Leatherhead & District Local History Society
2010 Programme and Calendar

Dr. Fred Meynen - Programme Secretary: 01372 372930
This calendar includes Leatherhead Museum events and activities.
Fred is also Chairman of the Friends of Leatherhead Museum.

for other recent years, see current programme page

15th January The Famous and Infamous of Leatherhead by Edwina Vardey

Edwina is a well known local historian, editor, researcher and compiler of a History of Leatherhead, a town at the Crossroads. She has recorded local personalities many of whom are featured in her lecture.

19th February Francis Frith, The Photographer by David Edney

Francis Frith lived in the 19C, becoming the world's first specialist photographic publisher, setting out to photograph towns and villages in the UK. David Edney is an accredited lecturer for the Francis Frith Archives.

March 2010 - visit for Friends, stewards and History Society to the Lightbox Gallery/museum and the Mosque, both in Woking.

19th March The Work of the Surrey Archaeological Society by David Calow

As Honorary Secretary of the Society established over 150 years ago he will describe its current activities. These include publications, and lectures as well as excavations and surveys at prehistoric and Roman sites.

1st April 2010 Museum reopens

16th April AGM followed by lecture Milner House, Leatherhead by Peter Tarplee

The history of the Long House, Sir Frederick Milner and The Ex-Services Welfare Society and Combat Stress.

21st May Early Saxon Landscapes in Surrey by Chris Howkins

How the Surrey countryside was affected by the coming of the Anglo Saxons. Lifestyle of the people in communities - farms, villages, religion, agriculture and trade.

VISIT - Wednesday 16th June, 10.30am - St Mary's Church, Stoke d'Abernon

A guided visit to this historic church dating from the early Middle Ages. Many unique features including brasses from the 14th century. Donations welcome.

VISIT - Saturday, 10th July, 10.30am - Day Visit to Historic Places in REIGATE

This will start with a visit to the premises of the Holmesdale Natural History Club which has a small museum. Then a chance to see the famous caves and the castle site. Following a lunch break, a visit to The Priory Museum.
Restricted parking spaces makes car-sharing vital.

Application forms for these visits are enclosed with the May Newsletter. Please apply early.

17th September Early Motoring in Surrey by Gordon Knowles

Our first meeting of the 2010-11 season. All are welcome. Entrance £1. Coffee from 7.30pm, lecture at 8pm in the Abraham Dixon Hall at the Letherhead Institute. Gordon is the President of our Local History Society and is a member of the Surrey Industrial History Group. He is the author of the book Surrey and the Motor, published in 2005

Yes, that is a policeman about his duty ...

Please display a poster

15th October Just Fish : Recollections of a Village Fishmonger by Ron Fowler

Ron Fowler of Great Bookham will talk about his flourishing business and his life in the Trade.

19th November Searching for Stane Street : Mickleham to Ewell by Alan Hall

Alan Hall lives in Leatherhead. He is secretary of the Roman Studies Group and honorary local secretary of the Surrey Archaeological Society.

17th December Members' Evening - Presentations by Members on My Favourite Building

The evening will be informal with bistro-style seating, wine and canapés followed by coffee and mince pies. It will be hosted by the Master of Ceremonies Brian Hennegan and will end with a raffle. If you would like to take part with a short talk on your favourite building please get in touch with me. The evening is a social occasion with the accent on informality and conviviality! Guests and friends of members will be very welcome.

2011 Programme

2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

15th January 2010 The Famous and Infamous of Leatherhead by Edwina Vardey

The January lecture, The Famous and Infamous of Leatherhead, was given by Edwina Vardey, a well-known local historian and author of the book History of Leatherhead, a Town at the Crossroads. The lecture came as a welcome break after a period of cold wintery weather and described how Edwina came across these personalities while researching her book 20 years ago. Some of the legends, such as Charles Wesley, the founder of Methodism, preaching under a cedar tree in front of Kingston House in 1791, were unfounded and other trails ended in a cul-de-sac or dead-end.

Leatherhead has always been a "commuter centre" in past times when travel was often difficult and hazardous. A local man called Happy Jack living in Brick Bat Alley when arrested for being drunk and disorderly told the magistrate he would "go abroad" and live in Bookham.

In 1524 Elinour Rumming, sometimes associated with the Running Horse, was fined for selling ale at excessive prices and was the subject of a bawdy ballad, 36 verses in length, by John Skelton and later set to music by Ralph Vaughan-Williams.

The Mansion in Little Queen Street, now Church Street, housed Robert Cheseman, yeoman falconer to Henry VIII, and was subject of a painting by Hans Holbein, the Dutch artist. Queen Elizabeth I visited Edmund Tilney at the Mansion in 1591, Tilney being Master of the Revels for 30 years and censor and publisher of performance plays including Comedy of Errors, and it is surprising that no portrait of him can be found; another cul-de-sac!

Another notable person living in the 17th Century was Sir Thomas Bloodworth of Thorncroft Manor, a man described by Samuel Pepys in his diary as a "silly man and a mean man". He was Lord Mayor of London during the Plague and the Great Fire in 1660 and was visited in Leatherhead by another notable person, Judge Jeffreys, who was married to Bloodworth's daughter. Judge Jeffreys was the "hanging judge", so called because of his harsh treatment of the Duke of Monmouth's Rebels during the Civil War of 1685, when the victims were hanged in groups.

Before the arrival of the railways, stage coaches were a form of travel, the Swan Hotel acting as a staging point where travellers rested and the horses were changed. In 1806 a coach carrying Princess Caroline, wife of the Prince Regent, overturned outside the Swan and one of her ladies was killed.

Henry Collier of Middle Lane lost his life in the Titanic disaster in 1912 and was the subject of a recent exhibition and publication at our local museum. His wife and daughter were ultimately saved. Famous writers associated with the Leatherhead area were Fanny Burney of Westhumble, Jane Austen, who visited her mother's first cousin in Bookham, and Anthony Hope [Hawkins], who wrote The Prisoner of Zenda in 1894 and is buried in the Parish Churchyard. Edwina went on to mention two other famous ladies of Leatherhead. Emmeline Pankhurst, the suffragette, was held in Leatherhead Police Station in 1913, accused of conspiring to place gunpowder in the tea pavilion of Walton Heath Golf Club.

The birth control pioneer Doctor Marie Stopes, living in Belmont Road, was fined in WW1 for not observing the blackout. Later she married H Verdon Roe, the aircraft designer, and moved to Norbury Park, where it is said he asked her permission to return home! A notable benefactor was Abraham Dixon, who donated The Institute in 1893, providing "education and recreation" for the citizens. He lived at Cherkley Court, later occupied by Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production in WW2. Donald Campbell lived in Priors Ford, now Campbell Court, and the driving wheel of Bluebird 7 is now in the Leatherhead museum. Mentioning Sir Michael Caine, a current famous resident of Leatherhead, Patron of the Theatre and the Drama Festival, Edwina concluded a fascinating and informative lecture.

The next lecture is on February 19 Francis Frith, the Photographer by David Edney at The Institute, top of High Street Leatherhead, lecture 8pm. Visitors £2.
Dr Fred Meynen

19th February Francis Frith, The Photographer by David Edney

Photographer Francis Frith was the subject of the society's illustrated lecture on February 19 and our speaker was David Edney, who explained just how he became an accredited lecturer for the Francis Frith Archives over five years ago and has never regretted it.

Frith was a Victorian pioneer photographer of the Middle East and many towns in the UK. He was born in Derbyshire in 1822. He attended Quaker schools before he started in the cutlery business, leaving in 1850 to start a photographic studio known as Frith & Hayward in Liverpool.

A successful grocer, and later printer, Frith fostered an interest in photography, becoming a founding member of the Liverpool Photographic Society in 1853. Frith sold his companies in 1855 in order to dedicate himself to photography

He journeyed to the Middle East on three occasions, the first of which was a trip to Egypt in 1856 with very large cameras (16" x 20"). During his visits he often adopted the local costume, thus enabling him to take pictures of the inhabitants more easily.

When he had finished his travels in the Middle East in 1859, he opened the firm of Francis Frith & Co in Reigate, as the world's first specialist photographic publisher.

In 1860 he married Mary Ann Rolling and embarked upon a colossal project - to photograph every town and village in the UK and, in particular, notable historical or interesting sights. As success came he hired people to help and set about establishing his postcard company, a firm that became one of the largest photographic studios in the world. Within a few years, over 2,000 shops throughout the UK were selling his postcards. Frith died in 1898 at his villa in France. His family continued the firm, which was finally sold in 1968 and closed in 1970.

Following closure of the business, Bill Jay, one of Britain's first photography historians, identified the archive as being nationally important and "at risk". Jay managed to persuade Rothmans, the tobacco company, to purchase the archive to ensure its safety. Frith was re-launched in 1976 as The Francis Frith Collection with the intention of making the Frith photographs available to as wide an audience as possible. A year later John Buck, a Rothmans executive, bought the archive and has continued to run it as an independent business ever since from premises near Salisbury.

The society's next meeting will be on March 19, with a talk on The Work of the Surrey Archaeological Society by David Calow.
Goff Powell

19th March The Work of the Surrey Archaeological Society by David Calow

At our March meeting, David Calow described the work of the Surrey Archaeological Society, of which he is the honorary secretary. The county society is one of several founded in the 1850s, when many Victorians used their increased leisure and literacy to engage in new scientific pursuits.

He pointed out the similarities to our own society, founded nearly a century later: we're both charities, with a museum and a web-site, we have published books, newsletters and research journals, and have regular meetings and visits all year round.

We organise an annual lecture by a national expert - this year's will be on Friday, June 4 at the Menuhin Hall, Stoke D'Abernon. Dr Jonathan Foyle, chief executive of the World Monuments Fund Britain, will talk on England's Lost Renaissance: Italian Influences on Court Architecture, focussing on the early part of Henry VIII's reign. Tickets cost £12 (including a glass of wine) and doors open at 6.30pm. Covering a much wider area than ourselves, the Surrey Archaeological Society has about five times as many members.

Museum A turnover of about £65,000 a year means that it can publish more extensively than us (their annual journal ran to 400 illustrated pages and included 22 articles, as well as a separate 64-page Surrey History).

It has 22 committees, management, library, meetings, historic buildings and village and other local history research, including 135 people, all volunteers. It is serviced by just two part-time paid staff in the office and library on the upper floor of Castle Arch in Guildford; the museum below is run by the Borough Council.

The society owns about 10,000 documents, 6,000 books and 1,000 large boxes of artefacts, including the finds from the society's first excavation at Chertsey Abbey It collaborates with 20 different heritage and countryside groups, particularly the National Trust and the County Council's History Centre at Woking. The centre there houses the sites and monuments record, has digitised all the tithe maps and is currently transcribing the details of land ownership.

Our speaker demonstrated how much history could be encompassed in one view by showing a photograph of the landscape south-east of Guildford. This included everything from a site where mesolithic flints had been found and an Iron Age hillfort, to the routes of an early canal and railway and that of a WWI Zeppelin, one of whose bombs blew off a lavatory door, to the embarrassment of the occupant.

The society's members have included many nationally important figures (local examples being Tony Lowther and John Harvey) and it has made equally important discoveries in excavations at Ashtead Roman villa, Ewell Roman town and the Iron Age farm and Saxon burials at Hawks Hill, Fetcham.

Another member, Tony Clark, had developed the science of resistivity to "see beneath the soil". Mr Calow demonstrated the loping trot required to operate a modern portable magnetometer.

The Surrey Archaeological Society was instrumental in having the law on Treasure Trove modernised and in the introduction of the portable antiquities scheme. After extensive consultation, the society published a research framework summarising what was known and what questions needed to be answered. For example, how did heath-lands develop? What caused the similarities and differences between Surrey and Sussex? What was the effect of the proximity of London?

Mr Calow challenged us by asking: "What was the grand mystery of Leatherhead?"

As examples of work now in progress sponsored by the Surrey Archaeological Society, he showed us images of the identification of many prehistoric field systems and enclosures overlain by Roman occupation, the revision of dates for the occupation of Iron Age hill forts, and a field at Flexford, north of the Hog's Back, which showed nothing from the air or on the surface until molehills all over it produced Roman pottery. An iron-working forge was excavated, together with a curious arrangement of pedestal vases, probably ritual magic like that still employed by itinerant blacksmiths in Africa.

Tree-ring dating of timber houses had produced some remarkable results and helped with the analysis of styles of carpentry across the county
The little-known royal palace at Woking is being excavated, and test-pitting is in progress to identify the origins of Old Woking.

Analysis of the debris around the site of Alexander Raby's iron mill at Downside near Cobham has revealed very early experiments with steel alloying there.

At Sayers Croft near Ewhurst, 30 huts and air raid shelters built for Second World War evacuees still were in use for education purposes. The effect of evacuation on later generations is being studied.

At our annual meeting on April 16, Peter Tarplee will be talking about Milner House, Leatherhead: the story of the Long House, Sir Frederick Milner, the Ex-Service Welfare Society and Combat Stress.
Derek Renn


16th April AGM followed by lecture Milner House, Leatherhead by Peter Tarplee

At our April annual meeting by president Gordon Knowles, the executive committee was re-elected with new treasurer David Lokkerbol and membership secretary David Wall.

Presenting the committee's report, the chairman and archaeology secretary, David Hartley, again appealed for members to fill the vacant post of museum curator, publicity officer, records secretary and Bookham archivist.

Very substantial donations from the Friends of the Museum and a grant from the Surrey County Council's Local Partnerships Scheme had paid for new carpets and for a new entrance giving easy access to the museum for the disabled from the garden. The Surrey Museums Consultative Committee had paid half the cost of new display panels.

A resolution (by the respective trustees of the two charities) to merge the Leatherhead Museum and History Centre with the society was accepted unanimously for submission to the Charities Commission.

Mr Hartley thanked the lecturers and visits committee for theirefforts, nearly 500 people had attended the events., A laptop and digital projector had been purchased for Power-point presentations. A list of members willing to give talks had been published. Frank Haslam, website manager, reported that www.leatherheadlocalhistoryorg.uk was getting 250 hits a month, one quarter coming from overseas.

Peter Tarplee's new Early Industries of the Leatherhead District would be launched at the Leatherhead Museum at 7.30pm on May 25, which would also be an extra opportunity to see the new display of local industrial history objects upstairs.

Presenting the accounts, David Lokkerbol drew attention to the fall in income from investments compared with past years due to the continuing worldwide financial crisis. Recovery was not yet in sight, and an increase in subscription was overdue. After some discussion, a £3 increase was accepted.

Immediately following the meeting, Peter Tarplee talked about Milner House in Ermyn Way, Ashtead, starting by demolishing the myth that it was connected with the local carpet shop. Then called the Long House, it had been built for Daniel Pidgeon in 1892: Pigeon's initials were displayed on the stonework and lead-work outside as well as on internal fittings.

After he died on holiday at Aswan, his widow leased the house to tenants, beginning with the Klinker family, piano importers and Abraham Dixon, while Cherkley Court was being restored after a fire in 1893.

The Right Hon Sir Frederick Milner (1849-1931) had been a Member of Parliament and Privy Councillor, but was forced to retire in 1906 by increasing deafness.

He fought tirelessly to improve the treatment of injured troops returning from the wars. One result was the creation of the Ministry of Pensions, with whom Milner conducted an incessant paper war.

He founded a hostel in Beckenham, set up a number of village settlements and started the Ex-Services Welfare Society. His particular interest was in "shell-shocked" servicemen, who often faced execution by firing squad for failing to obey orders; at best they would be confined in pauper lunatic asylums for life.

In 1926 the Ex-Services Welfare Society bought the Long House as its second rest and treatment Centre, renaming it The Sir Frederick Milner Home and turning it round so that the front door became the back. Cottages were built nearby for married couples. No special medical care was given, but the sheltered environment included a market garden and workshops, operated on commercial lines and paying a living wage.

The society bought the patent for making electrically heated blankets and pads (initially invented for tubercular patients) and continued to make them under the trade name Thermega until 1981, when the workshops were also making and packing flare parachutes for Schermuly.

The factory was then modernised by Remploy (a nationwide organisation set up by the Government) to produce electrical and electronic equipment and assemble and pack other goods, but was closed in 2008. Milner House is now a private nursing home.

However, Tyrwhitt House (named after Milner's successor, Admiral Sir Reginald Yorke Tyrwhitt) in Oaklawn Road nearby, still provides treatment for what is now called Combat Stress.

At our next meeting, on Friday May 21,author Chris Howkins will be telling us how the Surrey countryside was affected by the coming of the Anglo-Saxons; the lifestyle and landscape. We meet in the Abraham Dixon Hall of the Letherhead Institute at 7.30 for 8pm.
Visitors are welcome.
Derek Renn

21st May Early Saxon Landscapes in Surrey by Chris Howkins

The presenter for the last in the Spring series of monthly talks was Chris Howkins, known by many in the audience for his books and his courses on a wide range of subjects. His topic on this occasion was centred on the people of Surrey during the post-Roman period.

In contrast with the earlier Roman era, there is very little evidence to enable historians to visualise what conditions could have been like in those dark days. Scanty archaeological data and the virtual absence of written records make it hard to create a picture of conditions as they were. Nevertheless our lecturer, drawing on his studies over many years gave us some vivid insights into how the people of Surrey might have lived their lives: what they did, what they believed in and how they earned their livelihoods.

An understanding of the landscape plays a crucial part here. Geology, the various types of soil , the whereabouts of hills and river basins; these help to provide a picture - to pinpoint the location of woodlands, of fertile and infertile places, hence the activities of local people in these locations. Forests were a source of timber for building, for fuel and for burning charcoal. In places land was cleared of trees to provide space for crops and grazing. The settlements that were created to house the people were given names that have come down to the present day, and indeed the meaning of these names gives us a great deal of information about the lives of the Anglo-Saxons.

At many points in the talk there was a mention of local place names. These provide much evidence of Saxon beliefs, facts about their society and even their attitude to life. It was a time when the pagan gods were being worshipped and when certain objects were seen as having divine significance. Many villages commemorated the gods such as TIW, THOR and WODEN. In Surrey we have Tuesley, Thundersley and Wooton for example.

Trees even had a divine importance: the elder was personified as the female god, ELLEN, and Elstead remains to remind us of this.

Animals played a vital part in the life of those days - sheep for meat and wool, cattle for drawing the plough and dogs for guarding the flocks and for herding. There is now considerable knowledge about the likely breeds that existed then. It appears that goats were both domestic and sacrificial animals. Farms where goats were reared find their way into place names - hence Garton and Gatwick.

Saxon society was orderly and family oriented. A good deal is known about contemporary clothing which suggests the garments being well made and colourful, sometimes with finely crafted brooches for fastenings. Much controversy exists about the language of the time. It hinges on the time it took for the Celtic language of the British people to transform into the speech which ultimately became English. Some maintain that as much as eighty years could have elapsed between the departure of the Romans and the adoption of the new tongue. Others, Howkins amongst them, believe that it was far more rapid. He instances the rapidity with which modern day immigrants come to master the language of the host country. He reminds us of the speed with which children pick up new words, and he believes that economic necessity, the need to trade and barter, forces the pace.

Many years of study have given Chris Howkins a great knowledge of this subject in all its aspects and it was a considerable feat therefore to have distilled so much of it into a single lecture. As a result there followed a barrage of questions, and requests to enlarge on many of his points. Thus ended a memorable presentation.
John Wettern

17th September Early Motoring in Surrey by Gordon Knowles

The September lecture was given by our President Gordon Knowles, the subject of his book entitled `Surrey and the Motor' published in 2005. The county was involved with the motor car since its introduction into Britain in the 1920s and Gordon has traced its development and its influence on motor design in the county through to the 1920s.

The motor developed from the pedal cycle as a form of independent travel with roads being improved as a consequence. Road building can be traced back to the first turnpike in 1696, the last being built in 1836. Roads were `dust bowls' in summer and mud in winter until the advent of asphalt, produced in a plant at Dorking in 1908.

Pioneers in the county associated with the development of the car were John Henry Knight of Farnham and Charles Jarrett. Knight was instrumental in 1895 in repealing the `Red Flag Act' where the motor vehicle, then the steam car, had to be preceded 60 yards by a man holding a red flag. He later founded the magazine The Autocar and The RAC. Jarrett set up patrols on the Brighton road to warn motorists of speed traps which then evolved into the AA. The event was marked by the `Emancipation Run' which is still commemorated in November to this day.

The first road vehicles were steam road locomotives, one well known make being the Stanley Steamer made in the USA and imported and serviced in Ashtead up to WW1. The first practical vehicles using the internal combustion engine were produced in Germany by Karl Benz in 1885 and Godfrey Daimler in 1886. Initially Benz first car had three wheels while Daimler's first car or `horseless carriage' had four wheels with. the engine slung between the back wheels and having tiller steering. John Knight built a Benz type car in 1895 initially with three wheels, later converting it to four with a Trusty engine at the Reliance Works in Farnham in 1896.Coming from a wealthy family he was an engineer of many parts inventing a patent digging machine and a trench mortar.

Notable Surrey car builders were The Dennis Brothers and AC Cars neither volume car builders but still surviving 100 years later to this day. The Dennis factory moved from Guildford High Street to the Rodboro building on the the corner of Onslow and Bridge Streets, now a Wetherspoon pub and the oldest purpose built multistorey car factory in the world rescued and restored by Guildford Borough Council in the 1990s.

John Dennis was the inventor and his brother the marketing manager, the firm producing cars built with a 6 hp d'Dion engine and later moving into commercial vehicles, the first of which in 1904 was a 25 cwt van built for Harrods. The first Dennis fire engine was made in 1908 for the City of Bradford fire department and later car production ceased in 1913. Since then the name Dennis has been associated with bus and commercial vehicle production, the firm being subjected to changes in ownership but always concentrating on building vehicles to customer specifications on the current Guildford Slyfield estate factory.

AC Cars were developed from the three wheeled 'autocarrier' in 1907 with a 5.6hp air cooled single cylinder engine with chain drive to a single rear wheel ,the passenger originally sitting in front of the driver in a wicker chair but later sitting side by side. Designed by John Weller production was at the Ferry Works in Thames Ditton and in 1913 an AC sports car was tested on the circuit at Brooklands. Since then AC cars have been produced under various owners, the current production being at Camberley and in Malta making it the longest surviving car manufacturer in the country.

There were many car manufacturers in Surrey during this Edwardian period including 'cyclecars', simple vehicles with brakes often as an extra. Some builders only made a single car, others with a limited production. Names included Pilgrim (Farnham), Trojan (Croydon and Kingston), Carlette (Weybridge), Jappis(Wimbledon), Lagonda (Egham) and General, an attempt at streamlining in 1902(Norbury).

Gordon concluded a fascinating and informative lecture by mentioning Brooklands, a race and test track built in 1907 by Hon Fortesque Locke King on his Weybridge estate. It had a unique reinforced concrete construction with steep banking and a rather bumpy surface. Many distance and speed record attempts were made until the mid 1920s. The track is associated with famous personalities including Percy Lambert, the first to exceed 100mph in 1913 and Eldridge in Mephistopheles who reached 145mph in the early twenties. The race track was eventually closed at the outbreak of WW2 in 1939.
Fred Meynen

15th October Just Fish : Recollections of a Village Fishmonger by Ron Fowler

"JUST FISH" was the modest title of Ron Flower's talk at our October meeting. Not so very long ago, every high street had its branch of Mac Fisheries or an independent fresh fishmonger.

Mac Fisheries is now only a memory and fishmongers - even itinerant ones - a rarity.

Fish is now sold in supermarkets frozen and ready-packed for cooking. Shops serving fish and chips - the original "fast food" - survive, but fish is no longer a cheap meal that it once was.

As a pupil at St Paul's School in Kingston, Mr Fowler often bought chips for lunch in Jarvis's shop nearby and enjoyed their bloaters for tea. He became fascinated watching a lady filleting wet fish in another part of the shop. Ron became a Saturday boy there, doing all the menial jobs of cleaning the slabs, sweeping the floor and so on.

On leaving school he became an apprentice, which included going out in a trawler and visiting the smokehouses in Scotland where fish was prepared for transport all over Britain. He saw mountains of fish being bulldozed into containers and ground up for fishmeal and used as fertiliser, to keep prices high enough for fishermen to earn a living.

On completing his apprenticeship, Ron was allowed to wear along white coat. His son followed the same career, but persuaded Ron to set up on his own in a Bookham shop, where they both are to this day. It was an ideal position: dayboat fish (like plaice and sole) caught in Cornwall would be in his shop the same evening before the rest of the catch got to the London's wholesale Billingsgate Market.

Fish is still wholesaled by the stone (14 lb) measure. Half of any fish by weight was bone or skin, so buying whole fish does not save money. Ron's shop had little other waste: local restaurants usually bought any fish left at the end of the day.

Mr Fowler is no ordinary fishmonger, though, he teaches at various cookery schools (including Tante Marie and Gordon Ramsay) and has appeared in several television series (a new one for ITV is being filmed).

Ron is one of the very few certificated to sell certain varieties of Scottish salmon. He had brought along more than a dozen varieties of fresh fish, which he challenged us to identify. None of his fish (except prawns) were frozen before sale.

Today's favourite sea bass sold in his shop was line caught, not imported frozen from Greece. He gave advice on checking for freshness and quality, with anecdotes for each variety.

Here are a few at random:

Cod (now twice as expensive as rainbow trout), can grow up to 200 lbs. Its bones could be used as needles (with "eye") and as fish hooks and used to produce a brawn-like paste which was useful for chest

Pollack (Cornish Cod) sells out locally there to the summer holiday trade, and the French pay more than the English for mackerel.

The tiny male monkfish is a parasite, attaching itself to a female's bloodstream. After fertilising her eggs, the male goes to another hostess.

A crab takes four years (and a lobster seven) to grow to one pound weight.

Derek Renn

19th November Searching for Stane Street : Mickleham to Ewell by Alan Hall

Roman roads interest many people, as the large audience for our November meeting clearly showed

Our speaker, Alan Hall, is secretary of the Roman Studies Group of the Surrey Archaeological Society and had carried out research on the local roads for his MA degree.

As he explained, the Romans didn't give their roads names. Stane (Anglo-Saxon for stone) Street (way) was a later name, and even more recent was Pibble Lane.

Stane Street could be traced from London Bridge through Streatham (a place-name often found on.the line of a Roman road) to Ewell, the line being mainly marked today by the A24.

Until recently the position of the road between the Organ Inn and North Hohnwood was uncertain. Thereafter Stane Street could be followed (particularly along the A29 through Ockley) to Chichester, a Roman town, and the coast and harbours beyond.

The speaker described the literature on the road, from Hilaire Belloc's fanciful ideas, Captain Grant's accurate survey, Stanley Winbolt's excavations and Ivan Margary's "Roman Ways in the Weald" ground-breaking in more ways than one.

A Roman road-book (the "Antonine Itinerary") directed the traveller from Londinium to Noviomagnum (Chichester) in a roundabout way via Silchester and Winchester. Recently a direct Roman road from Winchester to London had been traced through Hampshire but its route beyond Farnham was uncertain.

Although Roman roads were remarkably correctly aligned between their final destinations, they were not absolutely straight. They wavered by a few degrees between each pair of high points used for surveying, and to avoid steep slopes (like Box Hill).

At present the line of Stane Street between Juniper Hill and North Hohnwood is unknown.
The Mole was probably forded at Burford (hence the name: "Bridge" came later).

Many test pits dug all over the Denbies hillside produced nothing, but old maps showed a straight alignment along the valley bottom into the Mole gap.

Alan described each of the local excavations across the line of Stane Street from the cutting of the M25 (still crossed by a right of way bridge here) and another to bury a gas pipeline, the leasing of an Epsom allotment for archaeology rather than horticulture, and testpits in private gardens (he recommended 1.5 metres square to give enough elbow-room). Where still complete, the road was eight metres (20 Roman feet) wide, built of flint covered in pebbly gravel, set wherever possible on solid chalk, not London clay or sand. Chalk and clay are slippery when wet: flints give a surer footing. A certain standard of proof of a road was necessary: alignments suggested by extending the known line had proved incorrect. Hedges could be deceptive, but old photographs could show terraces up to three metres high which had been ploughed out later.

Mr Hall's research had shown that Roman road construction here followed a line marked by a plough. Side ditches for drainage were not universal: often there was only one ditch on the uphill side of a terraceway, or the ditches were the result of quarrying for roadmetal. Slight changes of alignment occurred not only at major adjustments but also at intermediate (usually high) points of the route.

Blanks drawn in Ewell Ewe (where he was working with Frank Pemberton) might indicate a double z-bend here, perhaps for reasons related to the lakes and ponds. Stane Street was disused by the fourth century AD.

Among his answers to the many questions put to him, the speaker said that there were Roman stone bridges in northern England. At Alfoldean, there were traces ofthe wooden bridge by which Stane. Street crossed the River Arun. Roads sand below the surface because of natural action (blown or washed-down soil and leaves, disturbance by earthworms, as Charles Darwin had demonstrated on the site of the Abinger villa). Responsible detectorists might help by detecting metal finds (an iron axle-pin of the first century AD had been found near Cherkley Court many years ago).

He was doubtful about the purpose of the side road to the Ashtead villa. Its very light construction suggested to him that it was a temporary trackway built to allow the removal of robbed stone, tiles and bricks.

Members may, bring their friends to our informal social evening on December 17. The first meeting of 2011 will be on Friday January 21 when Martin Warwick will tell us about his involvement with Early British Computers. We meet in the main hall of the Letherhead (CORR) Institute on the third Friday of each month; coffee/tea at 7.30pm followed by a talk at 8pm. Visitors are always most welcome.
Derek Renn