Haslemere Educational Museum
Culture & Learning Since 1888
About Us

Haslemere Museum

Situated in Southwest Surrey near the Hampshire and West Sussex borders. With over 240,000 Natural History specimens, along with over 140,000 Human History artefacts from around the World.

There are three large permanent galleries and two temporary exhibition rooms, with a library, archive and a dedicated education room for people of all ages.

The grounds cover an area of over 15,000 sq metres, with a large pond and gazebo, an observation beehive and a tree trail that follows the Museum's boundary through an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. National Trust land is nearby for long or short walks in the countryside.

Haslemere Museum Mission Statement

'To forward and advance the study of Science, Literature and the Fine Arts by means of a well-equipped museum of Natural History and objects of art and of a scientific, literary and historical nature.' Sir Jonathan Hutchinson FRS.

Haslemere Museum Board of Trustees


    Bernard Coe, President Emeritus, Haslemere Educational Museum

    Bernard was raised in Essex and did his National Service with the Royal Artillery in Hong Kong. He then attended Cambridge reading Geography and playing soccer (at Wembley) and cricket. On leaving university he joined an oil company and had a stimulating career travelling and working around the world. His experiences, inter alia, included failed coups in Venezuela and the Biafran Civil War. His last position was Chairman of Shells operations in Thailand where he was also chairman of the foreign Chambers of Commerce. He was made a commander of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant by the King of Thailand. On retiring from Shell, he went into the City where he was Chairman of several small companies and was made a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society in 2000. He joined the Board of Trustees at Haslemere Museum in 1994 and has subsequently served as President and is now President Emeritus.


    Melanie Odell MBE, Chairman, Haslemere Educational Museum

    Melanie Odell came to Haslemere as a baby and has lived and worked in the area ever since, apart from her years spent training as a nurse at Guy's Hospital in London. After her training she returned to be married and work locally, latterly as the district nurse. Whilst bringing up her children she started a table top company from her kitchen maintaining and processing computer data. As the four children grew up the business flourished and two computer companies were run from Haslemere town centre. Her interest in the community increased and involvement with the Chamber of Trade and the Haslemere Initiative led to helping to organise literary weekends and founding the loyalty card, Haslemere Rewards. Joining the Town Council in 2000 she was honoured to be Mayor three times. In addition to her involvement with the Haslemere Museum, she now chairs Haslemere Events which delivers the Food Festival, Christmas Market and Charter Fair and was awarded an MBE for services to Haslemere in 2012.


    Jane Clayton, Trustee, Haslemere Educational Museum

    As a great granddaughter of the founder, Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, I follow my aunt, Margaret Hutchinson, and my cousin, Elizabeth Dick, as a member of the Board. I am very interested and involved in all aspects of the Museum, but my particular area of responsibility is for the Volunteers; I visit the Museum weekly to talk to the Volunteers, as well as to supply them with milk and biscuits! I also organise the Museum's fundraising Plant Sale every spring. I am retired from a career as an English teacher, and I have recently gained a PhD in medieval literature, from the University of Surrey.


    Clive Reay, Trustee, Haslemere Educational Museum

    Clive Reay is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. He spent his working career in both national and international firms of accountants and business advisers, most recently as a partner with Deloitte LLP in London where he was involved in a wide range of assignments. His clients ranged from private family businesses to multi-national corporations. Clive has lived in Haslemere and the surrounding area for over 40 years. He is a past Chairman of Haslemere and District Round Table and Haslemere 41 Club and was a director and treasurer of Haslemere Tennis Club for many years. He is currently a member of Hindhead Golf Club.


    Sir Jim Rose C.B.E., F.R.S.A., DLL., DE. and Trustee, Haslemere Educational Museum

    Sir Jim Rose was the head teacher of two large inner city schools before his appointment as Her Majesty's Inspector (HMI) for Education. He became Chief Inspector for Primary Education (3 to13), followed by HMI Director of Inspection for the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED). Since retiring from OFSTED, at the behest of Government, he has led several independent reviews, including: the internationally acclaimed Teaching of Early Reading, the Primary Curriculum, and the Teaching of Children with Reading Difficulties, such as dyslexia. He has advised several overseas governments on school inspection and has considerable international experience of education systems having undertaken assignments for the World Bank and for the British Council. He is President of the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER), and President of the Education Development Trust (formerly CfBT).


    Richard Sabin, Trustee, Haslemere Educational Museum

    Richard Sabin has been Collections Trustee at Haslemere Educational Museum since 2018. Richard also works full-time as Principal Curator of Mammals in the Department of Life Sciences at the Natural History Museum (NHM), London, where he has worked since 1992. With his activities primarily focused on the study of marine mammals using the Natural History Museum's world-class research collections, Richard is collaborating with colleagues from around the world to generate new scientific data from old Museum specimens.

    Caring passionately for his curatorial work, Richard is part of a team of curators who manage, preserve and develop the NHM's Mammals collection. Richard was scientific lead for the redisplay of 'Hope', the NHM's iconic blue whale specimen, spending time in the Pacific to study blue whale feeding behaviour, and translating his observations into the dramatic lunge-feeding pose Hope's skeleton now displays in the NHM's Hintze Hall. Richard was also scientific lead for the recent NHM temporary exhibition 'Whales: Beneath the Surface' (2017-18), which explored the origins, adaptations, behaviour and culture of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises). He has published scientific papers in a wide variety of key journals and has written books and chapters in edited works for non-specialist audiences.

    He is committed to public engagement and as well as providing regular talks and tours, Richard has worked extensively with the media, giving interviews and making programmes with the BBC (including Museum of Life, Horizon: Dippy and the Whale, Natural Histories and Natural History Heroes) and Channel 5 (Natural History Museum: World of Wonders). He is currently using Museum specimens to explore genetic diversity of the blue whale, historical contaminants and stress levels in baleen whales using wax earplugs and sperm whale population structure using teeth. He supports wildlife conservation, UK and international law enforcement through his endangered species identification work and is NHM advisor to the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme.

    He works closely with the arts and humanities to bring new perspectives and meanings to natural history collections and is dedicated to expanding and diversifying museum audiences.

Please click on the trustees name to find out more about them.

Honorary Officers

  • Sue Porter - Honorary Secretary
  • Keith Clayton - Honorary Treasurer

Honorary Vice Presidents

  • Christopher Ashton-Jones
  • Sarah Bain BEM

The History of the Museum

In the late Victorian era Sir Jonathan Hutchinson collected a number of botanical, geological and social history curiosities from around the world and in 1888 founded a small private museum in his garden in Inval for the local people of Haslemere. He established a revolutionary new role for museums by emphasising the importance of education for everyone. He encouraged the open display of artefacts and believed that people could learn as much through their hands as their eyes. This was in great contrast to other museums, which at the time had their cases sealed and display "Do Not Touch" signs in the galleries. Later he created a museum exam for the local children and hoped this would encourage observation, reading and discussions.

Sir Jonathan Hutchinson
Sir Jonathan Hutchinson (1828 – 1913)
(Knighted 1908)

Sir Jonathan Hutchinson was a famous Quaker surgeon. He was a successful and respected member of the medical profession. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, he was President of the Hunterian Society, the Pathological Society and the Ophthalmological Society as well as Professor of Surgery and Pathology in the Royal College of Surgeons.

His study was of the whole of medicine and he established an enormous and well earned reputation as a teacher.

Throughout the early years of the Museum Hutchinson gave regular lessons and practical demonstrations using his unique collection of artefacts and in just a few years became so popular he had to move to larger premises nearer the centre of Haslemere. In 1897 he appointed the museum's first curator, Mr E. W. Swanton, who was responsible for much of the Museum's character and introduced living specimens into the Museum.

In 1926 the Museum moved to its current location on the High Street and received the European Folk Art collection of the Peasant Arts Museum which had also been located in the town. The Museum became a place of local scientific research with residential field courses. It grew into an important centre for adult education and offered a school loan service from 1951, enabling schools to borrow duplicates from the collection. This practice continues today.

Today Haslemere Educational Museum is one of the largest Museums in central southern England with over 240,000 Natural History specimens, along with over 140,000 Human History artefacts from around the world. There are three large permanent galleries for Geology, Natural History and Human History artefacts, also with two temporary exhibition rooms, a library and a dedicated education room for people of all ages.

Educating People Since 1888

The Museum is independent and relies on the financial support of visitors and members. This Museum was made possible because of Museum Founder Sir Jonathan Hutchinson and Eminent Victorian Geologist Sir Archibald Geikie.