Molesey Local History Society
 

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Thursday 20 July, 2.30 pm Painshill Park

Summer Stroll round Painshill Park
Portsmouth Rd, Cobham KT11 1JE

A one and a half hour walk round the beautiful grounds of Painshill Park laid out by Charles Hamilton in the mid-eighteenth century was undertaken my members. Our guide reminded us about Charles Hamilton and the history of the landscape garden and showed us to the best view points as well as showing us inside the sparkling crystal Grotto to see the dazzling stalactites. At the end of the tour some of us took a look at the Gothic Tower, Hermitage or Waterwheel under our own guidance.


Tuesday 6 June 2017, 8 pm

Anne Boleyn Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession a talk by Alison Weir

The renowned novelist, Alison Weir, spoke at the Clore Centre, Hampton Court Palace, about her latest novel, ‘Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession’.

Alison is the top-selling female historian in the United Kingdom. She has sold more than 2.7 million books – over a million in this country and more than 1.7 million in the U.S.A. Her latest book about Anne Boleyn is the second novel in a series, ‘Six Tudor Queens’, about the wives of Henry VIII. Alison said that her favourite of Henry’s wives was probably Catherine of Aragon but that Anne Boleyn is definitely the most fascinating. She described Anne as ‘unknowable’. Unlike Catherine of Aragon, Anne did not leave a wealth of letters and much of the contemporary information which we have about her comes from hostile sources.

Alison spoke about Anne being revered as a feminist icon and said that she feels that it is legitimate to see Anne as a feminist. Anne, who served at the court of Margaret of Austria, regent of the Netherlands, between 1513 and 1514 and then at the French court, was exposed to the debate, which was being carried on in early 16th century Europe, that questioned traditional concepts of women and called for them to enjoy equality with men.

In January 1536 when Anne had a miscarriage, her enemies, particularly Thomas Cromwell, determined to bring about her downfall. Cromwell and Anne had originally been friends, but they had fallen out and Cromwell became the prime mover in the plot against Anne. Alison thinks that Cromwell may have believed that Anne was recovering some of the ascendancy over Henry which she had lost and that it was his neck or hers. Cromwell based his case on Henry’s fear of treason and Anne’s flirtatious nature. Alison believes that Anne was probably innocent of adultery because she does not think that she would have risked her immortal soul by lying.


Wednesday 26 April 2017, 8 pm

‘PainshillCrystal Grotto The Restoration Story’ a talk by Cherrill Sands

Cherrill Sands is a freelance Garden Historian and is also chair of the Surrey Gardens Trust.

The Painshill Landscape Garden was originally created by the Hon Charles Hamilton, who bought land near Cobham in 1738.

Garden fashion of the time was all about man ‘controlling’ nature. Hamilton’s idea was to create scenes and views to be enjoyed on a set route around the garden. Each area would evoke a different emotion in the viewer. He carried on creating until he ran out of money and being forced to sell in 1773, when he retired to Bath.

After the Second World War, various parts of the estate were sold and the garden became neglected and overgrown. In 1964, local historian, David Taylor, highlighted the state of Painshill and Elmbridge Borough Council began to buy back land that had been part of the original estate. Unfortunately, the National Trust was not interested, as there was too much work involved. In 1981, the Painshill Park Trust was set up to ‘research and restore’ and ‘manage and maintain’.

With no estate papers to help, archaeology was used to identify features. It was decided to replant only with varieties that would have been available in the eighteenth century up until 1770.

Cherrill impressed us with her enthusiasm for Painshill and its importance to Surrey. Funding and volunteers are always needed..


Thursday 9 March 2017, 8 pm

Ken Wood sketchKenneth Wood, Molesey Architect ‘A Modernist in Suburbia’ a talk by Dr Fiona Fisher

Our March meeting was devoted to the work of Kenneth Wood, a renowned architect who lived and practised in Molesey. Our talk was given by Dr Fiona Fisher, who lectures in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture of Kingston University and supports the research and activities of the Modern Interiors Research Centre. Dr Fisher is also curator of Kingston University's Dorich House Museum, the former studio home of the sculptor Dora Gordine and her husband, the Hon. Richard Hare, a scholar of Russian art and literature. Her book ’Designing the British Post-War House, Kenneth Wood 1948-1968’ provided the background for the talk, which included slides of his work.

Kenneth Wood was born in 1921 and attended Dartford Grammar School. During the War he served in the R.A.F. His first job was with Eric Lyons in East Molesey from 1953. He established his own practice in 1955, still in East Molesey, until 1984. He then joined another practice until his retirement in 1994.

Perhaps his most well-known building is the Stanley Picker house on Kingston Hill. Stanley Picker wanted a contemporary home in which to house his art collection. He had made his money in the world of cosmetics and owned the Gala factory on the A3, which produced Outdoor Girl and Quant products.

Kenneth Wood will be remembered for his concept of flexible living: homes able to adapt to changing family needs.
A number of the audience had personally known Kenneth and his wife, and several recounted their own memories following the talk.

For further enquiries regarding possible visits to the Picker House and Private Collection, please contact the administrator by e-mail:  lorraine@stanleypickertrust.org. Please note that although the current guardians of the property live on site, the office hours are part time only. http://www.stanleypickertrust.org/opening-arrangements/

You can see a 15 minute video about Kenneth Wood, entitled ‘A Modernist in Suburbia’ on Vimeo.
 

Wednesday 1 February 2017, 8 pm AGM

Peter Lely Portrait of an Unknown Woman c. 1670-75 Tate

The Power of Beauty in Restoration England: The Windsor & Hampton Court Beauties a talk by Laurence Shafe

  Laurence Shafe gave a most interesting talk and presentation about the Windsor Beauties and their role within society.

Starting at the time of Charles II, around 1660, Laurence explained how ballads were used as a medium to poke fun at society in general. The new freedoms introduced by the Reformation Court spread through society.

At this time 10% of businesses were owned by women, passed on to them by their husbands. The first daily newspaper was run by a woman. However, it was a male dominated society and so these heroic women had to fight against established norms and laws.

Mistresses were public knowledge and accepted in society, a French idea introduced by Charles, with Charles known to have had between nine and eleven. Laurence showed portraits of Nell Gwyn, Barbara Villiers and Louise de Kérouaille, as three examples.

The talk was concluded with the works of Sir Peter Lely, The Windsor Beauties, commissioned by the Duchess of York, which can now be seen at Hampton Court Palace, and he provided interesting nicknames: Hidden; Poisoner; Poisoned; Curse of the Nation; La Belle Hamilton; Joker; Trophy; Villainous, Smelly, Quiet.

 


November 2016Boat Club

150th Anniversary of Molesey Boat Club

2016 marked the 150th anniversary of Molesey Boat Club. To celebrate this, the Society had worked with Boat Club members to compile displays and talks on the history and achievements of Molesey rowers and our November meeting was held at the Boat Club.

Our evening began with Roger Haile providing a potted history of rowing from ancient boats, such as triremes, to the present day. Phil Bourgignon, head coach at Molesey Boat Club, gave us a more technical talk with examples of how rowing has changed since the early days. This led into the talk by Martin Cross, an Olympic rower. Martin won bronze at the Munich Olympics and a gold medal in Los Angeles (alongside Steve Redgrave). A long-standing member of Molesey Boat Club, John van Ingen, then gave us a talk on the history of the Club itself, from the first club house on Ash Island to the well-equipped building today.

The evening was well attended and was a great success. We all left knowing significantly more about rowing and our local Club than we had before.



Wednesday 14 September 2016, 8 pm


Cameras and Corsets – Dating Historical Photographs – Jane Lewis

“It’s easier to date the fashion than the photograph” declared Jane Lewis. An old family portrait showing three generations of women illustrated the point perfectly: the grandmother decked out in the fashions of yesteryear, the mother a little behind the times and the daughter wearing the latest fashion. Outfits and hairstyles can be dated – even for men whose clothes and facial hair changed more subtly than those of women. These clues give important indications as to not just when a photograph was taken but where.

Jane’s illustrated talk was full of rich detail enlivened by humorous asides and personal anecdotes of her own family history photographs. It is clearly a passion which serves her well in her day job at the Surrey History Centre in Woking. When dating photographs for the archives, she is helped by others in the team with particular specialisms such as uniforms and forms of transport which can provide other important clues to the age of a picture. 


Tuesday 12 July 2016, 10.30am or Wednesday 13 July, 7.30pm

Summer Stroll – Guided Walks through KingstonKingston

The walks were led by three different guides and it seems that we were taken on slightly varying routes and that in some cases the guides emphasised different facts. The walks were extremely interesting and informative and we were given so much information that it would be impossible to attempt to summarise it all. This is just one of the interesting facts given out:

Many people believe that Kingston derived its name from the Coronation Stone (King’s stone) but in fact its name comes from the Old English words ‘cyning’ and ‘tun’, meaning ‘the king’s estate’. The first written mention of Kingston is as Cyningestun in 838.

If you would like to find out more about Kingston’s history, Kingston Tour Guides run walks every Sunday from April to September and on the first Sunday of the month from October to March. Walks start at the Church Gates in the Market Place at 11 a.m., last about 1½ hours and cost £5.


Thursday 9 June 2016, 8.00pm

The King’s Chocolate Kitchen, Hampton Court Palace - Marc Meltonville, Royal Palace Food Historian

Hampton Court Chocolate Kitchen You and I might have difficulty in losing a kitchen, but when your residence covers six acres, with over 1000 rooms, and has undergone numerous transformations, it can happen all too easily. So it was that Marc Meltonville, Royal Palace Food Historian was tasked with the challenge of finding the Chocolate Kitchen, which was built for William and Mary but mainly served the Georgian kings.

After extensive research, an entry was found in an inventory made after the death of William III, which showed that there was a chocolate room, 8th door on the right in the Fountain Court. This room was being used for storage and, once emptied, revealed the intact kitchen – the original range where the beans would have been roasted, Georgian shelves and even the original fold-down table for preparing the drink, still firmly fixed to the wall.

Tea, coffee and chocolate all came to England during the 1650s. Gentlemen would meet in coffee houses to discuss matters of the day. They would escort their wives to genteel tea houses but took their mistresses to the chocolate houses!

 http://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/visit-us/top-things-to-see-and-do/chocolate-kitchens/#gs.ysSE38w


Thursday 19 May 2016, 10.30am

Talk on House and Garden Tour of Warren House, Kingston, KT2 7HYWarren House

On 19th May, 25 members and guests spent an enthralling morning listening to Vicky Good talk about the history of the owners of Warren House and Andrew Fisher Tomlin speak about the history of the garden and then walking round the garden and much of the ground floor of the house.

After her parents bought Warren House in 2005, Vicky’s attention was grabbed by a photograph taken there on 22nd May 1909. This photograph showed the then owners of the house, General Sir Arthur and Lady Paget, and various illustrious guests, including Edward VII and his mistress, Mrs Alice Keppel. It inspired Vicky to research the story of the inhabitants of the house and in 2014 she published a book ‘The Warren House Tales’ about their lives. http://www.warrenhouse.com.

Andrew took us on a tour of the gardens and in particular of the Veitch Heritage Garden, a walled garden which has been redesigned by Andrew to commemorate the Veitch nurseries and to celebrate the plant hunters who risked their lives to bring back exotic plants to Britain. http://www.warrenhouse.com/veitch_garden.php


Tuesday 26 April 2016, 8 pm
Thames Bridges, Staines to Kingston – Nick Pollard

On 26 April members were given a talk by Nick Pollard on ‘Thames Bridges from Staines to Kingston. Nick explained that until the 1869 Kew and Other Bridges Act everyone using the bridges paid a toll.

There has been a bridge since Roman times in Staines, when it was known as ‘Ad Pontes’. The bridge was broken during the Civil War to prevent movement of troops, but soon replaced as it formed part of the main route to Exeter.

Chertsey Bridge is first mentioned in 1410 and was built by the monks of Chertsey Abbey. In 1782 a new bridge was built which, although constructed with the number of arches specified, did not reach the banks and had to be extended.

Chertsey Bridge 1792
Chertsey Bridge, Samuel Ireland 1792

Two bridges were built over the Desborough Cut, which was opened in the 1930s to speed transport up and down the Thames.

Walton_Bridge_1750
Walton Bridge depicted in a review of 1750

The first bridge was built at Walton on Thames in 1750. Due to the wooden lattice work, it was known as a mathematical bridge. A stone bridge was built in around 1784, which fell down in 1859 and was replaced by a cast iron bridge in 1864. A temporary Callender Hamilton bridge was built in 1953, which was replaced by the new bridge which opened in 2013.

The first bridge at Hampton Court was built in 1752 in the ‘chinoiserie’ style. It was followed by a wooden bridge in 1778 and an iron bridge in 1864-5. The present bridge was styled by Lutyens to reflect the design of Hampton Court Palace and was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1933.

The wooden bridge at Kingston was known in the twelfth century. It was broken down during the Wars of the Roses and again in the rebellion against Queen Mary. A stone bridge was opened in 1828 and was widened to take trams in 1911-14 and again in 2001. From underneath the stages of construction can be clearly seen.

This was an entertaining and well-illustrated talk by Nick, including some very interesting aerial views.

St Lawrence Junior School, Church Road, East Molesey, KT8 9DR


Thursday 22nd October 2015, 8pm

’Everyday Life in 13th Century Esher’, a talk by David Stone, Oxbridge Research Fellow and Author specializing in medieval history

Dr David Stone brought to life the story of the expansion of the Winchester bishopric’s estate at Esher and the hardships endured by the common people in the early fourteenth century as they battled climate change, famine and the Black Death. You can read an account of the evening in Newsletter 35 (March 2016). The results of his research will be published by Surrey Records Society in 2017.

St Lawrence Junior School, Church Road, East Molesey, KT8 9DR
Wednesday 9th September 2015, 8pm

‘R C Sherrif from ‘Towpath to Red Carpet’, a talk by Loretta Howell of the R C Sherrif Trust

We were treated to a fascinating and informative evening with Loretta Howells from R C Sherriff Rosebriars Trust celebrating the life and works of local playwright Robert Cedric Sherriff.

Born in Hampton Wick in 1896, he attended Kingston Grammar School and was captain of cricket and rowing. His ashes were placed with those of his mother in St Winifred’s Chapel, Selsey. Today, a small half hidden plaque marks the life of a writer who is best known for Journey’s End but in fact wrote so much more.

In 1932, he was asked to write the screenplay for The Invisible Man and then went on to write a number of screenplays including Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Four Feathers, Lady Hamilton, Odd Man Out, Mrs. Miniver, Quartet, No Highway and The Dam Busters. He spent his time commuting between Hollywood, Rosebriars, (his house in Esher), a farm in Dorset and a house in Selsey.

St Lawrence Junior School, Church Road, East Molesey, KT8 9DR


Tuesday 7th July 2015, 7pm

Summer Stroll – Royal Paddocks

Jason Debney from the Thames Landscape Strategy led a fascinating walk on a beautiful summer’s evening, introducing members to the secret world of the wildlife in the Royal Paddocks, and area not normally open to the public. A project to restore the lost floodplain habitat of The Royal Paddocks in Home Park and look at ways of enhancing the area for water and wildlife has been underway for four years, and includes new sluices, expansion of the reedbeds and improvements for fish and eels, as well as kingfisher and sandmartin banks.


Thursday 4th June 2015, 8 pm

‘Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant’ - a talk by Tracy Borman, joint Chief Curator for Historic Royal Palaces

Tracy Borman’s gripping account of the life and career of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief minister, reminded us of how ruthless and ambitious politicians will always divide opinion as to their motives, achievements and reputation. You can read an account of the evening in Newsletter 33 (June 2015). Thomas Cromwell: The untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant is published in paperback by Hodder.

Clore Centre, Hampton Court, East Molesey


Wednesday 29th April 2015, 8 pm

Our well-attended AGM was followed by a talk by Bill Weisblatt, Trustee of the Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare Trust, titled: David Garrick – ‘’Behind the Scenes’

After studying law and a period with his brother in a wine business, David Garrick started as a playwright, which was considered as a gentlemanly career. He then joined the disreputable acting profession, eventually achieving acclaim playing Richard III.

As an actor/manager he brought Shakespeare back into fashion and completely changed the acting profession with his style of interacting with other members of the cast in a natural manner. He became a celebrity and, following his death in 1779, crowds of people visited his body as it lay in state. Garrick and his wife moved to Hampton in 1754 to farm buildings that had been renovated by Robert Adam. Garrick’s Temple was built in 1756 to celebrate the genius of William Shakespeare. It is open to the public on Sunday afternoons (14.00-17.00) from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October.

St Lawrence Junior School, Church Road, East Molesey, KT8 9DR

February 5th 2015

‘Maps for Local History’, a talk by Carole Garrard, Local Studies Librarian at the Surrey History Centre

Over 60 members ignored the elements and made their way to Hurst Park School to hear Carole Garrard, local studies librarian at Surrey History Centre, tell us about the amazing maps we can access in Surrey to illuminate the story of Molesey and its inhabitants. Molesey is well served not only by Ordnance Survey maps dating back to the 1860s but also by Manorial, Enclosure and Estate maps going back to the 1780s.

Carole’s talk was well researched and illustrated with a selection of images relating to Molesey. Most of the important maps covering Molesey have been scanned by the Surrey History Centre, and photocopies and CDs are available for purchase.


November 11th 2014

‘How the East Surreys went to war in 1914’, a talk by Ian Chatfield, curator of the East Surrey Regiment Museum

A highly appropriate topic for Remembrance Day, which attracted an audience of over 75 members and guests. The East Surrey Regiment was formed in 1881 by the amalgamation of two Regiments with a view to saving money. When war broke out on 4th August 1914 the 1st East Surrey battalion was based in Dublin. Eleven days later the battalion was in France and involved in the Battle of Mons. The 2nd East Surrey battalion was in India at the outbreak of war but was soon recalled and by January 1915 was in action in France. During the war the Regiment lost 6,223 men.

In 1959 the East Surrey Regiment was amalgamated with the Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey) to form The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment, and a Museum, now called The Surrey Infantry Museum, was opened at Clandon Park in 1981. A visit is highly recommended.


October 3rd & 4th 2014

‘Then & Now’ Photographic Exhibition

For two days the Methodist Church in East Molesey was packed with visitors to our enthralling ‘Then and Now’ exhibition of historic photographs alongside present-day images of the identical locations. The modern photographs were taken by two professional photographers who are based in Molesey, and by members of the Society. Each pair of ‘Then and Now’ photographs was accompanied by a caption explaining the history of each location - researched and written by Society members.

The displays really stimulated conversation and there was a constant buzz as people shared their memories of Molesey’s past and the changes that have taken place over the years. Whilst not everything has changed for the better, the ‘Now’ photographs showed everyone that Molesey residents are fortunate to live in such beautiful surroundings. One visitor wrote, ‘What a wonderful exhibition which I thoroughly enjoyed. I am going to enjoy living in Molesey even more now!”


September 16th 2014

‘The Treasures of St Peter’s Church’, a talk by Lindy Wilson, member of Walton & Hersham NADFAS

St Peter’s church in West Molesey was the location for a talk by Lindy Wilson about a project carried out by volunteers from the Walton & Hersham branch of NADFAS (National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies) to research and document the contents of the church – memorials, metalwork, stonework, woodwork, textiles, paintings, windows and other items.

St Peter’s church tower was built, probably as a watchtower, in about 1420, and is said to be the oldest building in Molesey. The present church, apart from the tower, was built in 1843 but it replaced a much earlier building and there are many memorials and other artefacts which are older than the building.

Among the memorials is one for Admiral Sir George Cranfield Berkeley, a member of the Berkeley family who, along with the Hotham family, were one-time Lords of the Manors of Molesey, and another for the Right Honourable John Wilson Croker who was a Member of Parliament for 25 years and chiefly responsible for the re-building of the church in 1843. A booklet entitled ‘A Short History of St Peter’s Church West Molesey’ is available and can be purchased at the church.


July 16th 2014

Summer Stroll – Molesey Cemetery

On an idyllic summer evening over sixty members took a gentle stroll through Molesey cemetery, before making their way to Hurst Park school for refreshments and a talk by Anthony Barnes on the history of the cemetery and some of the notable people buried there, one of whom was Sir Henry Thompson who, ironically, was one of the first in this country to advocate and popularise cremation! The cemetery is located in West Molesey close to St Peter’s church and came into operation in about 1865 when St Mary’s small churchyard became full.

On the evening of the summer stroll, flags were in place to draw people’s attention to significant graves. Many eminent figures prominent in Molesey public life from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century are buried close to the cemetery office; but every area of the cemetery has a story to tell whether it’s the graves of members of local families, a group of nuns buried by the cemetery wall or the headstones of service men and women who died in two world wars.


June 5th 2014

‘Real Tennis – Game of Kings - and other Tudor Sports’, a talk by Lesley Ronaldson, former Real Tennis professional at Hampton Court

The Clore Centre at Hampton Court once again proved to be a popular venue. Lesley Ronaldson has been associated with Hampton Court for 27 years, firstly as Tennis Professional and ‘Keeper of the Royal Tennis Court’, and latterly as a guide and lecturer. Incidentally, the use of the word ‘Real’ in describing the game does not refer to its Royal connection but to its status as the original (i.e. real) version of tennis.

In Tudor times sport was regarded as training for warfare. Thus there were few ball games but lots of ‘manly pursuits’, some more dangerous than others, (e.g. jousting). Like many sports, tennis originated in humble surroundings, the ball being played off the shop roofs in the streets. This explains the unusual layout of a Real tennis court today, with sloping ‘penthouses’ around three of the four walls.

We were once told that Coca-Cola was the ‘real thing’ but now we know differently. A most interesting talk, for sports fans and history lovers alike.


April 30th 2014

AGM followed by a talk by Penny Rainbow on ‘Wayneflete Tower’

The Society’s seventh AGM was held at St. Lawrence Junior School and was attended by around 100 members. After the formal business of the meeting, Penny Rainbow gave an illustrated talk on ‘Wayneflete Tower’ in Esher which has been her home for the past 20 years. The Tower was the gatehouse of Esher Palace which was built in the 1460s by William Wayneflete, Bishop of Winchester. For over 300 years, it was a building of national importance, lived in and visited by some of the most important people of the Tudor and Elizabethan periods. The Tower is all that remains of the Palace but the site has been extensively excavated by archaeological experts and Penny has spent the last 20 years painstakingly restoring the outside and inside of the Tower.


February 4th 2014

Members’ Evening

The Members’ Evening is essentially a social event with some history thrown in. This year’s attractions were another chance to see the display material from the ‘Bridges’ evening and a talk by two of the Society’s members on a part of Molesey with its own distinct character. This is the area in West Molesey where the ‘Howard Houses’ are located. These are so called after Donald Howard, an enterprising young property developer who, in 1933, embarked on a plan to build a community for middle class Londoners looking for a more rural lifestyle. Sadly this dream was never fully realised as Howard went bankrupt when only 300 houses had been completed. Although many of the houses have been altered and extended in the 80 years since they were built, the estate still retains its distinctive Modernist look and the houses are much in demand.


November 15th 2013

‘Bridge on the River Thames’, the History of Hampton Court Bridges

On 3rd July 1933 Edward, Prince of Wales, officially opened the new Hampton Court Bridge. Now 80 years later, and following extensive research, the Society mounted a comprehensive display that commemorated the four bridges built at Hampton Court since 1763. This was complemented by illustrated talks given by three members of the Society telling the story of the bridges and their construction.

To conclude the evening, one of the Society’s members who, as an eight year old school boy was amongst the pupils who were invited to the opening ceremony in 1933, told us that having walked from Park Road school and then waited for what “seemed like ages” to see the Prince of Wales “for all of 50 seconds” and then walked back to school having had no lunch or tea the whole thing seemed “a bit of a non-event”. Hopefully nobody could say the same about a very interesting and entertaining evening.


September 17th 2013

‘History of Frederick Paine, Undertakers’, a talk by Ian Smith, curator of the Frederick W Paine Museum in Kingston

Around 80 members and visitors attended this informative talk but to what extent their interest lay in the past or the future is not known! At the time of his death in 1945 Frederick W Paine had the largest network of branches of any funeral directing business in the country, including one in East Molesey. The name still survives but the business is now part of Dignity Plc. Also surviving are the company’s records of past funerals, some of which Ian Smith brought along so that members could search for relatives or friends. The Frederick W Paine Museum is located at 24 London Road, Kingston and is open on Tuesdays, free of charge.


July 4th 2013

Summer Stroll & Talk by Toby Butler entitled ‘Liquid History: houseboat life and the Elmbridge riverside trail

East Molesey Cricket Club was the starting point for this year’s Summer Stroll which involved following the Elmbridge riverside audio trail from Cigarette Island to the Hurst Park Heritage Marker. Before the walk, Toby Butler, a University lecturer specializing in audio history, regaled us with stories of life on the river Thames which included his own recollections of living on a houseboat, as well as recordings of people speaking about their lives working and living on narrow boats in the 1940s and 1950s.


May 23rd 2013

‘Hampton Court in Old Photographs’, an illustrated talk by Ian Franklin and Robert Hoare

The Clore Centre provided an appropriate backdrop for a talk on the development of photography in the 19th Century and the popularity of Hampton Court as an early subject for photographic pioneers. The first photographs of Hampton Court date back to 1845 and comparisons with modern photographs help to identify changes to the Palace over the years. The development and popularity of photography – Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were both enthusiasts – led, in the 1850s, to the Victoria and Albert Museum instigating a project to photograph all works of art and historic buildings for posterity and commercial exploitation.


April 25th 2013

AGM followed by a talk by John Sheaf entitled ‘Victorian Hampton’

The Society’s sixth AGM was held at St. Lawrence Junior School and was attended by over 100 members. After the formal business of the meeting, John Sheaf gave an illustrated talk on ‘Victorian Hampton’. John used his collection of old photographs to show that, although some of the Victorian buildings are no longer in existence, the overall structure of Hampton remains much as it was in Victorian times.


January 29th 2013

Sport on the Hurst - Part 2

Another good turnout at St Paul’s Church for the second part of our Sport on the Hurst programme. A number of well-researched and very informative talks were given by four members of the Society’s Committee – Jenny Wood, Paula Day, Wendy Wilson and Anthony Barnes. The sports covered were hunting, cock fighting, prize-fighting, duelling, athletics, archery, golf, ballooning and swimming. In addition to the talks there was a comprehensive display of historical memorabilia including an actual pair of cockspurs and a fascinating set of instructions as to appropriate behaviour when swimming in the Thames.


November 14th 2012

A talk by Nick Barratt on ‘House History’

Nick Barratt of BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ and the History Channel’s ‘Hidden House Histories’ gave a very informative talk which explained how to set about building up the history of a house. Starting from getting to know the neighbours, he went on to describe how to access the many and varied sources that are available, and what sort of information these might supply.

Nick has very kindly offered to make copies of his presentation available to any member of the Society and also to guests at the meeting. If you would like to receive a copy by email, please contact Jill Wilkins, on historysociety@btinternet.com, and we will send one to you in its original digital form. Also, for anyone who wants something more in-depth, Nick has a few copies of his book ‘Tracing the History of Your House’ that he is happy to sell at a discounted price of £10 (instead of £15.99). Please contact admin@house-detectives.co.uk if you would like a copy.

Nick’s agency undertakes personal research and would be happy to take on the research of your house. Contact admin@house-detectives.co.uk for further information. His new website is http://www.house-detectives.co.uk, where you will find further details.


October 12th 2012

Sport on the Hurst

The faithful – about 150 of them – flocked to Mole Hall to witness another of the Society’s in-house productions. The subject was the history of sporting activity on Molesey Hurst which stretches from Tudor times to the present day. Originally planned to coincide with the London 2012 Olympics, it was particularly appropriate that Molesey played a part in the Olympics as host to some of the Cycling events. The evening consisted of an introduction by the Society’s Chair, Jenny Wood, followed by illustrated talks on Cricket by John Hutton and Horse Racing by Stewart Nash, both of which featured Pathé News clips. The talks were supplemented by displays of photographs and other material. Sadly there was insufficient time to do justice to all the other sport that has taken place on the “Hurst” and so a further evening is planned for early in 2013 to cover the exclusions.


July 11th 2012

Summer Stroll

This year’s Summer Stroll was the sixth such event since the Society was formed in 2007. It was an event tinged with sadness as Tony Osborne who had designed and led the previous strolls died on 5th May this year. Fortunately Tony’s plans for this year’s stroll were well advanced and with his daughter Mary taking over the post walk presentation the stroll was a tangible and fitting tribute to Tony’s efforts on behalf of the Society. Armed with a specially drawn map strollers were able to visit 18 places of interest in the East Molesey Old Village Area and with these fresh in our minds Mary Osborne provided more detail in her presentation.


Thursday 24th May 2012

A talk by Dr Annie Gray on ‘Dining with Kings (and Queens): Eating at Hampton Court Palace through History’

Another excellent turn-out for our annual Clore Centre meeting. Dr Annie Gray, who clearly enjoys her subject, provided an illuminating insight into the eating habits of the ‘court’ at Hampton Court. The sheer scale of the provisioning and cooking arrangements was immense but a great source of employment for the local people. Fortunately the River Thames was on hand to help deal with the waste disposal problem. Although it was a warm night, no one felt like swimming!


Wednesday 25th April 2012

AGM followed by a talk by Dr David Parker entitled ‘Dickens and the Thames: Richmond to Hampton’

The Society’s fifth AGM was held at St. Lawrence Junior School and was attended by over 120 members. After the formal business of the meeting, Dr David Parker, former Curator of the London Dickens Museum, gave an illustrated talk on Charles Dickens’ connection with the Thames from Richmond to Hampton. Dickens habitually rented houses close to the river, inviting friends to share the delights of the ‘countryside’, and his works contain many references to the scenes and characters he encountered whilst staying in the area.


Friday/Saturday 9/10th March 2012

Exhibition – Life in Molesey during WWII

A well-attended exhibition was held over two days at Molesey Royal British Legion entitled ‘Life in Molesey during World War II’. This was a follow-up, at the request of members, to the meeting held in November 2010 and it provided another opportunity for members to view photographs and other material depicting life during the conflict.


Tuesday 31st January 2012

Imber Court – A Stately Home for Horses

Chris Forester, a former officer in the Metropolitan Police Mounted Training Division, gave an illustrated talk on the history of Imber Court through the ages. Once part of Henry VIII’s hunting grounds, it became a private house in the 17th Century and remained so until 1915 when the War Department leased it for use as a munitions testing ground. After WW1 the estate was broken up with parts being developed for housing and light industry. The rest was sold to the Metropolitan Police, who turned it into a training centre and sports facility. 


November 16th 2011

It’s Carnival Time! A look back at the Molesey Carnival over the years.

Imber Court was once again the venue for yet another brilliant show by the Society’s research team. With the aid of photographs, films, newsreels, press cuttings, and presentations by Anthony Barnes and Clive Kirk, the history of the Molesey Carnival was retold to an appreciative audience of over 100 members and guests. Originating from the ‘pound day’ collections and parades in support of the Molesey cottage hospital, the Carnival has developed into an essential part of the social calendar for Molesey residents.


September 8th 2011

Claremont House – Talk and Tour

Today, Claremont House is the home of Claremont Fan Court School attended by 600 pupils between the ages of 3 and 18. But its history, as explained by Pamela Rider, one of the teachers at the school, stretches back to the early 18th Century when the first house was built by Sir John Vanbrugh. The present Palladian-style mansion with gardens landscaped by Capability Brown was built for Clive of India and was subsequently bought by Queen Victoria as a home for her youngest son. More recently it saw action during WWII as the base for the design team of the Hawker Siddeley Aircraft Company.


June 21st 2011

Summer Stroll – Island Barn

This year’s stroll took us to the Island Barn Reservoir, the opening of which took place 100 years ago on 4th November 1911. This is very much ‘off the beaten track’ and members were able to satisfy their curiosity by walking round the perimeter by the water’s edge and enjoying splendid panoramic views. Later, at Chandler’s Field School, Tony Osborne gave another of his entertaining and illuminating talks about the reservoir and its construction.


May 19th 2011

‘Henry VIII, The Making of a Tyrant’, talk by Dr Suzannah Lipscomb.

In the historical setting of Hampton Court, Suzannah Lipscomb, author of the book, ‘1536 – the year that changed Henry VIII’, described the events that turned Henry VIII from a fun-loving guy into a grumpy and despotic old man. Certainly the lack of a male heir contributed to Henry’s ill-temper but Suzannah believes that perhaps physical causes may have been at the root of the change in his personality. A very enjoyable and informative evening.


April 7th 2011

AGM followed by a talk by Ron Smedley entitled ‘We Are Fred Karno’s Army’

The Society’s fourth AGM was held at St. Lawrence Junior School and was completed without incident. After the formal business of the meeting, Ron Smedley, Chairman of Hampton Riverside Trust, gave an illustrated talk entitled ‘We Are Fred Karno’s Army’. This was an entertaining account of the rags-to-riches-to-rags story of the man whose name became a synonym for organized chaos and whose fun palace called The Karsino brought the smart set flocking to Tagg’s Island in the 1910s.


February 15th 2011

‘The Elmbridge Hundred’. A talk by Alistair Grant

The Parish Room at St Paul’s Church was absolutely full to hear artist, writer and historian Alistair Grant give a talk on the Elmbridge Hundred.

This community project, initiated by Alistair, to celebrate the centenary of the Elmbridge Museum, was designed to research, document and celebrate some of the remarkable and diverse people associated with Elmbridge.

For more details about ‘The Elmbridge Hundred’ visit www.elmbridgehundred.org.uk


November 12th 2010

Life in Molesey during World War II

It was a V for Victory evening at Mole Hall when an audience of almost 200 people experienced a vivid recreation of everyday life in Wartime Molesey. The scene was set with a montage of photographs and memorabilia displayed around the hall illustrating such diverse topics as the Home Guard and the story of evacuees.

An audio visual presentation, using photographs, film and sound effects, then told the story of the war’s impact on the people of Molesey. A quartet of actors from the Barn Theatre then took the stage bringing to life many powerful reminiscences obtained from Molesey residents. One account told of schoolchildren watching a dogfight overhead whilst bullets hit the playground!

To round off the evening the audience was invited to enjoy food cooked from wartime recipes and to read the heartwarming Wartime Diaries of a teenager living with her parents in Vine Road.


October 2nd 2010

A Walk round Walton-on-Thames led by Bryan Ellis

Bryan Ellis led 17 members on a guided walk round the centre of Walton-on-Thames. The circular route started at the Riverhouse Gardens, continued along the towpath to the Old Manor House, then via the crossroads in the centre of the town to St Mary's Church, the old Village Hall and Elmgrove before returning to Riverhouse Gardens.

Bryan is the author of 'Walton Past' and his knowledge and enthusiasm gave us an extremely enjoyable and interesting afternoon.


September 16th 2010

‘Water, Water, Everywhere’ a talk by Ray Brodie on the waterways of Bushy Park

Once again a very good turn out of members and guests at Hurst Park Primary School to hear Ray Brodie give a memorable account of all that goes on in Bushy Park. Ray is currently the Park Manager for Bushy Park and the Longford River, and is able to draw on 30 years "on the job" experience in the Royal Parks.

The story began with the Longford River, which flows past Heathrow and feeds the Park and the waterways in the Park itself. Ray then covered the history of the Park and its various features, before concluding with details about the recent restoration of the Water Gardens and the Diana Fountain.


June 22nd 2010

Summer Stroll

Our third Summer Stroll, this time taking in the Kent Town Conservation Area. Tony Osborne once again gave us the benefit of his expertise, producing maps for the walk and an illustrated talk afterwards. The architectural styles in the area, particularly in Palace Road, illustrate the eclecticism of the mid to late Victorian era, ranging from Gothic Revival to Italian Renaissance.


May 19th 2010

A talk by Annie Gray on ‘Getting By’ at William III’s Hampton Court

Our annual visit to the Clore Centre at Hampton Court and a most appropriate setting for a highly entertaining and informative talk by Dr Annie Gray on life at the Baroque Palace of William III. Dr Annie Gray is a historic food expert and costume interpreter who regularly appears as a guide at the Palace in the guise of the Countess of Carlisle. Using telling details of changes in domestic consumption, clothing, eating and drinking, she illustrated how William and Mary’s reign marked the birth of modern times and healed the Civil War legacy of Britain’s ‘broken society’.


April 21st 2010

AGM followed by a talk by Cliff Taylor on Hurst Park Racecourse and his career as a jockey.

Another good turn out for the Society’s third AGM, held at St. Lawrence Junior School. The formal business of the meeting was completed without incident and then Cliff Taylor entertained us with an illustrated talk on Hurst Park Racecourse and his life as a professional jockey. From Cliff’s entrance in full racing silks to his advice to would-be punters, the whole show was riveting. Worth the £5 annual subscription alone.


March 9th 2010

A talk by Nick Barratt from the BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ programme on Family History and the Media.

Nick Barratt entertained in excess of 160 members and guests at Imber Court with an account of his background in research whilst working at the National Archives followed by his work with various TV programmes on House History, eventually leading to his involvement with the BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’.


January 19th 2010

Members Evening

Our third Members’ Evening, once again held at St Paul’s Church, included contributions from members of the Special Interest Groups on Hampton Court Station and the demographic changes in Molesey following the coming of the Railway, plus displays of historical maps and other material. Finished off with mulled wine and fruit cake as usual.


November 10th 2009

Talk by Carole Cuneo and Peter Collins of the Cuneo Society on the life and work of the well-known Molesey artist Terence Cuneo

Anyone who thought that Terence Cuneo just painted trains and cars was very pleasantly surprised to discover an artist with complete mastery over an extremely wide range of subjects, particularly ceremonial events such as the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This talk by Cuneo’s daughter, Carole, and Peter Collins of the Cuneo Society covered every aspect of the artist’s life and work, and by the end one longed to own a Cuneo original or to have attended one of his famous New Year parties.

The Cuneos have left their mark on Molesey. Terence had his cars serviced at the Walton Road Garage – Lewis Balkwill still owns Cuneo’s old Bristol – and Carole once owned the model railway shop in Molesey.


September 17th 2009

‘The First Line for Leisure’ – What the Railway did for Molesey

The coming of the Railway in 1849 was one of the pivotal events in the recent history of Molesey. It was built as the country’s first line for leisure - to give Londoners access to Hampton Court Palace, the River Thames and Hurst Park - but turned a sleepy rustic area into a commuter community.

Well over 120 members and guests came to the Molesey Youth Centre to hear members of 3 of the Society’s Special Interest Groups – Waterways, Transport, People & Buildings – tell the story of the construction of the railway, the development of leisure and sporting activities, and the effect on the social landscape. In addition, these carefully researched presentations were supported by a whole variety of maps and photographs.


June 16th 2009

Summer Stroll

About 75 people strolled (not all at the same time) beside the Mole and the Ember on a lovely summer evening visiting points of historical interest, including the sites of the Upper Molesey and Ember Mills. Tony Osborne provided an annotated map of the route, which included a visit to the garden of the Old Manor House in Bell Road. After the walk came the illustrated talk, by Tony Osborne, expanding on the history of this surprisingly open and almost rural area of Molesey.


May 13th 2009

Talk on the ‘Knights of Christ’ by Chris Gidlow

Our third visit to the Clore Centre at Hampton Court Palace, and a most interesting illustrated talk by Tower of London expert Chris Gidlow entitled ‘Knights of Christ’. The talk covered the antics of the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller from the 11th Century onwards, and described the founding of these orders, their involvement in the Crusades, and their time as residents of Hampton Court.


April 23rd 2009

AGM, followed by a talk on ‘Molesey Mills’ by Brian Smith.

The Society’s second AGM, held at St. Lawrence Junior School, attracted just over 100 members. The formal business of the meeting was completed without incident and then Brian Smith gave an illustrated and entertaining talk entitled ‘Molesey Mills: a story of conflict, scandal, gunpowder, explosions, theft and grave robbing’.


March 5th 2009

House History.

Jill Hyams from the Surrey History Centre gave a well-illustrated and enjoyable talk about the sources available at the Surrey History Centre to assist those interested in researching the history of their house. Jill highlighted various techniques which she had used in researching the history of her own house.


February 6th 2009

The Floods Part 2.

By public demand, a re-run of the highly popular meeting held last September to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the 1968 Floods. Another excellent evening and, thanks to the all-ticket format, no problems in accommodating all those attending.


January 20th 2009

Members’ Evening.

Our second Members’ Evening, once again held at St Paul’s Church, included contributions from all the Special Interest Groups (Waterways, Transport, Sport, People & Buildings) plus displays of historical maps and other themed material. All rounded off with mulled wine and fruit cake.


November 18th 2008

Talk by Nicholas Reed on ‘Alfred Sisley on the Thames and the Welsh Coast’.

Another packed house, this time at the Molesey Youth Centre, and a top-class illustrated talk by Nicholas Reed, the well-known art historian, about Sisley’s paintings of the Thames at Molesey in 1874 and his later works of the Welsh Coast in 1897. Slides of Sisley’s paintings were projected alongside recent photographs of the same locations in both Molesey and South Wales.


September 19th 2008

40th Anniversary of 1968 Floods.

Members and visitors packed Mole Hall for an audio-visual evening commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the 1968 Floods. The programme included newsreels, amateur film footage, eye-witness accounts from some of those living in Molesey at the time, and a host of photographs.


June 18th 2008

Thames Riverbank Walk, followed by a talk by Tony Osborne at Molesey Boat Club.

A leisurely stroll on a fine evening along the riverbank from Hampton Court Station to Molesey Boat Club was followed by a dip into Tony Osborne’s history box with revelations about the Thames Canal Scheme of 1805 and the proposed Molesey Boulevard of 1918, both of which were abandoned following objections from local residents. Plus ça change!


May 21st 2008

Talk on the Hampton Court Fire in 1986 by Dennis Ashbourne.

Another good turn out for our second visit to the Clore Centre at Hampton Court Palace. With the aid of wonderful photographs Dennis Ashbourne described the drama of the fire which gutted the State Apartments of William and Mary. He then took us on the painstaking journey from the damp and smouldering remains to the complete restoration of the South Wing which was re-opened in 1992.


April 24th 2008

AGM, followed by a talk on ‘The Thames and Riverside Houses from Hampton Court to Hampton’ by John Sheaf.

The Society’s first AGM, held at St. Lawrence Junior School, attracted a good crowd and the formal business of the meeting was completed without incident. John Sheaf then gave an illustrated and well researched talk on the history of The Thames and its environment from Platt’s Eyot to Hampton Court, a distance of only one and a half miles, but packed with historical interest.


March 6th 2008

Talk by Dr. Ken Brown on ‘History of Hospitals and the NHS in Molesey’

Over one hundred members and visitors came to the Molesey Youth Centre to hear Dr. Ken Brown give a fascinating illustrated talk about medicine in Molesey. The first part of his talk was about the cottage hospitals, of which there have been three. Dr. Brown then went on to give an engaging personal account of the NHS in Molesey in 1960, when he first came down from Scotland to join a practice in Molesey.


January/February 2008

Visit to Surrey History Centre

During January and February two groups from the Society visited the Surrey History Centre to take a tour behind the scenes. The History Centre, which is in Goldsworth Road Woking, was opened in 1999. The building was purpose built to provide the best possible conditions for the preservation of the historic documents stored there and for public access to these documents.


January 15th 2008

Members’ Evening

Despite the wind and rain, there was a good turnout of members at St Paul’s Church for a social evening and to hear reports from our Research Groups. There were displays around the Church of photos, maps and other memorabilia, and many members brought along items from their own collections.


November 13th 2007

Family History Talk ‘Relative Connections: Sources for Family History at Surrey History Centre’

About 60 members and visitors came to Vine Hall to hear a talk by Jill Hyams from the Surrey History Centre about family history sources at Surrey History Centre.


September 7th 2007

History of the 1st Molesey Scout Group

Molesey was one of the first Scout groups to be set up after the founder Lord Baden-Powell had the idea to run groups to teach boys how to be good citizens in 1907. The evening, held during 1st Molesey’s Centenary celebrations, consisted of short talks coupled with displays of memorabilia and photos collected by the 1st Molesey Scout Group over many years.


July 30th 2007

Visit to Royal Holloway College

In the last years of his life, between 1881 and 1883, Thomas Holloway, a self-made multi-millionaire whose fortune had been made in patent medicines, paid well over £80,000 (equivalent to more than 6 million pounds in today's terms) for the seventy seven paintings which make up the Royal Holloway Collection. Visitors were given a tour of the Chapel and Quads, a talk on the picture collection and a visit to the College archives.


June 27th 2007

Historic Molesey Walk

On a rather wet Wednesday at the end of June, a large number of members turned out to hear Tony Osborne give a short talk based around a walk in the Conservation area of East Molesey Old Village. He showed a number of maps, illustrating how the area had changed since the days of King Henry VIII, and where remnants of boundary walls, buildings and roads could still be seen today, and also displayed photographs of buildings which unfortunately are no longer standing. Having heard the talk, the braver souls walked the walk. The rest of us went to the historic pub – The Bell.


May 27th 2007

Talk by Ian Franklin on ‘Grace and Favour Apartments at Hampton Court’

The first event of the Molesey Local History Society took place, appropriately, in the grand surroundings of Hampton Court Palace. More than 100 members met at the Clore Centre, the new education facility at Hampton Court, for refreshments and a brief talk by Rita Ashbourne about the centre. We then moved across the courtyard into the Barrack Block, where Ian Franklin gave us an informative and amusing illustrated talk about the Grace and Favour apartments. Ian has been associated with the Palace as a local historian for 25 years, and has been a State Apartment Warder for ten years.