A Personal View of India – Talk by Juliet Chaplin
Juliet Chaplin’s wide-ranging talk of her travels in India delighted an audience of 15 Friends at Whitehall on 4th March 2020.
She had partly been drawn to the country to see first-hand the work of ActionAid, the charity through which she has sponsored children in various parts of India.
Juliet described some of the many religions and ancient ways of life, from Buddhism to Jainism.
Interestingly, a member of IT Partnership business in Cheam was able to make arrangements for Juliet to visit his cousin the Archbishop of Goa in his splendid residential Palace in Panajii.
A number of well-kept gardens were shown including the Botanical Garden in Calcutta, one of Juliet’s favourite cities where St. John’s Church was amongst the first buildings erected by the East India Company.
Juliet admires the works of an English Benedictine monk, known as Bede Griffiths, who travelled to India to live and study in an ashram founded by French Monks. The ashram was based on Roman Catholic principles but draws on Indian religious traditions and is open to all faiths.
Striking aspects of Juliet’s illustrated talk included the quiet dignity of people she met, and the vibrant colours of women’s clothing and holy sites.
Discover Roman London – Guided Walk led by Valary Murphy
On a clear but very cold day, a dozen Friends set out to discover traces of Roman London. Valary Murphy our excellent guide, not only pointed out the physical remains of the Roman city of Londinium but provided background about the first temporary settlement in England around 44AD. Before London grew and became a main trading post, the Roman capital of Britain was Colchester. An uprising led by Boudicca resulted in Colchester being burned, and the Romans abandoning the town to defend London.
At Tower Hill tube station we saw our first example of the Roman wall which encircled the town of London. Medieval additions to the wall had increased its height but there were clear indications of the original wall, consisting of an outer and inner wall with the space between strengthened by rubble. During the morning we saw further remnants of the wall as well as the foundations of a Roman Fort, stretching along Noble Street. Our walk finished at the Museum of London which has a view of a section of the wall and houses many Roman artefacts.
January 15th Wednesday 2.30 pm Whitehall
Unfortunately the talk on Queen Victoria had to be cancelled.
It is hoped to reschedule the talk at a later date.
Queen Victoria – Work and Play
Talk by Eleanor Jackson
We all know about Queen Victoria, or do we? We think of her as dumpy, grumpy, frumpy and short, but she was so much more than that. Her reign saw a revolution in technology and transport, in literature and the arts, in education and in the Empire.
Come and find out about Victoria’s role in society, her work and her pleasures. We shall be amused.
Look out for details of a new date
November 30th Saturday 9.30 -3.30pm
Cheam Parochial Rooms, Cheam Broadway SM3 8QD
The Final Friends’ Mistletoe Market
Brightly decorated stalls created a festive air in the main hall of the Parochial rooms in Cheam. Outside the weather was crisp and dry but inside there was a warm and friendly atmosphere.
The Friends of Whitehall give a big thank you to all stall holders who have supported the Friends over the years.
13th November 2.30 pm in Whitehall
Illustrated Talk by Abby Matthews –
‘The Cheam War Memorial’ and ‘The Past in Glass’.
Abby Matthew, Archivist, Sutton Cultural Services gave a very well received talk which included some interesting information about the Cheam War Memorial but also widened the look at local history by talking about the ‘Past on Glass’ project which is based on the huge collection of glass plate negatives found in a Sutton shop Cellar.
Abbey was involved in the research to try to put names and stories into the thousands of negatives found in Sutton. Abbey talked about the project and the people photographed and showed images of some of the restored photographs.
Everyone enjoyed hearing about a fascinating aspect of local history.
Whitehall Wednesdays in Whitehall
9th October 2.30 pm
Tea and a Cream Scone
A rather damp and chilly day outside but inside there was a warm atmosphere as Friends sat down to enjoy tea and a cream and jam scone. Thank you to Christine Emery who baked the delicious scones. It was a very pleasant afternoon and it was suggested we have another tea and scone afternoon next year in the warmer weather when we could sit outside in the garden.
Quiz and Fish and Chips Supper – Quiz master Eleanor Jackson
As fish is rumoured to increase brainpower, twenty Friends and guests tucked into fish and chips before tackling Eleanor’s splendid quiz. A range of questions sent us all into thinking mode, with cries of ‘I knew that really’ and ‘of course!’ when answers were revealed. Eleanor’s cheerful presentation of the quiz provided a thoroughly entertaining evening.
18th May Saturday Park Road, Cheam Village
Cheam Village Charter Fair
Park Road became a pedestrian area for the annual Cheam Charter Fair There were many stalls displaying a variety of goods from cakes to puzzles plus dance demonstrations.
The Friends of Whitehall had a successful morning selling an eclectic selection of bric-a-brac.
8th May Wednesday Whitehall
Local artist, Margaret Eggleton, demonstrated the art of water-colouring by painting a picture of Whitehall’s garden. From preparation to completion, Margaret showed the steps taken to create a unique painting.
Over 26 Friends watched the painting taking shape and Margaret explained the process and answered questions. It was a friendly and interesting afternoon. One Friend particularly like the painting and decided to buy the finished painting for her home.
To find out more about Margaret and her future exhibitions, visit www.margareteggleton.co.uk
6th April Saturday – Easter Fair
Cheam Parochial Rooms, The Broadway, Cheam Village
Colourful stalls packed the Parochial Rooms, displaying goods from jewellery to cards and painted pots. The Friends’ Fancy Good stall was stocked with a variety of items while the Friends cake stall had a mouth-watering selection of cakes. Thank you to all Friends who helped to make the Fair a success, especially to the small band of cake bakers who provided a range of cakes for the cake stall.
March 20th – Whitehall
Playgoing in Shakespeare’s London – Talk by Bridget Cooper
A full house enjoyed hearing about the places where Shakespeare’s company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, performed and the audiences who attended the plays. Although popular with all levels of society, play-acting companies were not welcome in the City as they were thought to encourage rowdiness, lewd behaviour and sedition. Theatre buildings were not allowed, but with permission, plays were performed in taverns such as The Cross Keys.
To avoid the strictures of the city, The Chamberlain’s Men moved to the South Bank where certain areas known as The Liberties were outside the City’s jurisdiction. A consortium of actors, including Shakespeare, built the Globe Theatre using some of the timbers from the former Blackfriars Theatre. While there were no backdrops for the plays colourful costumes set the scene.
As well as playing in theatres and taverns, the company performed at Country homes and Royal Residences such as Richmond Palace and Hampton Court. Queen Elizabeth l was an admirer of Shakespeare’s plays and it is not beyond the imagination to think that Shakespeare might have been invited to perform at nearby Nonsuch Palace!
Samuel Pepys Walk (& Talk)ed by Valary Murphy – 2nd March 2019
The walk started in Salisbury Square near Samuel Pepys birthplace in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street. Pepys rose from humble beginnings to become Chief Secretary to the Admiralty. Although best known for the diary he kept from 1660 -1669, Pepys had many connections and was aboard the ship which brought Charles ll home to England after Charles’s exile.
Among the vivid accounts of major events of the period, the Great Fire, the Plague and the 2nd Dutch War, Pepys also describes how he buried his expensive parmesan cheese in the ground to keep it safe from the Great Fire. Our walk took us past many building associated with Pepys, the Stationer’s Hall, St Brides, Clothmakers’ Hall and a sculpture recognising The Leather Workers as well as Watling Street where Pepys saw the ravages of the Great Fire. We also passed the mythical ancient ‘London Stone’ which has been newly set in a niche in Cannon Street.
We visited St Olave’s Church which Pepys regarded as his ‘own church’ and had his own separate entrance so he could easily enter the church from Seething Lane where he lived and worked. It is said that in the 11th century, while fighting the Danes who were occupying London Bridge, that Olav tied his long-boats to the bridge supports and pulled it down, giving rise to the nursery rhythm – ‘London Bridge is falling down’.
Our final stop was outside the former Navy Office building where a splendid bust of Samuel Pepys is displayed on a newly erected plinth. The paving stones around the plinth depict images connected with Pepys life.
Altogether an interesting walk with details of Samuel Pepys varied life.
FRIENDS ONLY EVENT:
6 January 2019 – Sunday 11 am
On Twelfth Night, The Friends welcomed in the New Year with a Coffee and Mince Pies morning in Whitehall.
For the first time we met in two upstairs rooms which had not been open prior to the recent refurbishment. It was a pleasant opportunity to catch up with our friends and to feast on home made mince pies.
It was also a chance to look at the photo album that has been put together for the Heritage exhibition called ‘Friends Today for 40 years’. There was also three storyboards relating the story of The Friends.
13 DECEMBER THURSDAY 7 pm – WHITEHALL
A CHRISTMAS ENTERTAINMENT
The historic house was transformed into a festive gathering for the downstairs staff of a grand house. A butler showed us to our seats while the housemaids plied us with drink and food. Other staff and the worthy gardener entertained us with light hearted readings, quips and poems.
Thank you to Audrey Piddington and members of the Saints Players amateur dramatic society for helping to make the evening a success.
December 2018 Saturday
Cheam Parochial Rooms, Cheam Village
Colourful stalls filled the Parochial Rooms on 1st December. Jewellery glittered on stalls and the rows of rainbow coloured children’s knitwear delighted the eye. Painted flower pots, pretty scarves and home made jam all combined to give a marvellous opportunity to buy something special.
Valerie and Trish – Gift Stall, Mistletoe Market, 2018
Friends of Whitehall ran the gift and bric-a-bra stalls, cake stall and kept everyone supplied with tea from the refreshment bar.
8 November 2018 – Cheam Library
A good-sized audience enjoyed Ian Bevan’s talk on Roman London, covering the period of 60 AD until the early fifth century when the Romans left. The Thames at that time was half a mile wide, and it was some time before a bridge existed, but the Romans built a commercial centre with basilica (later demolished) and other public buildings as well as many dwellings. One can still visit the remains of the Roman walls, the amphitheatre (underneath Guildhall), several bath-houses and the Temple of Mithras. Ian illustrated his talk with plenty of excellent pictures.
9th October 7pm Whitehall
Fish and Chips Supper and Quiz
Twenty four people sat down in Whitehall’s tearoom to enjoy a supper of fish and chips and a fun quiz. The cod and chips from Cheam’s’ famous’ Superfish restaurant was hot and tasty which was followed by delicious fruit tartlets. Eleanor Jackson organised the quiz, with something for everyone, from the fiendishly hard to the frustratingly, easy as well as providing lots of good humour to make it a fun evening.
Visit to The Shard
18th September 2018
Taking advantage of the new timetable from Cheam Station which now provides a direct route to London Bridge, a group of Friends set off to visit one of the tallest buildings in the UK – The Shard.
At London Bridge Station, the group took the nearby escalator down to the entrance of the Shard where we took a smooth lift up to the indoor gallery on level 69. The weather was kind and we were able to enjoy the amazing 360 degree view of London.
Investigating further, the Friends climbed the stairs up to level 72 which is partially open to the air and has seating to sit and admire the view or partake of the coffee and ice cream on sale.
Back down at ground level, Friends wandered in different directions to browse Borough Market or to find lunch, some ending up at the Historic George Inn.
Everyone agreed it was an interesting and slightly unusual day out.
10th May 2018
Visit to St Dunstan’s Church, Cheam
Juliet Chaplin, Deputy Director of Music at St Dunstan’s and Friend of Whitehall, pointed out interesting features in the church and commented about the history of the building. Juliet then opened the Lumley Chapel for the group to visit and mentioned some of the more unusual aspects of the chapel.
Cheam Charter Fair – Saturday.
On 12th May, 2018the Friends had a stand in Park Road, selling a variety of merchandise, toys, ceramics and jewellery. Valerie King and Trish Carey, our two ladies who manned the stand, took nearly £100, which considering the competition was excellent.
The Friends secretary was outside Whitehall enticing the passers-by to become ‘Friends’ and members of the Heritage Department were in the front garden attracting a lot of interest selling quality goods and promoting Whitehall. A very successful fair.
Cake Decorating – 14th June 2018
Joan Kimber demonstrated the art of cake decorating, from preparing a cake ready for icing, to using templates to create leaves for a flower. Facilities in Cheam Library were very restricted, so well done Joan, for managing so well.
Tea, coffee and biscuits were served, and it proved an interesting and relaxing afternoon.
Friends of Whitehall 40th Birthday Party 23rd June
A lovely celebration in all respects. Nearly 60 guests, including one of the early curators, enjoyed wine and refreshments in the tea room and on the newly constructed terrace. From the terrace, guests admired the garden which, in conjunction with the Heritage Department, was recently planned and planted by the Friends, led by our new Chairman Paul Gibbins. Paul has worked hard in the garden over the last three months and continues to do so. He was assisted by a Heritage volunteer, a few Friends and his wife Jennifer.
Our thanks to all those who helped to organise the party with a special thank you to Christine Emery for baking and decorating our 40th anniversary cake. The entertainment was provided by Emily Clair and ‘Tea for Bears’, playing in the background for the evening, an excellent group, highly recommended.
40 years Ago – 12th July 2018
Sixteen Friends attended the July monthly meeting in Cheam Library to watch the film that had been compiled by Paul Gibbins showing the crowds of people thronging Cheam Broadway at the opening of Whitehall in 1978. Friends had fun identifying people they recognised in the film. Comments were made about how young people looked! A very good afternoon.
18th July 2018 – Cheam Library
Annual General Meeting
On a very warm summer evening over 30 people gathered in Cheam Library for the Friends Annual General Meeting. We welcomed the Mayor of Sutton, Councillor Steve Cook who chaired the meeting.
Elections for the Friends Executive Committee were held, and we are pleased to announce that Paul Gibbins, formerly Vice-Chairman, was elected to the role of Chairman. Valary Murphy was welcomed to the committee as Vice-Chairman, Adam Bailey was re-elected as Treasurer and Catherine Harding was elected as a member of the committee, replacing our long serving member, Audrey Piddington. Colin Quemby’s appointment as Independent Examiner was unanimously approved by the meeting.
Following the elections and the Treasurer’s report, the Mayor spoke about the two charities he is supporting during his mayoral year, Home Start which provides support and friendship for families and The Kidney Fund which supports kidney research projects.
This was the last AGM that David Aldous-Cook attended as Chairman, as he has retired after 8 years. Paul Gibbins paid tribute to David for his calm and relaxed approach to all situations, his warmth and friendliness and his boundless energy and noted it would be almost an impossible act to follow. Paul also thanked David’s wife Julia for the support she had given to David in his role as Chairman. David and Julia were presented with tokens of our appreciation.
David thanked the Friends and said he would still help the Friends whenever he could but would not be sorry that he does not need to attend any more meetings.
After the meeting, Friends were invited to stay and enjoy light refreshments.
Visit to St Dunstan’s Church, Cheam
On Thursday 10th May 2018,Friends met in Cheam Library and then Juliet Chaplin, Deputy Director of Music at St Dunstan’s and Friend of Whitehall, escorted us to St Dunstan’s Church for a tour of the church. After the visit we returned to the library for tea and biscuits.
Cheam Village Charter Fair
On Saturday 12th May The Friends of Whitehall had a stall at the traditional Cheam Charter Fair, which is said to date from 1259. Park Lane became a pedestrian area for the morning with space for an abundance of items and activities. Lots to see and lots to do for all the family. .
The Heritage ‘pop-up’ stall was also be on hand to give out information about Whitehall.
Whitehall Sneak Preview
On 8th February 2018, the second Thursday in the month when we normally have a talk or a chat, a group of Friends assembled in the library to be escorted by Catherine Pell, a member of the Heritage Department, to Whitehall for our first opportunity to view the new refurbishment. The work executed by Durtnells Ltd established 1591 started in January 2017 and was finished within a year.
On the left of the original Tudor building, a new gallery and improved facilities have been installed with a well-designed ramp in the Victorian kitchen to allow easy movement for wheelchairs. The small kitchen has become a short corridor into the tea room, the ‘Still Room’, undecorated and unused until now, is the kitchen. On the right of the building a lift has been installed and another staircase constructed, allowing easier access for all.
When visitors venture to the first floor, they find large rooms to be used for education, exhibitions and meetings. The whole refurbishment gives an excellent impression and we now await the interior designers to complete the transformation.
CREAM TEA AT THE GRUMPY MOLE
On Thursday 19th March nineteen ‘Friends ’met at the Grumpy Mole, Cheam, to partake of a cream tea, consisting of scrumptious scones with jam and of course cream, with a choice of teas or coffee.
A convivial afternoon of chat and laughter, an event requested to be repeated in the future.
7TH FEBRUARY WEDNESDAY – VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM
Due to unforeseen circumstances at Victoria Station, only a small group of Friends were able to join Eleanor Jackson’s highly stimulating tour of the V&A and to share her enthusiasm and great knowledge of the museum and its collections. Eleanor highlighted the details of a selection of her favourite objects including sculpture, casts, ceramics and furniture across a number of galleries. She also explained the development of the building itself which provided the world’s first ever museum “refreshment” rooms, one of them designed in 1868 by the relatively unknown William Morris.
“The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow”
That old saying came true on 17th March when the Friends held their Easter Fair in the Parochial Rooms. The stallholders soldiered on despite the weather and visitors came to find a warm welcome inside. The cake makers stocked the cake stall to overflowing, thank you all.
The gift stall reached the usual target, the two ladies putting in a lot of work before and on the day. The catering department kept everybody warm with refreshments, and the raffle offered four prizes donated by Friends.
Our thanks to all Friends that participated, donated and visited, making it another successful day.
See you all at the Mistletoe Market.
12th April – Cheam Library: A-Z of Croydon
Michael Gilbert presented an illustrated talk on Croydon. Sadly, there were only 10 of us present to enjoy his talk and this was commented on by the speaker.
Michael told his story alphabetically, so we started with the airport and its history of early aviation with Imperial Airways and went on to the Zeppelin dropping bombs in WW2.
As Michael continued his story, we learned about, Will Hay,
David Lean, Malcolm Muggeridge and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor who lived in Croydon; brick and bell making and mills on the river Wandle; the coming of fresh water to the town and the 1st gas and electricity works. Many people remembered the old Kennards and Grants department stores.
We all spent an enjoyable hour on a dull and gloomy day.
2nd December 2017
This event, one of our major fund raisers, took place in the Cheam Parochial Rooms on a very chilly day! The outside was as usual garlanded with bunting and this year balloons were an additional eye catcher.
The ’Friends’ stalls were supported by other professional stallholders with a varied selection of merchandise, from cheeses, Christmas decorations, decorative flower pots, jewellery and gifts galore.
The Heritage department were present with the ‘Pop-Up’ creating interest in the refurbishment of Whitehall, and the future reopening.
Thank you to our cake makers who again excelled and where would we be without them? The two ’Friends’ on the fancy good stall once again took over £100. The Raffle was also a success thanks to donations, the first prize of a hamper was won by a local Councillor, one of our ardent supporters.
Our ‘Friends’ in the back room serving refreshments were kept busy with hot drinks etc. all day, trust they will be at our Easter Fair.
A big thank you to the team of thirteen volunteer ’Friends’ and to the customers who made it a profitable day for Whitehall funds.
9th November 2017 – Talk by Mike Evans of the British Association of Friends of Museums.
Twenty members and friends, some of whom are also Friends of Nonsuch, found the description of the creation and work of BAfM most interesting. It was a group in Barcelona that wanted to meet others in the 1930s which led to the formation of the World Association. Mike Evans co-ordinates Friends’ groups for the British Association of Friends of Museums in the South East of England.
BAfM offers support and help to groups on all aspects of these organisations including production of newsletters(colourful and informative Journals), a handbook, advice on insurance, guidance on grants an d ideas on activities run by other Friends’ groups. Awards are made to volunteers who contribute to the success of their local group whether their museum is owned by their Local Authority or a separate charity.
Mike Evans was particularly in favour of arousing the interest of schools, preferably when pupils are just entering secondary level, and told us how Maidstone pupils are encouraged to study for their curriculum by visiting the local museum. He commended making use of the expertise of the young people to publicise the museum on social media.
30th October 2017 – A Walk Around the Lesser Known Corners of the City of London.
Valary Murphy, London City Guide and Friend of Whitehall, began the walk close to the Monument marking the Great Fire of London in 166. The fire started near pudding Lane – Pudding in fact referring to offal from the butchers’ trade rather than baking.
Passing through narrow Lovat Lane, the rather plain exterior of St Mary at Hill contrasted with the lovely wide-open space and beautiful dome within the church.
From Mincing Lane, ‘mincing’ being a corruption of the word ‘mychens’ used to denote nuns, we turned into Minster Court to view three large horse sculptures, nicknamed Stirling, Dollar and Yen standing in front of the London Underwriters’ Centre. We also visited the public sculpture in Fen Court commemorating the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in 1807. The sculpture consists of 17 columns of sugar cane inscribed with the words of the poem ‘The Guilt of Cain’.
As we walked, Valary pointed out the curious figure of a woman on many buildings and explained that the figure, known as the ‘Mercer’s Maiden’ was to show that the property had belonged to the Worshipful Company of Mercers.
Our walk took us to the outside of the Jamaica Wine House in Cornhill, where the first coffee house in London was located and where Samuel Pepys visited in 1660. Passing other places of interest on our way, we finished the morning at the Royal Exchange founded by Sir Thomas Gresham.
14th September 2017 -Cheam Library – National Garden Scheme.
Thirty-one Friends assembled for a talk by Margaret Arnott, Volunteer Assistant Surrey County Organiser for the National Garden Scheme.
The story of the NGS started in 1859 when William Rathbone, a Liverpool merchant and philanthropist, engaged Mary Robinson to nurse his sick wife. When Mrs Rathbone died, William continued to employ Mary and encouraged her to go into the poorest areas of Liverpool to try to relieve suffering and teach the basic rules of health. Although Mary found the work almost unbearable, she eventually realised the difference she could make and decided not to return to private nursing.
William Rathbone then extended his idea by dividing parts of Liverpool into districts, and with advice from Florence Nightingale, provided nursing staff for each district. This was the beginning of District Nursing which, within a few years, spread throughout the UK.
To fund pensions for retiring nurses, gardens were opened to the public at a shilling admission, thus forming a pension pot. This system evolved into the establishment of the National Garden Scheme in 1927, and with the advent in 1948 of the National Health Service, donations from the National Garden Scheme were then directed to major charities.
Towards the end of the talk, Margaret showed illustrations of some of the beautiful gardens that are opened to the public during the year. A most interesting afternoon.
13th July 2017 – Cheam Library – The Great Unwatched: Wit and Wisdom on the Wireless.
In his second talk to the Friends. Bob Sinfield recalled his early interest in ‘the wireless’ when he would listen to a large valve radio with mysterious sounding stations on the dial such as Hilversum, Athlone and Normandy. Bob’s lively talk included amusing anecdotes and interactions with the audience about programmes and presenters over the years.
One of the first commercial radio stations was the United Biscuit Network which broadcast to the company’s factories around the country and became the training ground for many radio presenters. Bob’s talk was well received by a full house of Friends and guests.
5th June 2017 – Alison Weir – Eleanor of Aquitaine – St Dunstan’s School, Anne Boleyn’s Walk.
As something different for the Friends’ Birthday celebration this year, an evening talk was arranged to take place at St Dunstan’s School Hall in Cheam. Publicity officer, Trish Carey, worked hard to publicise the event and on the day over 60 people came to hear local historical author, Alison Weir, talk about Eleanor of Aquitaine.
There was a good mix of local residents and Friends who enjoyed the fact-filled talk. One lucky visitor went home with a prize for the best question put to Alison and another visitor, picked at random wen t home to a copy of Alison’s latest book ‘Anne Boleyn – A King’s Obsession’. Very appropriate as the school is in Anne Boleyns Walk.
Saturday 20th May 2017 – CHEAM VILLAGE CHARTER FAIR.
In spite of the prospect of rain, the weather was kind, and visitors and Friends were able to stroll around the stalls in the dry to look at the diverse range of items for sale. The Friends of Whitehall stall was in Park Road, in the driveway of one of our members who provided those manning the stall with welcome cups of coffee during the morning. The Heritage department was also on hand with their pop-up Whitehall publicity stall.
11th May 2017 – Exhibitions 1862 – 1924
Michael Gilbert’s talk covered the growth of exhibitions to promote industry and culture during the 10th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Many of the exhibition halls built during this period are still familiar to us today, Alexandra Palace, Olympia, Ears Court and White City. In 1908 the Olympics were held in Britain and the marathon was run from Windsor Castle to the great stadium built in White City, setting the standard length of marathons to this day.
In 1924 the British Empire Exhibition opened at Wembley, with fifteen miles of streets, and included a reproduction of the Niagara Falls, a garden contained 100,000 tulips and the popular Amusement Park promoted by Billy Butlin.