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Chertsey Museum

Founded: 1960        Governance: Local authority      Scope: Local history & costume   Visited: Summer 2019

This summer I returned to Chertsey Museum after a first visit many years ago, and had forgotten how good it is! Admission is free, the displays are well-thought out and varied, and the building is a handsome Georgian town house, albeit somewhat mucked-about with. Something even happened which has never befallen me in any other museum: I discovered the answer to a question that was on my mind when I arrived, the identity of a small mansion house I encountered in the past and which I saw mentioned in a display about the vanished life of the country house in northwest Surrey. The story of Chertsey is entwined with that of its long-vanished Abbey, and there was a temporary exhibition about that when I called by.

But the special glory of Chertsey Museum is the Olive Matthews Collection, a nationally-significant accumulation of costume and accessories mainly dating from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, with some earlier and later pieces. Miss Matthews began gathering her collection as a child and kept going until it amounted to over 4000 items. Friends eventually realised how important it was, helped set up a trust to look after it, and negotiated an arrangement with Chertsey Urban District Council (as was) to house it in the Museum.And there it still is, to the delight and edification of all.

I can't remember why there's a case of ancient Greek ceramics. The rest of it makes sense.

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