The Friends of Whitehall, an independent registered charity, was formed 34 years ago to support Whitehall and to ensure that it remains open to the public. The 30th anniversary of the opening was celebrated in 2008. On Saturday 18th June, 1978, the ribbon across the front door was cut by councillor Marjorie Grimes, the Chair of Sutton’s Leisure & Recreation Committee, accompanied by borough librarian Roy Smith – the prime mover in getting Whitehall opened as an attraction.
Since the house opened it has welcomed thousands of visitors of all ages, and the Friends of Whitehall has raised many thousands of pounds towards the house’s running costs and purchased many of the items now on display within the house, and in 2012 this amounted to over £9.000.00 towards gardening, floodlighting, decorations and the annual grant.
The Friends have, over the years, laid out and continue to maintain both the front and back gardens. They act as stewards and serve in the Tea Room; bake the home-made cakes and biscuits; dress in various historical attire at fairs and special events – such as the Tudor Fairs when children are able to talk to Henry VIII or Elizabeth I or at the Oak Apple Day when Charles II, Nell Gwynne and Pepys are there to entertain visitors – young and old alike!
In addition to all this activity, the Friends of Whitehall raise funds for many special projects. These have included funding the return of six Victorian Jacobean-style chairs for the Parlour (recently recovered in needlepoint by a group of Friends), a set of antique tools (of the type used to construct a house like Whitehall), display boards and case and may historic prints of Whitehall and Dr Syntax.
The Friends have also shared the costs of the renovation of the Roy Smith Gallery, the School Master’s Bedroom in the attic and the Tea Room Kitchen.
Over the years the Friends have organised many events for Whitehall, including Easter Fairs, Valentine Fairs, Jumble Sales and other special days.
The Friends volunteer gardeners have been responsible for some garden improvements. The herb garden and the lawn edges have been returfed, and the dead silver birch tree removed. Two benches were donated and the Friends purchased two tables to go with them.
Thanks to other donations/legacies received over the years the Friends have been able to restore the tea room clock and arrange for floodlighting the front of Whitehall.
If you would like to join the Friends of Whitehall and play your part in protecting this important historic building and qualify for a 10% reduction on Museum shop prices, reduced tea room prices and discounted tickets to Heritage talks and Friends’ events plus quarterly Newsletters, please let us know by sending us your name and address by using the contact form on this website. An application form will be sent to you. Annual membership costs just £7 or £12 for families. If you are already a Friend and would like to become more involved use the contact form to request information on volunteering.