View our online Settlement map that illustrates the growth and spread of man's occupation of East Surrey.
Local Asylums Exhibition
An Admission hospital for voluntary patients was opened at Netherne in 1933. It was called Fairdene and was on the southeast edge of the main group of buildings. It contained an Xray department and one male and female ward alongside a neurosurgical unit.
St Lawrence's Asylum
Children over five returned to Caterham in the 1920s but for a number of years little was done to educate them, children were cared for in the women;s wards until the age of sixteen when boys were transferred to the male side of the Hospital. Some of the old staff quaters were converted into six classrooms and a single teacher Miss Booker was in charge of one hundred boys and twenty girls.
Construction of the new school began in the 1960s the first of its kind to be provided by the South West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. The school was viewed as experimental when it opened in 1965 it was intended that it should enable techniques of educating mentally subnormal children to be learned and tried, exmined and improved. The last pupils were transferred to the nearby Clifton Hill School in 1981.
Burial letters informing relatives of the death of a patient were very formal. there was a typed letter with spaces for the patient's name, and date and time for the funeral service to which they were invited, the Superintendant of the Hospital signed these. One of the volunteers at the Museum remembers the black horse drawn hearse that was used to carry the coffins to the burial ground, which was kept in a barn near the Hospital.
Mr Gibson was one of the last survivors of the Battle of Waterloo in which he fought with the 27th Iniskilling Rifles, his regiment was almost entirely wiped out, he survived but with permanent brain damage which resulted in him being admitted into Caterham Asylum upon its opening. Mr Gibson died in 1891 at the age of 101 and he was buried in the southeast corner of St Mary's Church cemetary in the area which contained the graves of military men who had died serving in the Guard's Barracks. The fact that this old soldier was buried in St Mary's cemetary must have been due to the regiments intervention as other patients were buried in the hospital graveyards. The first a small plot on the southwestern corner of the hopital grounds close to the junction of Chaldon Lane and Green Lane, when that was filled another graveyard was taken into use on the West side of Green Lane.
Joey Deacon was a patient at St Lawrence's Asylum. He was born in 1920 with severe cerebral palsy and spent the first 8 years of his life at home except while he was in hospital for operations on his limbs. In 1928 after six months in Queen Mary's Hospital Carshalton he was admitted to St Lawrence's Hospital where he spent the majority of his life. Joey with the help of 3 friends Ernie Roberts,Tom Blackburn and Michael Sangster wrote his life story in quite a remarkable way. Joey would tell his story (quite incoherently to the majority of observers)to Ernie and then Ernie in turn would repeat the story to Michael who wote it down, it was then Toms turn to painstakingly type the story. This was published as "Tongue Tied" by Mencap as part of their Subnormality in the Seventies series. The book which consisted of 44 pages took 14 months to write and with the profits the group were able to move into a bungalow in the Caterham Hospital grounds in 1979. Joey died 2 years later in 1981 but not until he had made a lasting impression on many when he appeared on Blue Peter as part of the Year of Disability.
The museum has recently acquired a wonderful collection of over 2000 postcards from villages throughout Tandridge. The images offer a fascinating record of the district from c.1900 through to the 1960's. Scenes of everyday life a hundred years ago are captured in this unique collection. The East Surrey Museum would like to thank the Friends of the ESM, the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, the Titsey Foundation, North Downs Golf Club, Knight's Garden Centre, Hampton's Estate Agents, East Surrey Local History Society and the Parish Councils of Caterham-on-the-Hill, Caterham valley, Whyteleafe, Felbridge, Outwood, Tatsfield, Chaldon and Horne for their invaluable contributions to this purchase.
The entire postcard collection, as well as many other items from within the museum has been digitised. If you would like to study the collection please book an appointment with the curator.
The practice of sending post cards home when on holiday is still quite common, but the humble postcard, 'picture or plain', does not play such an important part in our day-to-day communication as once it did, having been superseded by electronics. In looking through the East Surrey Museum's collection, some of which pre-date the first World War, I have been fascinated by the content and the glimpse they give into the writer's world all those years ago.
The contrasting lives of two ladies are illustrated by two cards both posted from the Oxted area. The first written in 1917: 'Having a topping time here. A Lovely place and awfully nice people staying here. I am writing this on a swing so excuse scrawl. Much love, Henrietta.'
Then, in June 1944, (no recipient's name appeared over the message):- 'Don't laugh, working hard, one mass of nettle stings, bites and scrathces. Cleaning ditches with a scythe. Daphne' A land army girl perhaps?
We are transported back to 1914 - 1918 as one reads on the back of a postcard of a large house in Limpsfield, 'K only had to pick some splinters of shell out of his face (so he says) and then went back to duty. It was a horribly narrow shave though. His subaltern walking beside him was badly hurt...'
In 1906 on the back of a picture of a horse and carriage someone has written, 'Dr. Brit we have decided to have our Whips and Worms cricket match on 5th September'. A 'Whips and Worms' match was coachmen against gardeners. The perils of travel are brought home to us on the back of a picture of Caterham Square and Fountain, dated 1916, (Sic.) 'My dear Annie, i have just sit down to let you know that i got home quite safe but i dint get home til 2 o'clock because there was a smash up at Purley Oaks Station my love and i had to wate on the line 3 hours my love till it was clear but i don't think any body was hurt my love.'
These are just a few of the many glimpses of times past preserved on the reverse of the humble postcard.
Edited and abridged from Norman Skinner's article, 'Drop us a card when you get there'