Agenda and minutes

Venue: Swaffham Town Council Chamber, Town Hall, 4 London Street, Swaffham, PE37 7DQ

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 16 October 2015.


The minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2014 were confirmed as a correct record, subject to noting that Mr David Blackburn was not from the Charles Burrell Museum (Minute ref: 19/14).



To receive apologies for absence.




It was noted that Councillor Canham and Councillor Hebborn were not in attendance.


Chairman's Announcements





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.


The Chairman asked the Western Area Manager to update Members on the restructure of the Norfolk Museum Service.


Dr Robin Hanley said the restructure had taken place due to a change in funding from Norfolk County Council and the Arts Council Funding.


As a result Dr Robin Hanley had been appointed as the Head of Operations and Learning which now had a County wide remit and this would be effective from April 2015.



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 339 KB

Report of Curator, Ancient House.


Mr Oliver Bone presented the report which covered the period from October 2014 to January 2015.


The current exhibition at the Museum was ‘Thetford and the First World War’ and it had been well received.


David Osborne had launched his latest book ‘A Small Fragment of the Great War: The Ancient Borough of Thetford 1914-1919’.  Guests were invited to Ancient House and a large number of books were sold.  All proceeds from the sales had been donated to the Thetford Remembers project and the Museum thanked the author for his generosity.


The Museum’s Teenage History Club held a World War One themed event in December in the guise of a Murder Mystery Event.  Guests heard clues from the characters to attempt to unravel the puzzle of who killed George Pye.  The Teenagers gave a very professional performance and had learned much about Thetford in the First World War.


Ancient House was part of the Thetford Christmas Lights switch on, and saw over 220 visitors into the Museum.


The period between October to January saw over 120 school children achieving special edition First World War Arts Awards. 


In December 2014, the Museum celebrated its 90th Anniversary with a Dinner at the Carnegie Rooms.  The event saw the launch of a project to make more of the Museum’s unique Duleep Singh connections.


The Learning Officer, Melissa Hawker had attended several conferences, including the Kids in Museums conference at Kensington Palace where she spoke about Thetford’s mini-museum club.


Ancient House hosted the first SHARE training day which involved delegates from a variety of museums sharing knowledge on ‘making museum trails’. The event went really well.


The Teenage History Club from Ancient House had the opportunity to take over Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Twitter feed for the day. They were also able to work with the Curator of Gressenhall and looked at plans for the redisplay of the workhouse.


Mr Oliver Bone introduced Dr Keith Robinson, the new Chairman of the Friends of Ancient House.  He had a keen interest in the flint collection and paintings.


The visitor numbers were circulated and showed that the October to January figures were higher than the previous year, but this was down to the free admission to the museum during that time.  Free admission would no longer apply next year and would possibly affect visitor numbers over the same period next year.


Councillor Spencer raised concerns over the admission charges and asked if special discounts would apply to schools. 


Mr Bone reassured Members that the school admission arrangements would remain the same.


The Chairman asked for more information on the certificate the young people received on World War One.  Mr Bone said that the award scheme was accredited by Trinity College London, and provided a programme focusing on study at various levels.


Councillor Humphrey said that the book by David Osborne seemed really interesting but asked why the Museum was the sole outlet for this and asked if it could be available at other outlets.


Mr  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Report of Western Area Manager.


Dr Robin Hanley presented the report which covered the period from October 2014 to January 2015, and noted that although the Museum had only opened for the February Half-Term in 2015 it had already seen strong visitor numbers.


Dr Hanley distributed the new leaflet which had been produced that provided details of all events that would be held during the 2015 season.  This included special events and Days with a Difference, and the Museum looked forward to a strong year despite the re-development work going on.


The final event of the 2014 season had been Apple Day which had seen over 3000 visitors to the event.  Positive feedback had been received and it had been encouraging to see the new Kettles Lodge being used to its full potential.


Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse was pleased to see that visitor numbers had increased to 18,866 to the events programme alone and were pleased to see numbers had increased over the years.


The temporary exhibition running during the 2015 season would commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Institute in Norfolk.  Both the exhibition and the accompanying events programme were being developed in partnership with Members of the WI.


Gressenhall continued to run a strong events programme with the addition of three new Days with a Difference.  These were Gressenhall goes Wild, The Wedding Fair and Summer Story Festival.


A modest additional charge for visitors attending the Main Event days would be applied during the 2015 season, however, this would not affect those with Museum Passes or Friends of the Museum.


The Voices from the Workhouse project was well underway with painters, decorators and electricians currently working on Phase 1 of the project.  Display areas had been cleared which already gave a different feel to the Workhouse.  It was hoped that works would be completed by the end of March, and the Museum would be opened as planned, even though many areas would be empty.  In the summer new displays would be introduced and projections would be tested with visitors before the final stage at the end of the season.  All match funding had been secured and the Museum had been successful with their Round 2 Heritage Grant Application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).  The HLF were very happy with the start of the project and would continue to hold project meetings with Gressenhall to monitor progress.


Gressenhall had been nominated as a finalist at the 2014 Norfolk Tourism Awards which was very pleasing considering the museum was on the cusp of major re-development.


The Museum continued to maintain its strong social networking presence with active and growing profiles on Twitter and Facebook.  Stakeholders and funders also used this facility so it was important that this was maintained.


Gressenhall continued to actively look at commercial activities and had just launched a new bespoke wedding packing, following the licensing of the former Workhouse Chapel and Boardroom for Civil ceremonies.  The hosting of the Wedding Fair in July would raise awareness  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Review of the Collection at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse pdf icon PDF 33 KB

Report by the Head of Norfolk Museum Service.

Additional documents:


Dr Hanley reported that the collection was the latest in a series of an ongoing review of collections at Gressenhall and recommended the de-accessioning of a group of social history items that were in poor condition, were duplicated or outside the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Collections Development Policy.


The Chairman asked where Taylors were from and Dr Hanley confirmed the Taylors were based in Kings Lynn.


Mr Blackburn asked if there were any significant changes to the policy from what Members had seen before.  Dr Hanley explained that a thorough review of the Collections Policy had been undertaken as part of the accreditation process and the Members could be reassured that disposing of materials was done in an ethical way.


Dr Robinson asked if this would provide additional space for the Gressenhall Museum. Dr Hanley said that whilst space had been increased due to the items being de-accessioned, the principle was ensuring the collection was maintained to a high standard.


Resolved to recommend to the Joint Museum and Archaeology Committee that the objects listed in Annex 2 of Agenda Item 8 be de-accessioned.



Next Meeting

To agree a date for the next meeting.


It was agreed that the next meeting would be scheduled following the Annual General Meeting of the Council.


It was noted that the meeting would be Councillor Spencer’s last meeting as she would not be standing for the next election.  The Chairman thanked her for the work she had put into the Breckland Area Museums Committee.