In order to ensure continued care of our historic village, the society was founded in 1973 by local historian Uvedale Lambert. His father (also Uvedale) had published the comprehensive two-volume 'History of Blechingley' in the first half of the twentieth century. At first, the society was called the 'Blechingley Preservation and Historical Society' and as today, its aims were to encourage an interest in the history of the village through regular talks and published articles.
In the late 1980s, the chairmanship was passed on to a couple of people on a caretaker basis. David Martin took it on but as he was also juggling several other roles immediately started looking for, as he put it, 'a proper chairman'. At this point Derek Moore entered the scene.
Derek had moved to the village in 1985, and his interest in local history was piqued by articles on the Manor of Pendell that he had started researching (as well as the historic house he was living in). David Martin co-opted Derek as a (un)willing volunteer and the rest, as they say, is history: some 27 years later, Derek retired as chairman although he is still actively involved in the Society as our President. Over the years Derek forged a reputation as 'the man who will know' on all aspects of Bletchingley and its history. He also amassed a substantial archive of articles and photographs which we have just begun to catalogue.
The objectives of the Society are -
To conserve and preserve, as far as possible, for this generation and for posterity that which is beautiful, of historic interest, and of value in our district.
To preserve the natural environment and amenities, and to study and promote their development.
To encourage and support enquiry into local history, and to collect and record information about local affairs, places and people.
With this in mind, we also keep a check on all the Planning Applications within the Parish and particularly within the Conservation Areas.
Today we still run meetings on Bletchingley history, though sometimes we branch out to cover Godstone, Gatton, Merstham, Nutfield, Redhill and maybe even further afield. At some point in the distant past, we adopted 'Conservation' into our name, and some meetings are given over to this topic, looking in particular at the conservation of historic buildings as well as the landscape.
There are usually around nine meetings plus the AGM in our calendar which normally take place in the Village Hall on the second Thursday of the month at 8pm. Visits, demonstrations and exhibitions are organised from time to time.
The AGM (October) and December meetings usually involve a convivial visit to one of the Historic Houses in the area, courtesy of some very kind owners. Details are publicised to members directly.
Reports of our activities (past and forthcoming) appear regularly in the Bletchingley magazine.
A brief history of the Society:
Copyright: Uvedale Lambert:
Some of the businesses that have operated in Bletchingley over the years
Picture copyright: BCHS