Leatherhead & District Museum of Local History
covering Ashtead, the Bookhams, Fetcham, as well as Leatherhead

How about becoming one of our Museum Volunteers?

Leatherhead Museum's last day of opening in 2016 is Saturday 10th December, before closing for its Winter break

Th 1pm-4pm, Fri 1pm-4pm, Sat 10am-4pm

The Leatherhead & District Museum of Local History is in Hampton Cottage, a timbered 17th Century house at 64 Church Street, Leatherhead KT22 8DP.

The building was purchased by the Leatherhead Museum and Local Heritage Trust in 1976 and after extensive restoration, it was opened as the Museum in 1980. Contact us on 01372 386348 or email staff@lheadmuseum.plus.com

It is the Leatherhead & District Local History Societyís HQ as well as its showcase for many items of local interest. The Museum's 25th Anniversary year was in 2005. In 2010 the Trust merged with the Leatherhead & District Local History Society as a single charity. Membership of the Society is therefore a valuable contribution to the financial support of the Museum and its development.

ACCESS IS FREE. During our Season we are open to visitors on Thursdays and Fridays from 1 pm to 4 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. Although there is step-free access to the ground floor, the construction of this old cottage means that there is no access to the upper floor other than by stairs.


Hampton Cottage
 

New in 2016

The upstairs front room features the 'factional' life of Frank and Hilda Hollis, who used to live at Hampton Cottage. In particular it represents the room as it might have been on May 8 1945, VE Day. The room set has enabled us to recreate a typical 1940s working and living space, whilst providing a backdrop to our artefacts from 1900 to 1944, such as the Union Jack purchased for VE Day in Leatherhead.

Reference will be made to the sacrifices made during the Battle of the Somme as part of the 100 year commemorations of WW1.

At the same time, the temporary exhibition space shows life in the district during the 1960s, ranging from Marc Bolan's pop art to the developments including the Thorndike Theatre.
The model of Hampton Cottage has been relocated to upstairs in the Mediaeval Room and is displayed in front of an information board explaining its early architectural background.
Two downstairs rooms tell the story of living and working here from the Victorian period to the present day.

Where space permits, large photographs of local factory workers will be reproduced for display. The official opening of the Museum by WWI re-enactor Tim Richardson took place on 2nd April.

Other displays continue to give a glimpse into the extensive range of products made by now defunct manufacturers that were once were the biggest employers in the town. These included Ronson who although probably best known for cigarette lighters and perhaps hairdryers, made many other items that could be operated by gas, including candles!

Another manufacturer, whose site is now occupied by Esso UK's HQ, was BVC - better known as Goblin. Displays have shown how they first started out vacuum cleaning customers' premises from a van parked outside with hoses through the windows. We have two hand operated hand operated machines with bellows (one is shown on the right) and several rather old electric cylinder machines. We also showed various examples of other Goblin products including, clocks, radios and heaters and the Teasmade machines. Of particular interest is the Magneta pendulum master clock which came from a telephone exchange.

Partly under our staircase there is a range of old kitchen equipment. Alongside we have the bucket, washing dolly, hard soap and the mangle - the forerunners of the washing machine and spin dryer.

There are also small collections and displays of local Roman and Anglo Saxon finds, Ashtead Pottery and many other items.

This is just a taste of the items of interest to both adults and children crammed into Hampton Cottage which is perhaps the best exhibit of all with its attractive garden with a well and the stone swan from the old Swan Hotel - the one above the entrance to the Travel Lodge in the High Street is a copy.

In 2009, with the help of a generous grant from Surrey County Council towards the cost, we were pleased to provide step-free access from the adjacent footpath to enable visitors with mobility difficulties to enter the garden and the ground floor of Hampton Cottage.

We have a small shop in the Museum run by the Friends of Leatherhead Museum selling souvenirs and the quite extensive range of books published by the Society and others on local and other historical subjects, including the latest by Peter Tarplee, Railways Around Leatherhead & Dorking.

There is no charge for entry to this privately owned and funded Museum, which is fully accredited (MLA no.409), but donations are always welcome towards our running costs. Visitors with recollections of the past of the area are invited to enter them in the Book of Memories.

Photo report of accident in which a vehicle crashed into the Museum 6 Jan 2008

BY CAR: Leatherhead Town Centre is about 5 minutes from M25 Junction 9 and the town is an easy run from Kingston, Epsom, Dorking and Guildford. See map for location of car parks which are a short walk from the Museum. TRAIN: From Victoria, Waterloo, Guildford and Horsham to Leatherhead Station which is ten minutes easy walk to the Museum. There is a taxi stand at the station.

In our 2015 season there were two new features:

The Taylor Family: The tragic story of how a local mother lost four of her sons and one maimed in World War I. A member of the Taylor family, Mrs Taylor's grandson Arthur, performed the official reopening of the Museum on 28th March. The banner below shows three of the Taylor boys - Alfred (+), Fred (+), and Arthur - in the Leatherhead Football team, winners of the Dorking & District League Trophy in the 1912-13 season. Mrs Taylor never locked her door, in the hope that one day those who had not yet returned might walk in.


The new Mediaeval Room displays covered the period from pre-history until 1600. Prominent are Ashtead's Roman Villa, the Saxon burials at Hawks Hill and the exploration of the Pachensam Manor site by AWG Lowther.

Children enjoyed trying on Mediaeval costumes - being a Princess or a Knight.

2014

We had a display about Donald Campbell who for a short while lived just down the the road from the museum. It was the 50th Anniversary of his being the first (and probably the only) man to hold the Land and Water Speed records in the same year. We had a model of Bluebird CN7 on loan from the Brooklands Museum Collection and a steering wheel from one of the Bluebirds from our own collection.

Later in the year we also had a popular exhibition on Last Letters, featuring Private George Weller, 13th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. He is listed on the Ashtead War Memorial. It is hoped to expand his page on the Ashtead War Memorial website to include material that was in the exhibition.

There was a new display on High Ashurst, the home of the Earl of Harrowby, of the Dudley Ryder family. The house was sold in 1918, used by the YWCA and then was a boarding school, Wentworth Hall. The Hall was requisitioned in WWII for the Canadian Royal Engineers HQ. It is the 70th Anniversary on D-Day on June 6th. We also have a WWI survivor display and will feature WWI more strongly from July onwards.

A 2012 London Olympics Inspire a Generation lampost banner started our collection of items related to this major event in the life of the town. Come with your family to take a photo for the family album on days when it will be on display in our garden. We welcome other Olympics items, especially relating to Leatherhead.

2013

There were many new exhibits in 2013, including a special feature on the folk song The Poor Murdered Woman, which was written more than 150 years ago by a local man, James Fairs (Fairs Road was named after him. His grandson opened a greengrocers' shop in the High Street which some may remember). Murdered Woman programme interview link

The song tells the story of a murder committed on Leatherhead Common in 1834. The renowned folk singer Shirley Collins MBE recorded a much loved version of the song with the Albion Country Band in 1971 and she opened the exhibit on 6th April 2013.

Shirley was a very influential figure in the post-war folk movement - she and Alan Lomax toured America in the late 1950s and recorded many of the old American blues musicians, recordings which played an important part in the blues explosion of the 1960s. She also made the ground breaking album Folk Roots, New Routes in 1965 with the influential guitarist Davey Graham and was married to Ashley Hutchings, sometime bass guitarist with Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention. She has always loved the song The Poor Murdered Woman and came to Leatherhead on January 15th this year, the anniversary of the burial of the murder victim in Leatherhead churchyard, to make a radio programme for the internet station Folk Radio UK, which the Museum helped to organise. We are extremely honoured by the attendance of this 'grande dame' of the English folk movement (sorry Shirley!), rightly regarded as a national treasure.

2012

New features in 2012 included Beneath one's Feet in Fetcham showing evidence of flint working from the Stone Age in various parts of the Parish. Also there were finds from Roman times and a display of Saxon artefacts including the spears and the remnants of the famous Saxon bucket. (The replica of this remains one of the highlights of the Museumís displays). Linked with this was The Fetcham Mill Pond and the Mill close to the site where Saxon objects were discovered in the 1930s. More recently, in 2009, the remains of a Roman Building were revealed.

Our window display featured Down(s) and out with the Tanners - advertising the memorabilia and records of the Tanners Marathon, the run held annually for 50 years, ending very recently.

A Leatherhead Connection with the Titanic disaster was an updating of a very popular exhibition which highlighted the personal aspects of the disaster. Our A4 Titanic Booklet was also updated.

Continuing to be of interest was the World Wars display which included artefacts, and pictures taken from the Leatherhead at War films [DVD available in the shop]. This was the upstairs front room, with the old telephone exchange from Leatherhead Hospital.

In 2011 we accepted an item once to be seen throughout the district - a milk churn with a local dairyís name embossed on it.