About Us

We are The Arts Society Walton and we were founded in 2002, as a member society of The Arts Society (previously the National Decorative and Fine Arts Society, NADFAS). Our objectives are the promotion and appreciation of the fine and decorative arts as described in our constitution (PDF format). With this in mind, we organise a programme of lectures, special interest days and visits for our members. The Arts Society Walton is part of the West Surrey Area Group. The eighteen groups in our area meet twice a year for mutual support, the exchange of ideas and for training new committee members. The committee are volunteers and organise all the activities of the branch. We are always on the look out for new committee members and for people to help with general activities. These include occasional help with making the tea after lectures and help with erecting the screen and preparing the audio visual equipment each month. Please go to the contact us page if you would like to help or the feedback page to send us a comment.

The Arts Society produces a magazine called ‘The Arts Society Review’ which is sent direct to the member’s home every quarter and provides news of activities nationally. There are now about 360 other societies mostly in Britain and there are also members in Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

In early 2009 we decided to introduce digital presentation into the lectures and at the same time introduced “Opening Screens” which start with house notices, such as fire exits and requests to switch off mobile phones and follows with full information about the day’s lecture, future lectures, Special Interest Days, Visits and Tours.  The whole presentation takes between 7 and 10 minutes and runs as a continuous loop for about an hour before the lecture starts.  We were delighted when “Opening Screens” were voted Highly Commended in the NADFAS Media Awards for 2009.

We were also pleased to receive the 2006 NADFAS Digital Award for this website which was designed by Laurence Shafe, one of our former chairmen.

Newsletters

We provide an annual newsletter that summarizes the previous year and discusses the year ahead. The newsletter is sent out with the annual membership card and lecture programme. Click on the following to view past newsletters, please note that they are all in PDF format and the free Adobe Reader must be installed first.

Lectures

We aim to provide a well balanced programme with 10 lectures a year. These are held in Hersham Village Hall on the second Thursday of the month at 2.30 pm. Our lectures are followed by a cup of tea for those who would like to stay.

Annual Programme and Events’ Calendar

Visits

The places we visit are normally within 60 miles because we like to leave just after the morning rush hour and return by 6pm. We take a coach and normally have lunch at the venue so there is of course a charge. Sometimes it’s appropriate to visit two places in one day. Those who come alone on the visit always end up getting to know other members.

We sell each visit at the previous two lectures and sometimes there is a cluster of people waiting for our Visits Secretary to ‘open shop’. We ask members to pay by cheque and to pay for a maximum of two people – so much simpler should someone have to drop out.

Those who have been on our visits have always returned full of enthusiasm and the decibel level on the return journey is always higher.

We have visited (click on the year to see the page):

2016 British Library and Welcome Collection
Kings Cross Regeneration
Borde Hill House and Garden
City Regeneration after the Fire of London
2015 World War I – Bearskin and Bosche
Hever Castle – House and Gardens
Stowe House and Gardens
Geoffrye Museum and William Morris Gallery
2014 Hatfield House & Gardens
Freemasons’ Lodge & Sir John Soane’s Museum
Hogarth’s House & Osterley Park and House
2013 Bletchley Park,
Uppark House and Garden,
London Walk around Spitalfields
2012 National Gallery, Leonardo: Painter at the Court of Milan,
The Olympic Site and the Docklands Museum of London,
Pallant House Gallery and Chichester Cathedral,
London Walk around Clarkenwell
2011 Chiswick House,
Guided tour of the Albert Hall and V&A Medieval and Renaissance Galleries,
Dover Castle,
Guided tour of Vintners’ Hall and Guildhall Art gallery
2010 National Gallery and Backstage Tour of the Coliseum,
Bowood House and Broadleas Garden,
Londinium and the Museum of London
2009 Greenwich National Maritime Museum and The Queen’s House,
Salisbury Cathedral & Wilton House,
Southwark Walk, Southwark Cathedral and The Globe Theatre
2008 The Terracotta Army and the British Museum’s China Galleries,
Waddesdon Manor,
Westminster Abbey and the Cabinet War Rooms
2007 Eugene Onegin opera at Richmond Theatre,
Foundling Hospital and Banqueting House,
Eltham Palace, a tour of ‘Legal London’ by Alan Read
2006 Walk round the Wren Churches,
Henry Moore Foundation,
Highgrove,
Government Art Collection and tea at the National Portrait Gallery
2005 Syon Park,
Finchcocks,
Extended tour to Tyntesfield and the West Country
2004 Brighton Pavilion and Bramber,
A Boat Excursion on the River Thames,
Winchester and the cathedral
2003 Somerset House,
Kelmscott Manor

Special Interest Days

As well as the monthly lecture, we arrange two or three other events per year. We call them Special Interest Days but sometimes you will see them referred to by long-standing members as Study Days. The idea is that we take a topic and spend much of the day thinking about it. These are held in the Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre in Walton and normally the lecturer will give three related lectures on that topic with coffee and lunch included in the price. Sometimes, the afternoon lecture has become a mini ‘roadshow’ and members have brought their own jewellery and antiques for appraisal and in our first year, our pieces of china were dated and valued.

We had Special Interest Days on the following topics (click on the year to see the page):

2016 Tribal Rugs, Treasures of the Black Tent
Dress at the Court of George II, George IV & Queen Victoria
Wonder Worker & The Art of Illusion
2015 Mary Alexander: New York, New York
Andy McConnell: Five Thousand Years of Glass
Jane Tapley: ‘Oh Yes It Is’ (History of pantomime)
2014 Clyde Binfield: From Ediwn Lutyen’s Everyday Surrey to Empire’s ‘Wrenaissance’
Edward Saunders: The Gardener & The Greenhouse: The Extraordinary Life of Sir Joseph Paxton
Diana Lloyd: The History of Stained Glass Seen Through the Christmas Story
2013 David Batty, A Day in the Life of the Antiques Roadshow,
Peter Darty, Art Deco and its Influence on Design,
Philip and Rosemary Banham, A Victorian Christmas through the Magic Lantern
2012 Frances Hughes and Adrian McLoughlin, ‘Curtain Up!’: The Life and Times of William Shakespeare,
Andrew Davies, The English Parish Church: A Social and Architectural History,
Hilary Hope Guise, The Ox and the Ass – Silent Watchers at the Crib
2011 Denis Moriarty, ‘Edward Elgar – Music and Architecture of The Three Choirs Festival’,
Edward Saunders, ‘Vienna and the Habsburgs’,
Clare Ford-Wille, ‘Pieter Breugel and his Heritage’
2010 Laura de Beden, ‘Landscape and Garden Design History Through the Ages’;
Jane Kelsall, ‘Pearls before Swine – The Story of a Royal Necklace’;
Elizabeth Gordon, ‘Vivaldi and Canaletto’.
2009 Sarah Lenton, ‘Opera, The Melting Pot of Culture’;
Ian Pickford of the Antiques Roadshow, ‘A Silver Day’;
Peter Medhurst, ‘We Three Kings’.
2008 Rosamund Bartlett – ‘The Psychology of a City: Architecture of St Petersburg’;
Andrew Davies – ‘From Shakespeare to the Royal Shakespeare Company’;
Claire Walsh – ‘A History of Christmas Shopping’.
2007 Dai Evans, ‘Collecting Antiques’;
Tom Duncan, ‘Windsor Castle’;
Ann Clements, ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’.
2006 Margaret Davis, ‘The Musée d’Orsay and French Impressionism’;
Peter Medhurst, ‘Mozart and his World’.
2005 Eric Shanes, ‘Art Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow’;
John Benjamin, ‘Jewellery through the Ages’.
2004 Nicholas Bagshawe, ‘A Day with a Picture Dealer’;
Barbara Peacock, ‘The Georgian Country House’.

Young Arts

The Arts Society encourages societies to support Young Arts as so little money is given to schools these days for art. The aim is to inspire young people with an enthusiasm for the arts. By 2005 we had built sufficient reserves to begin sponsoring a local school. Last year we supported the production of one panel of a forty panel tapestry commemorating the Centenary of the ‘No. 2 New Zealand General Hospital’ at Mount Felix in Walton-on-Thames where more than 27,000 soldiers were treated during WWI.

In summary we have now supported:

2017 Rydens Enterprise School – fabric distressing workshop at Warner Brothers Studios
2016 Rydens Enterprise School, Mount Felix Tapestry project
2015 Bell Farm School Welcome Mosaic
Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre, Art Bursaries and Christmas Exhibition
2014 Painshill Park, Outdoor Arts Learning Centre
2012 Heathside School
2011 St Charles Boromeo Primary School
2010 Groveland’s Primary School in Walton
2009 Ashley Church of England Primary School in Walton
2008 Burhill Infants School in Hersham
2007 Walton Leigh School in Walton
2006 The Pupil Referral Unit in Hersham
2005 Bell Farm School in Walton

Tours

  • 2017, The Historic Houses & Heritage of Yorkshire,
  • 2016, Walton & Hersham DFAS discovers the treasures of Dresden
  • 2015, Liverpool Tour
  • 2009, Tour of Scotland
  • 2008, Tuscany and Florence
  • 2007, St Petersburg

Saving Art for the Nation

We participate in the HMRC Gift Aid scheme through The Arts Society, which is a registered charity. Each year we pay an annual affiliation fee to The Arts Society with respect to each member and for those members that have completed a Gift Aid tax declaration form The Arts Society is able to reclaim a tax refund and it pays us a fee for acting as its agent and this money we donate each year to saving an art work selected by the Committee. Since starting the scheme the following donations have been made:

Year Art Work Amount  
2013/14 Van Dyck’s Self-portrait £200  
2012/13 Poussin’s “Extreme Unction” £200 Saved
2011/12 St Cuthbert’s Gospel £300 Saved
2010/11 “Procession to Calvary” £170 Saved
2009/10 Public Catalogue Foundation £168  
2009/10 “Help Tate to Buy Blake” £173  
2008/09 Joseph Wright, Portrait of Sir Richard Arkwright £172 Saved
2006/07 Turner, The Blue Rigi £529 Saved

Church Recording

It is an exciting and lengthy experience to thoroughly record a church. One thousand buildings have been recorded by The Arts Society volunteers nation-wide and the information in these records has been used by researchers, insurance companies and the police.

We are currently working on St. Paul’s Church, East Molesey, a Victorian church in the gothic style.

We have already recorded:

  • Chertsey Abbey

    Church of St. Peter at West Molesey

  • St Mary Magdalene at Littleton, Shepperton, which was founded in 1135 by the Benedictine monks of Chertsey Abbey and had a wealth of history for us to record.

Our Group meets twice a month from about 10am to 2pm; we work in pairs or more, recording the section we are involved with. The sections cover memorials, metalwork, stonework, woodwork, textiles, painting, library, windows and miscellaneous items. (This last is nobody’s favourite). We have guide books to help us and it’s amazing how quickly we can pick up the method. I think we all feel enriched after a session recording.

Each item of note is also photographed and the final record goes to the Church. Copies are held in the County Record Office, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Council for the Care of Churches and the National Monuments Record Centre.

Heritage Volunteers

In the past, volunteers have helped with cleaning the Tudor Kitchens and one was a Garden History guide at Hampton Court Palace. Currently we do not have any members working as volunteers outside the Society.

Data Protection Act

  • Member’s details will be processed fairly and lawfully and in accordance with the Society’s legitimate activities.
  • Members’ details will be disclosed to The Arts Society and to other Member Societies, Area or organisations affiliated to The Arts Society or the Society.
  • Members shall notify any change of address to the Society.
  • The Arts Society uses your details for the mailing of the The Arts Society Review and for no other purpose. The Arts Society does not share your details with third parties.