Heritage events

2021 Online Talks on Zoom

The Changing Face of Nursing: Black Nurses in Surrey Hospitals, A talk for Black History Month by Dr Catherine Babikian

1 October, 5.30pm to 6.45pm

From its launch, the National Health Service relied on the labour of thousands of nurses, doctors, and health care workers from overseas. Surrey hospitals were no exception. For Black History Month, this talk draws on the Surrey History Centre's rich health care collections to explore the experiences of Black nurses in Surrey. The talk will begin with some framing context for how and why Black nurses from the Caribbean and Africa came to staff the NHS, before diving into the archives of Surrey hospitals such as West Park Hospital, Epsom, and Netherne Hospital, Coulsdon.

Dr Catherine Babikian is an historian interested in the relationship between migration and health care. Her PhD thesis examined the history of overseas nurses in the NHS and the impact of nurse migration on Britain and its former colonies.

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.

The Gentleman's Magazine: A Panorama of Georgian Surrey for Family and Local Historians, A talk for National Libraries Week

6 October, 5.30pm to 6.45pm

Founded in 1731, The Gentleman's Magazine was the world's first magazine, reporting domestic and foreign news, announcing the latest discoveries in science, medicine and technology, reviewing books and recording freak weather, births, marriages and military promotions. Its obituaries of the deceased laid the foundation for the later Dictionary of National Biography and are a major source for the lives and deaths of thousands of 18th century people. This talk provides an introduction to the magazine, explores its value for family and local historians and uncovers hidden stories of Surrey people and the county's history throughout the Georgian period. Whether you live in 'modern' Surrey or in the ancient parishes that now form part of Greater London, this talk will include examples relating to your locality.

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.

Netherne c. 1955: A Surrey Psychiatric Hospital in Focus, A talk for World Mental Health Day

13 October, 5.30pm to 6.45pm

Netherne Hospital, Coulsdon, was opened by Surrey County Council in 1909. Initially accommodating 960 patients, by 1950 numbers had increased to 2,000. The hospital closed in 1994. The surviving archive, now preserved at Surrey History Centre, includes 19,500 patient case files and c.10,000 photographs taken c.1955, exploring all aspects of the hospital's life. From the wards to the airing courts; the art therapy unit to the operating table, these vivid images provide a rare glimpse of daily life inside a Surrey psychiatric hospital, allowing us to take a tour of the hospital on a typical day at what was a turning point in its history.

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.

The Most Wretched Man in the World: The Life and Loves of the 5th Viscount Midleton

17 November, 5.30pm to 6.45pm

This talk traces the stormy life of George Brodrick (1806-1848), 5th Viscount Midleton, who married scandalously, patronised the great Catholic architect Augustus Pugin at Peper Harow, near Godalming, saw his Irish estates ravaged by the Irish potato famine, and finally committed suicide.

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.

The Imposteress Rabbit Breeder: Mary Toft and eighteenth-century England by Professor Karen Harvey

24 November, 5.30pm to 6.45pm

In October 1726, newspapers reported that in the town of Godalming, Surrey, a woman called Mary Toft had started to give birth to rabbits. Several leading doctors, some sent directly by King George I, travelled to examine the woman. By December, Toft had been accused of fraud and taken into custody. This talk considers the motivations of the medics who examined her, but drawing on new archival research it shifts attention to the public political and personal contexts of the case. First, it discusses the role of the women in Mary Toft's community. It then examines the reasons the case attracted the attention of the King and his government by situating the case in the context of local, regional and national politics.

Karen Harvey is Professor of Cultural History in the Department of History at the University of Birmingham. She is a cultural historian of the British long eighteenth century, with a special interest in the body and gender.

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.

Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join our Zoom? Reflections on the Lewis Carroll archives, on the 150th anniversary of 'Alice through the Looking Glass'

8 December, 5.30pm to 6.45pm

The 'Alice' books of Lewis Carroll, now 150 years old and more, remain a powerfully influential source of cultural reference, world-wide, with 'Alice in Wonderland' the most translated book written in England (175 languages). Their author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, visited the family home in Guildford frequently over the last 30 years of his life, and died there in 1898. It is now 75 years since the earliest accession to our Lewis Carroll archive; with the addition of the Dodgson Family Archive in 1965, and many further donations, our holdings have grown to be one of the most important collections for the study of the man, his world and legacy.
Our talk will describe the Surrey background to the Dodgsons' story and the origins of our collections. Joining us to celebrate this anniversary and discuss the Lewis Carroll legacy from the family's perspective will be Caroline Luke, the great-great niece of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Family Trustee and author.

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.


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
  • James Henry Pullen (1835-1916) and the Royal Earlswood Asylum for Idiots, Redhill
  • The Book That Changed My Life
  • The Portable Antiquities Scheme in Surrey
  • Richard III: A Drama in Three Acts

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.

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.

Make a pop up flying honey bee

  • Learn about honey bees and how to make your own pop up version

Find all these and more children's craft videos on our YouTube channel.


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