The museum has a large collection, focusing on the East Surrey area. Only a small part can be displayed at any one time, but genuine students and researchers can be granted access to material in storage by arrangement. The collection has grown mostly by donation, and continues to increase in size by this means. If you have an artefact or document which is distinctly relevant to the social history, archaeology or geology of the East Surrey area - one that you feel might be better housed in the museum - please bring it along and let us take a look at it. Please note that the museum no longer collects natural history material.
Local geology and topography
The collection has very good examples of fossils from the chalk, our local rock, including echinoids (sea urchins), micrasters (related to echinoids) and ammonites, preserved both in calcite and flint. We have geological survey maps of Surrey in our map collection (see Social History below) which is open to study.
Mounted on the wall of the East Surrey Room (also known as the John Bushby Room) is an excellent 3-D model of the surrounding hills and dry valleys. This lights up to show the locations of the principal local archaeological sites. Our displays include an explanation of the derivation of the dry downland valleys, some of which give rise to intermittent streams known as ‘Bournes’ after which the Bourne Society, our local history society, is named.
We have an excellent local collection of artefacts from all periods, Palaeolithic to Roman.
The Palaeolithic collection includes handaxes, over 200,000 years old, found locally at Slines Oaks. Importantly, we also have information on other handaxes, including a bout coupé and ficron, found locally, where we do not have the actual artefact. Complementing this we have a fascinating collection of the bones of ice age and interglacial fauna from a quarry in Chertsey, including mammoth, hyena and rhinoceros. Information on more local finds of the remains of hippopotamus and mammoth is available from our archive.
We have in our collection several tranchet axes, blades, a microlith and cores from the important local Mesolithic site at Slines Oak. We also have a flint axe which was found in the cemetery at Oxted, and which is reputedly the second largest axe from Surrey.
Neolithic and Bronze Age
The museum has several examples of local Neolithic leaf arrowheads and polished axes. Our Bronze Age collection is particularly fine, including a Middle Bronze Age palstave from Worms Heath, examples of Late Bronze Age socketed axes from the Beddlestead hoard, copper cake found at Botley Hill and two late Bronze Age spearheads. Also displayed are Bronze Age flint scrapers and barbed and tanged arrowheads.
Iron Age and Roman
On display is an Iron Age cremation urn and other pottery as well as excellent copies of several types of Samian ware. We have artefacts from the nearby Roman villa on display and in our archive. A huge amount of Roman pottery was excavated at various local sites by the Bourne Society before the advent of PPG16 in 1990. This is held in our store and researchers wishing to study this should please apply in advance to the curator.
Our archives include a large collection of early 20th-century postcards with images of almost every village and town in the Tandridge DC (East Surrey) area. These are indexed on our database, enabling us to search in seconds to confirm if we have images of subjects you are researching.
In addition we have over 200 local large scale maps (25-inch and 6-inch) covering most of East Surrey, some dating back to the 1870s and many from the early 20th century. We also have copies of much older maps (including the Rocque and Rowed maps) dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, and others showing the development of utilities and infrastructure.
Over the past forty years we have collected photographs, pamphlets, articles, leaflets, directories, etc., (‘ephemera’) related to East Surrey. This huge body of information is also on our database and, as with the postcards, can be searched if you need to consult documents relevant to your research.
We have a small library which includes all of the Bourne Society Local History Records and Bulletins and the Surrey Archaeological Collections. The library is classified by village or town in East Surrey.