Surrey History Centre holds a wonderfully diverse collection of records pertaining to the village of Albury, near Guildford (SHC ref 8261). In January 2008 we received six crates of material, covering over nine hundred years' history, and the result of many years' diligent accumulation by members of Albury History Society. The society was established in 1971, the result of a growing interest in the preservation of the parish's records following a well-attended talk on Albury by local historian, Miss Helen Lloyd. Since then, the society has continued to take an active role in the interests of the village and its surrounding area.
The sheer variety of the collection offers a wealth of information for anyone interested in researching the people, politics, architecture and landscape of Albury, with original documents dating back to the early eighteenth century. These include the account books and indentures of Olave Duncumb's charity, established in 1710 to provide apprenticeships for the poor children of Albury. Nineteenth century log books of the village schools and inventories of the old parish workhouse also form part of the Society's archive, along with a good series of church magazines from 1864 to 2005.
The collection includes a substantial amount of material relating to the Catholic Apostolic Church, a movement introduced to Albury in the 1830s by Henry Drummond, local patron and devotee of Scottish preacher Edward Irving. Drummond, a wealthy banker, paid for the construction of an 'Apostles' Chapel' at Albury (as well as for a new parish church to replace the Saxon church). All three church buildings have survived. The Saxon 'old church' (which also contains a mortuary chapel designed by Augustus Welby Pugin for Drummond) hosts an annual midsummer service. The 'Apostles' Chapel', whose last service was in 1950, stands empty but cared for to this day.
There are histories of prominent Albury families, such as the Drummonds and Percys (Dukes of Northumberland) of Albury Park, and the Malthus family (as in population theory). Papers relating to the buildings and grounds of Albury Park include research into the grounds that were landscaped by John Evelyn as well as the neo-Tudor chimneys thought to have been designed by Pugin.
Albury has certainly had its share of interesting residents over the years, and the collection includes papers of poet and philosopher Martin Tupper and local historian Olive Mary Heath. There are also the personal papers of the founding members of Albury History Society: William Baverstock Day, head clerk of Albury Estate; Dr Maurice Burton, naturalist and zoologist; and the aforementioned Helen Lloyd who lived at Weston Lodge, and who was the indefatigable leader of the local Women's Voluntary Service in World War II.
Nearby Farley Heath was once the site of a Romano-Celtic temple which was discovered and excavated in 1848 by Martin Tupper. Roman coins, site plans and a copy of Tupper's poem 'Farley Heath', written to mark the occasion, can be found in the Albury collection.
Finally, an extensive photographic collection of local families, events, organisations and landmarks sits alongside illustrations that include a watercolour of the lodge at Albury Park by Edward Hassell, dated 1830, and the delightful Fourteen Views in the Village of Albury near Guildford drawn by a Lady, dating from 1832.
For further information about Albury History Society's activities, meeting programme and podcasts, please visit the society's website.
Watercolour of the new lodge, Albury Park, by E Hassell, 1830 (SHC ref 8261/7/7/1)
Notice of sale by auction of furniture and effects at Albury workhouse, 25 Nov 1836 (SHC ref 8261/4/9)
Albury parish celebrations on the return of Major King-Church from the Boer War, c.1902 (SHC ref 8261/13/3)