Which artefacts and stories will surprise you today?
A giant spider crab or dinosaur bones, Concorde or exquisite costume, medals or maps, traditional crafts or sporting greats,or some of the most stunning art and sculpture in the southeast?
COVID-19 NOTICE: In line with government advice,Surrey museums and galleries are currently closed to the public. However, there is plenty going on behind the scenes so please keep an eye on individual websites and social media for updates. We look forward to welcoming you back soon.
A museum is defined by a collection of objects. These are often unique. They form the core of its activities for exhibitions, education, research and events. The collections in Surrey museums, galleries and heritage sites reflect the county’s diverse history, art, archaeology and the natural sciences.
…A Taste of What You’ll Discover
An Egyptian mummy, a giant Japanese spider crab, exquisite costume, a Viking sword, Concorde, castles, a crystal grotto, three army museums, 6 miles of documents from the 12th to 21st century, 30 London buses, home of the ‘Tramp Master’, the first motor racing circuit in the world, an open-air museum celebrating rural life with traditional crafts, and some of the most stunning artwork in the southeast.
A History of Surrey in 50 Objects
Everyone loves a good story, and every object has a story to tell.
Objects are a physical link with the past that go beyond time. They reveal something of the people who used them, the places they came from and the worlds they belonged to.As they change hands through families, friends, explorers, worshippers and traders, every step of an object’s journey leaves an imprint, or mark, that becomes a part of it. Suddenly, something really ordinary can be extraordinary. And something extraordinary can be magical.
A History of Surrey in 50 Objects shares intriguing stories from across our county through a selection of museum artefacts. Around 150 objects were suggested by Surrey’s museum Curators and Collections Officers to represent a moment, person or event which shaped or changed our county. Among them are tales of Surrey’s invaders and settlers, kings and queens, industrial change and political revolution, trade, sport, invention and creation.
Click the blue < > arrows below to scroll through the objects.
Palaeolithic Flint Hand Axe GODALMING MUSEUM
This Palaeolithic hand axe found at Llanaway is a particularly beautiful flint hand axe. It is the oldest human artefact in Godalming Museum’s collection, and at least 400,000 years old. It always gives me a thrill to handle an object so unimaginably ancient.
Llanaway was a small estate between Godalming and Farncombe owned in the 19th century by the Hallam sisters, who were very involved in local good works. In the early 20th century the last sister sold part of the estate for a new school: Godalming Junior School. After her death the estate was laid out for building, with Hallam and Llanaway Roads continuing the name of the estate and of the family who had lived there for so many years.
The local councillor who donated this hand axe built a house in Llanaway Road, and it is tempting to think that the axe was found during building operations.
Sweetwater Valley Mesolithic Flints GODALMING MUSEUM
These are a lovely collection of Mesolithic flints along with notes about their excavation and correspondence about the collection.They were found in 1944 by schoolmaster Dr John Nichols whose London school had been e[vacuated to Witley in the Second World War. He was a keen amateur archaeologist who had dug with Sir Mortimer Wheeler and was a member of the Society of Antiquaries.
Dr. Nichols corresponded about his find with Mr Rankine, an expert on the Mesolithic and a fellow member of the Surrey Archaeological Society. Dr. Nichols was convinced that the flints were in situ – meaning as they had been left by their Mesolithic creators – which makes them an unusual find.
Dr Nichols later went on to be a volunteer Curator of Godalming Museum
Mesolithic-Early Neolithic Flint Axe EAST SURREY MUSEUM
Sometimes known as the ‘Thames Pick’, East Surrey Museum’s giant axe is just over a foot long.
It was found in St Mary’s Churchyard in Oxted and is believed to be Mesolithic or early Neolithic. It is something in the origin of 5,000 to 8,000 years old.
Amazingly, it is in absolute mint condition as you can see from these images.Due to its size and condition experts believe it may have had a ceremonial use rather than being a working tool.
The late Bronze Age socketed axe head from around 800-600 BC was a unique discovery that changed archaeologists’ thinking.
Until this was discovered in 1985, archaeologists thought that handles of late Bronze Age axe heads were made from a single piece of L-shaped wood, such as a gnarled tree-root or the point where a branch joins the main trunk. This is cast in bronze and was found complete with its jointed wooden haft (handle) made up of two pieces: a horizontal haft made of oak to give the tool strength, and a vertical haft made of ash for flexibility.
Chertsey Museum’s hafted axe head is known as a Ewart Park, looped socketed axe head.
Wanborough Roman Temple Priest’s Head-dress GUILDFORD MUSEUM
The discovery of artefacts at Wanborough Roman Temple led to major changes in national law following its looting and destruction in the eighties. Archaeologists did manage to recover a small proportion of the objects,including this priest’s head-dress, now one of the most important Roman objects in Britain.
The wheel symbol at the top is linked with the Celtic version of Jupiter, a sun and sky god.The whole thing was probably attached to a cap. The priest would have been a local leader, and would have carried a wooden sceptre with bronze handles at either end.
Surrey did not exist then: it was part of the area of the Atrebates tribe.
Roman Flue Tiles HOLMESDALE NATURAL HISTORY CLUB MUSEUM
These objects are Roman flue tiles probably dating back to the 2nd century.The tiles were found in 1886 in the Doods Road area of Reigate.
There is now evidence of Roman kilns making box tiles in this area. One kiln was excavated in 2004 and there is evidence for several others.The pattern on the front suggest they were made by a travelling master potter as this pattern is also recorded from box tiles made at tile kilns in Ashtead and Sussex.
Wealden Iron Furnace reproduction RURAL LIFE CENTRE
A working replica of a Wealden iron furnace was created at the Rural Life Living Museum and was a remarkable piece of early engineering. Our illustration gives some idea of what the finished furnace looked like.
Wealden iron was a significant industry in Britain for over 2,000 years. Local iron ore, water and extensive forests led to the Weald area of Surrey, Sussex and Kent being the major iron-producing region during the early Roman occupation of Britain, and the Tudor and early Stuart periods.
By the 19th century, the industry had all but died out but evidence in the form of hammer ponds can still be found in some areas, and in local place names such as Abinger Hammer.The nearest forge to the Rural Life Living Museum was at Thursley where there is still a hammer pond. This was a very late forge. In 1666 it was leased to iron master, William Yaldon of Blackdown, where at that time there was a Forge and Furness. Wrought iron was sent from here via the Godalming Navigation.
Discovered in 1981, this magnificent 10th century Viking sword with its double-edged steel blade was designed as a slashing weapon to be held in one hand.The handle is decorated with copper and silver, and the maker’s name, ‘Ulfberht‘, is clearly inscribed on the blade.The sword may have been thrown into the river as part of a burial ritual or possibly lost during a Viking raid on the area.
Chertsey is one of the oldest towns in England, and Chertsey Abbey was the 1st monastery in Surrey and the 5th largest in the country. It was sacked by the Vikings in AD 871 when the Abbot Beocca and 90 monks were killed. It was attacked again in around the year 1010-1011.
The sword is a rare and graphic reminder of the story of invasion and bloodshed in Surrey throughout the time of the
This bronze statuette shows King John sealing the Magna Carta with Archbishop Stephen Langton and the Earl of Albermarle.
King John was an unpopular monarch who continually abused the feudal system, extorted monies from his subjects and relied heavily on his barons to keep order. A rebellion by some led to a failed assassination in 1212, angering John who seized rebels’ land, provoking civil war.Unable to sustain costs of a war, King John had no choice but to comply, and a deal was brokered. John and the barons met in Runnymede on 10th June 1215, where the Articles of the Barons curtailing the king’s powers were presented. The full text of Magna Carta, the Great Charter, was then agreed from this and sealed on 15th June 1215.
Magna Carta is revered across the world as the first statement of the fundamental principles of liberty that we enjoy today and is of great significance to Surrey.
Dating to 1285 this stone once stood by the Thames at Staines and marked the jurisdiction of the City of London over the River Thames in terms of trade and revenue.
It was visited at intervals by the Lord Mayor of London and representatives from the City Livery Companies. They would have travelled up river in their grand barges to Staines, where a ceremony and lunch would be held. Inscriptions were added to the plinth to record these visits.
The London Stone is now part of the collection at Spelthorne Museum.
The remains of Woking Palace can be found near Old Woking, on the banks of the River Wey.The original manor house of Woking became a favourite residence of Henry VII and Henry VIII who had considerable works carried out during their reigns, effectively turning the house into a palace.
A number of artefacts of archaeological interest were recovered from the river including fragments of hand-painted blue and white tin-glazed floor tiles. These tiles have now been identified as having come from Valencia, Spain.The Woking collection of Valencian tiles contains the largest number of such tiles found anywhere in Britain, although similar tiles have been found in Guildford, Dartford and Billericay.
Chertsey Abbey and Oatlands Palace Head ELMBRIDGE MUSEUM
Originally from Chertsey Abbey and dating to the 12th century, this sandstone head stands witness to some of the most pivotal and calamitous events in Tudor and Stuart England.
Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII, Chertsey Abbey was demolished.Much of the Abbey, including the sandstone head, was reused to form the foundations of Oatlands Palace, one of Henry’s great Tudor palaces in Surrey built between 1537-1545.
Used as a Royalist base during the Civil War, Oatlands Palace itself was demolished in 1650 by Parliamentarian soldiers.
Signed Letter from Queen Jane (Lady Jane Grey)
SURREY HISTORY CENTRE
This letter was written from the Tower of London in July 1553, during the brief ‘reign’ of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Day Queen.
The plot to make Jane queen, instead of the rightful heir Mary, was dreamt up by the dying Edward VI and his chief minister the Duke of Northumberland, to prevent Mary turning England back to Roman Catholicism. Jane’s letter to the sheriff, justices of the peace and gentlemen of Surrey exhorts them to stand fast in their allegiance to her following the proclamation of her succession.Within days Jane’s support crumbled and Mary was proclaimed Queen. Jane and Northumberland were both executed.
The letter is part of the correspondence of the More Molyneux family of Loseley House, one of the richest surviving archive sources for Tudor and Stuart Surrey.
Image courtesy of Surrey History Centre
Musket Balls from Farnham Park MUSEUM of FARNHAM
This is a collection of musket balls from Farnham Park found during the survey by archaeologists and metal detectorists across 2002-2005.There is also a quilted arming cap which would have been worn under a metal helmet to cushion the head.
Farnham Castle held a strategic position in Surrey, commanding important cross-country routes to London, Winchester and Southampton.The munitions are thought to relate to fighting in November 1643 when 8000 Royalist troops unsuccessfully attempted to overcome the Parliamentary garrison at Farnham Castle.
The area surveyed showed two lines of shot, roughly 55 metres apart which seems to indicate two skirmishing lines of troops firing at each other.
The rush light holder offers a glimpse of domestic life in the 1700s.A rush would have been dipped in mutton (sheep) fat and allowed to dry. Mutton fat was best because it dried the hardest. The greased rush would then be placed in the ‘jaws’ of the holder and lit.
It was a child’s job to fix the rush – certainly not a job suited to the fingers of a mother and her needlework. A lighted rush would be laid on the edge of a chest of drawers at bedtime, giving just enough time to undress and get in to bed.
The edges of old furniture often have burnt little grooves from this domestic task.
Tankard from The Assembly Rooms BOURNE HALL MUSEUM
Built on the site of the famous Epsom spa, the Assembly Rooms originally housed a tavern, a coffee shop, a shop, gambling tables in the ground floor room of the rear range, and space for dancing in the Long Room above. Visitors could relax in the gardens, bowling green and cockpit to the rear.
A sizeable collection of bottles, tankards and pipes were found in a pit in these grounds. They were discarded in the 1720s when the reputation of this social hub was in decline.
The Assembly Rooms are important as the earliest known surviving building of this type in England.
During the 18th century, the White Hart Inn in Godstone had a pear tree grow in the garden. The fruit of this tree was so hard it became known as the ‘Iron Pear Tree’.
Some years later a spring was discovered in the same garden, the water of which was said to be good for the health. By 1752, the health-giving waters were being bottled and sold for 12d a gallon.To prevent fraud the bottles were marked “Iron Pear Tree water near Godstone Surry” and sealed.The 2 medallions near the neck of the jar show an ‘invalid’ before and after drinking the water.
Painshill Park was created between 1738 and 1773 by the Honourable Charles Hamilton and is one of the most important 18th century landscapes in Europe. A painter, plantsman and brilliantly gifted, imaginative designer, Charles Hamilton dedicated his creative genius to the layout and composition of a landscape garden which was unique in Europe – and still remains so.
The 18th century Crystal Grotto was finished between 1765 and 1770. It is considered to be the most spectacular and famous feature in Hamilton’s masterpiece and the finest of its type ever built.
In May 2006, Painshill was awarded full collection status for the John Bartram Heritage Collection, the first National Plant Collection of its type ever awarded. It is now used as a standard to judge other similar heritage collections finished between 1765 and 1770.
William Cobbett is arguably the most influential person Farnham has ever produced and The Museum of Farnham has a number of his letters, manuscripts and other items.
Generally remembered for his book Rural Rides and as the founder of Hansard, Cobbett was a thorn in the flesh of successive governments as a political journalist.
For nearly forty years he occupied a unique position of power using his brilliant pen to support the labouring poor by exposing corruption and dishonesty, earning himself the name, ‘The Poor Man’s Friend’. No ordinary individual before or since has had such a dominating influence in public affairs on both sides of the Atlantic.
William Cobbett was born in Farnham in 1763 and died nearby in Normandy in 1835.
Thomas Holloway’s ‘Universal Ointment’ EGHAM MUSEUM
Thomas Holloway was a Victorian entrepreneur who became a multi-millionaire from the sale of his patent medicines, pills and ointments designed to cure all ills – though in reality they were later found to have very few medicinal properties.
Holloway later became better known for his philanthropy, founding and personally funding the Holloway Sanitorium for the mentally insane in Virginia Water, and the Royal Holloway College in Egham, both established as ‘Gifts to the Nation’.
Bust of Alfred Lord Tennyson HASLEMERE EDUCATIONAL MUSEUM
This is a plaster bust of the great poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, made by sculptor Thomas Woolner in 1857.
Tennyson lived the last 25 years of his life at Aldworth House on Blackdown in Haslemere. During these later years he is said to have produced some of his best poetry.These include The Holy Grail and Other Poems and Balin and Balan.
In his later verse, Tennyson responded to his magnificent surroundings – “There on top of the down, The wild heather round me and ver me June’s high blue” – and it was at Aldworth House that he died in October 1892.
This beautiful vase stood on the mantelpiece at Croft Rectory, North Yorkshire, the home of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better know as Lewis Carroll.The vase is of cranberry glass with a pattern of white enamel and gilding, and was made around the 1860s.
Dodgson purchased The Chestnuts in Guildford with the proceeds from Alice in Wonderland. He lived there with his sisters until his death in 1898.
Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) is buried in Guildford Cemetery.
The Whitworth Rifle NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION MUSEUM
The Whitworth rifle was designed by Sir Joseph Whitworth, a prominent British engineer and entrepreneur.
In 1860, the British National Rifle Association held its first annual meeting at Wimbledon, where Queen Victoria fired the first shot from a Whitworth rifle on a machine rest at 400 yards, and struck the bull’s-eye 1 1/4 inches from its centre.
James Henry Pullen’s State Barge LANGDON DOWN MUSEUM
Pullen’s State BargeThe ‘State Barge’ or ‘Fantasy Boat’ was the creation of James Henry Pullen (1835-1916), the Idiot Genius of Earlswood Asylum.
Pullen was one of the earliest examples of Idiot Savant, with a unique talent for mechanical invention, and is still the only one recorded with this ability.
One of Pullen’s most imaginative works was the State Barge, which he perceived as a vessel from which Queen Victoria could rule her empire.
Built in 1866, its hull is made of ebony, cosmic forces are represented on the exterior, ivory angels are in the prow with Satan subdued in the stern. The ivory came from tusks sent to Pullen by his patron, Edward VII.
Formerly part of the Royal Earlswood Asylum Museum collection, this and the rest of the Pullen collection is now part of the Langley Down Museum of Learning Disability collection.
Dr. John Langdon Down was Medical Superintendent of the Earlswood Asylum from 1855 to 1868. It is here that he first documented what later became known as Down’s Syndrome.
Wire Mesh Stone-breaking Goggles THE GUILDFORD SPIKE
‘The Spike’ Vagrants and Casuals Ward offers an uncomfortable insight into life for Edwardian vagrants and tramps. Built alongside the Guildford Workhouse, it is one of the only remaining examples of a building from the Poor Law era.
Dating to the 1870s, these goggles were an early form of eye protection given to inmates of the Workhouse and the Spike.The protection is given by a fine black japan wire mesh, the goggles were held on with a lace.
Often the stones that were pounded in Surrey were flint, and eye protection was essential.
The mahogany and brass Magic Lantern was made by Lancaster and Sons in 1878 and became the subject of Charles Goodwin Norton of Shere.
Norton is the author of The Lantern And How To Use It and went on to became a pioneer of cinematography. His early films feature local people and events.
Shere has continued its link with the film industry as the setting for many film and television productions including The Ruling Class’with Peter O’Toole, Bridget Jones – Edge of Reason and, The Holiday with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Jude Law.
This is a home made spelling machine from Yorktown National School, dating from around 1880. It consists of a tin box with 7 windows cut out of the front. Behind each window is a roll of linen wound round a spindle.
Each linen roll is printed with every letter of the alphabet and each of the spindles has its own handle at the base of the box. When a handle is turned, the roll of linen turns so that any letter can be made to show through the window at the front.
“I’ve never seen another example so, although it is somewhat worn, it is one of the most significant items we have.”
Curator, Surrey Heath Museum
Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, was leader of the Liberal Party, served as Foreign Secretary, served as first chairman of the London County Council, and in 1894 succeeded William Gladstone as Prime Minister.This hansom cab transported him on many occasions between Epsom and London.
In 1874 Lord Rosebery purchased the Durdans, a house with racing stables at Epsom.He brought his new bride, Hannah Rothschild, here in 1878.It was here at the Durdans where Rosebery’s involvement with the town began which would last until his death in 1929.
His thoroughbred horses Ladas, Sir Visto and Cicero won him three Derbies.
Brookwood Hospital opened in 1867 as Brookwood Asylum and was the leading mental hospital for the West of Surrey. Established to complement the Springfield Asylum in Tooting, Brookwood Hospital was the second County Asylum and was able to hold 650 pauper lunatics.
Brookwood was sited on 150 acres of land which lay between the Basingstoke canal and the village of Knaphill, four miles west of Woking. During the 127 years of its operation, the hospital developed considerably. It was self-sufficient with, among other things, its own dairy, cobbler’s, sewage farm, fire-brigade and chapel. Later came a reception hospital, then library and conference centre.
Following the opening of the sick hospital in 1938, patient capacity peaked at 1,753. The hospital closed in 1994
Image courtesy of Surrey History Centre, Woking
Model of Lutyen’s East Lodge SHERE MUSEUM
Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens was born on 29th March 1869, the tenth child of Charles and Mary Lutyens of Onslow Square, London and Thursley, Surrey.
In 1888 he started his career as an architect and in 1889 he was commissioned to design Crooksbury in Farnham, Surrey. Around this time he was a house guest of the Bray family in Shere and is reputed to have been courting Helen (Nellie) Bray.
In 1892, Sir Reginald Bray commissioned Lutyens, aged 23, to design a shop in Middle Street for “Charles Summers, Barber & Shoemaker” which is now The Lucky Duck Tea Rooms. This was followed in 1894 by East Lodge for The Manor House and Western Cottages in Upper Street.
Lutyens’ association with Gertrude Jekyll and his subsequent illustrious career is well documented. In 1897 he married Lady Emily Lytton and had 5 children.
Watts’ Gallery Chapel Doors WATTS GALLERY: ARTISTS’ VILLAGE
G.F. Watts was an eminent artist of the Victorian era. His wife Mary, designed and built the chapel as part of an inspirational community project enshrining the vision ‘art for all’.
The great doors of the chapel were prepared by Barrow & Boxell in chestnut and oak and carved by Thomas Steadman, a Compton wheelwright. The metalwork was designed by the architect George Redmayne and forged by the village blacksmith Clarence Sex for a fee of 21 pounds and 5 shillings.
It was exhibited at the 1898 annual Home Arts and Industries exhibition held at the circular upper gallery of the Albert Hall.
This substantial piece of luggage marked with a G in the centre belonged to Arts & Crafts garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.
As a child and a young woman, Jekyll travelled extensively, and later made several journeys with friends around the Mediterranean, and Godalming Museum has a sketchbook recording visits to France, Italy and Algiers.However, pressure of work and declining health restricted her travel in later life. She designed her later, and her more distant, gardens through correspondence.
Jekyll had a deep love of West Surrey where she had grown up at Bramley, and where she made her home at Munstead from 1876.She died at home at Munstead Wood in 1932.
On loan to The Lightbox from Mr. Chris Ingram, this early football dates back to 1909 and was used in the first round proper of the F.A. Cup.
After five qualification rounds, Woking FC played away in 1908 to Bolton who were one of the twelve founding professional clubs. Despite being defeated 5-0 in this fixture, ‘their sportsmanlike approach made an impression with the Bolton team, its supporters and management’ and the match made it into the national press.The game was a turning point as the financial rewards from the game ensured Woking FC’s survival.
This ball was used when Woking FC played Bolton Wanderers in a return friendly at Pembroke Road, Woking, in 1909.1,600 supporters watched as Woking played admirably but lost 4-1 to the visitors.
Areas of Surrey became well known for industries such as Hammer Vale Pottery and Wealden glass.This collection is of art pottery made at the Hammer Vale Pottery Works of Radley Young and William Stallworthy in Shottermill between 1901 and 1911.
Battle of the Somme Football SURREY INFANTRY MUSEUM
On the 1st July, 1916, under heavy enemy fire, the 8th Battalion East Surrey Regiment were waiting in their trenches ready to go “”over the top”” in the first Battle of the Somme. Their objective was Montauban Ridge.
Captain WP Nevill, attached from the East Yorkshire Regiment and commanding “”B”” Company had bought four footballs for his platoons to kick across No Man’s Land “”subject to the proviso that proper formation and distance was not lost thereby””. Captain Nevill promised a reward to the first platoon to score a “”goal”” in enemy trenches. In the face of murderous fire, and taking heavy casualties, they charged across the ground with the footballs before them.
The combination of Nevill’s initiative and their gallantry proved successful and they gained their objective on the Ridge. Sadly, Nevill was not there to pay the reward. He had been killed just outside the German wire.
Two of the footballs were found there later. This is one of them.
This model steam Merry-Go-Round was made by Percy Jarrad Todd, a Camberley Watchmaker and jeweller.He based it on the roundabout belonging to the Whittle family which came as part pf the Fair held on London Road Recreation Ground each year.
The model contains over 3000 parts and won the Silver Medal and First Class Diploma at the Model Engineer Exhibition in 1930.
The Napier Railton was designed by Reid Railton and built by Thomson & Taylor of Brooklands in 1933.
Driven by John Cobb who was born and lived in Esher, it holds the Brooklands Outer Circuit lap record which can never be bettered following the destruction of parts of the circuit in WW2.The car set two World 24hr Speed Records at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1935 and 1936.
Reid Railton and Thomson & Taylor also designed and built the last three of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Blue Bird Land Speed Record cars and the Railton Special, with which John Cobb took the Land Speed Record in 1939 and 1947.
Gunner Miniatures: Windsor Castle on Rice Grains EGHAM MUSEUM
The paintings of Windsor Castle on grains of rice by Charles Gunner were created around 1936.
Charles Gunner achieved international recognition for his spectacular microscopic writing and painting. Other examples of his work are The Lord’s Prayer written out 23 times in the space of a threepenny bit and King George V’s Christmas broadcast speech within the circumference of a sixpence.
Queen Mary bought Gunner’s ‘History of Windsor Castle’, a microscopic 1/2 inch square and perfectly bound book to go in her world-famous dolls’ house.
WW1 Clay Soldier: Thames Ditton Foundry ELMBRIDGE MUSEUM
This model is a small representative of Thames-Ditton’s former “bronze empire”.
Operating from 1874 to 1939, the bronze foundry in Thames Ditton produced work of local, national and international repute.Much of the bronze statuary in London was produced by the Thames-Ditton foundry.
The foundry’s masterpiece is Peace Quadriga which tops the arch on Hyde Park Corner. At 9.75 metres high and weighing 38.6 tonnes ‘Peace Quadriga’ was the largest sculpture cast in the country in pre-welding times.
The Hawker Hurricane MkIIA Z2389 was designed by Sydney Camm at the Kingston works and this example was built there in 1940.
The Hurricane formed the backbone of the R.A.F. during the Battle of Britain, accounting for 60% of the victories.It was used in all theatres of war and was flown by pilots from many different nations including America, Soviet Union, Australia and Czechoslovakia.
Vickers and Hawker Promotion Models BYFLEET HISTORY SOCIETY
In the 20th century, Byfleet and this corner of Surrey were transformed by the arrival of the Vickers and Hawker factories at Brooklands, employing over 14,000 people at its peak, and attracting people from all over the country. It also attracted enemy bombers during the war, of course.
Our object is a set of promotional models of aircraft made at Brooklands – the Viscount, VC10 and BAC 1-11. Although the factory has long since closed, very many local families still have strong connections to, and memories of, it. Indeed many would have worked on the aircraft represented.
In 1943, a number of Italian Prisoners of War were kept at Carfax Avenue in Ash, then called Raytone and Princes Avenue.The prisoners lived in the houses surrounding Carfax Avenue, and their administrative offices and cookhouse were in the centre triangle which now has flats and houses, and before that had prefabs.
There was a Belgian lady who lived at 79 Oxenden Road who became friendly with the prisoners. It was POW Annunziata Alfonso who made the crucifix in the bottle dated 12.3.1944.
Original Penicillin Culture MUSEUM of MILITARY MEDICINE
This is an original example of the Penicillin Notatum culture, discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming, it was presented to Major General D C Munro of The Royal College of Surgeons in 1944.
Sir Alexander Fleming had served in the Royal Army Medical Corps with the rank of Captain during World War One and was mentioned in dispatches for his services there.
Fleming’s work was prompted by his experience of seeing so many soldiers die from infected wounds.
Penicillin transformed the treatment of bacterial infection. Penicillin antibiotics are significant because they were the first drugs to be effective against serious diseases such as syphilis, gangrene and tuberculosis.
Image courtesy of Museum of Military Medicine
Herbert Sulzbach Medals ROYAL LOGISTIC CORPS MUSEUM
With its home in Surrey, The Royal Logistic Corps is the largest UK regiment made up of five corps, including the Pioneer Corps.
Herbert Sulzbach was a German Jew who served in the German Army during WW1 and was awarded the Iron Cross Second and First Class.During the 1930s he fled Nazi persecution and settled in England.
In 1940 he volunteered for service in the British Army. Becoming a Captain in The Pioneer Corps he was in charge of several Prisoner of War camps. While serving at these camps he began his work actively promoting reconciliation between the two nations, for which he was made an OBE and received the European Cross of Peace.
Sulzbach left the British Army in 1948 and received these nine medals during the course of his life.
Henry Hammond was born in Croydon, studied at Croydon School of Art, then at the Royal College of Art in the pottery department under William Staite Murray.
In 1946, and after attending a two-week summer school led by Bernard Leach, he established a pottery studio at Runwick House, Hampshire, and in 1948 a pottery at Bentley, Hampshire, known as the Oast Pottery. This he shared with Paul Barron. From 1946 to 1979 Hammond was also a teacher in and subsequently head of the ceramics department at Farnham School of Art, now the University for the Creative Arts.
His work comprised finely brush-decorated thrown forms in stoneware and was exhibited periodically. He retired in 1980 and was appointed an MBE.
The Routemaster bus is certainly a UK, if not a worldwide, icon. Nearly 3000 examples were built from the late 1950s until the mid 1960s.This particular Routemaster was the third prototype to be built and is unique because it is the only Routemaster bus built in Surrey (by Weymans of Addlestone). The chassis of the bus was made by Leyland.It entered service in London in 1958 on route 8.
Weyman failed to gain the main contract for the manufacture of the production Routemaster buses and this superb example remains unique.
This bus is on display at the The London Bus Museum within the Brooklands Museum heritage site in Weybridge.
Local museums have a role to collect, protect and tell the history of their local area. They will have defined a boundary of what ‘local’ means, often as part of the area covered by a parish, district or borough and sometimes in discussion with neighbouring museums. Their collections will tell the story of that area, its people, events and changes. This will also affect what they accept into their collections, namely objects with local significance.
In some parts of the UK, you’ll find a County museum. As you’d expect, these have collections of relevance about the whole county. Surrey does not have a county museum because of the way it has developed over time. Instead, it has over 40 museums and galleries, each unique in the collections they hold about their area or specialism. Together, these are like one giant jigsaw puzzle, giving us great depth and insight into our county and its people.
Museums with specialist collections
Some museums collect, protect and tell the history of a particular subject such as childhood or transport, or are dedicated to the life of a particular person. This is what we refer to as a specialist collection.
In Surrey, we have many museums with specialist collections: Brooklands, London Bus Museum, Watts Gallery: Artists’ Village, Haslemere Educational Museum, The Rural Life Living Museum,The Sime Gallery and The Guildford Spike to name a few. There are also three army museums in The Museum of Military Medicine, Royal Logistic Corps Museum and the Surrey Infantry Museum.
Our county’s specialist museums are of national and international importance in their own right.You will also find specialist collections among these and other individual museums too, such as the Ingram collection of artwork at The Lightbox museum and gallery, and the Olive Matthews textiles collection at Chertsey Museum.
Brooklands is the only transport museum of its kind. It was the first purpose-built motor racing circuit in the world and has an equally important history of aviation and flight. Haslemere Educational Museum was the very first in the country to see the value of using collections to enrich learning. It is known as Surrey’s ‘mini British Museum’ with its remarkable natural science and human history collections. The Hockey Museum is the first and only museum of hockey in the world. The London Bus Museum sits within the Brooklands 30-acre grounds and has the world’s largest collection of working, historic London buses. The Rural Life Living Museum collections on its 15-acre site bring to life the story of traditional country living and craftsmanship. The Sime Gallery is dedicated to the works of the satirical artist and illustrator, Sidney Sime. Watts Gallery: Artists’ Village is a unique arts and crafts gallery dedicated to the formidable Victorian artist GF Watts and his wife, Mary Watts whose ‘art for all’ values still thrive today.
National Museums collect objects and specimens that tell the history of people and events that have shaped the country, or are internationally important. In this context, some of Surrey’s specialist museums can be classified as ‘National’ Museums because of their collections.
Artefacts with national or international significance should be held by the most relevant national museum, such as the British Museum, the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum. A museum with a local connection to the artefact, might have a replica on display.
In Surrey, for example, Chertsey Museum has a replica of an artefact called ‘the Chertsey Bronze’ discovered locally in Abbey Meads. It is the only shield yet to be found in the Celtic world made entirely of bronze. The real artefact was gifted to the British Museum by the owners.
Terms linked to Collections
Definition: These are the background details about an object. Who it belonged to. Where it came from. How old it is. Where it was found. Whether it was brought to the museum by an archaeologist, a donor, is on loan or was bought from another museum or source.
These facts are recorded and catalogued by the Curator or Collections Officer when the object is taken in to the collection. The more detail there is about an object’s provenance, the better. See more to find out why this is so important.
This information is necessary for a number of reasons.
1. It is evidence that the museum has acquired the artefact legally.
2. It allows the museum to display the facts and story of the artefact appropriately.
3. It allows members of the public, researchers and students to learn from the artefact.
4. It allows the correct care, storage and conservation of the artefact.
Museums are trusted sources of information and reference. They have a legal and moral responsibility to tell as much of the truth about an object as they can. Museums are unlikely to accept artefacts without reasonable provenance.
Definition: when a museum takes in, or acquires, a new object for its collection.
If you imagine that what you see on display is only a tiny selection of what museums have in store, they have to think carefully before they accept new items into their collections. Museums acquire their collections in a number of ways. They can be loaned by a member of the public for example, or gifted in a will. They may be finds from an archaeology dig, or bought by the museum to add to the collection.
Whatever its source, a museum will decide several things before agreeing an acquisition. Find out more below.
To help their decision, many museums have a kind of checklist, like this.
1. The museum must first be sure of an artefact’s provenance.
2. It must also see if the object fits in with the museum’s other collections, such as cars in a transport museum.
3. They will decide if it tells a relevant piece of history for that area or collection.
4. It will see if the museum has similar artefacts or better examples already.
5. It must decide if it has space to store the artefact where it can be looked after in the best conditions.
Definition: when a museum gets rid of, or disposes, of an object from its collection.
Sometimes a museum needs to review what it has in its collections to keep it up to date and relevant. It may also need to dispose of items to make space for keeping others in the best condition, or because an artefact of better quality than an existing item has become available.
However, It is a tricky business disposing of museum artefacts. Museums don’t own the artefacts in their collections. They look after them on behalf of the public. Because of this, a museum has very strict laws and rules to follow before it can dispose of an object. See below for what these are.
These are some of the steps they must take.
1.It must offer it to all other museums who might be interested first, so that it can stay part of a museum collection where the public can see it.
2.If an artefact was donated by someone or is on loan, the museum must ask the donor or lender if they want it back.
3.It must explain to the public why it wants to dispose of it.
4. If the artefact is going to be sold, the museum has a duty to consult with the public about how the money will be used.
5.After all these steps have been followed, a museum can arrange to have disposal material re-buried if necessary.
What is Conservation?
Looking after collections in the best conditions is a key part of a museum’s work. Museums do not own their collections; they safeguard them for the public to learn from and enjoy.
However, all objects change over time and this change is called ‘deterioration’. The way objects are packaged, stored, displayed and cleaned can all have an impact on the deterioration, and that is where conservation comes in.
Conservation helps museums to try and reduce the rate of deterioration to help carry on the life of an object for as long as possible for future generations.There are many forms of conservation including that which protects, that prevents or stabilises an object, and some that is about repair after damage occurs. There are also ten forms of deterioration.
Preventive conservation can be carried out by museum teams. Remedial conservation is the work that happens after damage has occurred. This may include putting a broken ceramic object back together or cleaning the deteriorated varnish off an oil painting. These are generally highly skilled processes which need to be done by a trained conservator.
Preventive conservation can cover many strands of collections care and aims to hold back the ‘Agents of Deterioration’ – conditions that cause damage to objects. The Agents of Deterioration are: pests, water, humidity, light, fire, temperature, neglect & dissociation, pollutants, physical force, vandalism & theft.
There are ways that museums manage these agents of deterioration, and there is plenty of support too. You can find more information about this on the website of our regional museum development support agency, the Southeast Museum Development Service. This link will direct you to their conservation pages.
The Role of a Conservator
Conservators are trained professionals who combine scientific skills with knowledge of art history, architecture, changing fashions and lifestyles to understand the context of the objects they work with, and to conserve them sensitively and appropriately. Our conservators usually have specialist knowledge in one main area (discipline), such as painting conservation, along with a good working knowledge of other conservation areas. They will often have links to other experts .
Conservation is a highly collaborative activity, at times calling on owners, curators and scientists to fully understand an object.
Our conservators help with both remedial and preventive conservation. They offer site visits, condition assessments and reports as well as the hands-on practical conservation.
Geology is the study of the earth, particularly the history, structure and processes that have moulded the rocks, lifeforms, atmosphere and oceans over vast periods of time. Geologists are also interested in the interactions between humans and the earth; for example, the human use of mineral resources, and trying to predict the threats posed to humans by volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides and polluted ground water.
Within Surrey, there are a large number of geological specimens found within museums, schools and other public institutions.These specimens are largely held in the 23 museums and other institutions listed in the Read More section below. For a summary of each geology collection scroll through the carousel using the blue < > arrows.
•Bourne Hall Museum
•Dorking and District Museum
•East Surrey Museum
•Epsom College (Natural History Museum)
•Museum of Farnham
•Haslemere Educational Museum
•Holmesdale Natural History Club Museum
•Juniper Hall Field Study Centre
•King Edward VI School
•Royal Holloway and Bedford New College
•Surrey Heath Museum
•Department of Civil Engineering, Surrey University
Information contained within these geology webpages comes largely from a 1993-1994 countywide collections research initiative commissioned by the Surrey Museums Partnership. The survey and research involved was available to the county at no cost thanks to the generous sponsorship of the South East Museums Service Traveling Geology Curator scheme by British Gas plc and the Geologists Association.
Based on the needs identified in this survey, the Heritage Lottery Fund grant aided a programme of enhanced geology collections care and interpretation, of which these pages are a part.
A mixed collection, mainly of non-local rocks, minerals, and fossils, some foreign but mostly British incl. SW England, Scotland, Shropshire etc.The latter include some Wenlock Limestone fossils, one or two good Coal Measures (plant) fossils and the tooth of a Carboniferous fish Rhizodus hibberti.There are up to 50+ local fossils – mostly unlabelled flint moulds of chalk echinoids, probably from Epsom Downs.
British fossils with good collections in particular of SE England fossils: Lower Greensand, Chalk, Tertiaries, and in particular the (Folkestone) Gault. Notable amongst the non-local British material is a collection of Pleistocene mammal bones from the ‘St.Asaph Caves’ Clwyd, Old Red Sandstone fish (from Caithness), Carboniferous fossils, some fine Liassic fossils (incl. fish), plus Barton Bed and Hampshire Tertiary molluscs. A fragmentary mineral collection includes a number of unusual minerals, and in addition there are drawers of rock specimens including specimens of volcanic lavas.
Foreign material includes Tertiary mammals from Argentina plus bones of the extinct moa Dinornis from New Zealand. Approximately 15-20% of the collection is of local fossils, thus local geology is reasonably well represented. This includes Lower Greensand fossils (Atherfield Clay, Bargate Stone, and Perna Bed) from Littleton Brickworks, Compton and the Godalming By-pass excavations; local Gault; and Lower Tertiary Reading Beds and London Clay (Guildford-Godalming By-pass). In addition, there are collections of Quaternary (Pleistocene) mammal bone, presumed local, but less well documented.
Collectors: Many are from the collections made by old boys of the school and are of late 19th-early 20th century. Major N.S.Thornton (d.1918) [Folkestone Gault], Rev.William H.Webster, F.A.Lea [collected local LGS/Chalk fossils c.1932], George Staunton Barrow (c.1850), Rev.W.A.Shaw [local LGS fossils].
This collection may only be seen by appointment.
Size: 200 Specimens
Pleistocene-Recent mammal bones, teeth and antler from local gravel pits at Thorpe, Littleton, Staines, and Shepperton.These include those of woolly mammoth (teeth),wild ox and auroch (horn cores and skulls), long horned cow, wild horse, wild boar, goat, red deer, fallow deer, and reindeer (antlers). The latter is a particularly interesting find.
There are also one or two other fossils such as flint sea urchins from the gravels.
Collectors:Sid Oliver (Egham); Trevor Balchin; Marco Aggregates Ltd; Surrey Archaeological Society
Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre
Size: 373 Specimens including 282 fossils and minerals of Ashcombe collection
A collection mostly of local chalk fossils from the (Lower Chalk) of the old Dorking Town Quarry and the Middle and Upper Chalk of the surrounding area (incl. Ranmore Common).These include a number of particularly fine specimens, in particular 20-30 fossil fish (both bony fish and shark), reptile remains including pterodactyl wing bones, a large elasmosaur (plesiosaur) vertebra, and the top of a skull (cranium) of a chalk pliosaur Polyptychodon interruptus. The latter, though fragmentary, is the probably the most complete specimen of a pliosaur ever found from the English chalk. It is also happens to be a figured specimen, illustrated as well as described by Sir Richard Owen in his Supplement to Fossil Reptilia of the Cretaceous Formation (1851-1864).
The chalk fossil collection also contains a good selection of invertebrate fossils incl. crustaceans, bivalves, starfish, sea urchins, sponges, brachiopods, and worms, as well as some fossil wood.Other local fossil finds include the complete “tail-end” of an articulated backbone of a local Iguanodon atherfieldensis, a Wealden dinosaur which was found during the excavation of a well at Broomelle Farm near Capel in 1895.
A small collection of Pleistocene mammal fossils includes the molar teeth and bone fragments of mammoth, rhinoceras, horse, wild ox, plus antler of red deer and reindeer from gravels at Giles Green near Dorking, in the Mole Gap. There are a small number of large mineral specimens (British and foreign) and one or two more recently collected local fossils and rocks.
Collectors:George Cubitt (1st Lord Ashcombe) collected prior to 1860; Henry Cubitt (2nd Lord Ashcombe)
East Surrey Museum
Size: 600 Specimens
British, mostly SE England fossils and rocks, with a smaller amount of local material. There are a number of good fossils from the IOW including several iguanodon dinosaur vertebrae from the Wealden, plus fish and turtle shell, and a fragment of a reptilian ( Diplocyodon sp.) jaw from the Oligocene deposits. There is also a iguanodon footprint in rock (from Cuckfield, Sussex). Other fossils include small numbers of molluscs from the East Anglian Red Crag, from the London Clay of Sheppey, sharks teeth from Abbey Wood (SE London), as well as a small number of chalk fossils from Kent and Sussex.
From slightly further afield are ammonites and bivalves from the Lower Jurassic (Liassic) rocks of Lyme Regis and Charmouth. Amongst the non-local rocks and minerals are a small number of specimens from Egypt and the USA.
There is a small but interesting collection of Pleistocene mammal bones which include those of mammoth, rhinoceras, bear (skull), wild horse, deer, and auroch. Most of these were found in the Marons Sandpit, Chertsey.
Considering that neighbouring Godstone is built on the Lower Greensand there is surprisingly little in the way of fossils from some of these beds (there is a large nautiloid Cymatoceras sp. from quarries near Redhill), although there are examples of some of the sandstones and also some honey coloured baryte from the Fullers Earth workings.
In addition, there are a small number of locally collected ammonites ( Hoplites sp, Euhoplites sp., and Hamites ) from the overlying Gault Clay (probably from quarries near Godstone or Merstham), yet no recognisable specimens of rocks or fossils from the overlying Upper Greensand beds once quarried for ‘firestone’and ‘hearthstone’ between Godstone and Reigate.
Local chalk fossils fossils are much more common, including bivalves such as Inoceramus crippsi from the Lower Chalk and a variety of common echinoids and Inoceramus lamarcki from the Upper Chalk – these are probably from the Caterham area as well as from South Croydon, Kenley, Bletchingley etc.(though many aren’t labelled). Some of them are flint moulds, possibly derived from the overlying Clay with Flints.
Size: 50 fossils
Mostly of fossils such as flint moulds of bivalves and echinoids (sea urchins) derived from the chalk (U.Chalk). Some of these have been found locally within the Thames gravels (from local gravel pits) and others as isolated finds from peoples’ gardens. In addition there are Jurassic ammonite fragments and an icthyosaur vertebra, probably from (glacial) boulder clay.There are also one or two non-local fossils. The horn core of an auroch (wild ox) found in Thorpe Gravel Pit is probably the most recent (geological) item. It may have lived no more than 6-7000 years ago.
Size: 523 Specimens (333 fossils and 190 minerals and rocks)
A fairly mixed collection of British and local fossils.The local fossils are fewer in number but include those from the chalk (Horsley), or derived ones found in the local gravels, from the London Clay, and from the Lower-Middle-Upper Eocene (St.Georges Hill) etc.In addition, there are one or two finds of Pleistocene mammals such as woolly mammoth teeth and fragments of tusk from gravel pits at Fieldcommon Lane, Walton on Thames, Walton and Herstham, and Sunbury (femur and humerus of mammoth and woolly rhino).There is also a small collection here of fossil ammonites and mineral ‘spars’which once adorned the 18th.century grotto at nearby Oatlands Park.
The museum has produced a small reference collection of minerals for jewellery identification and teaching.:
Collectors/Collections: F.H.Wintle, Oatlands Park, Weybridge Town Council
Epsom College (Natural History Museum)
Size: 278 Specimens (95% fossils)
Mostly of British or worldwide origin with only a very few local examples. What remains of this collection today is not that comprehensive. Interesting specimens include some fine crustacean fossils from the Solenhofen Limestone of Bavaria, Ordovician and Cambrian trilobites, a collection of (mostly Scottish) Old Red Sandstone fish, Carboniferous Coal Measure plants, and some Mesozoic fish and molluscs.The only local fossils appear to be a few echinoids collected from the Upper Chalk of Epsom Town Chalk Pit and the Downs.
Collectors: A number of 19th. and early 20th. century named collectors: C.J.Gummel, C.Stubbs, Rev.J.F.Blake, Freeidrich Karl Haberlein (1787-1871), Dr.J.G.Croker, John Whitaker Hulke (1830-1895), W.J.Wilson
Museum of Farnham
Size: 678 Specimens (428 fossils and 250 rocks)
Most are non-local British fossils including some good Palaeozoic (Wenlock Limestone [Silurian] and Carboniferous Limestone corals, crinoids, and brachiopods and Coal Measures plants) and Mesozoic ( Lias and Oolite [Jurassic] ammonites, gastropods, and bivalves, plus some good Lias fish Dapedium politum and fragmentary icthyosaur fragments ). The almost complete specimen of a supposedly locally found but as yet undescribed fossil (ray) fish, referred to as “the Farnham Fish” is arguably the most important specimen within the collection.
The collection of chalk fossils almost certainly contains some local material, but unfortunately these lack associated data.There are also some Tertiary (Eocene) fossils and Pleistocene, including Lower Pleistocene from the East Anglian Crags. Fossils of probable local origin include gastropods in Paludina Limestone (Wealden), Lower Greensand (Bargate Beds?) ammonites, fossil wood and oysters (LGS?), a collection of Gault ammonites from Wrecclesham Chine (local?), plus a variety of echinoids, ammonites, and oysters, some of which may have been collected from the Hogs Back area.
Possible local Pleistocene finds include fragmentary mammoth teeth and tusk and Pleistocene/Holocene deer antler.
The rock collection is a mixed one of British rocks, but includes examples of most of the local rock types. There is also a mediocre collection of common minerals.
Size: 211 specimens (137 fossils)
Includes a small well localised collection of local fossils (all of reasonable quality) from the Bagshot/ Guildford/ Godalming/ Binscombe area. Most of the local chalk fossils are from Bagshot Lea and quarries in the Guildford/ Hogs’Back area, as are some of the local Tertiary. Large ammonites and nautiloids from the Lower Greensand Bargate Stone come from quarries within the Godalming area itself, whilst the Atherfield Clay (lowermost Lower Greensand) fossils are from Binscomb.
Rock specimens of Upper Greensand malmstone are from Binstead and other localities.
There are very few local Pleistocene mammalian fossils (one mammoth tooth found in Godalming excavations). A number of the Wealden age fossils and rocks may be from Surrey or Sussex.
However, there are a couple of rather more spectacular specimens of turtle (shell) and fish in limestone which may be Wealden, but which are probably of Purbeck (Upper Jurassic) age and from Dorset.
Size: 246 Specimens
Mostly chalk fossils, probably local, but unfortunately without any associated data. The few localities recorded include Pewley Down (Guildford), and Echo and Spills Lane chalk pits.Although many common chalk fossils are not represented within the collection there are some good specimens of fish bones, scales, and teeth, as well as the palatal teeth of the fossil ray (shark) Ptychodus. Other Cretaceous fossils are few, but include Viviparus sp. gastropods of Wealden age, and Lower Greensand oysters and fossil wood. Lower Tertiary fossils include one or two bivalves and bored driftwood from the London Clay – possibly local.
Some fragmentary fossils of Pleistocene mammals include the teeth of woolly mammoth, (?) straight tusked elephant, ox or horse, cave hyena or bear (jaw fragment).All of these are probably local. Old labels refer to finds of mammoth teeth from the London Road Railway Cutting (c.1922), Stone Bridge Gravel Pits, Gooden Farm, Bramley (1928), and Shalford (1910). Local rock specimens include those of chalk and Lower Greensand, especially iron rich sands from the Folkestone Beds collected at Runfold Sandpit.
Includes a comprehensive stratigraphically arranged collection of British fossils, with strengths in Mesozoic (molluscs, brachiopods, and echinoderms) and Cenozoic (molluscs) invertebrates, as well as Lower Palaeozoic fossils (in particular Cambrian and Ordovician graptolites and trilobites etc.). Amongst this there is also a good collection of vertebrate fossils including complete mounted icthyosaur specimens, reptilian (Permo-Trias) footprints, dinosaur fragments, a good variety of both primitive and more evolved fossil fish, and Pleistocene mammals (mastodon, wooly mammoth, rhino. etc), and an example of the extinct flightless bird (a skeleton and an egg) the moa. Fossil ‘insects’ include, amongst other things, a perfectly preserved example of a spider embedded in amber. There is a selection of fossil ants and woods. The mineral collection is of worldwide origin, and is of good quality with many rare examples.
The collection(s) of local rocks, fossils, and minerals is small by comparison [367 specimens]. Many of these however are from the Hindhead-Haslemere area. Local (Surrey) fossils include Wealden fish, dinosaur, molluscs, and fruits; Lower Greensand [Atherfield Clay,Bargate Beds,Hythe Beds] ammonites, nautiloids, oysters, echinoderms, wood, and trace fossils, many of these local to the Haslemere district. Chalk fossils are from Betchworth and Guildford, and similarly a number of the Pleistocene mammal fossils (woolly mammoth teeth in particular). There are a large number of locally collected rocks, in particular those from the Wealden and Lower and Upper Greensand outcrops. There are also some examples of older buried rocks from local (Surrey/Hants. border) boreholes and a few local minerals.
Collectors: Many important 19th.century collectors and collections incl. Sir Archibald Geikie (geological specimens, collecting equipment, and important archives including field notebooks and watercolour sketches of geological localities etc.in both America and Britain); other important collectors include Col.J.C.Hawkshire; J.E.Lee; Major G.F.Walton; and Arthur Richards amongst others.
Juniper Hall (Field Study Centre) Dorking
Size: 4-500 Specimens (rocks and fossils)
One 12 drawer cabinet, most of which is of local (Wealden) rocks and fossils, arranged stratigraphically.The collection is fairly comprehensive and includes labelled (localised) specimens from most of the formations represented, from Purbeck, Wealden, Lower Greensand, Gault, Upper Greensand, Chalk, Palaeocene, Lower Eocene, Middle Eocene, and Pleistocene. Whilst it includes the Sussex Weald, many of the specimens are from Surrey localities, in particular those on the chalk at Ashted, Headley, Mickleham, and the from the Hogs Back (Guildford). Non-local fossils include a drawer of mixed Palaeozoic and Mesozoic [Jurassic] fossils (most of them British), and a collection of 20+ Atherfield Clay (Lower Greensand) fossils from Boulogne, France. Other (larger) fossils include a fine fossil fish Lepidotes mantelli from the Wealden of Hastings and a local (?) chalk ammonite Parapuzosia.
Holmesdale Natural History Club Museum
Size: up to 500 Specimens
A good collection of local (both Reigate and Surrey) and non-local British rocks, minerals, and fossils.Local fossils are stratigraphically arranged within drawers and display cases in the museum and the local Lower Greensand including Perna Bed (Atherfield Clay) from Earlswood Common, Sandgate Bed fossils (from Fullers Earth workings, Redhill), Hythe Beds (sponge spicules), and Bargate Beds are particularly well represented, alongside specimens from the Reigate chalk, and ?local Gault. A number of large Lower Greensand ammonites such as Parahoplites nutfieldensis and chalk ammonites (Acanthoceras and Parapuzosia sp.) within the museum are probably also of local origin, as are some fossils from the Surrey Wealden.There are several collections of local Pleistocene mammal fossils such as the bones of an auroch from Frenches Sandpit, Redhill, and mammoth teeth.
In addition to examples of local rock types there are a number of minerals including particularly good finds of honey coloured baryte from the Fullers Earth workings at Nutley, Redhill.
Non-local fossils are varied but include Red Crag, London Clay, and Hampshire and IOW Tertiary fossil, Upper Lias ammonites and other Jurassic fossils, Coal Measure plant fossils, and a good collection of Ordovician corals and trilobites from Pomeroy, Eire.As well as several small sampled collections of rocks and minerals, there is a small specimen of the Agra (India) 1882 iron-nickel meteorite.
King Edward VI School
Size: 1856 specimens
Rock, fossil, and mineral collection of mostly British and European origin with little if any local material amongst it. Of prehistorical interest, it contains many specimens collected during the last century. Amongst these are fragmentary reptile remains (icthyosaur,pliosaur, and other reptiles), Old Red Sandstone fish from Scotland, and palaeoniscid fish from the basal Permian of Germany. There are also some historically interesting Coal Measures plants. The collection has suffered poor storage conditions in the past.
This collection may only be seen by appointment.
Collectors: John Plant FGS (1820-1894), MacCullough collection c.1870’s (1 specimen)
Specimens consisting of several flint moulds of echinoids (sea urchins) derived from the Chalk and picked up in local gardens.
Royal Holloway and Bedford New College
Size: estimated at 150,000 + (specimens)
A very diverse collections of rocks, minerals, fossils, rock thin sections, mineral polished sections, micropalaeontological slides, and historic archive material relating to the former collections of the constituent colleges.Incorporated within the department are the combined collections of Chelsea College, Kings College, and Bedford College (all University of London) which were transferred here in 1985. The collections are still used for teaching and research. The more modern collections are mostly of foreign origin, but there are also significant collections of 19th.-20th. century British minerals and stratigraphic collections of rocks and fossils.There is only a limited amount of local (Egham) or Surrey material amongst this, and there appears to be no discreet collections to which it would be easy to refer to for this purpose.
Collectors and collections: KINGS COLLEGE James Tennant FGS. Collections presented to Kings College (1839-1858): cabinets of minerals (approx.5000) with descriptive catalogue; collection of rocks from the Harz Mts.,Germany; stratigraphic collection of British fossils.
Prof.William Thomas Gordon (1884-1950) minerals (collection combined with Tennant = ‘Gordon-Tennant’ coll.). Henry William Bristow (1842) minerals.
Prof.Daniell Robert Allan minerals.
Jones collection minerals (post 1850).
BEDFORD COLLEGE Morton-Summers bequest (July 1903-June 1904) a large number of minerals and rocks
Prof.Basil King collection
CHELSEA South Western Polytechnic Field Club collection and archives.
A.C.Scott Lower Carboniferous plants (worldwide and Midland Valley of England).
Prof.A.J.Smith sedimentary rocks from India.
J.K.Wright Oxfordian ammonites of N.Yorks, Dorset, and Skye.
A.J.Barber Timor (Permo-Trias) invertebrate fossils
and regional geology of Japan and Indonesia, French and Italian Alps,Channel Islands
R.C.O.Gill igneous and metamorphic petrology of Greenland and worldwide
Bob Wood Irish and French rocks (1968)
W.E.Smith Dorset and Devon Cenomanian (Lower Chalk) 1958
and other research student collections including:
A.K.C.Lee corallian sediments from Yorks.
A.Heyes important coll. of anorthosites from Harris 1977
OTHER COLLECTIONS (not identified with former college(s)):
Prof.M.Menzies ultrabasic mantle rocks (worldwide)
Dr.A.Stuart Carboniferous oil shale fossils (Midland Valley of Scotland) etc.)
Prof. M. Audley Charles Indonesian rocks and fossils (plus the collections of Indonesian material of 12 former research students)
Richard Barstow minerals from SW England etc.
figured echinoid specimens from Tertiary of Malta
molluscs from Bracklesham/Barton Beds of Hants.
Can only be viewed by appointment. Contact Departmental Secretary or Curator.
Governing body: RHBNC University of London
Enquiries should be directed to the Departmental Curator.
Size: 100 specimens
Mixed fossils and rocks, mostly non-local. Includes fossil fish of Cretaceous age from Brazil. Fossils of possible local (Surrey) origin include a few flint moulds of echinoids and a bivalve derived from the chalk.
Size: 6 Specimens
Two molar teeth, a tusk and a bone of woolly mammoth, and a humerus (leg bone) of a woolly rhinoceras of Upper Pleistocene age (?20,000 yrs old). These were found by the Greenham Sand and Gravel Company in quarrying operations at Kempton Park, before the present day racecourse was built. There is also a large piece of septarian nodule enclosing a fragment of fossil wood from the local London Clay.
Surrey Heath Museum
Size: 1203 Specimens
British fossils with a much smaller number local to Surrey or Surrey Heath area.Many of the latter are probably local but not all are labelled as such.These include chalk fossils from the Guildford area and from Frimley (derived), London Clay, fossil wood and plant material from the Bagshot Beds, sharks teeth from the (?) Bracklesham Beds, and one or two molluscs from (?)Barton Beds. Mammoth molars and a piece of mammoth tusk were found in the local Blackwater Valley and are of Upper Pleistocene age, as is a fossil hippopotamus tooth from slightly warmer period interglacial deposits. Non-local fossils of interest here include some fine Lias (Jurassic) ammonites and chalk fossils, and a dinosaur footprint from Dorset and the vertebra from the backbone of an iguanodon (a Cretaceous dinosaur approx. 130 million years old).
Apart from a general reference collection of rocks and minerals there are examples of local rocks and sediments such as the derived sarsens (ex Reading Beds) found on Surrey Heath, London Clay, Bagshot Beds (clean sands and iron rich ‘boxstone’ or ‘carstone’ concretions – St.Georges Hill), Bracklesham Beds ( brick clays, glauconitic green and variably coloured sands, and ironstone beds), and the Barton Beds (pebble beds,gravels and sands).
The overlying Pleistocene deposits include Plateau Gravels (Bagshot Heath), brickearths, boulder clay, and river terrace gravels. Local minerals include nodules of iron pyrite, siderite, limonite, and selenite from the outcropping formations.
Collectors/Collection: Of historical importance: Dr.W.H.Curtis [circa. 1860-70’s], Canon F.W.Galpin, Captain Dixon (a few specimens each); Cowling Collection.
Department of Civil Engineering: Geology Teaching Laboratory, University of Surrey
Size: approx. 1200 specimens plus maps, air photos, models, teaching aides, and rock (geotechnical) testing facilities
Basic reference collections of British fossils and minerals and more comprehensive rock collection(s) of local and non-local rocks including gravel aggregates, sands, clays, limestone, sandstone and igneous rocks from roadstone quarries. Also rock thin-sections.Locally studied rocks include the Bargate Stone and chalk from the Guildford area.
Geology Teaching Laboratory, University of Surrey, Guildford
This collection can only be viewed by appointment.
Museum of Military Medicine
Formal medical support to the Army began in 1660 and veterinary support almost one hundred years later but it was another 200 years before there was a uniformed military nursing service.
The museum has a varied collection of textiles and uniforms dating from 1850 to the present. It has an interesting collection of medical equipment, some of which is textile based and shows the development of medical techniques and equipment, especially during the 20th century.
As part of the collection it also has various sports caps worn by members of the RAMC and a running vest worn during the 1952 Olympics by Captain Roger Bannister, RAMC.
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The textiles collection at Brooklands as ” The birthplace of British Motor Sport and Aviation” provides a fascinating insight into the glamorous and exciting life of the developing world of motor racing and aviation from 1907 to the present day.
The collection of motoring clothing and accessories includes driving and motorcycle gear – such as coats, drivers’ and mechanics’ overalls, body belts, gloves, and goggles – along with the more modern, fire retardant outfits made of nomex III and kevlar, covered in advertising. There is a collection of racing helmets, ranging from the first soft leather hoods to hard hats and today’s streamlined helmets. There are uniforms worn by the RAC and examples of the use of textiles, with carbon and glass fibres moulded to make the cars themselves.
The story of the bicycle from the ‘penny-farthing’ to today’s mountain bikes is featured. The influence of cycling on dress and the independence of women is demonstrated and there is a chronological array of women and men’s cycling clothes. The collection also includes early leather cycling helmets.
Textiles concerned with aviation from 1907-1989 include coats, flying and mechanics’ overalls, helmets, gloves and goggles. There are also a few liquid conditioned suits, possibly used in the Stratosphere Chamber. Aircraft fabrics, for instance, Irish linen fabric samples from early aeroplanes and examples of how they were stretched, sewn, doped and painted are exhibited. Upholstery material from later aircraft demonstrates the industrial use of textiles and there is a sizeable collection of Royal Air Force and other military uniforms, related to Brooklands aircraft.
In addition there are flags, pennants and commemorative items. The Museum also collects costume associated with the social aspects of the clubhouse. This collection mainly comprises female costume with a collection of 1920s/30s ladies hats.
Photographs of costumes being worn are all around the Museum with many pictures from the 1920s and 1930s.
The museum has a huge collection of photographs and other costumes from the 1920s and 1930s in storage, which can be accessed by students by appointment. A teaching room can be booked together with all the items to be studied. A potential area of study is ‘clothes for the job’, comparing the protective clothing necessary for early driving (racing and social) and aviators to those of today. It would also be interesting to look at clothing’s fitness for purpose, at the different materials used and how such garments are constructed. Investigating how textiles are used in industry, and their use in the construction of racing cars and aeroplanes, could be another area for study and could include science as well as technology.
Chertsey Museum’s costume collection is of national significance, and contains over 6,000 items of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories dating from the late 17th century to the present day. Displays take the form of themed annual exhibitions aimed at educational as well as casual visitors. They draw upon the huge variety of garments and cover subjects such as the history of children’s wear, underwear, and fashionable fabrics and colours.
The museum also features a Fashion Accessories Gallery – a ‘costume discovery zone’ housing examples from the extensive collection of smaller decorative items. These include a wide array of bags and purses, fans, lace, parasols and shoes dating from the 18th century to the present, and featuring a variety of fabrics and decorative techniques.
The museum has a dedicated education room for workshops and talks. Workshops can cover subjects such as printing, dyeing and different methods of decoration. The museum is committed to education and is very keen to encourage contact with schools. It aims to provide a flexible and comprehensive costume resource for teachers, and students carrying out independent research. Staff can be booked to give talks, at the Museum or in school, on subjects such as fabrics, decorative techniques and the changing silhouette through history. School loan boxes are also available, containing Victorian adults’ and children’s clothes and accessories. Sets of Victorian replica costume, made using historically accurate fabrics and techniques, are used for study and to try on. These are very useful for studying cut and construction, and are accompanied by a full report by the maker, which includes fabric samples, fifth scale versions of patterns and photographs.
In addition, the museum has an extensive costume library containing original source materials such as fashion plates as well as secondary sources relating to the collections. Students can access the library by appointment. Appointments can be made to see specific items from the reserve costume collections for the purposes of in-depth study.
The collection concentrates on British printed and woven textiles from 1900 to the present day and is extensive and informative. It includes work by influential figures such as the weavers Ethel Mairet, Elizabeth Peacock and Rita Beales, and the hand block printers Phyllis Barron, Dorothy Larcher and Susan Bosence. In addition to fabric and garments, there are sample books and crafts people’s working notes. These give an insight into the design process, showing how ideas were developed, altered and followed through. In the case of Barron and Larcher they illustrate how different dye techniques were used to create amazing results and the wonderful lengths of fabric that were made into furnishings and garments.
The Crafts Study Centre moved from Bath to Farnham to the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College in April 2000. The gallery includes exhibition space for the collection and archive together with study facilities.The Study Centre aims to provide a teaching resource for colleges and schools involving primary material, and by developing an understanding of the lives and work of artist craftspeople from the twentieth century onwards looks to encourage contemporary crafts practice. Thanks to a grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Joint Information Systems Committee 4,000 images from the collection and archive will be available over the world wide web when the Crafts Study Centre opens in Autumn 2003. Teaching and learning packages are being developed and there will be a full programme of exhibitions and events on offer.
The collection contains an extensive selection of women’s fashionable dress and underclothes, hung in chronological order and easy to access, dating from the eighteenth century through to the present. Students are welcome, with prior notice, to be shown the collection, and relevant details about fibres, construction, decoration etc can be explored and explained.
There is an interesting collection of shoes dating from the 1750s to the 1940s, and a large collection of accessories including hats, fans, gloves, stockings, jewellery and parasols, all stored in easy-to-access drawers, which students can explore.
A collection of lace includes some special pieces such as a small section of a collar that belonged to Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I.
The museum also has a fine selection of quilted items and a collection of social history textiles, including items related to farming.
This is a very small museum with an interesting collection which shows firemen’s uniforms and how they have changed from the 19th century to present day. For instance how the showy, woollen uniform with its shiny brass buttons has become the fire retardant, utilitarian, Velcro fastening one of today.
There are also a number of collapsible linen buckets, canvas fire hoses, a collection of helmets and a range of breathing apparatus (of which many component parts are textile).
The textile collection is used to illustrate Godalming’s history as a centre of the knitting industry. From the 17th century, framework knitting was a thriving local industry producing silk and wool stockings. In 1812 there were over 100 stocking makers in Godalming and there were successful knitwear manufacturers in the town into the 20th century.Among other textile items, the museum displays a 19th century machine for knitting stockings, a cricket sweater in the machine knit cable stitch invented in Godalming by Mrs Pitcher, and a sample of Godalming’s famous Fleecy and Segovia woollen socks ‘guaranteed against gout and rheumatism’. The museum has interactive touch screen computers, which give information on the once thriving framework knitting industry, and the mark it left on the town. The programme also includes a game, which teaches the basic production process for woollen cloth.
The museum also houses a collection based on the work of Gertrude Jekyll, the famous garden designer, artist and craftswoman. There are interesting examples of how her sketches were transformed into embroideries.
The museum library has books on the woollen industry. The library is open to the public in the afternoons on Tuesday to Saturday. This area can be booked for school sessions in the mornings, when photographs and books can be accessed.
Guildford House Gallery (Guildford Heritage Services)
Guildford House Gallery is unusual in that it focuses on collecting contemporary craftwork. All the exhibitions, including textile exhibitions, are temporary. The textiles collection has examples of a wide variety of sewing techniques including a very informative and interesting contemporary sampler made up of various squares of different embroidery techniques, beadwork, patchwork, knot work etc.
Most of the collection dates from the 17th to the 20th centuries, though there is a late medieval piece of church embroidery. Although the museum does not collect costume as such, a lot of the items are clothing, such as hand-made and embroidered baby clothes and accessories such as collars, cuffs, kerchiefs, stomachers, aprons and caps. There are household items such as tablecloths, mats, pillowcases, curtains and chair seats. Most of the bedspreads are of patchwork, in many different designs, dating from the 18th century. There is also some quilting. There is a large collection of men’s smocks, including the distinctive Surrey type, and several local uniforms, such as fire brigade, police and school uniforms. There are a few garments with 20th century Guildford shop labels in them. Needlework instruction books and samplers show how little girls learned to sew and to produce a colourful record of their progress. There are also three 17th century embroidered boxes, which were the final part of a girl’s needlework education. Other needlework boxes are 19th century, and include small pocket kits.
The needlework collection covers most types of sewing and embroidery, from learning the stitches to doing complex raised work and gold embroidery. Sewing was an essential skill for all women in the past, who would have had to make and mend most clothes and household linen. The collection aims to give examples of all types of hand sewing and crafts such as lace-making, crochet and tatting. It also includes needlework tools – pincushions, needle-holders, tape-measures, scissors, thimbles, lace bobbins, lucets, tatting shuttles etc. Although most women had to sew, the tools were made to be decorative as well as useful, so they are lovely to look at in their own right.
Reigate Priory Museum’s costume collection contains items of men’s, women’s, children’s and babies clothing from the 19th and 20th century. Two valuable items from earlier periods are a Tudor jacket dated 1600 which was found hidden in the chimney of a local house and a polonaise style gown dated 1780, with quilted underskirt 1760.
There is a great emphasis on the Victorian era. Accessories include bags and purses, fans, parasols, shoes, shawls and lace.There is an interesting collection of uniforms worn during the Second World War. A needlework section contains needlework tools, needlework samples and scale-model costumed figures made by College students in the early 20th century. Please note that the collection is in store.
The Museum covers all aspects of life in an English village over the last 150 years. Elaborate displays and reconstructed buildings form the backdrop to special events such as re-enactments of the Civil War. There is not a costume collection as such but there are some smocks on show and the occupational costume of each of the trades on display. There are also some photographs and paintings of rural everyday clothes being worn.
There is a spinning wheel and loom on show and a very interesting loan box for schools which contains everything you need to learn to spin including carders, drop spindles, a spinning wheel, and fleece along with visual instructions for use. It contains books on weaving, dying, unusual knitting techniques with patterns and the history of the knitting industry. Samples of naturally dyed fleece and spun yarns as well as examples of woven fabric and knitting are also included. The West Surrey Guild of Spinners meets at the museum and public are welcome to join them. Tthere are some extra wheels for the use of visitors.
This small museum has a good collection of assorted textiles. The most valuable piece is a Tudor felt hat, lined with silk. From the Second World War there is a belt, made by folding together chewing gum wrappers. There is a collection of cobbler’s tools and rug making tools with two catalogues. There are also examples of crochet lace, samplers, a cloth and paper scrapbook, a stole made of tie painted fabric, and a Tudor leather child’s shoe found in the walls of a local house.
There is a large collection of machine embroidered cigarette cards, an example of tape lace with its pattern attached and a fifth scale model of a 20s dress on a mannequin, perfectly made, hand stitched with proper fastenings and pearlised buttons. (It was made to show an actress how her finished dress would look).
The museum also has old knitting and sewing patterns along with a 1950s sewing pattern catalogue from ‘Weldons’ and some interesting needlecraft books from the 1920s and 30s. There are many more items not displayed but which can be accessed if the curator is contacted prior to your visit.
The textile collection comprises miscellaneous examples of decorative techniques from the 19th and 20th centuries, mainly of the everyday domestic type. It therefore provides an insight into a variety of techniques and standards of workmanship rather than illustrating any one technique in depth. These showcase a wide variety of such work, including machine and hand embroidery, canvas work, banners beadwork and patchwork. There is a wonderful old quilt started in the 1770s which demonstrates many different styles of patchwork, and a piece of appliqué which shows the processes of this craft. There is an Edwardian student’s old sample book with a beautifully embroidered cover containing samples of different seams, pocket styles and embroidery stitches, which demonstrates at what level students were expected to work. There is also a small collection of the tools used in these crafts such as bone knitting needles, tatting tools, thimbles etc.
There is a small textile craft collection where modern embroiderers, inspired by objects from everyday life, have interpreted their inspiration using different effects e.g. a silk evening bag inspired by a 30s chocolate box design, an embroidery based on a wasps’ nest, cushion inspired by birch bark, and other examples of modern craft work.
Please note that much of the textile and decorative needlework collection is in store and an appointment is essential.
Although the textile collection is small, it is specialised, and strengthens the major themes of the museum which are ‘Life in Woking’ and ‘Mental Health’. The Brookwood Hospital collection contains nurses’ uniforms, patients’ uniform, and a restraining dress (of which there are very few examples). Brookwood cemetery was a major Victorian cemetery and the museum has a collection of mourning dress including jackets, headdresses, handkerchiefs and black feathers from this period. There is a fine collection of countrywide as well as local lace (approximately 200 items). This contains samples of drawn thread work and special types of lace.
The majority of the museum’s textiles are made up of the Van Zwanenberg collection, which includes a large collection of embroidered silk underwear from the 1920s, and 30s.
On display in the local history gallery is the beautiful ShamianaPanel depicting the Shah Jahan Mosque worked in appliqué, embroidery, beadwork and quilting which has been shown all over the country as part of a V&A exhibition. Read more about the panel below.
The Shamiana Panel In 1991, Shireen Akbar of he Victoria and Albert Museum set out to realise a dream to involve groups of women of South Asian origin throughout Britain in a cooperative project. She took her theme Shamiana (the tent) as a symbol of home, of refuge, of dispossession and of art. A total of 56 embroidered panels of the tent has been shown widely, and the panel here representing the Shah Jahan mosque, the first purpose-built mosque in the UK. This was undertaken by the Woking Asian Women’s Association.
In relation to other aspects of the museum’s textile collections, reminiscence boxes of the 1950s and 60s contain, amongst other domestic items, fashion magazines, knitting patterns, paper patterns, clothing (like stockings) in its original packaging, needlework (cottons and silks) and other items such as a Biba carrier bag. There are also loan boxes for the Tudors, Second World War and Victorian washday. These are aimed at Key Stages 1 and 2.
Many museums and galleries collect from a specific local area, or a specific type of object or specimen. Every museum and gallery has a collecting policy, and will only accept objects which fall within the policy.
If you have an object or collection you want to deposit go to your local museum or gallery and talk to them about the object or collection. They will be able to give you advice on what to do next. They may even want to take your object into their collection.
The decision-making process can vary for each museum and will take different lengths of time.
The transfer of ownership from you to the museum does not take place immediately you hand over the object. The person on the front desk usually does not have the responsibility to commit the museum’s time and money to caring for new objects.
Each potential new object is first considered by experts who consider how it fits with the collecting policy, what the costs of acquiring the object are, and what the objects needs are e.g. How much room will it take in the store? Will security have to be enhanced? They may have to research the object in order to see if it fits the collecting policy.
In some museums, the expert staff have the power to decide whether or not to accept an offer, in other museums, they can only recommend to a board of trustees who will make the decision.
You may want to protect your privacy as the donor, or you may have other wishes about how your name is associated with the object. Museums and galleries are happy to accommodate these wherever possible.
Museums have many good reasons for saying ‘no’. The item may not fit within its collecting policy, the cost of caring for your object may mean that the museum would not be able to care for those already in its collection. The cost of conservation and storage, particularly the storage of large or fragile items, may mean that while your gift is free, it still costs too much.
Other reasons for saying ‘no’ include the law, e.g. the museum may not have a licence for firearms, or logistics. The museum staff may be preparing for a reopening and have decided not to collect any new items for a while.
Some museums, while not wanting an object for their collections may want your object for its ‘education’ or ‘handling’ collection. These objects may be picked up and felt by children and visitors. Inevitably damage and wear means that the object will eventually be ‘loved to death’ and discarded.
Museums only have limited resources. As much as they might like your collection of 3,000 they only have resources to look after a few. Perhaps the rest are duplicates of items which the museum has already, or they have conservation needs which the museum cannot meet.
The museum may be able to advise you of another museum that might be interested in your object.
Otherwise, you might like to consider a private sale. Selling your objects through an antiques fair or at auction might seem far from what you want, but it does mean that they will have a new owner who will really value and enjoy them.
A museum or gallery that is Accredited is one that that maintains professional standards of management and collections care. The scheme was introduced to ensure that all museums maintained the same standards. To become Accredited, museums and galleries have to undergo a rigorous application process.
If you deposit an object with an Accredited museum or gallery you know that it will receive a high standard of care.
Unaccredited museums may be working towards this status. Before agreeing to deposit your object or collection ask the museum if they are Accredited. You can also ask to see where your object or collection will be stored.
Museums and galleries distinguish between short term and long term or ‘permanent’ loans.
A short-term loan will be for a specific purpose such as for an exhibition. Objects and collections on a short-term loan will be lent to the museum or gallery for a specified period of time before it is returned to the owner.
It is less common for museums to accept long term or ‘permanent’ loans. An Accredited museum will only take objects on long term loan if there is a good reason why it cannot be a gift. Such reasons include that the owner does not have the right to give the object away. This is not common practice though and museums and galleries are often unwilling to consider long term loans.
Looking after objects in museums takes a lot of time and money. The museum is happy to do this for objects where it knows that people will get a benefit: the object can be seen in an exhibition, the curator can get it out for interested visitors, and so on. Much of the cost is at the beginning of the object’s life in a museum, and the benefit may stretch over many generations. When an object is on loan, however, the owner may take it away before the public has had any benefit.
Talk to the museum now, while you’re alive! Now is the best time to find out whether or not the museum wants your object. The information associated with an object has a value, just as the object itself does – so museum curators often want what you know about your object too. If you have a large collection, museum staff may want to talk to you about the information they would like you to record and may be able to provide advice on suitable paper or digital systems.
“Many donors want people to enjoy and learn from their object and collections. Museums have limited space to display objects and your object may not always be on display. This does not mean that people cannot access the object if they want to see it.
Researchers from university scholars through to school children will have access to the object or collection on request. Details of your object, and perhaps a photograph, will be listed on the museum’s acquisition catalogue. If it is also put online, this may be available to millions of potential users across the world.
Museums like to keep changing their displays: it means that there is always something new for visitors to see. Your object or collection may be part of a display in the future.”
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