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Social history

What's in our social history collection?

The social history collection at Guildford Museum is mostly made up of objects that tell us about home, work and daily life in the past. Most of the objects were made after AD 1500 and have not normally been excavated (dug out of the ground). Sometimes a type of object, such as coins, can be either archaeology (generally excavated) or social history (normally if people have kept it, for example in their house). It can be quite confusing!

Our social history objects come from Guildford and across Surrey. Highlights of our collection include objects relating to trades, agriculture and products of local industries such as Friary Meux Brewery. We have a large collection of photographs and glass plate negatives. There are over 6000 items including some of the earliest photos of Guildford from the 1860s. The museum looks after an internationally important collection of objects collected by Gertrude Jekyll. She spent most of her childhood in Surrey but moved away for a number of years. When she returned in 1876, she found that the old way of life was disappearing. For the next 20 years, she toured the area photographing scenes of country life and collecting objects relating to that life. In 1911, she gave her collection of 'bygones' to Surrey Archaeological Society. To house her collection a new gallery was added to the museum (where our reception is now).