Celebrating 100 years at Box Hill

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Latest update 30.07.2014 15:33

Box Hill is one of the most cherished landmarks in the South East and this year we celebrate having looked after it for 100 years. People have flocked here over the years for some welcome leisure time, including some famous fictional characters like Jane Austen’s Emma.

Looking back over the years

In the mid 1800s Londoners were encouraged to escape the city smog and take day trips to Box Hill for air, exercise and wellbeing. As a result visitor numbers rocketed during the Victorian and Edwardian periods, with people enjoying the stunning scenery.

In 1912, 94 hectares of Box Hill were offered for sale on the open market. Leopold Salomons of nearby Norbury Park purchased the land for £16,000 and donated it to us in 1914. Since then further purchases, legacies and bequests have seen our land around Box Hill expand to some 490 hectares.

Still special today

Box Hill remains a special place for the same reasons as all those years ago. To mark the centenary the Salomons memorial at the Box Hill viewpoint is being refurbished and will be formally ‘reopened’ by Dame Helen Ghosh, the Director-General of the National Trust this September.

Another special anniversary

2014 also marks the 50th anniversary of the Friends of Box Hill. The group has commissioned a new film and displays, which will be open to the public in a marquee at the top of Box Hill on Saturday 13 September as part of Heritage Open Days. Other improvements include updates to the natural play trail, making it even better for families.

Lyn Richards, Chair of the Friends of Box Hill, said: 'The centenary feels like a moment to draw breath and reflect on Box Hill's remarkable history. We have spent 2 years drawing together an archive of photographs, postcards and memories and distilling the best of it to tell the story. Earlier in the year we held a Memories Day when over 50 people came, many with a special memory of Box Hill. If it wasn't for Leopold Salomons then Box Hill wouldn't be as we know it today. That's very significant and it's worth celebrating.'

How else are we celebrating?

Our team has put together a new leaflet has been created suggesting 100 adventures to have at Box Hill. These range from going on a moonlit walk, hugging a tree, having a family reunion at Box Hill, to standing on your head in memory of Major Peter Labelliere, who asked to be buried upside down on the hill because the world was topsy turvy. Why not give it a go?