Past Events

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.

Saturday 19th November 2016 – Mistletoe Market

This event provided a plethora of pretty gifts and perfect presents in the Parochial Rooms at this year’s Mistletoe Market, Crafts, Jewellery, Cards, Gifts, Knitted Items and Homemade Cakes. There were also plenty of provisions at the refreshment counter. It was a good opportunity to find something special’ for a Christmas Present. Pop-up Whitehall gave visitors an idea of what to expect when Whitehall reopens.

Thursday 13th October 2016 – Royal National Lifeboat Institution Talk.

Richard Bywaters illustrated talk focused on the RNLI’s search and rescue service along the Thames. Using a range of fast boats based at 4 stations, and incident can be reached within 15minutes. As well as aiding people who get into difficulties accidentally, RNLI deals with people who deliberately intend to harm themselves, by jumping off Waterloo Bridge for instance. The RNLI provides expert support in terrorist incidents, flood rescue and the Varsity boat race. The talk ended on a lighter note with a video of a variety of animals being rescued from the water.

Tuesday 20th September 2016 – Talk by Gerald Smith at the Nonsuch Palace Stable Block.

Gerald, who has recently retired as Chairman of the Friends of Nonsuch, talked about his personal involvement with the Friends for over 25 years. A story of the ups and downs of the Friends as they campaigned to keep the Nonsuch Mansion Estate open to all.

For some of the Friends of Whitehall who had not visited the Stable Block before it was a good opportunity to take a look around and to admire the beautifully presented stained glass windows on display.

Thursday 8th September 2016 – The Story of Polly Hewson: Talk by Jane Allen, Heritage Manager.

Jane gave a talk about Benjamin Franklin, his friend Polly and her mother Margaret Stevenson. Mrs Stevenson, who had lived in Cheam, and her daughter Polly were to become life-long friends of Franklin. The talk was of particular interest as a group of Friends are visiting Benjamin Franklin’s house in London on November 2nd.

Thursday 11th August 2016 –  Friends of Whitehall Collector’s Afternoon

A very successful Collector’s Afternoon was held in the upstairs room at Cheam Library which attracted people who were visiting the library as well as Friends of Whitehall. Collections on show covered a wide range of items including cigarette cards, coins, vintage toys, spoons, playing cards, model soldiers, postcards, paperweights plus a rather unusual item, a collection of rubber  bands made into a large rubber ball. A bound copy of the 1938 Sutton and Cheam Advertiser was on hand for historical interest.

To add to the enjoyable afternoon, an impromptu competition was proposed suggesting people make a note of all the sweets they remembered. The winner displayed her brilliant memory by managing to name 46 different sweets. Refreshments were served and an interesting afternoon was had by all.

Thursday 14th July 2016 – Victorian Leisure and Pleasure

On 14th July (Bastille Day) the ‘Friends’ were addressed by Ian Bevan in the Cheam Parochial Rooms on the subject of ‘Victorian Leisure and Pleasure’.  The talk was complemented with slides and musical interludes, including a short film of the variety artist, Little Tich, performing his ‘Long Boots’ routine.  Ian also explained the origin of being in the ‘Limelight’ – a phrase originating from the use of lights with a green tinge used for special effects. Altogether an entertaining afternoon.

Tuesday 21st June 2016 – Music at Nonsuch High School for Girls

The Music Teas are organized to showcase the musical talents of Nonsuch pupils and to give them an opportunity to perform in front of strangers. A small group of Friends attended the final Music Tea of the season and enjoyed a diverse programme of music featuring a wide variety of musical instruments.  To round off the afternoon, Friends enjoyed the homemade cakes which were on sale.

Thursday 9th June 2016 – 38th Anniversary Afternoon Tea.

The 9th June was chosen to celebrate the 38th birthday of Whitehall’s opening to the public and, as the house is at present closed, the Friends held the Anniversary tea in the upper room of Cheam Library.  A birthday cake and colorful plates and napkins set the scene.  With the refreshments we had a demonstration of Marzipan flower-making from Christine Emery and Joan Kimber, and having made a rose one could eat the flower of your labours. It was a pleasant afternoon organized by the Programme Committee, and thank you to the Committee and all our visitors.

Saturday 14th May 2016 – Cheam Charter Fair

This event was once again a success thanks to the traders and organisers. Whitehall was represented at both ends of the Fair. At the beginning in Park Road stood the new Pop-Up Whitehall, designed and manned by the Heritage department, this appeared again in Cheam Park at the Rotary Fair on May Bank Holiday and will Pop-Up at events in the area while the house is closed.At the other end of the Fair, the Friends had stalls in the front garden of Whitehall and as we made a profit for the funds, it was a successful outcome for everyone’s hard work. 

Thursday12th May 2016  – Tea and Chat at Cheam Library.

This was the first of our monthly afternoon meetings at Cheam Library while Whitehall is closed. As the Friends’ committee delved into cupboards for cups and plates and a teapot –- would a coffee jug serve the purpose? – has anyone bought any knives? – a group of Friends chatted and caught up with their news.  Plates having been discovered, everyone was served a piece of homemade cake baked by our Vice Chairman, Paul Gibbins. This was a very agreeable way to spend a Thursday afternoon and we were pleased to welcome two new members to the gathering.
Saturday 19th March 2015 – Easter Fair.

There were plenty of stalls in The Parochial Rooms for the Friends annual event displaying crafts and gifts of all sorts, the Friends stall stressed the theme of Easter with eggs, rabbits and other Easter items, and the usual display of cakes. Refreshments were available.

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Friday 4th December 2015 – Cheam Village Christmas Evening.

Extended opening hours for Christmas shopping during Cheam Village’s annual festive shopping event. Visitors were able to explore the house and visit the Christmas gift shop.

Saturday 21st November 2015 – Friends of Whitehall Mistletoe Craft and Gift Market.

The Friends held their annual Mistletoe craft and gift market in the Parochial Rooms in Cheam Village. With gifts galore, as well as cakes and refreshments, there was an opportunity to grab a few unique Christmas presents of homemade crafts, gifts, jewellery, knitted items, toys, cards and much more.



Wednesday 11th November 2015 – Lancaster Bale Out, an illustrated talk by Clive Smith.

We were treated to a very interesting illustrated talk by Clive Smith entitled Lancaster Bale Out. One of the speakers earliest memories was of an old blue book at his grandmother’s house, bulging with letters an d photographs. It was the log book of his second cousin, Sergeant Jack Hougham, who went missing when his Lancaster was shot down over France on 9th July 1943. After much research Clive discovered that one of the airmen on board, Sergeant Frederick Henry Smooker, had survived an d subsequently became a prisoner of war. The talk was Fred’s story. Clive Smith has written a book called Lancaster Bale Out which is available to purchase.


Tuesday 20th October 2015 – The Advent of Sound Musicals 1930 -1945 by Steven Furniss.

A selection of film clips from the 1930 to the 1940s, considered to be the golden age of Hollywood. We saw Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney dancing together in the elaborate musical productions by Busby Berkeley7 involving complex geometric patterns and the lightning footwork of Eleanor Powell, who was dubbed “the world’s greatest tap dancer”. To accompany the film excerpts, Steven gave us an insight into the history and social background of the period when these films were produced.

Sunday 27th September 2015 – Meet the Authors: Book Day at Whitehall.

This event was a great opportunity to not only meet and talk to established and new writers from South London an d Surrey who have published their work, but also to buy directly from them an d hear them read from their work and speak on writing-related topics.

The event opened at 11 am and each author gave a short talk and presentation in the tearoom throughout the day. There was also a walk around the Village led b y one of the participating authors, local academic, Professor Clive Orton promoting his new book.

Themes and genred that were covered included, auto/biography; local and family history and travel etc. The talks covered the themes of self publishing, the creative impulse, getting the works on to the page and extracts from the books read by the authors.

A successful and busy day, all in the setting of a beautiful Tudor house.

The Time Cheam Project.

Interim Report to participants and supporting societies.

The project took place in the Europa Gallery of Sutton Central Library from 20–24th July 2010, following a one-day training session in St. Nicholas’ Church, Sutton, on 19th July. It was part of the Council for British Archaeology’s annual Festival of British Archaeology. Seventeen volunteers, most from local archaeological societies, took part under the tuition of Professor Clive Orton of UCL Institute of Archaeology and supported by five student facilitators, also of UCL.

The main aim was to study, catalogue and prepare for storage the pottery from an excavation carried out from 1978 to 1980 in the garden of Whitehall, Cheam, under the direction of Norman Nail (site codes WH78–80). The finds from this excavation are currently stored in the London Borough of Sutton Museum and Heritage Service’s museum store. A small working party had pre-sorted the finds, and the pottery had then been washed and transferred to Sutton Central Library for this project. In the time available, it had been possible to sort about half of the finds; the rest remains in store and will be sorted and washed at a later date.

Over four days (Tuesday to Friday), all the pottery at Sutton Central Library was sorted by fabric and form, measured and weighed, catalogued and (if necessary) drawn. About 9000 sherds, with a total weight of about 115 kg, were sorted. On the final day (Saturday) a small exhibition was mounted to explain the project’s activities and discoveries to the public.


Most of the pottery consisted of Cheam white ware, the product of 14th-century kilns in the village of Cheam. Some examples were clearly wasters, showing signs of over-firing, distortion, adhering fragments of other vessels, or glaze dripping onto or flowing over broken surfaces. There were also fragments that appear to derive from a kiln structure, but the majority of such fragments had already been set aside for further study at the pre-sorting stage. There were also small amounts of other types of pottery: Roman, Saxon, other medieval wares, Cheam red ware, border ware, 17th-century stoneware and tin-glazed ware, as well as larger quantities of post-medieval red ware (including flower pots) and ‘modern’ pottery (i.e. 19th and 20th-century). The post-medieval pottery was catalogued in a more cursory fashion (sherd count and weight only), so that it could be located by future researchers.

Most of the Cheam white ware was what one would expect, based on evidence from previous sites (Parkside, High Street). A large majority of the pottery was from jugs, with biconical jugs predominating over the larger rounded jugs, and with rare examples of baluster jugs. There were few cooking pots and other forms. New discoveries which expanded the known range of forms were: small straight-sided bowls with narrow flat-topped rims (three examples were drawn). rounded jugs, but with a sagging base instead of the usual (for Cheam) flat or indented base. Such bases appear to be thumb-pressed, probably with groups of three impressions. Unusually, many were glazed on the underside of the base only. sherds of a jug with north French (Rouen) style decoration. There were only a few small body sherds, well scattered across the site, and no rims or bases. They were photographed. a few sherds of closed forms which appear to have had rectilinear holes cut in them. Their purpose is unknown. They were photographed.


As an archaeological exercise, the project went very well, and the feedback has been very positive. Half the pottery from a very large assemblage has been catalogued and prepared for final storage, and several members of local archaeological societies have been trained in the recognition and handling of medieval pottery.

The ‘public’ aspects of the project were less successful. There were few visitors during the week, and recruitment to local societies and the CBA (secondary aims) was low. Activity in the Library as a whole seemed to be low that week, and if the exercise is to be repeated, the timing needs to be reconsidered, even if this means not coinciding with the Festival of British Archaeology. A date which would enable school parties to be invited seems particularly attractive.

Future work:

The outstanding tasks are to: enter the catalogue onto a computer spreadsheet, and to produce totals and percentages. sort and wash the remaining finds; a working party will be set up to do this. catalogue this remaining material (Time Cheam 2?). study the kiln fragments. understand the existing site documentation, which is vestigial. produce a final report, probably of a length suitable for submission to Surrey Archaeological Collections. A popular account of all the findings in the village, relating to the medieval pottery industry, would be an attractive possibility.


The project was funded by fees paid by the participants, and by generous grants from the Council for British Archaeology’s Challenge Fund, Carshalton & District History & Archaeology Society (CDHAS), the Epsom & Ewell History & Archaeology Society (EEHAS), and the Friends of Whitehall (FoW). Financial management was provided by CDHAS. Space in the Europa Gallery was provided free of charge by Sutton Library Service.