Friday, 18 December 2015

Documentary on the Muslim Burial Ground Peace Garden Project


The restoration of one of Woking’s historic, hidden gems – the Grade II listed Muslim Burial Ground – and the creation of the new Islamic-inspired Peace Garden, opened by the Earl of Wessex in November 2015, is the topic of a BBC One documentary scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday 3 January 2016 at 1.15pm.

Filmed over a three-year period, the BBC documentary team tracks the long-awaited and carefully planned activities of Dr Zafar Iqbal, Woking Borough Council’s Senior Policy Officer, and Elizabeth Cuttle, Trustee of Horsell Common Preservation Society (HCPS), to rescue the historic site from disrepair and restore the domed archway entrance (known as a Chattri), minarets and ornate red brick walls to their former glory, and in time for the First World War commemorations taking place from 2015 to 2018.

The 40-minute, one-off documentary follows the story of the restoration of a forgotten and dilapidated burial ground for 27 Muslim soldiers who gave their lives fighting for Britain in the two World Wars. Using archive, interviews with historians and surviving descendants, the film also reveals the stories of some of the Muslim soldiers once buried at the site, and through their experiences, the history of the Muslim contribution to the British war effort in World War One unfolds. The film ends with the voices of modern Muslims who believe this shared narrative is one of the ways that prejudice and distrust of Islam in modern Britain might be overcome.

It was the site’s forgotten heritage and national and international importance, which first captured the interest of Aaqil Ahmed, the BBC’s Head of Religion and Ethics, who said: “When I first saw the Muslim Burial Ground three years ago, I immediately felt that this forgotten part of British history was a story worth telling.

“It's an architectural gem and a symbol of the little known shared heritage between Britain and Islam. Its history has helped to shape the world we live in today, which I know will appeal to our audiences’ thirst for knowledge.

“This documentary, just like the memorial garden, celebrates a moment in time when people shared a common purpose. To ignore it is to not learn from our past.”

Located in the south east corner of Horsell Common and a short distance from the Shah Jahan Mosque (the UK’s first purpose-built Mosque), the original site was purchased by the War Office and a burial ground was commissioned in 1915 to ensure Muslim soldiers could be buried in accordance with their religious rights.

Designed by architect T.H. Winney and completed in 1917 by local firm, Ashby & Horner, the site soon became the final resting place of 19 Muslim soldiers from the Great War and a further eight casualties of the Second World War. In 1969, following the exhumation of the servicemen’s remains by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to the nearby Brookwood Military Cemetery, Horsell Common Preservation Society took ownership of the site.

Opened by the Earl of Wessex in November 2015, the restored site and new Peace Garden features 27 Himalayan Birch trees representing the number of servicemen buried at the site, a water feature incorporating a memorial stone bearing their names, bold strips of pink and white heather orientated towards Mecca, scented plants such as Rosa rugosa and Sarcococca orientalis, two stone ceremonial prayer mats and benches.

Talking about the project, Dr Zafar Iqbal said: “The restoration of the Muslim Burial Ground was a long-awaited ambition of Woking Borough Council and the Horsell Common Preservation Society. Following two decades of discussions and watching the site fall into disrepair, it wasn’t until 2012 when funding was provided by Historic England that plans could be finalised and the works delivered.

“Over the last four years, we have worked with a range of funders, stakeholders, the Shah Jahan Mosque and members of the community to reinstate a heritage site which will provide a focal point for acts of commemoration and quiet contemplation.“

Speaking about the new garden’s significance to the Borough, Cllr John Kingsbury, Leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “As well as enhancing pride of place, the Muslim Burial Ground Peace Garden is a significant heritage site for Woking. It is a lasting legacy for the Muslim servicemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend Britain and, for future generations, it acts as a tangible advocate for peace; representing reconciliation, harmony and reflection.”

The restoration of the Muslim Burial Ground and the creation of the Peace Garden was funded and supported by: The Armed Forces Covenant Grant Scheme; Department for Communities and Local Government; Historic England; Horsell Common Preservation Society; Shah Jahan Mosque; Sultanate of the Government of Oman; Surrey County Council; and, Woking Borough Council.

The Muslim Burial Ground Peace Garden is owned and managed by the Horsell Common Preservation Society (HCPS). Entry to the site is free and it is open daily, all year round, for quiet contemplation and relaxation.

For more information about the site’s history and restoration works, visit

For more information about the BBC One documentary, Britain’s Muslim Soldiers, visit

For further information, contact Woking Borough Council's Marketing Communications Officer, Kate Mair, on 01483 743021 or email  

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Woking History Society AGM

The WHS AGM will take place on Monday 7th December at the Hilton Hotel, Woking at 8pm.
It will be followed by a short talk by Kayt Marter-Brown, from the Surrey County Archaeological Unit, about finds from this year’s dig at Woking Palace.
Festive refreshments and a Quiz will follow.


A message from Kirsty Bennett:


We need volunteers to index 12 digitised local newspapers for the war years.  A number of volunteers are already doing fantastic work. Would you like to join them?

The indexes will be used to identify stories about Surrey during the war which can be followed up and added to the bespoke Surrey in the Great War website; as well as identifying information about Surrey people to add to the Surrey in the Great War database.  In addition, the indexes will be published on the Surrey in the Great War website. 

This indexing can be done at home at convenient times for you, or you can work in the search room at Surrey History Centre.  The amount of time you spend indexing per week is flexible.  A template is ready to use and guidance notes are provided.   

We are indexing the Surrey AdvertiserSurrey MirrorSurrey and Hants NewsFarnham Herald,Middlesex ChronicleSurrey HeraldSurrey Times and County ExpressSurrey CometSussex Agricultural ExpressWoking News and MailEpsom and Ewell Advertiser and Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser. 

Please contact the project team on 01483 518239 / 518238 or 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Guildford Suffragettes

Carol Brown will talk about The Guildford Suffragettes on Monday 2nd November at 8pm .
The venue is the Byfleet Suite,  Double Tree by Hilton (formerly the Holiday Inn) Woking.
Free to members, guests £3. No parking at the hotel, so please use the multi-storey car park next door.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Ring

This is the Medieval Ring found in Woking and soon to be on display at the Lightbox. The Woking History Society contributed to the cost of purchasing the ring.

Animal Powered Engines

Jan Spencer will talk about Animal Powered Engines on Monday 5th October. Doors open 7.45 for an  8pm start. Meetings take place at the Double Tree by Hilton (formerly the Holiday Inn) Victoria Way, Woking. Talks are free to members. Guests £3.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Stand and Deliver: Highwaymen in Surrey

 Matthew Alexander will talk on the Highwaymen of Surrey on Monday 7th September at 8pm at The Holiday Inn, Woking. Members free. Guests welcome on payment of £3.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Brave Faces by local author Mary Arden

Mary – not her real name – was brought up in Ashwood Road and her grandfather lived in Knaphill. The book has many mentions of Woking. Paperback and kindle versions are available.

As the Second World War breaks out, Mary’s parents are determined that their daughter’s privileged upbringing should continue, and that life should carry on as much as normal. She is sent to finishing school and becomes a debutante attending ‘coming out’ balls in London, despite the nightly bombing raids.
However, Mary is determined to do her bit for the war effort, and volunteers to serve as a Red Cross Nurse, before joining the WRNS.
Accepted into the WRNS, not as an officer, but as ‘other rank’, Mary has to learn to live a very different kind of life to the one she was brought up to expect. She is used to being chaperoned, only talking to men she has been ‘introduced’ to, so it’s an almost impossible task for her Senior Wren Officer to find a suitable category for this naive girl. Mary finally becomes part of a new elite category known as Night Vision Testers, training the young pilots to see in the dark so they can land their planes on the deck of their aircraft carrier and not in the sea.
As the war progresses Mary moves from one Naval Air Station to another. Her tasks become stranger than fiction and her duties are definitely outside her job description – and most probably outside the rules too.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Surrey in the Great War: A county remembers

 One hundred years ago, Surrey was playing its part in the first global war between modern industrial nations. It was a conflict which called for previously unthinkable sacrifices by the county's people, young and old, rich and poor.

How did Surrey respond?

Surrey heritage, through its four year Heritage Lottery Fund - supported project
'Surrey in the Great War: A County remembers' calls you to enlist to help investigate this question.

We are hosting two events to showcase opportunities to get involved in Surrey in the Great War. Highlights will include talks and displays about what current researchers and volunteers have been doing, information on the project itself, and an insight into how exciting Great War discoveries will be preserved on our dedicated website. Find out about our newspaper indexing project, local Great War research topics, digitising Great War ephemera and much more.

West Surrey: 19th September 2015. 10.30am - 2.30pm at Surrey History Centre, Goldsworth Road, Woking GU21 6ND

Free refreshments will be offered.
For more information, contact the project team on 01483 518238 or

Definitely coming? Let us know! Alternatively just drop in on the day.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Photographs of Woking

The Francis Frith collection of photographs of Woking  is now available on the Ancestry website.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Woking Palace - Heritage Open Day tours 12th and 13th September 2015

Special Guided Tours at Woking Palace to celebrate Heritage Open Days on 12th and 13th September

This year Heritage Open Days coincide with the final archaeological excavations at Woking Palace and the Friends of Woking Palace are therefore arranging a very different celebration.
As part of their Heritage Lottery Funded project "Woking Palace and its Park" the Friends of Woking Palace are offering Special Pre-booked Guided Tours for a limited number of people to see the trenches and finds while excavations are in progress at 10.30am and 1.00pm on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th September. Hoe Bridge School will be providing a mini bus shuttle service from the school to Woking Palace for these special tours and therefore parking will be available in designated areas at the school.

Tickets are free - but booking is essential
Book your place now by
e-mail to or by phoning 07722 299026

As this will be the last year of excavations at Woking Palace this is a very special opportunity to discover more about your local heritage. No other access to the site is possible during Heritage Open Days.

At the end of the excavations there will be the usual Special Open Day on Sunday 27th September when you can come along to see the finished trenches before they are filled in.

For further information on the project and the Friends of Woking Palace
visit: or e-mail or phone as above

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Friends of Woking Palace

Friday 7th August 2015

"From Manor to Palace - excavating the moated site at Woking"

Rob Poulton, Surrey County Archaeological Unit
1.00pm to 2.00pm at The Lightbox, Woking, GU21 4AA

Community excavations have been taking place annually at Woking Palace
since 2009. By popular request this is a repeat of the talk given in March and
will focus on the exciting new information to emerge in 2014. This includes
the discovery of the palace well, an industrial area, new medieval buildings,
and the exploration of the huge Tudor kitchen.
Tickets are free - but booking is essential
Book your place now by
e-mail to or by phoning 07722 299026

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Visit to the Muslim Burial Ground

36 members of the Woking History Society plus 2 from the Send and Ripley History Society visited the Muslim Burial Ground on Horsell Common for a very interesting tour and talk by Elizabeth Cuttle (from the Horsell Common Preservation Society). This was followed by a visit to the Barrows with a talk by Richard Savage.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A visit to the Muslim Burial Ground and Barrows on Horsell Common.

Monday 6th July.  Please meet at the Muslim Burial Ground at 7.30. (members only)

Renovation of this site is almost complete, and it will be well worth a visit. For more information go to

The Muslim Burial Ground is on the east (Woking-bound) side of Monument Road, which leads from the Six Crossroads to Maybury.  There is one barrow on the same side, near the office building by the canal.  The other barrows are on the other side of the road on the common.

There are two car parks nearby.    The first is the Britannia Wharf overflow car park (GU21  5LW) just by the canal bridge on the MBG side and, in spite of the Private Notice, users of the common are allowed to park there; office workers are unlikely to be parking there at 7.30 pm.    There are about 15 places.

The second car park is HCPS's one on the other side of the road nearer the Six Crossroads roundabout and there are 20 spaces including 2 reserved for the disabled and there may be cars parked there.

There is no charge for the visit but it would be useful to have some idea of numbers, so please contact us on

Woking Palace 2015 Excavations - BOOKING NOW OPEN!

This year’s excavations will run from Wednesday 9th September until Friday 25th
September, excluding Mondays and Tuesdays. A special open day will be held on
Sunday 27th September from 11am when guided tours of the excavations will run
until 4pm.
Booking for the excavation is essential and places fill up fast, but no booking is
required for the open day. This is the last year we will be excavating Woking Palace,
so make sure you don't miss it!
For more information and a booking form please visit:

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Surrey in the Civil War

Laurence Spring will talk on Surrey in the Civil War on Monday June 1st at 8pm at the Holiday Inn, Woking. Members free, guests £3.

Digging The Trenches: The Archaeology of the Western Front

Saturday 11th July
2.30pm - 3.30pm
Surrey History Centre

This talk by Andy Robertshaw, linked to the book of the same name, examines the ways in which archaeology can inform the understanding and interpretation of the Great war. The presentation uses a number of case studies to explore how the remains of soldiers found during excavation can be identified after being missing in action for nearly 100 years.
Tickets £5

To book visit:
Please book online, in person at Surrey History Centre or in any Surrey Library,
or phone 01483 518737.

The Lushingtons and Their Circle

The Lushingtons and Their Circle

Monday 6 July 2015
Refreshments from 6.30pm, event 7pm - 9pm

A talk by Dr David Taylor FSA based on his work researching and cataloguing
the archive of the Lushington family of Ockham and Cobham.
This extremely important archive provides insights into the lives of numerous
well known figures from the Victorian period as well as wonderful snapshots
of life in Surrey and London in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Join David for this free talk which will follow the Surrey History Trust AGM.
To reserve a place please contact the Trust using the details below.

Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road,
Woking, Surrey, GU21 6ND
Tel: 01483 518737

Friday, 8 May 2015

Woking Palace Open Days

Just a reminder that the next open days are Saturday and Sunday May 16th and
17th from 11 am until 5 pm with last tour of the site at 4pm. The days will include
Medieval and Tudor Musical instrument playing by Jez Smith and Marian Malcher
will be coming with her displays about Bees and Honey.There will be other local
history displays plus archaeology displays from previous digs. Walking tours to the
palace will also run from Old Woking at 2pm. We are also planning to have some
children's activities.
Anyone wishing to help by volunteering on those two days please contact Jean
Follett on 01483 768685 or

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Surrey in the Civil War

Laurence Spring will talk about Surrey in the Civil War on Monday June 1st at the Holiday Inn, Woking at 8pm. Free to members of the Society, guests £3.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Surrey Maps and Family History

Carole Garrard will talk about Surrey Maps and Family History on Monday 13th April 2015 at the Holiday Inn, Woking. Talks start at 8pm.  Free for Society members, guests £3.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Surrey History Centre

Surrey in the Age of Magna Carta

  • An exciting day of talks exploring the significance of Magna Carta and the history of Surrey in the thirteenth century
  • Saturday 9 May 2015 9.30am - 4.30pm
  • At Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6ND
  • Tickets £15 includes tea and coffee
  • Please Book Online, in person at Surrey History Centre or in any Surrey Library, or phone 01483 518737
9.45 – 10.45am Professor Nigel Saul
Magna Carta and English history
  • Nigel Saul is Professor of Medieval History at Royal Holloway, University of London and a member of the Magna Carta 800 Committee. His many books include Richard II (1997) and Death, Art, and Memory in Medieval England: The Cobham Family and their Monuments 1300-1500 (2001).
10.45 - 11.45am Rob Poulton
A Landscape Transformed: Surrey in the Thirteenth Century
  • Rob Poulton is Senior Archaeological Adviser to Surrey County Archaeological Unit and has published widely on the archaeology of medieval Surrey including the sites of Chertsey Abbey and Guildford Castle. He is currently excavating the 12th century moated manor of Woking Palace.
12.00 - 1.00pm Dr David Stone
The Economy and Society of the Runnymede Region in the age of Magna Carta
  • David Stone was the first joint Oxbridge Research Fellow and has published widely on the medieval economy and society, his first book being Decision-Making in Medieval Agriculture (2005). He is currently editing the medieval Esher manorial accounts for publication by Surrey Record Society in 2016
1.45 - 2.45pm Dr Naomi Sykes, University of Nottingham
People and Other Animals in the Age of Magna Carta
  • Naomi Sykes is Associate Professor of Zooarchaeology, Nottingham University. Her publications include Beastly Questions:Animal Answers to Archaeological Issues (2014) and The Norman Conquest: A Zooarchaeological Perspective (2007).
3.00 - 4.00pm Professor David Carpenter, King’s College, University of London
Magna Carta in the reign of Henry III (1216-1272): did it make a difference?
  • David Carpenter is Professor of Medieval History, King’s College, University of London. He has written extensively on 13th century British history, his books including The Minority of Henry III (1990). His major new edition and commentary on Magna Carta has just been published by Penguin Classics.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Lady Margaret Beaufort

Peter Smee will be talking about Lady Margaret Beaufort at the Holiday Inn, Woking on Monday March 2nd at 8pm. Free for members, guests £3.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Atherstone Cup 2014

WHS President Richard Christophers receiving the Atherstone Cup from Chairman Jan Mihell for his part in the production of 'Old Woking, a History through Documents'.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Monday February 2nd 2015

Judy Hill will talk to us about 'the role of the Workhouse in the early nineteenth century: care or punishment?'

All meetings in 2015 will be held at the Holiday Inn, Woking.
Meetings start at 8pm. Members are free, visitors always welcome for a fee of £3.

Mystery Member

Could the member who was given Membership card No 17 at the AGM in December please let  the treasurer know who you are.