Cheam 1914

Originally posted on Sutton's Heritage:

In the Local Studies collection in Sutton Central Library there is a torn piece of newspaper about the laying of the foundation stone for the war memorial in Cheam. At the service, the Rector said “that no one would be able in years to come to pass that spot without a loving thought for those who fell and without a feeling of pride in that gallant spirit which sent their men out from that village and all the villages and towns in England to fight for their country and for them”.

Inevitably 100 years on, and the names on the memorial are becoming just names, their families have gone and there is no one left who remembers them.

So who are the 69 men named on the memorial in Cheam? The majority are from the First World War although names from the Second World War were added.

From the…

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Exploring the Killick/Müller family tree

A recent visit to Sutton Local Studies and Archive Centre brought to light a photograph of the last Killick to live at Whitehall.  Harriett Killick is shown alongside her niece and great-nieces, who later inherited the Tudor building.  The image below is a record of four successive generations of one family who had lived at Whitehall since the mid 18th century.


Image courtesy Sutton Local Studies & Archives Service

Dated c.1914, shortly before Harriett Killick’s death at the age of ninety, this black and white image was taken in the rear garden at Whitehall.  Helpfully the photograph has been annoated with initials and consequently it is possible to identify the people depicted in it.

Clockwise from left to right: Penelope Müller; Harriet Maud Müller; John Stewart Müller; Annie A. Müller; Doris Mills; Susan Mary Müller; Harriett Killick (centre)

The 1911 census confirms that Whitehall was solely the residence of women at this date.  Harriett Killick was living at Whitehall along with her widowed niece, her two great nieces and two servants.  One of the servants, Ann Baker, was in service for the Killicks for about thirty years and during that time she evolved from being a general domestic to a cook.

Penelope Noakes, seen here seated on the far left, was the daughter of Thomas Noakes and Penelope Killick.  In 1869 she married John Caeser Müller from Prussia and they had five children: Harriet,  Susan and John can be seen in this photograph, along with John’s wife, Annie, and their daughter, Doris.  Doris, aged around fifteen at the time this photograph was taken, inherited Whitehall upon the death of her great aunt, Harriett, in 1959.  

One of the Müller sisters holds a tennis racquet in the photograph and in the early 20th century Whitehall’s garden, which was much larger than it is today, had tennis courts and a stable.  When Whitehall was sold to the London Borough of Sutton and Cheam, as it was then, in 1963, a large proportion of the garden was sold to help fund the restoration of the 16th-century building.

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Whitehall’s nostril chimney


In Whitehall’s Tudor Kitchen there is a distinctive and much altered Tudor fireplace. Joy Hall, Friend of Whitehall, tells us about it:

“At some unspecified time a brick chimney was built in the smoke bay, allowing more flexible use and reducing the risk of fire. Fitting the chimney into a tightly controlled space may have caused the installation to be less efficient, in which case it would be necessary to provide auxiliary passages to provide “secondary” air to promote efficient combustion. These seoondary passages were thought by some to look like nostrils and consequently the the structure became known as a nostril chimney.”

The nostril chimney at Whitehall is the only recorded stack of this type in the Surrey area and one of the reasons we think Whitehall’s original function may have been an official or administrative one.  What do you think?

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Curator’s choice: Whitehall in 1810

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June 16, 2014 · 10:58 am

Rummaging in the archives

The project at Whitehall has given us the opportunity to further explore the history of the house, Cheam and the surrounding area. A large part of this has involved re-examining what we have in our own collections and in the Local Studies Centre in Sutton to make sure we have left no leaf unturned. Our quest to find out all we can about our history has also led us further afield to Surrey History Centre and the National Archives, to see what clues or references we can find, especially as to why exactly Whitehall was built around five centuries ago.

We have been lucky to find some very old original documents, for example below is the original probate of John Boevey from 1700, found at the National Archives:

Boevey, PROB 5-2168

We have had to trawl through some even older documents, like these Wardrobe and Household accounts from the 1580s!


Documents like this are difficult and time consuming to interpret, even for the most experienced historian. Luckily many documents are now digitised even by small archives, meaning you can read and search them on a computer. This is especially useful on a project like ours as it means copies can be easily saved and passed on to the many interested members of the team. For example, we looked at the wills of residents as Cheam from as early as the fifteenth century, looking for clues as to exactly why Whitehall was built, and found that the National Archives had made all of these available digitally!

At Surrey History Centre we looked at very old government records – Calendars of the Patent Rolls, Close Rolls, Charter Rolls and State Papers, amongst others. We were looking for any mention of Cheam which may have offered insight into how people lived at the time, which involved trawling through indexes of these huge volumes:


We found references to Cheam under lots of different names; a few very early names included: ‘Cleiham’, ‘Cheigham’, ‘Ceiham’ and ‘Chayham’. By the eighteenth century it was commonly referred to as ‘Cheme’ or ‘Cheyme’.

It was our own Local Studies Centre in Sutton Library which could tell us the most about Whitehall and Cheam, with rows of books, draws of photographs and reams of press cuttings all about them. One highlight was this beautiful illustration showing a reconstructed view of Whitehall, 1500-50, just after it was built:


It’s a great reminder of how much both the house and its surroundings have changed. Another real highlight and important source unearthed was ‘Notes on an Old Home’. Local archivists discovered that these handwritten notes on the history of Whitehall were the work of Maud Muller, one of the last of the Killick family to live at Whitehall in the early twentieth century. Her work is incredibly useful as she tells us about information contained in old documents owned by her family, as well as stories passed down, which are no longer available.

Our work in the archives has allowed us to confirm some of what we believed about Whitehall, told us some new information and disproven some of what we originally thought. We look forward to sharing what we have learnt with you once the project is complete!




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Movers & Shakers update

 After a structural survey on Whitehall, it has been proposed that Helical Bars are installed to give extra support to the fireplace in the Tudor hall. The Helical bars as shown below are inserted between the brickwork and once the works are complete will be hidden from view.

Helical Bars

Prior to editing picture taken from

 The technique used for installing these Helical Bars is to first remove the mortar between the bricks. Once this has been done the installer will partially fill the gap with a grout which enhances the tensile, shear and flexible capacity of the wall. This will then followed buy fitting the helical bar into the grout within the opening made. The last element will then be to refill the mortar between the bricks and also fill the cracks within the fireplace.

Once works are complete the only change visible will be a fresher looking mortar in-between the bricks.



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Whitehall ‘yarnbombed': a community art project

yarnbombing 1

Today residents in Cheam are celebrating the 755th Traditional Charter Fair. To mark the occasion Whitehall has been covered – inside and out – in colourful knitted graffiti, known as ‘yarn-boming’.

yarnbombing 2

This has been a popular community art project spearheaded by the Friends of Whitehall and Sutton Council as part of the annual Charter Fair celebrations. Knitters from as far afield as Florida have volunteered hours of their time to produce hundreds of woollen flowers that have been draped all over the historic building. The decorations have been prepared by knitters aged between eight and ninety years of age and will be on display at Whitehall until the 18th May.


Can you guess how many flowers there are? Come along on Saturday 17th May to take part in our free Charter Fair competition!

yarnbombing 3

Whitehall is at the centre of the village Charter Fair festivities with a range of events taking place during the week of the 12th May, which culminates in a street fair on the Saturday.

As well as guided tours of the Grade II* listed house, there are stalls, craft events, storytelling sessions and the museum will be also participating in Culture 24’s festival ‘Museums at Night':

For more information about the Charter Fair, including its history, please see the information below and the following link:

Charter Fair History
The fair is thought to date back to 1259 when Henry III granted Cheam a charter making it a town. Firm historical records of Cheam Charter Fair date back to the 1800s when a fairground accompanied the market. The fair is steeped in custom, with traders traditionally marking out their stalls with chalk in advance of the fair. To date no charter document has ever been discovered…

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