The Chaldon History Group was formed in 2015 by two Chaldon residents interested in local history and specifically the history of the Village of Chaldon. The Group exists to develop understanding and share knowledge about Chaldon’s history.
The Group does not have a membership, just an email / mailing list of those interested in hearing about the talks and walks that are organised. Anyone who shares the aims of the Group is welcome to attend the events.
The current pattern of events is two Autumn Talks and two Spring Talks held on Saturday afternoons in Chaldon Village Hall or the building in Chaldon to which the talk relates, a Trip or Visit in April or May and the Summer Walk on the first Sunday of August.
There is a small admission charge for events, usually £5, and proceeds from events (after hall hire, speaker costs etc) are given to the Friends of Chaldon Church to help with the preservation of the historic building, or to another Local History charity.
The website is aiming to be a useful source of information about Chaldon’s history and for signposting to other resources. It’s early days, but new pages are being uploaded regularly now.
If you would like to be added to the emailing / mailing list for the Chaldon History Group, or if you have information, old photographs, letters about life in Chaldon in the past, or memories to share, please email or phone:
Liz Bonsall on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01883 340508
Madeline Hutchins on email@example.com or 01883 345011
In our plans for 2017 and 2018, we have taken the local stone as one of our themes, and are following the stone on its journey from the quarries under Chaldon, to the bridges, castles, palaces, and cathedrals that were built from it.
On Saturday 14th April, we have a special guided tour of Westminster Abbey to see the use of the local stone there. See the first post on this page for more information.
Our plan started with a trip down the quarry that is under Chaldon, undertaken in early May 2017. Two groups of ten people, dressed in clothes that could get muddy, with gloves, knee pads, helmets and lights, had a wonderful time underground, seeing the old stone quarry workings dating from at least the late medieval period.
Expertly led by Peter Burgess of the Wealden Cave and Mine Society with two colleagues, the groups saw the quarry face, where the method of working was explained, and the marks from the picks and wedges were clearly visible. They learnt how the stone was removed to the surface on sledges pulled by oxen. Various aspects of the history of the quarries were covered, including the spectacular flooding in 1911.
The next stage in the Local Story Story was a talk by Peter Burgess of the Wealden Cave and Mine Society giving more of the history of the stone held on Saturday 7th October 2017 in Chaldon church. This was a joint event with the Friends of Chaldon Church. The church was a very appropriate venue as it features the local stone in the building itself, the font, and a rather fine early Renaissance memorial (with the face in the sun that the History Group uses as its logo).
The ancient stone mines in East Surrey and their archaeology.
The use of Reigate stone (from mines in Merstham, Chaldon, Gatton and Reigate) for nearly 2000 years.
The potential value of the stone mines now as archaeological resources.
There was also be a display of images as a mini audit of the use of the local stone within Chaldon village buildings, in walls, fireplaces, chimneys etc. We are planning to extend this study and make the images available on this website in the future. Do get in touch if you have images that you can contribute, or stone in your Chaldon home that you think may be local and would like identifying.
For 2018, we have organised a visit to one of the important places that has significant use of the local stone in it – Westminster Abbey. On Saturday 14th April there will be a specialised tour of the Abbey to look at the Reigate / Chaldon /Merstham stone in it. More information will be given on this website soon.
This year’s walk to look at the architectural features of Chaldon, and to see inside some of the most interesting builidngs in our village focused on Rook Lane with a chance to see the features of Rook Farm house and barn, and Rook Cottage. The owners very kindly agreed to let our group look round the outside and downstairs inside of their properties and the architectural details were explained. Photographs and documents giving information on the residents of the properties were also made available.
Both houses are hidden from public view, and this was a great opportunity to walk round the outside of each property and see the ground floors and interesting features inside.
The thatched Rook Farm Barn is an important feature of Rook Lane, and on this visit we saw the inside with the beauty of its timber framing and the underneath of its thatching. The bottom layer of the thatch is an almost unique survival in the South East of an old style called chip thatching, using slivers of wood which were a by product of the production of watttles and other forestry work.
After seeing these properties, the group were shown three rather fine 18th century chest tombs in the churchyard, which have been recently uncovered from a thicket of ivy. The day ended with tea and cakes in the Hazell Room at the church. £90 from the fees for the Walk was given to the Friends of Chaldon Church.
The Second of our Spring Talks was held on Saturday 11th March, 2017
Ted Howard gave an illustrated talk on Martin Harman, Lord of Lundy & Chaldon Benefactor. The thirty people who attended learnt about the man who bought an island and gave Six Brothers Field to Chaldon village.
Martin Harman was born in 1886, and from 1906 his parents and their large family lived in Chaldon. Martin left school aged 15 and joined a financial firm, rising rapidly to become a wealthy Director of the company at 33 years of age. He was concerned about potential threats of urbanisation to Chaldon, and in 1926 gave 6.69 acres to the village which he named Six Brothers Field. At the same time he purchased the Island of Lundy off the North Devon coast.
The talk reviewed his many contributions to the development of both Chaldon and Lundy. Martin Harman was instrumental in protecting the footpaths in the Parish of Chaldon.
This was a joint event with the Friends of Chaldon Church, to whom the proceeds were given, to help maintain the historic church building and mural.
The Bourne Society’s website has an extract from their publication Village Histories 7: Chaldon on Martin Harman, available here
The first spring talk of 2017 was on Saturday 21st January, in the Village Hall.
Forty people came to hear Liz Bonsall give an illustrated talk on Chaldon Mead, Fryern and the Golf Course lands, showing the history behind these places.
Saturday 5th November: 2pm to 4pm: Chaldon Village Hall, Rook Lane
PICTURE POSTCARD CHALDON: Roger Packham, Vice-President of the Bourne Society, gave a delightful and interesting talk to an audience of over thirty people. Roger started by explaining the history of the Picture Postcard in Edwardian Britain, and then showing a wonderful range of images of Chaldon village from the 19th and early 20th century.
Some of the postcards shown were produced and sold in great numbers, including a lovely one of the Well Tower at Willey Farm.
Others were rare, including one of Roffes Lane in the 1920s or 30s, and another of the shop in The Heath in the 1930s. There was a lovely one in sepia tones of the end of Church Lane winding towards the church, with children in pinafores standing by the edge of the lane. Roger explained that the children would have known that they were about to appear on a postcard, and the card would have been available to purchase within days of the photograph being taken.
There were images of occurrences as well as street scenes or buildings. One card showed a tree stuck by lightning in Fryern some time before the War, another had a picture of a fire at Rook Cottage. Private photographs could be printed with a postcard back, and one of Roger’s collection was of the farmyard at Tollsworth, with a lovely message on the back about it being taken from the bedroom window and how many ducks were on the pond.
Postcards and photographs were on display, including photographs of houses on sales particulars, and maps of Chaldon from 1896. A couple of people brought postcards and photos of Chaldon in this period to share, which were scanned on the day. There were also fifteen photographs of unmade roads taken by the District Council in Chaldon in 1934 but without names on, and after tea break, small groups set about trying to identify these.
Sunday 9th October 2016
1366 and All That: Jackie Malyon, a Historian of Surrey Villages, gave a talk on what was happening in England, and Surrey 650 years ago. This was followed by a short presentation by Madeline Hutchins and Sean Maskey on the building of Chaldon Court (dated by dendrochronology to 1366), and a chance to see round the house. Liz Bonsall led a session on Meet the 14th Century Neighbours, with information from Mary Saaler covering Tillingdown, Farleigh and Merstham. Display boards had information on 14th century Chaldon, with the manors, Chaldon, Tollsworth and Willey and its sub manor Stanstead, the Church, and the stone quarries.
Image: Chaldon Court 1366 build, with speculative position of aisled hall
Chaldon Explored: Summer Walk
The Chaldon History Group was launched in August 2015 with a walk, Chaldon Explored, following the route of the book of that name, forty years after its publication in 1975.
On Sunday 7th August 2016, another walk took place, in what is now intended to be an annual series of such walks. This was Chaldon Explored: The Inside Story, Part One, and covered the North East portion of the village. The owners of four properties kindly agreed to allow the group of 24 people into their properties to see the key architectural features. Gordon Gillett gave an illustrated talk on Tollsworth Manor and showed the group the historical features of the house. We also visited Cold Blow, a Medieval hall house, and saw the staircase of Glebe House.
Visit to the Surrey History Centre, Woking
On Saturday 16 April, nine Chaldon residents were treated to a wonderful ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the Surrey History Centre by one of the staff members there, Sally Jenkinson. She gave information on the design of the building (opened in 1998) which was highly innovative at its time and still operating very effectively. She explained the imagery contained in the Surrey Tapestry behind the welcome desk, and the inspiration for the glass panels in the foyer windows before taking the group ‘behind the scenes’. First was the archaeology section, with trays of tiny fragments of bone, charcoal, flint etc being segregated, bagged and labelled, and large bones and antlers standing on top of filing cabinets. Next, in the archives section, the group saw where new acquisitions enter the building, and where they are taken for any cleaning, then any conservation that is necessary, before being boxed up or put in polyester pockets or acid free paper and card to keep them safe. The final section of the tour was in one of the two huge strong rooms in the middle of the building, where the archives are stored at the appropriate temperature and humidity, and with plenty of air circulation.
The group emerged from the strong room into the public research room, and there pored over a selection of documents relating to Chaldon including maps, pictures, sales particulars and a Parish Council Minute Book.
After lunch, there was the opportunity to return to research room as individual members of the public to consult the documents further and order any others relevant to personal research or interest.
Click here to see the website for the Surrey History Centre, and here for their information on how to find the centre. Its postcode for Sat Nav is GU21 6NT The pedestrian entrance is on Goldsworth Road, but the car park entrance is on Kingsway.
Talk on Archaeology
Nearly thirty people came on Saturday, 12 March, to Chaldon Village Hall, Rook Lane, 2 to 4pm, for a talk by Chris Taylor, curator of East Surrey Museum, and a chance to see and handle artefacts.
“Archaeology on Chaldon’s Doorstep”
Chris Taylor took us on a journey to look back at our area in a time when it was nothing like it is now.
The well illustrated talk covered from the Palaeolithic to the end of the Roman period. It gave a brief introduction to each period, with the main points of interest. Next, Chris Taylor looked in detail at the archaeology from the period that has been found in the area. A mammoth tooth and axes were available to see and to handle, some found very close to Chaldon.
Proceeds from the entry fee and donations for teas and cakes went as a donation to the East Surrey Museum.
Click here for the website of East Surrey Mueseum, Caterham in the Vally.
Chaldon Church and the American Connection
Our meeting on 30 January for Ted Howard’s talk on “Chaldon Church and the American Connection” was very well attended, with nearly forty people, and the talk much appreciated. Ted Howard told the story of his research into why, in 1796, a 68 year old woman from Charleston, South Carolina was buried in Chaldon Church. He gave many fascinating details of the period, including grim facts about slavery, and a picture of Charleston and Chaldon at that time. We learnt about the Beresford family, and Ted did solve the puzzle of why Mrs Sarah Beresford was buried in Chaldon.
We were able to give £135 to the Friends of Chaldon Church from the entry money taken, and £35 from sales of copies of the book Chaldon Explored.
The Chaldon History Group
The newly formed Chaldon History Group exists to develop and share knowledge and understanding of Chaldon’s history. All those interested in its aims are welcome to attend meetings and visits.
For further information and to be added to the email list contact Liz Bonsall on firstname.lastname@example.org or Madeline Hutchins on email@example.com