, in the 1920s.
We then carried on to Esher. We were shown a print the original Esher Place, reproduced on a postcard. Henry VIII stayed there to evade the plague. The current Esher Place is now the headquarters of Amicus. Various photographs of the local churches, shops and inns helped us to visualise what life was like in Edwardian times. Although many of the inns and public houses have gone, such as the White Lion and the White Horse, the Bear Inn still remains a focal point of the town.
Several Esher landmarks that have stood the test of time include the Queen Victoria Jubilee Memorial. Queen Victoria spent many happy hours at Claremont. Others include the old village pump, the White Lady and the Travellers Rest, situated by Sandown Park racecourse. We also went on a brief excursion down to West End. Still charming today as it was then, if you ignore the traffic. Before leaving Esher, we saw images of the local fire brigade and the World War One Red Cross Hospital.
Paul emphasised there has never been a great deal of industry in this rural area. One of the exceptions was the Royal Mills, which provided an opportunity of alternative work for women to the usual domestic service or becoming a shop assistant in neighbouring Kingston. In the Edwardian period Burn & Co. at the Royal Mills was one of the largest bookbinders in the world. While the men enjoyed playing cricket, the ladies would put on entertainments in the evening. They went on to provide a large number of public performances in the area. We were shown interior photographs of the ladies at work and advertising posters announcing these events.
Our final destination before returning home was Claygate. A quiet rural village until the railway came in 1885. The expansion of house building in the area provided an ideal opportunity for local businessman W.J. Martin, to expand his empire. He already offered groceries, fancy goods, postal services, teas, newspapers and was also the local barber, so why not publish postcards. Thanks to him, many of the views shown of the shopping parade, the monkey puzzle tree, the Hare & Hounds, the Swan Hotel and the Foley Arms, Holy Trinity church and the war memorial, all gave us a glimpse of what a pleasant village it was to live in, and still remains so.
His last picture brought us back to Letherhead Institute as in
Visit - 20th June - Rowhurst
Following on from Lucy Quinnells popular lecture in January, reported in the February Newsletter, thirty eight members of the Society visited this 14th century Hall House, now the home of Lucys family. We were given an introduction to the history of the house and then, armed with an explanatory leaflet, made our way through the various rooms, stairs and floors of this fascinating house, full of history and evidence of its role as a family home. Maintaining such an old building clearly presents many problems including heating in winter. Lucy also gave us some of her ideas for the future which involved historical research into the surrounding land, and the building of an eco-house as well as an archive centre.
We walked through the grounds and woods, and then had a welcome cup of tea in the Gallery which contains exhibitions and a huge range of products from the Forge. We appreciated the hard work that Lucy, her staff and family had done in preparing the house for our visit. Her enthusiasm and dedication will ensure that Rowhurst will remain one of the most important houses if not the oldest in Leatherhead.
Postscript. Come and visit the Fire and
Iron Gallery which is off the Oxshott Road, just past Tesco
on the left and see Rowhurst for yourself where it can be viewed
from the outside.
Visit: to Down House 12th July
Following the lecture in February on the Kohler-Darwin Collection members of the Society visited Down House, home of Charles Darwin.
We made our way in shared cars to the house which is located in Kent near Biggin Hill. After a brief introductory talk we walked through the house using an excellent audio guide which took us through his study and workroom, billiard, dining and sitting rooms which are furnished in the style of his day. Upstairs were rooms depicting his life and work, and after coffee and apple cake we walked in the beautiful gardens and grounds. Lunch was taken in the George and Dragon, noted for its gigantic pies, and in the afternoon we returned to the gardens, potting shed and laboratory and the famous sandwalk.
Down House is a wonderful testimony to a brilliant scientist
and family man and is always worth a return visit.
Open Days 6-9 September 2007
The organising committee for Heritage Open Days in Mole Valley has not yet met since the weekend of 6th-9th September to assess this year's event but my impression on the whole was that it was a success. Our museum received a good number of extra visitors and tours led by Society members were well attended.
We provided speakers for a number of talks which each attracted a good audience, but none could outdo Linda Heath who had about 150 people wanting to hear her lecture on Fanny Burney which unfortunately was held in a room which could comfortably seat less than half that number.
One lesson for the organisers is to ensure that all talks should be pre-booked - there are probably other lessons and I would like any member who can see any way in which we could improve this event to let me know so that I can raise it with the organising committee.
I would like to thank all who supported Heritage Open Days
this year and look forward to your suggestions for the future if
we continue with it.
Friday, 21st September The
History of Pub
Signs and Names by David Roe
David Roe, who is a member of the Inn Society and of the Merton Historical Society, gave an informative talk on Friday 21st September on the origin of pub names and their signs, illustrated by examples which included some local pubs and inns.
David Roe began his lecture by showing a picture of the Anchor in Bookham, a traditional English pub, house shaped with a traditional name with the anchor being a symbol of Christianity. Over the years pubs have been centres of social and commercial activities and are part of our heritage. In recent times many pubs have disappeared together with their names and signs. In other cases name and signs have changed, perhaps reflecting changes in local structures. Pub signs can tell us something about our history and customs or simply entertain and delight us with their pictures.
Early pub signs in Egyptian and Roman times depict a chequer board sometimes surmounted by a phallic symbol to ward off evil spirits. Later ale houses appeared run by women who sold the brew at local markets and had a sign outside the house consisting of a wooden stake with a bush or bunch of leaves which was later replaced by a bundle of twigs. Other symbols used were sheaves of wheat (The Wheatsheaf), two pieces of crossed wood (The Crooked Billet) and a garland denoting that a new ale was on sale. Signs became larger in the 17th century., some even crossing the road as in the gallows' sign. In 1762 large hanging signs were prohibited for safety reasons and pictorial signs replaced by just the name of the pub as literacy was improving in the population. David illustrated these changes with reference to the Leg of Mutton and Cauliflower pub in Ashtead, which recently changed its pictorial sign with the word LOMAC to convey a more modern image and which now has been thankfully restored to its original design possibly derived from the practice of hanging joints of meat outside to attract passing coaches.
In the early days the names of the inns and pubs were used to describe the sign or picture such as At the Sign of the Wheatshaff' which later became The Wheatshaff'. Travellers in the 12th century were mainly pilgrims who were given free hospitality at monasteries and lodges of the Lords of the Manor. These buildings often displayed the monastic seals and badges or the manor's coats of arms which later were simplified to religious and heraldic symbols such as angels, stars and lions. During the reformation signs showing the Pope and the Virgin Mary had to be taken down or painted over. It is said that some signs showing the Angel Gabriel giving the good news to Mary were painted over just leaving the vase of lilies, The Flower Pot'. In some paintings Mary or Gabriel is seen holding a lily becoming The Hand and Flower'.
David Roe showed examples of inn signs and names with explanations in some cases. The name of the Running Horse in Leatherhead is thought to have derived from Rumming's House after the ale-wife Elinour Rumming, although perhaps there is a simpler explanation relating to horses. The sign also shows that the sign artists had problems painting animal legs! The Sir Douglas Haig in Effingham is named after the famous Field Marshal of World War I, founder of the British Legion, and demonstrates that pub signs can commemorate famous people as well as local industries, events and places. The sign of the Lord Nelson shows a patch over the left eye, although history relates that the right eye was affected and that the eye was not disfigured. The sign of The Quiet Woman' shows a headless woman and The Jolly Bodger' showed a woodman turning crude stakes which later became chair legs, hence the expression of bodging. The White Hart' is a reference to an albino deer commissioned as a symbol of loyalty to Richard II, a popular king of the 14 th century. The Elephant and Castle' is probably a reference to an ancient war elephant of the 15th century and the elephant depicted in the coat of arms granted in 1416 to the Worshipful Company of Cutlers relates to the ivory in the handles.
In conclusion, David Roe felt that although some stories should be taken with a pinch of salt, more historical research is needed and in these changing times with pubs becoming restaurants or being sold for redevelopment, preservation orders could be used to protect important pubs together with their signs.
The next time you pass a pub sign spare a
moment to give a second look at the name and the picture.
Dr FGC Meynen
Friday, 19th October The Epsom Riot by Tim Richardson - a Metropolitan Police Historian
The tragic events of a June night in 1919 at Epsom were vividly described by Tim Richardson, a retired Metropolitan policeman who had later served there and was now a freelance historian and events organiser, at our October meeting.
The district had not been untouched by the first World War. Shortly after its outbreak, the Universities and Public Schools battalion of the Royal Fusiliers had been billeted in the area, before going to France and being almost wiped out at the battle of Deville Wood. The heavy loss of local men is marked by Leatherhead's unusual war memorial cloister, now a scheduled Ancient Monument.
When the war ended, there was delay in getting the Commonwealth troops home. Causes included a general strike in New York, disturbances at British ports and a fatal riot at Rhyl, made worse by indecision about priority groups. Many troops from the Empire had not had home leave for several years. Overseas soldiers were concentrated into large camps in the countryside. Frustration and boredom led to indiscipline - a camp at Witley was half burnt down, and its occupants were moved to join others already living in corrugated iron huts on Epsom Downs.
On this particular night, the landlord of 'The Rifleman' (a small public house in East Street near the railway bridge) asked two patrolling police constables to eject two Canadian soldiers who were creating a disturbance. Neither soldier would go quietly, so both were arrested. The officers went up Epsom High Street, followed by a growing crowd, to the police station, a Victorian double-fronted villa with a prize-winning garden in front. The soldiers were placed in separate cells at the front of the building. The officer in charge, Inspector Pauley who lived on the top floor of the building with his family sent a message to the camp asking for transport to take the accused back to camp, the police having no vehicle. All off-duty police were sent for urgently, as well as reinforcements from elsewhere. The crowd outside the police station was soon joined by many soldiers from the camp, aroused by a bugle or by others rattling sticks against the walls of their huts.
The camp transport was unable to get through, and when the camp commander arrived and was taken inside the police station, the rumour spread that he too had been arrested. Missiles were thrown from the back of the crowd, railings were torn up windows broken and the front door rammed. Station Sgt Thomas Green, an ex-regular soldier, led a sally party with drawn truncheons which took the rioters from the flank and forced them to withdraw temporarily. Fighting resumed, but suddenly ended when another bugle call ordered 'Recall - march off', which was obeyed. One prisoner had escaped through the torn-out window of his cell, and the other was released without charge. Sgt Green was found in a nearby shop with a fractured skull and was taken to Epsom hospital where he died.
Sgt Green's death was front-page news. His funeral cortege, headed by massed bands in front of two hearses, followed by a thousand policemen and other mourners, stopped for a short service at the Wesleyan church (where Sgt Green had been a sidesman). He had been a four-stripe (senior) police sergeant with only a few months left to serve before retirement and had been off-duty when the riot began, looking after his dying wife. A substantial amount of money was collected for his family and a granite Celtic cross carrying his helmet badge was erected over his grave in Epsom cemetery.
The Canadian soldiers were paraded and those unable to account for their injuries were arrested. Five were transferred to Bow Street magistrates' court and tried at Guildford but only charged with riot and affray. Each was sentenced to a year's imprisonment and dishonourable discharge from the Canadian Army. Ten years later, one of the five, who had become a tramp back in Canada, was arrested for drunkenness and confessed to the murder of Sgt Green. Anglo-Canadian relations were then at a delicate stage, and it was decided not to seek his extradition and further prosecution.
In answer to questions, Mr Richardson said that he had found
no record of any inquiry into police conduct at the riot. A
member of the audience said that he had been told that another
police sergeant who had been seen with the original prisoners was
notorious for reporting Canadians for petty offences so that they
were fined and confined to camp, so exacerbating their belief
that they were being treated as second-class citizens.
Friday, 14th December Preserving the past for the Future - the Work of the Surrey History Centre by Matthew Piggott. The final lecture in the 2007 series was given to the Society and guests by Matthew Piggott, a member of the Surrey History Centre's staff. So many interesting facts had to be compressed into a single hour but, assisted by a host of projected illustrations, we were given an outstanding picture of what the Centre does and what services it can offer to the community.
Located in Woking, this striking new building was opened in 1999. Specially designed for its intended function it houses a vast archive of documents which . are available for inspection by any interested person, be they researchers, historians or ordinary members of the public. At the front there are exhibition areas, lecture rooms, a reading room and a shop, but the central feature is the vast strong room where thousands of documents are stored in temperature-controlled conditions.
Its contents include reference books, civic and parish records, maps, prints, photographs and numerous other categories. These range from 12th century parchment rolls to CD disks. Giving us a colourful illustration of the scope, he instanced the subject of crime and punishment, which could yield records of Quarter Sessions in 1659, witness statements and punishments meted out (including Transportation - a matter of great interest to family historians). From another record, the bridge at Leatherhead in 1613 was said to be "in bad repair and impassable in times of flood." Sir Edward Tylney left £100 towards its repair.
Our speaker outlined the function and main activities of the Centre. He described the reception, restoring, cataloguing and storing of all objects taken in. This yielded some interesting facts. Many documents arrive in appalling condition, often damp and riddled with mould, spiders and 'bugs': some damaged by fire. All these conditions are treated in the Centre's laboratories. He described some of the processes such as freezing. Every page is scrutinised in accordance with strict rules. The Centre aims to cater not only for the current enquirer but for posterity and therefore cataloguing has to be undertaken with the greatest of care. Available information includes details of an item's provenance and where it resides in the vast collection.
Mr Piggott concluded by showing the audience examples of the objects that can be discovered in a visit to the centre, for example, copies of newspapers from the mid-19th century, `The Gentleman's Magazine' from 1731 to 1782, a 700 page catalogue covering the history of the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment, memoirs from the era of World War One and manorial records from estates in Surrey, one of these outlining `the right to extract fees and duties'.
He explained that it would be wrong to assume that written records were the only objects available. Many beautiful prints, engravings and photographs cover Surrey's people and places at every period. Business history is an important part of the archive, and this makes possible a study of firms located in the County, some not merely of local interest. Among many others are the Broadwood world- famous piano manufacturer and the vehicle builder Dennis of Guildford.
Students of family history form a large part of the 10,000 visitors received yearly. In the Search Room , microfilm and microfiche facilities are available and much of the data is now on the Centre's web site. There are strong links with local study groups. Amateurs and specialists are equally welcome.
Amidst this welter of facts highlighted by his excellent
slides the audience felt a deep appreciation for the way our
speaker had covered his subject - one could not but be impressed
by the work done by the History Centre for the people of Surrey
and its heritage.