Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Beech Room, Environmental Hub, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum, Gressenhall, Beetley, Dereham, NR20 4DR

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 168 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 5 September 2022.


The minutes of the meeting held on 5 September 2022 were confirmed as a true record.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Councillors Bushell, Eagle and Harvey.


Chairman's Announcements


The Chairman reminded the Committee that Dr Hanley had previously offered members a tour of Norwich Castle as part of the Royal Palace Reborn project and to visit behind the hoardings to see the changes that had been made whilst the castle had been under refurbishment since summer 2020.


The project would transform the Keep’s internal spaces by rebuilding its medieval floors and rooms so that visitors could experience a Norman Royal Palace and its stories. A major funding provider had been the National Lottery Heritage Fund and this refurbishment was one of the largest heritage projects of its kind currently underway in the UK.


Dr Hanley suggested a date of 21 March 2023, at 11:30am, for the visit, which would take approximately one and a half hours and send information would be sent to the clerk for further distribution to Committee members.


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.


Dr Robin Hanley, Assistant Head of Museums for Norfolk Museums Service (NMS), provided members with a Covid-19 update on the situation across all NMS sites.


A number of the COVID-secure and infection control procedures implemented across NMS sites remained in place with a focus on keeping staff and visitors safe by minimising the risk of transmission of both COVID and other seasonal infections. Hand sanitisers were still being provided throughout and enhanced cleaning arrangements remained in place whilst a focus remained on providing well ventilated spaces throughout.


CO2 monitors, provided by Norfolk County Council (NCC), were operating in a number of key spaces, across NMS where there was more limited natural/mechanical ventilation, supplemented by air purifiers where necessary whilst continuing to maintain existing ventilation arrangements to maximise fresh air flow. The CO2 monitors, monitored locally by staff, had proved an effective means of monitoring air flow providing room alerts to highlight peaks with set procedures in place to counteract the peaks for example, opening doors and windows and reducing the number of visitors into the spaces. This efficient means of monitoring continued to ensure minimal risk of transmitting COVID and enabled maximum use of facilities whenever possible.


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 August 2022 to January 2023.  Building works at the former King’s Head public house, a listed building next door to the Ancient House, had caused some disruption to the Museum’s operation since work had begun in late autumn 2020. The King’s Head still remained covered in scaffolding following the involvement of Breckland Council and the Health and Safety Executive. It was understood that work was now about to start again, this time on the conversion of the listed building into three houses. Planning permission and Listed Building consent for the revised development had been granted in 2022. A site meeting with the developer, builder, architect, and officers from NMS, Norse and Breckland Council took place on 31 January 2023 to plan the next steps of the build.


The Viking exhibition continued to be well received by visitors specifically attending the museum for that reason. The Museum staff had worked with the Breck Fen Edge & Rivers Landscape Partnership and Dr Richard Hoggett to curate the exhibition which had also involved members of the Teenage History Group in choosing artefacts and themes for display. The Ancient House was part of the Lottery-funded Brecks River and Fen Edge (BFER) landscape project. The Scheme won a £2m National Lottery Heritage Fund grant as part of the proposal for a £3.5m landscape conservation scheme. The Ancient House was receiving funding as a partner organisation to produce exhibitions and activities in 2022 and 2023 on the themes of Vikings and Riverside Heritage.


Following agreement at the June 2022 Area Museums Committee and the Joint Museums committee in July 2022, the team at the Ancient House had continued to work on developing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/23


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 688 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 September 2022 to January 2023.


The Gressenhall events programme ran four operational models which were reviewed at the end of each calendar year to assess visitor attendance and feedback. These models were: Special Event Days, Holiday Activities, Ticketed Events and Norfolk School Holiday Activities.


The Heritage Open day, as part of the Special Event Days, had been particularly popular with over two thousand attendees. The National Heritage Open Day theme in 2022 had been Innovation and at Gressenhall they had been joined by partners from the Norwich and Dereham Club of Metal Detectorists in the marquee showcasing finds and demonstrating their tools. The site also welcomed two additional working pairs of Suffolk Punch horses for the day, including a foal, for ploughing, cart work and display.


Apple Day in October had been immensely popular again and very busy with  entertainment including a band and Morris dancers. There had also been prize giving on the best apple costumes and a comfy zone had been provided in the Chapel with a range of books loaned from the Norfolk Library Service. The farm had hosted oat harvest steam threshing, face painting and a special recipe station. The Environment Hub had been highlighted by stalls on the farm, with visitors challenged to consider what farms of the future might look like by constructing their own farm from recyclable materials which had proved extremely popular with 130 future farms made. It had been featured by BBC Look East and on BBC Radio Norfolk which had been an extra level of advertising for Gressenhall and over £150 had been raised for the Mid Norfolk Foodbank.


October half term saw an average of over 180 visitors per day, peaking at 290 visitors mid-week. Events had included tractor trail rides and lantern making craft activity in the Chapel.


Ticketed events, which were pre-booked and pre-paid events held outside of standard opening hours or out of the main season had included a Murder Mystery, Willow Christmas Decorations, apple pruning and a Victorian Family Christmas where Father Christmas had arrived in the Panhard Car. Visitors attending the event on 19 December would also have seen Radio Norfolk’s Kayleigh Poacher and team who had broadcast their entire show live from the Museum that day.


Gressenhall had organised several leisure learning short courses throughout the year in 2022 and were hoping to expand the short courses in 2023.


SENsational Families/Nansa hosted a focus group of families at Gressenhall in October in partnership with EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute; they were looking at developing a treasure hunt activity  with input and expertise from the families they work with. The proposal, including external funding was for an additional sensory activity to be made available alongside the stamper trail activity at Gressenhall, to build on the site’s existing engagement and support for visitors with SEND. This would be trialled over the Easter school holidays.


The 2023 Gressenhall events programme  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/23


Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Monday, 5 June 2023, venue to be confirmed.


The arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Monday, 5 June 2023 at 10am in the Beech Room, at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum were noted.