Agenda and minutes

Venue: Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum, Gressenhall

Contact: Teresa Smith 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 67 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 11 March 2014.


The minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2014 were agreed and signed as a correct record.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Councillors Hebborn, Kiddle-Morris and Smyth, and Mr Steve Miller, Head of Museums Service.



Chairman's Announcements


The Chairman congratulated Councillor Robert Kybird on his appointment as the Chairman of Breckland Council.


The Chairman welcomed Councillor James Joyce and Councillor Brenda Canham to the meeting.  He also welcomed Emily Shepperson who was based at Ancient House as part of the teaching apprenticeship.


The Chairman congratulated Jamie Everitt, who received a national award from the Collections Trust as Collection Manager of the Year.  Two teaching trainees were also shortlisted for the Young Collections Manager of the year and attended the event.



Urgent Business

To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item as urgent business, pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act, 1972.





Declaration of Interests

Members are no longer required to declare personal or prejudicial interests but are to declare any new Disclosable Pecuniary Interests that are not currently included in the Register of Interests. Members are reminded that under the Code of Conduct they are not to participate and must leave the room, for the whole of an agenda item to which they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest. 


In the interests of transparency, Members may also wish to declare any other interests they have in relation to an agenda item, that support the Nolan principles detailed within the Code of Conduct.





Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life pdf icon PDF 448 KB

Report of Curator, Ancient House.


Dr Oliver Bone presented the report which covered the period from February 2014 to May 2014.


The Lost Tudor sculptures exhibition completed its run at the end of March.  The project had succeeded in attracting National and International publicity, partly due to the partnership working with the University of Leicester and others.


The current exhibition at the Museum was ‘I love Toys and Games’ of which most of the items were loans from the public-spirited members of the local community.


The Heritage Lottery Fund had approved funding for the Thetfords' commemoration of the Great War of which a major event would be held on 4 August, the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war. 


On 24 May Ancient House hosted the national launch for Takeover Day in museums which saw the Teenage History Club running the museum for the day.  This included running a museum tour for invited guests and teenagers telling stories of Thetford’s past.


A variety of Family Learning events had been held during the school holidays in February, April and May and had been well attended.


Two members of staff had recently joined Ancient House.  Tabatha Runacres had commenced a Heritage Learning Traineeship as part of the Skills for Future project and Emily Shepperson as part of the teaching museum.


A housekeeping training day had been held on 19 May and resulted in trainees from the Teaching Museum and Skills for the Future learning about the vital importance of conservation cleaning.


Melissa Hawker was invited to speak at an Arts Award training event in Salford Museum.  Melissa talked about her experience delivering Arts Award in a museum setting and showed participants how to make an Art Form Spotter Wheel.


The Museum’s Duleep Singh connections continued to generate national and international interest.  Hardip Singh Kohli recorded at Ancient House part of a programme soon to be aired on BBC Radio 4.


The Friends Group continued to support the Museum through financial support and was under a new Chairman – Mr Michael Oakes.


The team of volunteers continued to develop through training opportunities provided to them and Dr Bone conveyed his thanks to them for their continued support.


The visitor figures were circulated which showed 2194 visitors to date.


Councillor Kybird said that the Teenage History Club was very complimentary of Melissa in that she not only supported them in the history of the Museum but also helped with presentation skills.


Mr Oakes said the Friends were growing in strength.  He asked if the relationship with the British Museum would allow Ancient House to borrow more artefacts.


Dr Bone said the British Museum had changed their approach recently and would be willing to share more materials.


The Chairman asked what the Museum had found out about Princess Sophia Duleep Singh a leading suffragette. 


Dr Bone informed the Committee that Princess Sophia was an interesting character and would feature in the World War One Exhibition where she had served as a nurse.


The Chairman thanked Dr Bone  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Independent Museums in Norfolk

To receive a verbal update from Jamie Everitt, Norfolk Museum Service, Norfolk Development Officer.


Mr Jamie Everitt, Norfolk Development Officer gave a presentation to Members on the Independent Museums in Norfolk.


Members were informed there were approximately 60-70 independent museums across Norfolk, 26 of which were accredited museums.


Within the Breckland District there were six independent museums, Litcham Village Museum; Charles Burrell and Dads Army Museum in Thetford; Mid-Norfolk Railway in Dereham; Bishop Bonners Cottage in Dereham and Swaffham Museum.


Mr Everitt explained his role as Museum Development Officer and the support he provided to the Independent Museums particularly with accreditation and funding advice.


Councillor Richmond noticed a gap in the map towards North West Norfolk and asked if Sandringham or Houghton Hall were part of the Independent Museums.


Mr Everitt confirmed that Sandringham was a museum but Houghton Hall was not at the moment.


Councillor Humphrey asked if there was a Norfolk wide rationalisation process of objects.


Mr Everitt informed the Committee that Norfolk Museum Service had a process for rationalisation of objects which would be followed by all Museums.


The Chairman thanked Mr Everitt for his presentation.  He suggested that for future Committee meetings a representative from an Independent Museum should be invited to share with Members about their Museum.



Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse pdf icon PDF 106 KB

Report of the Western Area Manager.


Mr Robin Hanley presented highlights from the report which covered the period between March to June 2014.


The Museum continued to deliver a broad range of events.  The format of the Main Event days and the Days with a Difference were well established and could be tailored so that each event ran efficiently.


Funding from Arts Council England continued to support the costs of delivering and marketing the Gressenhall event programme.  Norfolk Museum Service had been successful in renewing the application for 2015-18 funding.


Gressenhall were delighted to be hosting and working in partnership with Breckland District Council for the Festival on the Farm event scheduled for 26 July 2014.  


The Spring Fair event took place and featured a broad range of fun activities for families and saw guest heavy horses working on the farm.  This event used the new ticketing building which had been well received.


An event, ‘History Alive – The workhouse experience’ had been piloted and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the development work for Voices from the Workhouse project.


Gressenhall supported the national programme of Open Farm Sunday which included free admission into the farm and reduced admission to the remainder of the site.


Copies of a leaflet displaying summer holiday events was presented and Members were informed that these would be circulated to all primary and secondary schools in the Litcham and Dereham clusters.  It included a special offer voucher which could be tracked for future marketing purposes.


Two temporary exhibitions opened at Gressenhall.  Letters from the Workhouse ran from 9 March to 1 June and featured the extraordinary stitched letters created by an inmate of the Lunatic Ward at Great Yarmouth Workhouse.


The second exhibition had featured a range of collections and stories from heavy horse expert Ray Hubbard which would be displayed throughout the 2014 season.


The ‘Rediscover Gressenhall’ marketing campaign aimed to recruit repeat local visitors to the site.  The offer ran during April 2014 and saw a total of 639 vouchers which admitted a total of 2446 visitors, representing 20% of the total visitors during April 2014.


Gressenhall continued to maintain its strong social networking presence with active and growing profiles on Twitter and Facebook.  It had recently been awarded a 2014 Certificate of Excellence from the Trip Advisor website.


Keppel’s Lodge, the new traditional oak-framed building had been completed.  The building would be used for ticketing on major event days and had been first used for this purpose on Easter Bank Holiday Monday.


Gressenhall continued to develop a range of commercial activities as a means of generating new income.


Mr Hanley informed Members that Friends continued to support a range of activities across the site including the purchase of a new harness for the Suffolk Punch horses.


Members were informed that the BBC ‘The One Show’ had requested the Panhard car to appear on the programme at very short notice.  A team of volunteers had dealt with the demand and the car would be appearing on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Next Meeting

To agree a date for the next meeting.


The next meeting was scheduled for Thursday 16 October and would be held in Thetford.  Details would be confirmed to Members.