A range of people have contributed to the unique heritage of the Tillingbourne Valley…from the early millers of Doomsday to the historians and archaeologists who still study them today!
Discover more about the everyday lives of other workers and estate owners in the valley.
Listen to the stories of the residents living today along the Tillingbourne and share their memories in the videos in the interactive map above.
As part of the project’s outreach programme, volunteers representing the villages in the Tillingbourne Valley have been undertaking research into their local mills, exploring their function, history and social significance. In particular, each village has been researching the life of one historical figure who represents its chosen main industry. For example, a corn miller has been selected for Shalford, a gunpowder worker for Chilworth, a weaver for Shere, a tanner for Gomshall, etc.
By being supplemented with social history of the time (what they ate, how they dressed, what village life was like at that time, etc), these histories are able to be crafted into ‘character tales’. By employing both a professional storyteller and local artist, each character is transformed into a caricature figure, and later puppet, who will visit the local schools and events in the region, telling their tale up and down the valley.
The character tales are one of the key ways to engage with the general public and with family groups. However, they also play a key role in representing what life, and industrial work in particular, would have been like during their respective period. The variety of occupations and range of periods represented, from the 16th right up to the mid-20th century, provide an eclectic insight into English modern history.
Just as the individuality of today’s villages along the Tillingbourne should not be overlooked, neither should one generalize about what a mill was like in the industrial age – discover more about the different industries which are represented along the valley, and hear the characters draw out the Tillingbourne’s unique character by listening to the tales they have to tell.