Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Conference Suite, Breckland Council, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, Norfolk, NR19 1EE

No. Item



To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2021.



The minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2021 were confirmed as an accurate record.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Councillors Bushell, Eagle and Richmond and Andrew Smith and Keith 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 1 MB

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


The Curator of Kings Lynn and Thetford Museums, Oliver Bone presented the report on activities at the Ancient House, Museum of Thetford Life covering the period from November 2021 to February 2022. He said that it felt really good for the Museum to be open and receiving visitors again after the long period of closure. He stated that all Norfolk Museums Service (NMS) had been closed and were now, on re-opening, offering a cautious approach with a focus on keeping staff and visitors safe through minimising the risk of transmission.


Building works at the former King’s Head public house, a listed building next door to the Ancient House remained covered in scaffolding following the involvement of both Breckland District Council and the Health and Safety Executive. Repairs to the roof had been carried out in January 2022 and the scaffolding in front of the museum had now been removed, although the King’s Head scaffolding still remained.


The museum had marked the 150th birth anniversary of Princess Catherine Duleep Singh, who had previously lived at Elveden Hall, with an exhibition in the hall of the Ancient House. Princess Catherine was the second daughter of the Maharajah Duleep Singh, the last Sikh ruler of the kingdom of the Punjab. The exhibition contained pop up graphics and artefacts on display, telling her story and featured a newly commissioned portrait of Princess Catherine by a leading contemporary artist Amandeep Singh, also known as Inkqusitive.


In March 2022, the television programme, the Antiques Road Trip would be visiting Ancient House to film Peter Bance at the Museum to talk about Princess Catherine. Mr Bone said that when television programmes had previously visited, when the programme aired it increased the visitor numbers shortly afterwards and looked forward to this happening as a result of the filming having taken place at Ancient House.


The main current exhibition was related to the Thetford Treasure, a hoard of gold and silver that had been found on the outskirts of Thetford in 1979. The British Museum had loaned items to the Ancient House for this display and had agreed to an extension until 2 May 2022 to allow more people to see the exhibition which included gold jewellery and inscribed and decorated silver spoons. The NMS were grateful to the Trustees of the British Museum for the loan of the Thetford Treasure. Also on display was a hoard of roman glass objects that had been painstakingly pieced together by conservator colleagues which came from the Hockwold Hoard of glass, pewter and copper alloy finds from the roman temple site. This display would continue until July.


Ancient House continued to be a part of the National Lottery-funded Brecks River and Fen Edge landscape project. They were currently working on a Vikings exhibition involving members of the Teenage History Group in choosing and curating artefacts and themes for display. It was hoped this would give a feel of early medieval Britain on the eve of the Vikings attacks that took place  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/21


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 229 KB

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

Additional documents:


Dr Robin Hanley, Assistant Head of Norfolk Museums Service, presented the report on activities for Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse that covered the period from November 2021 to January 2022. He explained that although the reporting period covered a period when the museum was closed to the general public, there had been lots of activity.


Dr Hanley thanked all museum staff across the region for working hard and responding creatively to work around museum closures and restrictions due to the pandemic. He felt that staff had been very imaginative and had been particularly inspired to develop a broad range of digital resources to support audiences, including resources for children and families and that the digital engagement had invited a significant expansion of social media activity.


The museum continued to put staff and visitors’ safety as a priority and some guidance and infrastructure remained in place such as recommendations for the wearing of face masks, hand sanitizers and air circulation. It had been difficult, due to the age of the building, to ensure air circulation as there were no mechanical air systems in place so they were reliant on opening windows and doors which was not ideal due to the effect on the environment and security. The NMS had just taken receipt of some CO2 monitors across the service which would help manage spaces and assist in enabling volunteers to return to the museums. They were working closely with colleagues in the Norfolk County Council’s Health and Safety Team around the thresholds and HSE guidance and information on how to read the monitors, and what action to take would be posted by the monitors to tell staff how to react to the warning signs.


As the site had been closed to the public during this reporting period, traditionally this was when any work was carried out across the museum and time was used for planning and preparation of events across the period ready for the re-opening of the museum. Gressenhall had organised several leisure learning short courses throughout the year. For this reporting period this included only one event which was an Apple Tree Pruning workshop for which tickets had been sold at full capacity.


The events programme for the 2022 season had been developed with events and exhibitions scheduled. The first event of the year would be an open season trail commencing on the day of opening which would be Monday, 14 March 2022, and would run for three weeks.


Dr Hanley stated that there was an interesting exhibition planned for the summer called Georgie Meadows: Stitched Drawings a touring exhibition curated by the Welcome Collection, which would open mid-May and run until the end of the 2022 season. The exhibition collated together twenty textile artworks that explored personal experiences of ageing and dementia. Plans for an accompanying learning and events programme were being developed which it was hoped would include intergenerational work, a collaborative artwork and a series of talks. In addition, the previous season’s exhibition More in Commons would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/21


Update on the Gressenhall Environmental Hub Project

To receive a presentation from Jenny Caynes, NMS Project Officer and Robin Hanley, Assistant Head of Museums.


Dr Hanley and Jenny Caynes, Project Officer, NMS gave a presentation on the Gressenhall Environmental Hub.


Dr Hanley explained that the Environmental Hub would be a chance for Gressenhall to really be a focal point to help communicate some of the environmental messages to a wider audience and support some of the priorities. The Hub would:


·         Communicate Norfolk County Council’s Environment Policy, which addressed Gressenhall’s response to climate change

·         Promote engagement in NCC priority projects, such as 1 Million Trees for Norfolk

·         Make space for creative collaboration and learning

·         Provide flexible, useable spaces for NCC and partner colleagues for learning and sharing


The Environmental Hub was funded through the Norfolk County Council Capital Programme and would work closely with the NCC Environmental Team.


The Hub would be located in the South Wing at Gressenhall, previously home to the Historic Environment Team and the rooms were being reconfigured to create a large communal flexible teaching space, a location for ‘messy’ demonstrations and a meeting room. They had received guidance from Andrew Gayton, the Historical Buildings Officer from Breckland Council and none of the works being done were invasive.


New technology would be installed in one of the rooms to allow flexibility for meetings, learning and presentations and the rooms would be available to be booked by others such as community groups and schools. The project included new accessible improvements to the building and the pathway access would be extended to provide level, easier access for all.


The Gressenhall Community Tree Nursery would also form part of the Environmental project. The works at the tree nursery was being funded separately by DEFRA and this also funded a dedicated Trees Outside Woodland Project officer on Union Farm who had recruited a team of 12 volunteers who had been meeting weekly since Autumn and had been preparing beds and gathering seeds.


One of the key aims of the project would be Learning & Engagement and a dedicated Learning Officer, Ben Earle had been appointed in late 2021 who had been working on engagement with HE students, three onsite workshops were in development and there had been an outreach programme pilot with two local primary schools.


It was hoped that the large-scale events at Gressenhall would allow the Environmental Hub to really engage with visitors. Public engagement days planned so far:


·         Dereham Day – Saturday 14 May 22

·         Bee Day – 22 May 22

·         Open Farm Sunday – 12tJune 22

·         Heritage Open Day – 11 September 22

·         Apple Day – 16 October 22

·         Continued engagement with Norfolk schools


Special Event Days such as Apple Day, also provided the opportunity to invite partner organisations such as the Wendling Beck Environment Project to share information on their projects. The Wendling Beck is a tributary of the River Wensum which runs from south to north covering an area of 2000 acres. This would be a large-scale project working along with farmers and landowners on the regeneration of farming land to improve water and soil quality, including habitat  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8/21


Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Monday 20 June 2022 at 10am, venue to be confirmed.


The arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Monday, 20 June 2022 were noted. Venue to be confirmed.