Surrey Heritage working with communities

Surrey Heritage
Surrey Heritage brings together Surrey County Council’s expertise in caring for and promoting our county’s rich past.

Through the county’s archaeology, historic buildings, museums, archives and artefacts we can help you to learn more about Surrey’s rich and varied history.  By increasing accessibility to our collections and providing a diverse range of learning opportunities across the county we ensure that no one is excluded.  You will see us attending a whole host of events ranging from the Woking Mela and Eid celebrations, to Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month celebrations.

Here is a taste of some of our work.



Volunteers of all ages and abilities help Surrey Heritage make our collections more accessible and our projects a success.

Sid Richardson volunteered with us for five years and won the Surrey County Council Award for Volunteering.  As a Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers veteran his knowledge of the Middle East helped catalogue over 70 photograph albums of the Surrey regiments.

Diverse collections at Surrey History Centre

Gay Surrey committee members at the charity’s AGM, held at Surrey History Centre

Gay Surrey committee members at the charity’s AGM, held at Surrey History Centre

People have moved to Surrey from all over the UK and throughout the world and we want to record and celebrate their cultures and their contribution to Surrey communities.  We encourage as wide a range of people as possible to use our services and deposit material in the archives. This makes our collections more relevant to our users and reflects Surrey’s long-standing cultural diversity.

Vietnamese Boat children 1978.

Vietnamese Boat children 1978.

The Ockenden Story – Woking’s Refugee History brought to life.

A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled us to catalogue and make accessible the extensive archive of the Woking refugee charity Ockenden International, founded in 1951.  The charity helped refugees from around the world, including boat people escaping from Vietnam and Tibetans fleeing oppression.  In addition, in 2010, the inspiring history of Ockenden was dramatized in a specially written play by our partners The Woking Community Play Association, and brought together local people of all ages and backgrounds.

Working with Surrey’s Muslim communities has included attending the Mela and Eid festivals, and hosting events with the Woking Ahmadiyya Community. We have actively developed our Muslim archive and library collections, which now include papers relating to Mr Mohammad Ilyas Raja, trustee of the Shah Jahan Mosque (click here to see the catalogue record for this archive), Woking’s Shah Jahan Mosque (the first purpose-built mosque in Europe, built in 1889) works published by The Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust, including The Islamic Review, (SHC Ref: 7831 and SHC Ref: 8382) and the records of Woking Ahmadiyya Community (SHC Ref: 8859).

Click on the images below to see larger copies.

Improving access to heritage

Surrey Heritage attends many community events to encourage people to investigate and value their heritage.


We organised a tactile book competition to encourage heritage organisations to consider their access for the visually impaired. Museums made tactile storybooks for visually impaired children aged 3-12 with the help of visually impaired children and families local to the museum.

Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month

Every year we work with the Gypsy community to celebrate Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month. We have run events at Bourne Hall Museum in Ewell and the Rural Life Centre in Tilford. We have also taken displays to the famous Epsom Derby to help the public to find out more about this rich culture which has been part of Surrey for many years.

Click on the images below to see larger copies.


Buried Battles and Veterans’ Voices

A generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has allowed us to not only catalogue four centuries of archives of the Surrey Regiments but also record for posterity the experiences of its veterans. Video and oral histories of those who participated are now available online (click here).

Providing learning opportunities

Surrey Heritage works with schools, home educated groups and youth groups to work in creative ways to make heritage relevant to today’s society.


Surrey Heritage worked with Peer Productions, a youth based peer theatre group, to delve into the archives of Brookwood Asylum and create a play performed in secondary schools exploring issues of stigma and prejudice surrounding mental health.

Free family activities provided by Surrey Heritage at Party in the Park

Free family activities provided by Surrey Heritage at Party in the Park

Surrey Heritage provides free art and craft activities throughout the school holidays to encourage families and children to have fun learning about history.

SYJ_on_site_2008_Mosaic.jpgCommunity Archaeology in Surrey

Surrey Heritage’s Heritage Lottery Funded Community Archaeology project provides learning opportunities and hands-on experiences to help a wide and diverse range of people to discover more about their local history.

Members of Surrey Youth Justice helping to excavate the footprint of a demolished stately home at High Ashurst, near Dorking.

Community Digs

Working together with local societies and universities helps provide the chance for local people to take part in a real dig, such as a Tudor Palace in Woking and a Roman site at Hatch Furlong Ewell.


Weelchair user working alongside other volunteers on site at Hatch Furlong.


Adults with learning difficulties from the Cranstock Group excavating at Woking Palace

Community Archaeology Projects

Specific projects local to a particular area are helping local people discover archaeology on your doorstep, including projects in some of Surrey’s most deprived areas.


Preston Community Archaeology Project works with a local group to archive the results of a dig from 1952, before the estate was built. Here, the Preston Community Archaeology Group sort archaeological finds and site records.


Merstham Community Archaeology Project works with several local groups to design an interpretation board for the site of Albury Manor, a moated medieval manor. Here, the Merstham WEA group are researching the site of Albury Manor in the social club.


Merstham Youth Forum combining learning and fun whilst finding out about Medieval life through costume and feasting!

Your Heritage – Find out and get involved!

If you are interested in any aspect of Surrey Heritage’s work and would like to know more, whether for leisure or research purposes, we would be delighted to hear from you.  Further details can be found on our website or please contact 01483 518737.

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