Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Marquee, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum, Fakenham Road, Gressenhall, Dereham, NR20 4DR

No. Item



To elect a Chairman for the ensuing year.



RESOLVED that Councillor Kybird be appointed as Chairman for the ensuing year.



To elect a Vice-Chairman for the ensuing year.



RESOLVED that Councillor Duigan be appointed as Vice-Chairman for the ensuing year.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 477 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2021.


The minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2021 were confirmed as an accurate record.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Councillors Bowes, Eagle and Harvey and Mr Blackburn, Mr Rhodes and Mr Robinson.


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.




Declaration of Interests

The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011.  Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.





Ancient House Museum Report pdf icon PDF 419 KB

To receive a report from Oliver Bone, Curator of Ancient House Museum.


Dr Robin Hanley, Assistant Head of Museums for Norfolk Museums Service (NMS), explained that all NMS museums had closed to visitors on 19 March 2020 as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic with the majority of staff working remotely since this time.


Dr Hanley stated that, after a long period of absence Museums had managed well during the gradual re-opening and transitional period with different infrastructure in place for different venues. It had been important to ensure staff could work in a safe way and feel confident procedures were in place to do so. General visits and school visits had been severely impacted over the closure period, however, he felt that the Museums had re-acted quickly and adapted extremely well to the changes, with teams being incredibly creative taking the opportunities available and using digital technology to produce high quality learning, particularly for schools. It was hoped to maintain the digital resources to improve services offered to both schools and public and on-line learning and that the museums had also seen a significant increase in staff skills.


Following the long period of closure, the Ancient House reopened to the public on 22 June 2021. The Curator of Kings Lynn and Thetford Museums, Oliver Bone thanked everyone involved for all of their help and assistance in getting the Museum re-opened safely. Full safety measures had been put in place with a focus on keeping staff and visitors safe through minimising the risk of transmission, including hand sanitising facilities, additional ventilation and clearly signed routes.


Along with the implementation of additional cleaning measures, part of the preparation work had included full cleaning of the site which had been worsened by the building works being undertaken on the listed building next door at the former King’s Head public house, causing damp and dust. Oliver said that he continued to work with Andrew Gayton, Breckland Council’s Historic Building Officer and the Health and Safety Executive to try and mitigate any damage to the museum.


Prince Frederick Duleep Singh gave the Ancient House to the Borough of Thetford on 3 September 1921 as a charity. The trustee of the charity was Breckland Council. The museum was maintained and operated as part of the NMS through the Norfolk Joint Museum’s agreement. Maintenance of the museum was undertaken by Norse through the total Facilities Management (TFM) agreement. The TFM manager liaises with the Breckland Council’s Historic Building’s officer on the care of this grade one listed building.


Feasibility work continued for creating new displays at Ancient House to make more of the unusual connections between the Museum and the Maharajah Duleep Singh and his family, especially his son Prince Frederick Duleep Singh. There was currently a target date of 2024 for this work, which links to the 100th anniversary of the opening of the museum. New displays at Ancient House would complement the plans for interpretation at Thetford Guildhall with Thetford Town Council.


Although no longer a requirement, it was recommended that visits could be pre-booked using  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16/21


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 744 KB

To receive a report from Andrew Smith, Operations Manager – West.


The Operations Manager for East and West, Andrew Smith, presented the report that covered the period from January 2021 to August 2021. He stated that they had been fortunate to be able to open as an outdoor only attraction in April. This enabled staff to offer visitors pre-booked tickets to access the farm, adventure playground and site grounds including the centenary wood, apple orchard and riverside walks. The café had been able to offer take-away refreshments and full toilet facilities were available. Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum was able to fully reopen on 17 May 21 with the majority of indoor spaces available to visitors.


In terms of the COVID-19 procedures and systems that remain in place across NMS sites, the priorities remain:


·         ventilation – maintaining existing ventilation arrangements to maximise fresh air flow including supplementary air purifiers at relevant sites

·         cleaning regimes – maintaining enhanced cleaning arrangements including toilets and regular touch points

·         hand sanitisation – maintaining existing sanitiser stations and encourage regular hand sanitisation/hand washing. Additional hand sanitiser stations had been introduced where required e.g. near interactive displays


Digital activity had played a very important part during the pandemic and NMS staff had developed a broad range of digital resources to support audiences, including resources for children and families.  This included a significant expansion of social media activity and resources continued to be made available for those in digital poverty or without ready access to digital content.


The reopening of museum sites during 2020 and 2021 followed the implementation of strict COVID-19 safety procedures that were reviewed and signed-off by the NCC Health & Safety and Wellbeing team. Reopening also took place in accordance with sector-specific guidance issued by the National Museums Directors Council and in liaison with the English Civic Museums Network. Enhanced staffing levels ensured that visitors could be provided with the necessary level of support and advice with refresher training provided for staff in advance of the reopening of the site.


From April 2021 the events programme was re-established with the following:


·         Special Event Days – major events which required full event staffing and set up. For 2021, these were: Heritage Open Day & Apple Day.

·         Days with a Difference – smaller themed events including Fun for all the Family

·         Norfolk School Holiday activities – extra themed activities delivered each day of the Norfolk School holidays

·         Ticketed Events – pre-booked and pre-paid events. For 2021 these included Outdoor Theatre, Bat Walk and Victorian Family Christmas

·         Several leisure learning short courses throughout the year organised by Gressenhall to include a workshop for children due to be held on 28 October 2021.

·         In addition to the above, Gressenhall had also offered standalone activities on weekend days to help drive visitor numbers during the summer. Activities included Art attack crafting along with Demonstration Sunday sessions throughout the school holiday period. There had also been a flypast of a spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on the bank holiday Monday in August.


During this period there had been a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17/21


Next Meeting

To agree a date for the next meeting, suggested date Monday 22nd November 2021.


The arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Monday 22 November at 10am were noted. Venue to be confirmed nearer the time.