Heritage events

2021 Online Talks on Zoom

James Henry Pullen (1835-1916) and the 'Royal Earlswood Asylum for Idiots', Redhill. A talk for Disability Awareness Week, 2021

23 June, 5.30pm to 6.45pm

Dr Andrew Reed's pioneering 'Asylum for Idiots' was founded in Highgate in 1847 and moved to its permanent home, the Royal Earlswood Asylum Redhill, in 1855. The charity aimed 'to take the Idiot and Imbecile under its care, [and] by skilful and earnest application of the best means in his education, to prepare him, as far as possible, for the duties and enjoyments of life'. James Henry Pullen, very deaf and unable to communicate easily, was admitted in 1850. He became known as an 'idiot savant' for his extraordinary skills as an artist, craftsman and modelmaker. This talk uses the surviving archives of Earlswood Asylum to explore its early history and the life and work of its most famous patient. In doing so, it provides a template of typical records that can be used to research the lives of patients in a Victorian institution.

Tickets £5. Please book a place online. After payment has been received you will be emailed a unique link and password to attend the talk on Zoom.

Surrey History Trust AGM and talk ' The Book That Changed My Life'

30 June, 5pm to 7pm

Following the Surrey History Trust AGM Julian Pooley will give a talk 'The Book That Changed My Life'.

This talk will tell the story of how the purchase of an anonymous pocket diary in a London bookshop, led me to discover extensive and previously unknown archives of John Nichols (1745-1826), one of Georgian London's most prominent printers and a leading antiquary whose History and Antiquities of the Town and County of Leicester 4 vols (1795-1815) transformed the way that English local history was written and illustrated. For three generations he and his family edited and printed the Gentleman's Magazine. The vast archive of family and business papers which he and his successors accumulated inspired his granddaughter to form her own collection of autograph letters, augmented by exchange with other collectors and by purchases in the London and Paris salerooms. This internationally significant collection is now part of the 20,000 Nichols papers calendared and accessible via the Nichols Archive Database.

Tickets are free. Please book a place to the Surrey History Trust AGM and talk online.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme in Surrey

21 July, 5.30pm to 6.45pm


This talk will cover the work and purpose of the Portable Antiquities Scheme as well as the type of archaeological finds made by members of the public in Surrey and examples of the best finds made over the years, together with the stories they tell.

Tickets £5. Please book a place online. After payment has been received you will be emailed a unique link and password to attend the talk on Zoom.


Exploring Magna Carta - Virtual Talks

Tuesday 15 June, 5pm - 6.45pm and Monday 21 June, 2pm - 3.45pm

15 June 2021 marks 806 years since Magna Carta was sealed at Runnymede. As part of the Runnymede Explored project, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, this evening of two free talks offers an introduction to the Magna Carta and what life was like in Surrey at the time. The first talk will be given by Mike Page, the County Archivist of Surrey and is titled 'Runnymede, Magna Carta and All That'. The talk will consider the background to the events of 1215 and the subsequent history of Magna Carta and will briefly examine the place where it happened, as reflected in records at Surrey History Centre. The second talk will be given by Rob Poulton, Senior Archaeological Advisor for Surrey County Archaeological Unit and will focus on the Surrey landscape and society in the 13th century.

This live talk on Tuesday 15 June is now fully booked. However, a recording of the talk will be available on Monday 21 June at 2pm. A video of the recorded talks will be played and National Trust archaeologists will be on hand live, to answer any questions. Tickets are free, please book a place to the virtual talks online.

This talk is organised by the National Trust and hosted by Surrey Heritage.


Recorded talks to purchase

If you missed one of our online talks, why not purchase the talk recording to view in your own time?

The talks available are:

  • Aladdin's Cave: Some Major Family and Estate Archives in Surrey History Centre
  • Corsets and Cameras
  • Sir William More of Loseley
  • Who Do You Think They Were? Discovering the Lives and Experiences of our Ancestors
  • Fashion and Folly
  • Planting Ideas: Sources for the History of Gardening in Surrey.
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Sources for the History of Surrey's Mental Hospitals, 1700 - c.1990
  • Portrait of a Surrey town between the wars: the photographic archive of Sidney Francis
  • From Punishment to Pride: LGBTQ+ archives at Surrey History Centre

All talk descriptions can be found on our Talks and Tours page. Each talk consists of a 45 minute to an hour illustrated presentation followed by questions asked during the live talk. You can also email us with any questions you may have after the talk and we will pass them on to the speaker to answer. Price £5. To purchase a recording please visit the Surrey Heritage Shop. Please note talks may contain references to historical legal terminology, sexual practices and crimes, used in the historical context but which some viewers may find offensive.


Children's activities

Make an Egg Box Bug

  • Here at Surrey History Centre, we look after old books, newspapers and letters. We have to be careful to look after our collections and make sure no bugs get into our store.
  • Discover the ways we do this and get creative with our egg box bug craft video on Exploring Surrey's Past.

Make a Wind Sock

  • Here in Surrey we used to have a lot of windmills. See photos from our collection and learn more about them whilst making a wind sock on our YouTube channel.

Make a Coat of Arms

  • Surrey's Coat of Arms has gold keys to symbolise St Peter's Abbey which used to be in Chertsey. It also has a wool sack as a reminder of the importance of the wool trade in medieval Surrey. The acorn on the coat of arms represents the trees of Surrey and was also a symbol on the Earl of Surrey's coat of arms. The acorn can still be seen in the logo for Surrey County Council today. Visit our YouTube channel to find out how to make your own.

Make a pop up flying honey bee

  • Learn about honey bees and how to make your own pop up version on our YouTube channel.

We also have more children's craft videos on our YouTube channel.


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