Aladdin’s Cave of local history and information

TALKS and children’s craft activities organised by Surrey Heritage were regular ingredients of our News & Mail “what’s on” listings until all public gatherings were prohibited when the first lockdown began last spring.

However, while “in person” events are cancelled until further notice, the organisation is providing a series of online talks via Zoom and free children’s craft ideas on its YouTube channel.

Shelves of historic documents carefully recorded and stored at the history centre

Surrey Heritage is a county council department that runs Surrey History Centre in Goldsworth Road, Woking. It brings together the council’s expertise in caring for and promoting our county’s rich past and the centre preserves historic documents relating to families, businesses and communities from the 12th to the 21st centuries

The talks provide insights into the archives held at the centre, which is described as an Aladdin’s Cave of our county’s history and the people who lived here. They offer valuable source material for anyone interested in history.

This photograph of a bride and groom and their families is one of thousands of images stored at Surrey History Centre

The diversity of material is amazing. What do an eyewitness account of a dinner with a grumpy Duke of Wellington in 1849, a season ticket for the Great Exhibition of 1851, a propaganda pamphlet by Joseph Goebbels, glass slides of beheaded Turkish soldiers and a lock of hair of Napoleon’s niece have in common?

They are part of a Surrey family’s archive held by the centre and vividly show the extraordinary variety and unexpected content that can be found in many of the collections.

All the online talks take place from 5.30pm to 6.45pm and cost just £5 each.

Aladdin’s Cave: Some Major Family and Estate Archives is the title of the talk on Wednesday next week, 27 January. It will take you on a journey through some of the leading family and estate collections, discussing the extraordinary histories behind them, the sheer luck that they survived at all and highlighting some of the unexpected riches they contain.

On Wednesday 10 February, Sir William More, builder of the Loseley Park mansion near Guildford, is the subject of the online talk A Tudor Gentleman of Surrey.

This map of Sir William More’s land at Loseley Park is one of many maps conserved by the history centre

Sir William was a friend of many of the great figures of the Elizabethan court and a trusted servant of the Queen herself, holding several high-ranking positions. He was a participant in the dramas of the Reformation, including the execution of Mary Queen of Scots and the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and his surviving papers document his life in compelling detail.

If you are interested in researching your family history, the talk on Wednesday 24 February, will be just the ticket. Surrey Heritage says there has been a huge growth of interest in the studying of family history in recent years. Many people are keen to begin their research but are not quite sure where to begin.

The talk Beginning Your Family History will take you step by step through the basics of family history, where to start, what to do and most important, how you can get help and advice on what is bound to prove an exciting project.

This is Who Do You Think You Are for everyone! Surrey Heritage says researching your family history is a bit like writing your own detective story and getting started – it really is just getting yourself organised and working out the plot.

The talk will include lots of tips and ideas to save your time and money, and outline some of the ways to store and present your research.

To book a place on any talk, visit www.surreycc.gov.uk and search for Heritage events. After payment has been made online by credit or debit card,you will be emailed a unique link and password to attend the talk on Zoom.

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