ARCHITECTURE OF LONDON by BRIAN STATER
Brian’s lecture was adapted from one given to undergraduates at UCL & looked at 10 buildings from the Norman Conquest to the modern day representing stylistic changes & illustrating how architecture reflects society. Two questions were asked of each building – what did it mean when built and what does it mean to us now? The buildings were The Tower of London. It showed the Normans were staying & now reflects the ‘Disney’ aspect of mass tourism. The Holy Trinity Chapel at Canterbury Cathedral in the Romanesque Gothic style housed the Shrine of St Thomas a Becket. It was a success in manipulating beliefs and now marks authenticity even though pilgrims today are tourists. Ightham Moat was a reflection of peace in England. This family building was altered without sentiment but is now preserved rigidly. The Queen’s House, Greenwich in the Italianate Palladian) style was the first in England to reflect classical architecture. It made a splendid backdrop to the equestrian arena for the 2012 Olympics. Danson House, Bexley is a perfect late 18thC Palladian Villa, built for a wealthy London merchant. New mercantile wealth was mingled with sophistication, attributes still shown by those with recent wealth (but possibly less style). St Pancras Station, is industrial Victorian era disguised in High Victorian Gothic Revival. George Gilbert Scott was the architect of the hotel & W H Barlow was responsible for the Station canopy, the largest steel structure in the world. St Pancras was saved from demolition in the 1960s. We now have a more mature view of the past, allowing the new world to function in the old. Royal Holloway College is an an innovative & philanthropic Victorian building. Crossland was a pupil of GG Scott and there are many similarities. Pevsner praised its self confidence & now it reminds us of the stupendous wealth in Victorian times. The Royal Festival Hall is the only surviving part of the Festival of Britain. Then it was a statement about optimism – brave new world- & still a good cultural experience in spite of what might be seen a paternalism. Bankside Power Station (1955-1981) – then utilities were built by distinguished English architects, maybe a cathedral of modern times, especially now it is Tate Modern. 5 million people view ‘modern relics’ & it is busiest on Sunday. The Great Court at British Museum was opened in 2000 to solve the lack of exhibition space. Foster & Partners covered over 2 acres with a glass roof releasing qualities not seen before.
EDUCATION & WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE by HARRIET COSTELLO
This talk showed a local view of attitudes to the right to vote for women & set it in the frame work of national debate. In 1866 an alumnus of Bedford College organised a suffrage petition which failed & even at the turn of the 19th century there was a belief that education would harm women’s health. At Royal Holloway College (RHC) there were both Old Students & Current Students Suffrage Societies. Debates, often heated, were held and there was division within, a vote in 1906 had 109 for but 40 against. Nationally there were the NUWSS (National Union of women’s Suffage Societies) and the WSPU (Women’s Social & Political Union) formed in Woking. Both contained Suffragists (law abiding) and Suffragettes (non law abiding). In 1913 the Picture gallery had to close due to Suffragette disturbances and Lady White’s (empty) house in Englefield Green was burnt down in an arson attack. There is well known footage of Emily W Davison being killed as a result of stepping onto the Derby course during the famous race – she had briefly studied at RHC following the loss of incmoe on her father’s death. The First world War meant that women took the places of many men & strenghtened their claim to be recognised. A conference on electoral reform in 1916/17 recommended limited women’s suffrage but cautious approval to the 1918 Act (women over 30 allowed to vote) indicated there was further to go. Full voting rights were only granted in 1928.
A synopsis of January’s talk will follow shortly.
Addlestone’s different geology to Egham, a more varied topography & less flood plain, influenced development. Archaeology includes hand axes & microliths, crafted from imported Salisbury Plain flint & a Paleolithic kill site which also had Bronze & Iron Age, Roman & early Saxon occupation items.
The wooden Wey Bridge(s) were replaced by the 1865 stone bridge carrying this major route which was also the Addlestone/Weybridge boundary. Crockford Bridge’s name is thought to be associated with potters, rather than crooked & its medieval village was later deserted There was also a causewayed camp of similar dimensions to the Yeoveney Camp near Staines/Egham. These occupation sites surrounded by triple, interrupted, ditches (about 90 country-wide) were continental There is another at Eton and (if the spacing is regular) may suggest another existed near Penton Hook
Two Magna Carta barons, Henry de Bohun & Geoffrey de Say, & their descendant families were associated with Addlestone. Sayes Court, painted by Hassell, was one of the principal houses. In the 1450s Addlestone had a white wine growing vineyard owned by William de Saye. The records of Manors of Walton Leigh & Chertsey Beomund & Pyrford mention the Crockford family. Oatlands Palace was close by (the bricks may have come from Chertsey Abbey) as were other local palaces like Hampton Court & Byfleet. Victory Park, opposite the c1600 George Inn, contains sites associated with tile making c1575 to c1630. Addlestone remained sparsely populated until the Wey Navigation (1650s) and the later railway (14 Feb 1848) arrived. Crockford Mill began as an iron mill later a corn & adjacent silk mill. By the 19thC Addlestone was a separate parish & St Paul’s Church built (after the Baptist Chapel of 1812). Private houses were built & industry moved in – the Bleriot factory produced biplanes for WWI and later cars & buses. In its heyday some 7000 people were employed and the modern town developed.
This talk by Gordon Knowles took us from the medieval period when a man drowned in a pothole on The Causeway between Staines and Egham to the M25. It is hard to believe that Surrey was poorly off for roads and sparsely populated then. Most traffic would have gone by water transport, The Turnpike Trusts improved roads and charging travellers (they had to pay to pass through the turnpike gate) funded this . Milestones were made compulsory so the costs could be calculated without argument. Surrey County Council became responsible for Surrey’s road in 1889. A Surrey man played a significant role in the repeal of the Red Flag Act. Plans after the Second World War gave high priority to London Orbital Roads and this led to the M25. A section of the M3 opened in 1971 and the Egham to Thorpe section of the M25 in 1976.
We will have a display and sales table in the Craft Tent at the Egham Royal Show on 26th & 27th August.
Do come along and have a look and a chat
During June we supported two local events – Magna Carta Day in Egham and Carnival Capers at Virginia Water. We took along a different display to each event featuring aspects of local history and sales items. We warmly welcome some new members who joined this month at both shows and talks.
Last month Sally Botwright gave us a talk on London’s Docks from the beginning in the Pool of London (between where Tower Bridge stands and the City) through the growth in the Victorian era when Britain was the warehouse of the world. Each dock was a monumental undertaking done mainly by sheer manpower until the 20th century. As ships increased in size and then containerisation became the norm the docks could no longer cope and deep water facilities took their place. Most of the docks have been built on but there is the Museum of London Docklands Museum to show what it and life was like then – well worth a visit.
At the end of June William Suttie told us about ‘The Tank Factory’, a place on our doorstep but very little known, isolated as it was for good reason. Britain invented the tank but rather oddly this was under the Admiralty, not the Army. After the First World War the tank was thought to be out of date but the Second World War soon disproved this idea. Actually William believed there was little difference between British and German tanks in 1939. The Tank Factory had a testing ground on the other side of the Longcross road (and later the M3) where road tests on various surfaces & angles could be carried out. This is due to become a ‘garden village’, just as the Tank Factory is being built on. The house in the centre is listed and will be preserved.The research and development on the site produced some world beating tanks until its closure just over ten years ago. These had stable gun controls and had been tested under extreme climatic conditions. Some of the equipment had been sent to the Tank Museum at Bovington. We were pleased to see a number of visitors in the audience of nearly 70.
We were very pleased to welcome two founder members of the Egham-by-Runnymede Historical Society (EbRHS), Gerald Dorman (the first Chairman) and David Barker, to this evening marking the 50th anniversary of the Society’s founding We reviewed the past 50 years highlighting the Society’s achievements and commemorating past and present members and their contributions. As far back as 1952 the General Purposes Committee of the Egham Urban District Council proposed that a Historical Society would be good for the town of Egham but not until 1967 did this happen. Maureen Rendall, one of a number of people concerned about the wholesale demolition of the south side of Egham High Street, sent a letter to the Staines & Egham News suggesting the formation of a Historical & Archaeological Society. A meeting for those interested was held at Sydney Oliver’s house in Vicarage Road, Egham, on 14th April 1967, it was agreed to form one and a newspaper report seven days later said ‘Historical Society formed in Egham’. Sydney Oliver suggested the name and the first Committee was elected. Membership grew from 40 to 100 in just six months and in October the first newsletter was published under the Editorship of Dr H J Davies. In April 2017 to commemorate our anniversary month we published our first all colour newsletter. Our current membership stands at nearly 100, very close to that of 50 years ago. In October 1968 Baroness Schroder became the EbRHS Patron and, later on, the President. Also in 1968 the Society founded and opened The Egham Museum with the first exhibition featuring Magna Carta. This 3 day exhibition attracted some 600 people proving how popular local history was to the area. The first subscription rates were £1 for adults and five shillings (25p) for children (under 16 or in full time education) and the first lecture meeting was held on Thursday May 11th in Egham Library Room. This venue was used until April 1971. We have also met in Strode’s School Library, in upper rooms & Main Hall in the Literary Institute (including the now Research Room), the Band Hall, Waspe Farm & the United Church of Egham. Lecture evenings were held on the second Tuesday of the month until April 1986 when growing audience numbers forced a change to the Main Hall of the Literary Institute and the date changed to the fourth Thursday of the month. The archaeological excavations in Egham occupied most of the time and effort of the fledgling Society with the demolition of the Kings Head Inn being a priority. Finds were processed and catalogued and several photos were shown of the various dig sites. Outings to historic places soon followed, the first to Berkshire (reported in the local paper) followed by many others. Displays were taken to the Egham & Thorpe Royal Show, beginning in 1968 and have continued frequently since. In October 1969 the Museum opened on Tuesday and Thursday evenings (as most people were still of working age) for members to carry out research. Various projects were undertaken such as financing the re-cutting of the inscription of Frederic Cournet’s tomb in Egham churchyard, piecing together fragments of posters discovered on the wall of Rumsey’s old shop (near where Tescos is) and rescuing the waterpump from the Coach & Horses at The Glanty and re-siting it in Walnut Tree Gardens. There were publications. The first was Country School in 1982 and then Egham in 1988. Then came the picture books, the first was Egham Picture Book, launched in December 1988 which sold nearly 200 copies that one day. Subsequently EbRHS published the Virginia Water Picture Book in 1990, Englefield Green, Thorpe by Jill Williams, Runnymede and Holloway Sanatorium. Each has helped trigger memories and show newcomers how the areas looked in the past. Apart from displays at the Egham Show the Society provided similar ‘productions’ at local fairs and fetes and at the Surrey Local History Symposium. At the latter we have, on two occasions, won the Kenneth Gravett Award for Best Display – a tribute to the hard work put in and the research behind it all and EbRHS also received another similar award at Carnival Capers. Other members wrote smaller -Industrial History of Runnymede and The Last Duel. Radio 4’s Making History team, including Nick Patrick and Sue Cook, visited us in response to a listener’s enquiry about the Runnymede Pageant of 1934 and Phillip Hammond made his first visit in August 2002.. We also received a Waitrose Community Prize in 2008 and the Society decided to spend the money on a digital camera to help with our research work. Annual dinners have been held to provide members with a social event. This was a quick look back at our own past and it brought back a good many memories to our long standing members and, it is hoped, provided newer members with a sense of what we have achieved and hope to do in the future. The Society does rely on people being interested enough to join us and to support us so to past and future members – thank you. After the talk Gerald Dorman, David Barker and Heather Knight cut the first slice of the 50th Anniversary cake.
This talk by John Glenister explained how they had to raise £6.8 million annually to fund their service. They cover 3,700 square miles of south east England wit ha transient population of about 19 million. They are one of 18 air ambulance groups in the country and are accessed via the 999 system. The call handler has to decide if they are needed – about 5-6 per 1000 calls. They treat the severe cases and are much quicker than road based ambulances and deal with around 2,400 cases per annum. We hoped we would never need them but members added to the speakers fee for which we were thanked