Honeywood Lodge is my local museum at home in Greater London and, as such, it holds a special place in my heritage heart. That said my first visit wasn’t until 2014 following the shameful trend that the closest things are often the least likely to be visited. To this day I’ve never been to Whitehall in Cheam, despite the fact I went to school there for seven (long) years. Yet I’ve visited museums on the other side of the world, odd really.
I’m aware Carshalton might seem like quite a niche market, but Honeywood Lodge is situated next to the really lovely Carshalton Ponds. The Ponds, regardless of the traffic, are rather charming once you’ve dodged around the over-enthusiastic duck feeders and that one swan with a really mean look in its eye. Perhaps the location is especially appealing because it is so unexpected in Zone 5; a hop, skip and a jump away from the slightly less charming Hackbridge. A product of the late nineteenth century, the surrounding area to Honeywood Lodge appears relatively unchanged since then. Carshalton folk are also proud of their, probably alleged, connection to Anne Boleyn and there’s a lovely carved statue opposite Honeywood which is worth a spot.
It’s a local museum, paid for by the local authority, run by local people for local people. That’s a lot of local to be contending with, even as a local, but I think it more than adds to the charm of this eclectic and homey building. You can also find a gift shop, a cafe, and a friendly vibe which no doubt brings back repeat visitors.
In terms of the set-up, downstairs houses a couple of recently refurbished rooms such as the Billiards Room, where you can have a go at the famous game. Upstairs, is considerably more diverse. It’s a space used for displaying both local history and the history of the house. The first room focusses on the River Wandle which sources Carshalton Ponds and its impact on local life. Here you’ll find possibly my favourite exhibit of all time- Terence the Trout, the Amazing Talking Fish. Terence is a sarcastic, proud and incredibly grumpy trout who likes to discuss his qualms living in a river polluted by local dyers. I hope he stays forever.
There are also opportunities for children and adults to play traditional turn of the century games. Although, from experience, I advise waiting until there aren’t any children around before trying this. The same goes for the house model which you can build to show the different phases of its history. It’s quite embarrassing when an eight-year-old is queuing to use something you’re having serious trouble completing. Just a thought.
The last section of the house centred on local history through old photographs which compared the then to now. Whilst this is more interesting if you know the local places, it’s a good way to chart social changes over the last century. There are also some dressing-up opportunities, see advice above.
I hope I’ve convinced you that Honeywood Lodge is well worth the free entry and hour out of your day. Conveniently, Carshalton Fireworks are this Saturday, so if you’re remembering the 5th November, why not make a day of it and head into Honeywood Lodge too? I know I would.