Surrey History Centre

Surrey History Centre
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Surrey History Centre collects and rescues archives and printed materials relating to Surrey's past and present, so that they can tell the story of the County and its people to future generations. We can help you discover your family history
learn about famous Surrey people, buildings, businesses and organisations
trace the history of your house, street, town or community
or research a school or university project. We are based in Woking, where you can consult original documents which date from the 12th century to the present day and refer to our collections of printed books, local newspapers, directories, maps, ephemera and illustrations.
Throughout the year, we host lots of events and exhibitions details of which can be found on our website -

Venue Type:

Archive, Library

Opening hours

Normal opening hours:

Monday - Closed
Tuesday - 9.30am - 5pm
Wednesday - 10.15am - 5pm
Thursday - 9.30am - 5pm
Friday - 9.30am - 5pm
Saturday - 9.30am - 4pm

Closed Mon Sun & bank holiday weekend Sat

Admission charges


Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.

WWI Remembered at Electric Theatre Guildford

  • 5 May 2018 7:30-9pm

The Electric Theatre Guildford are delighted to present a production of PALS, a touching and amusing piece of theatre set during the early years of the Great War. The show is suitable for ages 12+ and you group booking discounts are available, please call the box office on 01483 501 200 or book online

Inspired by war diaries, Pals is an amusing and touching piece of theatre set during the first years of the Great War. This poignant story follows Stan, George and Joe as enthusiastic pals who volunteer to join Kitchener's new army. Their experience of life on the Western Front is a stark contrast to what was promised by the officers signing them up: “Back before Christmas, they said.” Embarrassing medicals, French girls, lice, rats and shrapnel wait for them but their strong friendship and sense of humour will enable these pals to stick together through it all.

We are delighted to welcome Surrey RBL and the RBL Riders who will be fundraising and giving information on their work and campaigns before the show begins.

The Surrey in The Great War will be sharing information about their project and stories that have been uncovered by volunteers and researchers, with takeaway leaflets and a selection of local case studies to read! Visit their project website to read these stories, and share your own research or Surrey family WW1 story:

We also welcome The Guildford Institute with a local information display stand and archive information.

If your group is interested in exhibition space, we would be delighted to hear from you, we hope to see you on 5th May.


The Electric Theatre - Guildford
Onslow Street


Fighting Proud

Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars

  • 12 May 2018 2-3:30pm

Stephen Bourne presents an engaging and informative talk about some of the gay men who are featured in his latest book, Fighting Proud – The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars. In this astonishing new history of wartime Britain, Stephen unearths the fascinating stories of the gay men who served in the armed forces and on the Home Front. He brings to light the great and previously unrecognised contribution they made to the war effort. Among those featured are the Battle of Britain hero Ian Gleed, bandleader Ken 'Snakehips' Johnson, PC Harry Daley and Noel Coward. The talk will be followed by a Q&A session.


Tickets: £5.
Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking, GU21 6ND.
Please book a place online, in person at Surrey History Centre or any Surrey Library or phone 01483 518737.


Mary Watts

Surrey, Suffrage and the Arts: Past and Present

  • 19 May 2018 10am-1pm

Mary Watts: Artist, Diarist, Suffragist - Lucy Ella Rose, Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Surrey. The 80th anniversary of Mary Watts's death coincides with the suffrage centenary this year. Drawing on her new book, Suffragist Artists in Partnership: Gender, Word and Image, Lucy's talk reveals Mary's little-known, yet central role, in the women's suffrage campaign in Surrey. A pioneering suffragist and President of the Godalming Branch of the NUWSS, Mary was a leading figure in local suffrage networks and also part of a much wider women's movement that paved the way for feminism.

Mary Branson, artist - New Dawn: Making a Monument (installation of the Suffrage window at the Houses of Parliament). Following a six month residency researching the archives of the Suffrage movement New Dawn, a contemporary light sculpture by local artist Mary Branson was unveiled in Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament. Celebrating all the individuals involved, viewers of the artwork stand in the footsteps of the women and men who came to Parliament to fight for women's right to the vote. Mary will speak about the residency, her research and development of this breathtaking artwork.

10am-11am Dr Lucy Ella Rose, Lecturer in Victorian Literature, University of Surrey – Mary Watts
11am-11.30am Coffee break
11.30am-12.15am Mary Branson, Artist – New Dawn: Making a Monument
Question and answers and round up

Lucy Ella Rose is Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Surrey and presents and publishes on Victorian literature, art, culture and feminism. Her collaborative doctoral award from the University of Surrey and Watts Gallery supported her research on neglected women in nineteenth-century creative partnerships. Lucy has worked extensively on the Mary Watts archive at Watts Gallery, Compton, and assisted the transcription of her diaries, revealing her pioneering role in the women's suffrage movement in Surrey. She has recently published her first book with Edinburgh University Press, Suffragist Artists in Partnership: Gender, Word and Image.

Mary Branson lives in Surrey and works out of a small studio in the countryside and in March 2014 became Artist in Residence at the Houses of Parliament, researching the archives of the Suffrage movement, with a brief to produce a proposal for a new permanent artwork for the Palace of Westminster. Mary is a practising artist of 16 years specialising in creating conceptual large scale installations, using sculpture, light and sound. Using familiar objects and materials, and experimenting with scale, light, colour and multiplicity, she form news environments that are stimulating, playful, and questioning of the existing polemics concerning art and the space it inhabits. Her projects can encompass elements of performance, photography, film and sound as forms of documentation. She also produces smaller scale works in glass, ceramics and print available on the Mary Branson website.
An online discount voucher for Lucy's new book Suffragist Artists in Partnership: Gender, Word and Image, will be available on the day. Mary will have limited edition New Dawn hand pulled prints to sell at £300 (for the suite of 8). Please bring cash or cheques on the day as no card payment facilities will be available.


This event has been generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance.
Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking, GU21 6ND.
Please book a place online, in person at Surrey History Centre or any Surrey Library or phone 01483 518737.


Family History

Beginning your Family History

  • 7 July 2018 10am-1pm

This is Who Do You Think You Are for everyone! This talk aims to take you step by step through the basics of family history, where to start, what to do and most importantly, how you can get help and advice on what is bound to prove an exciting project. It will also include lots of time (and money) saving tips and ideas, and outline some of the ways to store and present your research. This talk is similar to week 1 on the 6 week Family History Course.


Tickets: £12.50
Please book a place online, in person at Surrey History Centre or any Surrey Library or phone 01483 518737.

Family History

Family History Online

  • 4 August 2018 10am-12:30pm

A workshop devoted to tips and techniques for exploring your family history using the many and varied sources available online. In addition to learning more about the large commercial websites such as and Find My Past, we will also include information on using the Family Search website and hopefully introduce you to many wonderful free websites. We will also touch on how to share your information online and keep it secure.


Tickets: £15
Please book a place online, in person at Surrey History Centre or any Surrey Library or phone 01483 518737.


Family History

Researching your Irish Family History

  • 18 August 2018 10am-1pm

A talk devoted to exploring sources and resources for Irish family history. During the morning we will cover most aspects of Irish genealogical research, including the recent publication of online Irish records, and there will be a Q&A session along with plenty of opportunities for discussion. There will also be a bibliography and list of useful websites to take away. This is expanded from a talk given at the Celtic Family History day previously run at Surrey History Centre.


Tickets: £12.50
Please book a place online, in person at Surrey History Centre or any Surrey Library or phone 01483 518737.



Keeping it in the Family: A Four Week Course Reading and Interpreting Legal Records of Inheritance for Genealogy

  • 4 — 25 October 2018

With special reference to the handwriting of examples from before 1800, this course introduces the use of title deeds, wills and manorial records for family history.

Week 1 discusses marriage settlements, deeds of arrangement between families to provide for the couple during their lives and for the inheritance of their heirs. We look at a deed and introduce some techniques of palaeography.
Week 2 discusses wills and where to find them, with a detailed look at reading one in 16th century Secretary Hand.
Weeks 3 and 4 discuss manorial records, which document inheritance by tenants even where they may have been too poor to make a will. We look at some 18th century examples and introduce how to extract and interpret information from court rolls.


£60 – booked as a complete 4 week course.
Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking, GU21 6ND.
Please book a place online, in person at Surrey History Centre or any Surrey Library or phone 01483 518737.


Journeys End

Journey’s End A seminar reflecting on the events of 1918 and the legacy of WW1

  • 3 November 2018 9:15am-4:15pm

09:15 – 09:55 Registration and Coffee & Tea
10:00 – 10:10 Welcome from Andy Thompson, Chair, WFA Surrey Branch
10:10 – 11:10 Six miles from victory; German offensive in Flanders, April 1918 Chris Baker
Chris discusses the series of German offensives of Spring 1918, examining the decisions made, tactics used and battle effectiveness of both sides. There is particular emphasis on Operation “Georgette”, the Battle of the Lys, which came within a whisker of battlefield success for the German Sixth Army in mid-April. Chris also examines whether battle success would have forced a conclusion to the war. His
talk coincides with the publication of two new “Battleground Europe” books by Chris, covering the April fighting.
11:10 – 11:40 Coffee & Tea (plus opportunity to see exhibits and buy books)
11:40 – 12:40 The Last Battle: Endgame on the Western Front, 1918 Peter Hart
Peter examines the way in which we won the war, the role of Foch and Haig, the state of the German Army and the importance of the massive numerical American commitment. In particular, Peter will look at the “All Arms Battle” developed by the BEF.
12:40 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 15:00 Fallen soldiers and their families Richard Van Emden
Richard explores the experiences of the families of those soldiers who did not come back from the war.
His talk examines how they fared during the war years and in the immediate aftermath of peace, primarily
through the eyes of the last survivors.
15:00 – 16:00 Remembrance and the Great War Taff Gillingham
Taff looks at how the British remember the Great War, challenging perceptions about how the British contribution to the war is viewed.
16:00 – 16:15 Closing remarks from Andy Thompson

Saturday, 3rd November 2018 at Dorking Halls, Dorking, Surrey
£30 per person (includes refreshments and buffet lunch)

About our speakers
Chris Baker
A former Chairman of the Western Front Association, Chris is the founder of the Great War Forum, author of several books and of the website the Long, Long Trail. He is a Member and Honorary Research Fellow of the University of Birmingham’s Centre for First World War Studies, and was awarded the MA in British First World War Studies in 2007. A Chartered Engineer by profession, Chris now works as a
freelance military historian through his research business, fourteeneighteen.

Peter Hart
Peter has worked as the Oral Historian of the Imperial War Museum since 1981. He is the author of several books on the Great War. His latest work is ‘The Last Battle: Endgame on the Western Front, 1918’ published in February 2018.

Richard Van Emden
Richard is a well-known historian of the Great War, having interviewed 270 veterans and written many books. He has also worked extensively with the BBC and independent television companies on an array of projects and documentaries. Richard has visited the Great War battlefields every year since 1985 and is currently researching and writing a book about one woman’s four-year search for her missing son who disappeared on the Somme.

Taff Gillingham
Taff is a professional military historical advisor for film, television and theatre work, advising on many productions including the TV series ‘Downton Abbey’, and the 2012 film ‘Private Peaceful’. He has a vast knowledge of the uniforms and equipment of the British and Commonwealth soldiers of the first half of the twentieth century. He runs The Association for Military Remembrance, which researches military
history 1899 - 1960, is a former trustee of The Suffolk Regiment Museum and is Chairman of the Suffolk Branch of The Western Front Association.

WW1 Display by Dorking Museum - Organised by local historian and author, Kathy Atherton, a series of graphics panels tell the story of 1914 – 1918 through the impact and experiences of local towns and villages.
Guns and Weapons showcase - Roger Learney, historical arms collector and member of The Historical Breech Loading Small Arms Association, will be exhibiting some of his personal collection.
Opportunity to buy books on the Great War and a Raffle.
The Venue - Dorking Halls, Reigate Road, Dorking, Surrey RH4 1SG -
This event is organised by the Surrey branch of the Western Front Association


Dorking Halls
Reigate Road


£30 per person (includes refreshments and buffet lunch)


Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.
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Journey’s End: RC Sherriff Learning Resource for KS4 English and History and Drama

The RC Sherriff learning resource is based on the archives of Surrey author and playwright, RC Sherriff (1896–1975), whose First World War experiences led him to write the highly successful play Journey’s End. This free online resource is for secondary schools was funded by the HLF as part of our project 'To Journey's End and Beyond: the life and legacy of RC Sherriff'. It incorporates the three collections of Sherriff’s papers held at Surrey History Centre in Woking, which are now fully catalogued and accessible. The resource, featuring letters from the trenches, photographs and video, and a copyright-free script for a specially commissioned drama based on Sherriff's experiences, will enable teachers of KS4 English and History to involve Sherriff’s extraordinary story in their World War One, literature, creative writing, or drama lesson plans.


  • This online learning resource was created by Surrey History Centre as HLF as part of our project 'To Journey's End and Beyond: the life and legacy of RC Sherriff'

How to obtain

The online resource is free and available to all.

Surrey History Centre
130 Goldsworth Road
GU21 6ND




01483 518737

01483 518737


01483 518738

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.