Agenda and minutes

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

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 161 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 14 September 2021.


The minutes of the meeting held on 14 September 2021 were confirmed as an accurate record.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Councillors Bushell, Harvey, Richmond and Jermy and Mr Blackburn.


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 977 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 through determination and a lot of hard work, all sites across the Norfolk Museums Service had been re-opened however a number of sites were now closing as normal for the winter season. He said that he was pleased to see the level of demand and interest from schools which he felt was a reflection that the schools had confidence in the precautions put in place to ensure that health and safety was paramount.


Dr Hanley stated that although in recent times there had been no legal restrictions in place within the museums, there had been advisory measures which the NMS had taken very seriously to ensure staff could be confident that they were able to work in a safe environment. Therefore, across the region the NMS worked closely with Norfolk County Council Health and Safety teams and had advised all staff, wherever possible, to wear face coverings, be respectful of distancing and to have frequent stations for hand sanitisation available throughout the venues. Dr Hanley stated that they were still working through challenges and as a priority were looking at rolling out CO2 monitors which he felt would be an effective way of measuring air quality more accurately, assess particular areas and monitor key spaces in the long term. Dr Hanley felt that the NMS were likely to see ongoing restrictions across the winter period and that all staff were working really had to enable this.


The curator of Kings Lynn and Thetford Museums, Oliver Bone, stated that after a long period of closure caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Ancient House had reopened to the public on 22 June 2021 after full safety measures had been put in place. He explained it had been very difficult, due to the small spaces within the museum, but they had managed to work out a system with a protective screen installed at the museum reception, hand sanitisation, clearly marked routes and staff had been trained in safe systems of working in order to operate the museum safely. Visits could be pre-booked on the Art Tickets website and to accommodate social distancing, site capacity had been reduced. The ability to have volunteers back was currently suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions, but they continued to look at different ways of working, including looking at post card cataloguing to see if the collections could have digital versions available. It was hoped that indoor volunteering would begin to recommence across NMS sites during the New Year.


Building works at the former King’s Head public house, a listed building next door to the Ancient House Museum had caused disruption to the museum last winter. The King’s Head still remained covered in scaffolding following the involvement of Breckland District Council and the Health and Safety Executive. The NMS was working with Andrew Gayton, Breckland Council Historic Buildings Officer, who had advised on the repairs needed.


The current exhibition at Ancient House in the Changing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24/21


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 689 KB

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

Additional documents:


The Operations Manager for East and West, Andrew Smith presented the report that covered the period up to October 2021. He stated that, following the government announcement that indoor museums could legally reopen from 17 May 2021, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum fully re-opened at that point, but that there had also been a small window of opportunity prior to this where outdoor areas could be re-opened under Step 2 and Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse managed to re-open outdoors on the 12 April 21 for outdoor spaces only. The site closed at the end of October and would remain closed until 14 March 2022 when they hoped to re-open again for the season in time for the Easter holidays. He confirmed that the annual Victorian Christmas would not go ahead this year, due to ventilation issues and the close proximity of visitors.


Throughout the period of the pandemic, NMS staff had developed a broad range of digital resources to support audiences, including resources for children and families. Digital engagement included a significant expansion of social media activity. Resources continued to be made available for those in digital poverty or without ready access to digital content. The range of NMS activity during lockdown was being captured in the weekly Museums Mardle staff e-newsletter, and he reminded members of the committee that they could be added to the distribution list on request.


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse had been able to recommence their events programme since April 2021. The programme offered a broad range of events based around four operational models:


·         Special Event days – major events which required full event staffing and set up, including the use of large parking fields. Free admission continued to be provided to Norfolk Museums Pass holders. For this period the activities included Heritage Open Day (1,420 visitors – the largest number of visitors since the beginning of Covid-19 which had received great feedback for the day) and Apple Day (1,740 visitors – this was very much a fun day with lots of physical involvement). Activities on Apple Day included a display of heritage apple varieties, herding geese, traditional skilled crafts and demonstrations, food, drink and craft sellers, musical entertainment from a keel band and Morris dancers along with family fun activities, including storytelling, chainsaw carving and a sheep dog demonstration. During Apple Day visitors had been capped, the site was busy, but they had received positive feedback on how the day had been organised and that visitors felt safe.

·         Days with a Difference – smaller themed events which required smaller staffing and utilised core parking and aimed at attracting 500-800 visitors. In this reporting period, no events of this type took place.

·         Norfolk School Holiday activities – extra themed activities delivered each day of the Norfolk School holidays. For this period, it had included Fairies and Elves in the October half term (1,733 visitors over 9 days)

·         Ticketed Events – pre-booked and pre-paid events. These events, held outside of standard opening hours or out of the main season, offered  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25/21


Next Meeting

To agree a date for the next meeting, suggested date Monday 28 February 2022.


The arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Monday 28 February 2022 were noted. Venue to be confirmed.