LGBT+ History Month 2024

Discover collections at the Surrey History Centre

Surrey has a rich and important LGBTQ+ history and the collections at Surrey History Centre reveal stories from 18th century punishment to 21st century Pride. Come and discover more with a free display celebrating stories from Surrey's past and present.

The display will be available during normal opening hours in the foyer at Surrey History Centre from 1 to 29 February 2024. Booking is not required. If you haven't visited the Surrey History Centre before it is in Woking and can be found at 130 Goldsworth Rd, Woking GU21 6ND.

Opening times and how to find the Centre are on the Surrey History Centre web page.

Stories featured include:

  • Guildford Area Gay Society, Surrey's earliest LGBTQ+ support group
  • GIRES, Surrey's pioneering trans research and education charity
  • Roberta Cowell, the UK's first trans woman, who lived and worked in Surrey
  • Alan Turing, the codebreaker who lived in Guildford
  • Gwen Lally, pageant master extraordinaire
  • Dame Ethel Smyth, composer and suffragette
  • Edward Carpenter, social and political reformer
  • Gwen Farrer and Norah Blaney, music hall stars
  • J.R. Ackerley and E.M. Forster writers
  • Harry Daley, policeman and lover of E.M. Forster
  • Edward Onslow, exiled from Clandon Park in 1781 for a gay affair

Can you help add LGBTQ+ history to the Surrey History Centre archive?

You can help us collect and preserving records of LGBTQ+ people who have lived and worked in the county to ensure Surrey's LGBTQ+ history is not lost. If you would like to add records such as photographs, personal memoirs, or local LGBTQ+ facts and stories to the Surrey History Centre archives please contact Surrey History Centre on shs@surreycc.gov.uk.

Help us map Surrey's LGBTQ+ Past

Have you seen our Surrey LGBTQ+ Heritage map? The Historic Environment Record and Surrey History Centre have created an online map to help record local LGBTQ+ histories and make them more visible. Click on the map to discover trailblazing Surrey LGBTQ+ people and connections, as well as past and present meeting places and spaces.

If you can help us map more LGBTQ+ heritage in Surrey we'd love to hear from you! Go to the mapping Surrey's LGBTQ+ heritage web page.

Find out more

From podcasts to case studies, find out more about how the Surrey History Centre is bringing to life the county's LGBTQ+ past using their unique collections by visiting their Exploring Surrey's Past website.

LGBTQ+ History event Tuesday 6 February, Farnham Library

Join Di Stiff, Collections Development Archivist, to learn more about the Surrey connections of some famous and not-so-famous LGBTQ+ lives, including Dame Ethel Smyth, Edward Carpenter, E.M. Forster, and Alan Turing, to name just a few. Discover why Surrey History Centre raises awareness of this often-little-known area of the county's past, and how their collections help to reveal important stories from 18th century punishment to 21st century Pride.

The event will take place on Tuesday 6 February at Farnham Library, Vernon House, 28 West Street, GU9 7DR.

To sign up attendees should email farnham.library@surreycc.gov.uk; we can add the charge of £5 to their library account if they have one, and if not then we can take a payment upon arrival on the day.

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