Contrary to popular belief, Surrey’s history is intertwined with cultural diversity. From encounters of the Surrey Regiments with diverse cultures around the world, to travellers from overseas passing through Surrey from Portsmouth to London, people from many different communities have made Surrey their home over the centuries.

The history of some ethnic minority and excluded communities is also captured in the county’s local history, archives and archaeology. Read on to discover some of those that have been researched.

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Quentin Crisp (1908-1999). Author, actor and gay icon. Stately Homo book cover

Quentin Crisp (1908-1999)
Author, actor
and gay icon
Stately Homo book cover


Cultural diversity – a bibliography

Click here to download a list (pdf PDF ) of the books and periodicals in the library collection at Surrey History Centre. Further suggestions can be found in the community specific bibliographies: Roman Catholic Records, Sources for Jewish History and Gypsy, Romany and Traveller Bibliography. Other books can be found by searching the Surrey Libraries Virtual Library Catalogue.

The Migration Museum Project

The Migration Museum Project plans to create the UK’s first dedicated Migration Museum and to tell the story of movement into and out of the UK in a fresh and engaging way. The museum holds workshops, exhibitions and community articles covering all aspect of migration to and from the UK, from Huguenots to Windrush and C19th German refugees to South Asian economic migrants of the 1960s.

Black History

Black people have lived and travelled through Surrey for hundreds of years and appear in the county’s historical records from the sixteenth century. Find out more.

The Surrey regiments around the world

Surrey History Centre holds the vast archive of The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment and its predecessors. The regiments served all over the world, in China, India, Africa, and the Far East. Click here to see a small sample of photographs from the archive of the Surrey Regiments which show the cultures encountered in China, Trinidad, and West Africa.

Click here to read about the regiments in India.

For over 200 years Gurkhas have been a part of Britain’s armed forces. Click here to find out more about Gurkhas in the archive of the Surrey Regiments.

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Gipsies Camp Chobham Common, Surrey History Centre ref 6791/1/3 slide 3105

Gipsies Camp
Chobham Common
SHC ref 6791/1/3 slide 3105

Gypsy, Romany, Traveller

Surrey’s travelling peoples have been here since the sixteenth century. Surrey History Centre holds a range of archives, photographs, and published works which illustrate the fact and fiction surrounding this community over the centuries. Find out more about this established Surrey community and discover Gypsy, Romany and Traveller family history.


Vietnamese Boat children 1978.

Vietnamese Boat children 1978.


Surrey has a long history of receiving and welcoming refugees, from Huguenots escaping persecution in the 16th century to Belgian refugees in the First World War. Read about Surrey’s links with the Kindertransport, post-war Refugees helped by Ockenden International and the local residents and charities that have played an important role in helping refugees start a new life. Find out more here.


Surrey has been home to a huge number of religious groups over the centuries, many of which have placed archives with Surrey History Centre. Read more about the following:

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Dirk Bogarde (Cobblestone House sale particulars SHC ref SP/4080)

Dirk Bogarde (Cobblestone House sale particulars SHC ref SP/4080)


Find out more about the history of Surrey’s LGBT community, including famous personalities, project news, and current Surrey LGBT organisations.

Click here to see a pdf () copy of an LGBT bibliography listing a range of published works held at Surrey History Centre.


Disability and mental health

For a history of disability and mental health in Surrey see

To celebrate the handing over of the Paralympics from Beijing to London 2012, a small group from Surrey’s Riding for the Disabled (Samber RDA) met at Newlands Corner on 17th September 2008. Click here to read more.

Surrey had one of the largest number of asylums in the country. Surrey History Centre holds a vast collection of records for these institutions and the records are an indispensable source for not only studying the treatment of mental health but also architecture and family history. Find out more.

Brookwood Hospital female ward</br>SHC Ref.3043 Box 4, 20, p.45

Brookwood Hospital female ward
SHC Ref.3043 Box 4, 20, p.45

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