Whitehall – the Future Plans

From 11th April 2016 Whitehall Historic House will be closed temporarily for renovation following our successful HLF bid. 

Before Whitehall closes there is an opportunity to see Whitehall – the Future Plans, a new exhibition opening on the 29th January 2016. 

The exhibition will showcase drawings by the designer as well as architectural plans for the redevelopment of Whitehall – together they will give visitors an insight into what to expect when we re-open in 2017.  

Whitehall – the Future Plans (Friday 29 January – Sunday 10 April 2016)

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Whitehall secures Heritage Lottery Fund Investment

Whitehall has secured a £1.5m HLF grant to renovate the museum, improve access and run a programme of events and activities.

Whitehall Museum is a rare example of 16th-century domestic architecture in the heart of Cheam Village. The Grade II* listed building, with its distinctive white-painted exterior, provides an unrivalled glimpse of local life in the Tudor period.

Sutton Council wanted to find a way to renovate the building and make it more of a destination for heritage tourism. Its officers put together a compelling 200,000-word bid, along with securing planning permission for the renovations, which led to the HLF approving the proposal.

The grant means vital repairs to the building can be carried out and a programme of activities will be launched to encourage more people to use the museum and learn about their heritage. Internal adaptations and two new extensions, including a new lift and stair, will significantly increase access for all into and around the building.

The Know Our Place: Sharing and Saving Whitehall project will have a number of themes. A local history network will be created so people can learn, discuss and pool knowledge about their area. A reminiscence project, ‘The Locals’, will celebrate the Friends of Whitehall as they approach their 40th anniversary and the former residents and staff of Orchard Hill Hospital, Carshalton, the last long-stay NHS hospital in England to close. Displays based on these projects will be exhibited at the museum.

A new schools programme will tie in with a local curriculum exploring local history, environmental awareness and sustainability, comparing the carbon footprint of a Tudor home to a modern house.

Repair work to the building will involve tackling a damp problem and removing some intrusive 20th-century fixtures while other original features are restored. While this work is underway the museum will be closed, during which time a pop-up museum with a selection of Whitehall’s attractions and heritage information will be shared with borough residents at local fairs and community events, whetting the community’s appetite for when the restored building reopens.

Currently lack of space in the building restricts the number of volunteers who can help run the museum but the restoration work will create additional space so that more people can become involved in the future. Additional meeting space for local groups and for school visits will also result.

Cllr Jill Whitehead, Chair of the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee at Sutton Council, said:

“The redevelopment of the Whitehall Museum is of major significance to the borough. The museum is one of our oldest buildings and to secure a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £1.5m is a magnificent achievement.

“It shows how, at a time of budget cuts, we are working hard to attract other funding streams to bring economic benefits by developing Sutton as a great place for business and leisure.

“I want to thank the Friends of Whitehall for donating £10,000 to the redevelopment. I also want to thank all of the council officers for the supreme effort they put in to secure the bid by collating the application.

“When the redevelopment is completed in 2017, Whitehall Museum will be the historical hub of our borough, attracting more and more people to spend time and money and learn more about our heritage.”

Stuart Hobley, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said:

“Thanks to National Lottery players we have been able to support this project that revitalises an iconic building as a vibrant hub for the local community of all ages and at the same time saving and sharing its fascinating heritage. Whitehall Museum is a treasure trove of Sutton’s local history, one which I hope many more people will now discover.”

Detailed designs will now be developed by Curl la Tourelle Architects and it is anticipated that construction work will begin in the Spring.

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Cheam 1914

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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