The Holmesdale Museum and Reigate Caves

On the hottest day of the year, Saturday 13 August, we enjoyed a very interesting visit to the Holmesdale Museum which is not generally open to the public and a big thank you goes to Andy and Carol Sandford who were very helpful giving up their own time as volunteers to welcome us.

The Holmesdale Natural History Club Museum promotes the study of natural history, local history, archaeology and geology in the area of Reigate.

There is large collection of stuffed birds, local history and archaeological collections.

After visiting the museum, we stopped at The Rose Room to not only enjoy a choice of drink and delicious cake or scone but benefit from their most welcomed air conditioning.

Then we walked to the caves which are as amazing as they are extensive. They have been used for a variety of purposes over many years and certainly for mining of the sand at one point. They are all sandstone and the Wealden Mining and Caving Society are still digging and extending the system in the western cave.

The eastern cave has an exhibition of second World War memorabilia as it was used as a shelter, and also of provision for a nuclear attack, see the picture of two attendees in the Anderson shelter below.

The Baron’s Cave is very old as it was under the castle which was built shortly after 1066 – little is known apart from conjecture and legend but it is all very interesting.

Our guides were excellent and in particular Lesley Eggleston who was not only very knowledgeable but also the organiser of the tours.

Many thanks to all those at the museum, the café and the caves who made our day possible.


Stella and Martin Cantor

Exploring the River Wey around Godalming

On the 7th August 2022 we held our usual Sunday free walk of the month around the outskirts of Godalming. There was a lot to see on this relatively short walk. We met at the Beefeater car-park on the main road between Guildford to Godalming which was the site of the largest tannery in the area. The main industry around the area was in fact wool with the local mills using large mechanical hammers to pulp the wool. The river Wey joins the Thames at Weybridge and then the barges could travel with their various cargos up and into London.

A short walk towards Godalming we came upon 10 Almshouses which were the brainchild of Richard Wyatt who was a wealthy business merchant in Dunsfold. The stipulated that none of the tenants should be drunkards, swear or blaspheme and that every Sunday they would attend the local church in Godalming to hear prayers.

Catteshall Lock, a little further into our walk, is the first lock on the Godalming Navigation. To the left of the river are the ancient Lammas Lands which are historic common land and floodplain. It is still used as common land today with people bringing their cattle and horses to the fields to graze.

The flood defences at the far end of the field were completed in October 2019 at a cost of £4.5M. All the houses which were on the same level as the flood plains would flood and the water would come up through their floors. On at least one occasion the river levels ere so high that the main road between Godalming and Guildford was impassable. They have installed a pumping station which can pump 84 litres per second into a small stream in front of the barrier called hells ditch.

Catteshall Mill which was further into our walk is listed in the Domesday book and used to house the largest Fourneyron enclosed turbine ever built. He was the first maker of hydropower turbines and these were used to replace the water wheels.

Towards the halfway point of our walk we came upon The Ram Cider House which was built in the 16th Century and people came from miles around to sample some of their 35 different types of ciders. Unfortunately it is now a private dwelling.

Crossing back over the river we used Trowers Footbridge which was probably the entrance to Unstead Park. It was bought at auction in 1873 for around £37,5000.00. It had electricity installed in 1912 but its water was obtained from a hydraulic ram gravity pump near the Cider house and this was piped up the hill to the estates own reservoir and hence the pub got it’s name The Ram Cider House.

We ended up walking around broadwater lake which is owned by Godalming Angling Society and covers around 10 acres. It is well stocked with carp, rudd and perch weighing up to 30 pounds. On hot days they come to the surface and we watched as a family fed them like tame ducks.

We then participated in some very welcome and delicious waffles and coffee before strolling back along the lake to the start of the walk.

Sall Baring