COVID 19 Update
Sutton Cultural Services are delighted to announce that Whitehall Historic House has reopened. With measures in place to welcome visitors safely, and new temporary exhibitions and children’s activity packs to delight visitors old and new, the team are thrilled to invite visitors back through the doors to enjoy this unique heritage attraction.
Opening times as of May 2021 are:
Thursdays, Friday & Saturdays
10am-5pm, Pre-booking and walk-in visits
Whitehall Historic House is an impressive feature at the heart of the picturesque village of Cheam. A landmark in the Cheam Village Conservation Area, with the distinct white weatherboarding, projecting upper storey, and sloping porch, the building stands out as something special. It’s Grade II* listing status from Historic England recognises it as just that, a rare survivor of domestic architecture in the top 5% of significant buildings in the country!
The construction of Whitehall as well as the story of its use and occupants through time offer unique insights into the past. Building on this spectacular history the recently completed HLF funded refurbishment of Whitehall presents an opportunity to rediscover this incredible site in the present with greater access than ever before. In addition to improved physical accessibility, the project allows us to offer the space to the community in new and exciting ways as a hub for education and entertainment, inviting visitors to add to Whitehall’s unique story moving into the future.
A Brief History of the House
The timber framed structure at the core of Whitehall was built around 1500, at about the time that Henry VIII came to the throne. Set near the centre of a grid of streets that make up the focal point of old Cheam, opinion is divided about the building’s origins. It may have originally been intended as a meeting or ‘council’ house, alternatively it may always have been a house and home. Over the years the original Tudor structure was added to with extensions dating to the time of the Stuarts and the Victorians. Each addition built upon the unique character and story of the building which now offers a glimpse of life in Cheam over the past 500 years.
The occupants also lend themselves to the unique heritage available at Whitehall. It is thought to have been the site where Cheam School originated, lodging its local schoolmasters, as well as the one-time home of James Boevey, the 17th-century merchant and philosopher. While new discoveries about the building’s original purpose and early occupants continue to be made, the past 275 years offer a more detailed account of life in Whitehall. Remarkably, between 1741 and 1963 Whitehall was the home of one family, the Killicks. The house, and its history, passed down the female line of the family until it was purchased by Sutton Council in the 1960s.
Supported by the Friends of Whitehall, the Council was able to open the house to the public in 1978 as a museum of local history with free admission for all. The museum was accredited by Arts Council England and quickly became and continues to be key location for the local community. Offering displays about the history of the house and the local area, a peaceful rear garden, an exciting programme of activities, and a tea room voted to be one of the best in Surrey, the Whitehall creates a unique opportunity for our neighbours to learn about and engage with not just a Tudor building and its history, but to explore their Tudor building and their history.
After nearly 40 years as a beacon of local history, the Heritage Team at Sutton Council decided to take the next steps in securing the future of Whitehall Historic House. In June 2015 Whitehall was awarded funding by the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the project Know Our Place: Sharing and Saving Whitehall. With additional support from the London Borough of Sutton and the Friends of Whitehall, the project comprised essential conservation and repair works, including the addition of a lift and other features focusing on improving access for all. Our developing current programme of exhibitions, activities, and events showcases the history and heritage of Whitehall and the local area reaffirming the museums place at the heart of the community.