Activities for Kids



Craft Courses

Group Visits

Venue Hire



Rustics Volunteers

Visiting Us

Contact Us

Useful Links

Facebook Twitter Youtube

Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2014


Smudgers was built on Box Hill in Surrey in the 1920s as a holiday chalet. Along with its neighbours, it had a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside and must have been a wonderful place to spend a holiday.
As time went by, not only did expectations change, but people wanted different experiences from their holidays. The chalet was not needed for its original purpose, but became a permanent home.

In 2008 the chalet was donated to the museum by John and Kate Keown. After problems getting grants to support the cost, it was April 2009 before it arrived at the museum. In order to remove it and bring it to Tilford, we had to be brutal and cut the building in two. Once this was done, all the parts and contents were brought to the museum and we set about restoring it to something close to its original state. The rebuilding work by Dorothea Restorations Ltd cost nearly £6,000 which was partly funded by the Surrey Historic Buildings Trust, leaving us looking for other donations to cover the remaining amount of over £5,000. Ongoing maintenance of the building would be done by the museum volunteers, at no cost.
Work was completed in August 2011

The chalet was named after a previous eccentric owner, Mrs "Smudgers" Smith, who apparently used to sleep in a hammock on the open verandah during hot summer nights! We believe that, after her handyman husband died, she did not trust workmen to do any maintenance work and enrolled for woodworking classes, which might explain the vast assortment of jam jars full of nails and screws and various woodworking tools found in the shed!

The chalet was probably originally a "flat-pack" manufactured by Silvermist at Strood Green nearby. As time went by, repairs and modernisation were needed. These were carried out by Arthur Landgrebe, who occupied Smudgers - he rebuilt the verandah, added a second front door, and joists to help correct the floor slope. The butler's sink was his installation, as was the fireplace. Arthur replaced all of the original, rotten wooden windows with reclaimed metal ones, lined the cabin inside and fitted shelves, wired up the electricity, and fitted a Calor gas stove. His daughters made the Smudgers sign by setting some concrete in a long oval fruit bowl found at the property and "carving" the letters just before the concrete set!

In order to bring the building from Box Hill to the RLC, it was cut into two pieces, to be joined later. Now on a proper concrete foundation at the Rural Life Centre, both halves joined, restored and maintained to as near the original condition as we could manage, Smudgers is another of the buildings 'rescued' by the museum for our visitors to see. Many of the somewhat quirky additions to the original building are preserved – you will find the leaded glass windows, the lens set into the wall and many other things that make Smudgers so very interesting!

Smudgers on Box Hill, overgrown with vegetation Smudgers on Box Hill The concrete name sign made by Arthur's daughters Cut in half for transport Rebuilding Smudgers at the RLC Smudgers at the RLC