Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Beech Room, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum, Gressenhall, Beetley, Norfolk, NR20 4DR

No. Item



To elect a Chairman for the ensuing year.


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



To elect a Vice-Chairman for the ensuing year.


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


Minutes pdf icon PDF 164 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 20 February 2023.


The minutes of the meeting held on 20 February 2023 were confirmed as an accurate record.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Councillors Eagle and Monument.


Chairman's Announcements


The Chairman announced that he had recently attended Hampton Court for a blue plaque unveiling for the Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, the daughter of the last Maharajah of the Punjab and goddaughter to Queen Victoria. Princess Sophia had been commemorated with a blue plaque by English Heritage.


The plaque would mark Faraday House, which had been granted to Princess Sophia and her sisters as a grace and favour apartment in Hampton Court by Queen Victoria. Princess Sophia had historical links with the Ancient House Museum in Thetford and had been a great campaigner for women’s suffrage.


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 2 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. Many of the systems and procedures implemented across all NMS sites during the pandemic remained in place, with a focus on keeping staff and visitors safe through minimising the risk of infection. Sites continued to provide some directional signage and hand sanitiser stations remained in place. The pre-booking of tickets were no longer a requirement but remained an option. Site capacity limits were now largely at pre-pandemic levels.


To facilitate increased levels of use of museum spaces by visitors, staff and volunteers, CO2 monitors provided through Norfolk County Council (NCC) were operating in a number of spaces across the NMS where there was more limited natural/mechanical ventilation. These CO2 detectors continued to be monitored locally by staff using these spaces and also linked into the LoRaWAN network, facilitating the use of monitoring dashboards to track live data and trends. The use of CO2 monitors had enabled a number of spaces to be brought back into use by staff and volunteers and increased capacity for schools and other visitors. This efficient means of monitoring continued to ensure minimal risk of transmitting COVID and enabled maximum use of facilities whenever possible.


Volunteering had recommenced across NMS sites, supported by the NMS volunteer Coordinator and in line with NCC practice at office hubs, NMS had implemented NCC Smarter Working and Hybrid Working principles across teams.


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 February 2023 to April 2023.


Building works at the former King’s Head pub, a listed building next door to the Ancient House, had caused some disruption to the museum operation since work started in late autumn 2020. The King’s Head still remained shrouded in scaffolding and corrugated iron. When it rained, water had leaked into the Ancient House building, although the builders had been working on trying to stop this and divert water away from the building. It remained an eyesore in the street and blocked the pavement and it was not a good impression for visitors and possibly discouraged some visitors from using the museum.


The committee noted its’ concerns over the time being taken over the building works next door and the possible damage and distress it was causing to the Ancient House Museum building whilst detracting possible visitors and income to the museum.


The museum’s Vikings, History on Your Doorstep exhibition opened to the public on 16 July 2022. Museum staff had worked with the team at Brecks Fen Edge & Rivers Landscape Partnership (BFER) and Dr Richard Hoggett to curate the exhibition. The project had involved members of the Teenage History Group in choosing artefacts and themes for display as ‘community curators’. The exhibition included material from the 8th century high status site at Staunch Meadow, Brandon, the Viking Burial finds from Santon, on loan from the British Museum  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16/22


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 822 KB

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


The Operations Manager West, Andrew Smith presented the report which covered the period from February to May 2023.


The Gressenhall events programme continued to run four operational models. These were reviewed at the end of each calendar year to assess visitor attendance and feedback.


The four operational models included:


          Special Event days – major events which required full event staffing and set up, including the use of the large parking fields. A premium ticket price applied for these event days to reflect the high level of activities taking place. Free admission continued to be provided to Norfolk Museums Pass holders and Friends of Gressenhall members. Special Event days this season included Open Farm Sunday – 11 June, with further event days planned with Heritage Open Day – 10 September and Apple Day – 15 October.


          Days with a Difference – smaller themed events. These required smaller staffing and utilised core parking. They were aimed at attracting audiences of 500-800 visitors and were free to Norfolk Museums Pass holders and Friends of Gressenhall members. Gressenhall hosted two Days with a Difference this spring, with a third on the May bank holiday Monday - Cracking Compost! showcasing how people could reduce what they threw away.


·         Norfolk School Holiday activities – additional themed activities delivered each day of the Norfolk School holidays, with minimal increase in staffing. Free to Norfolk Museums Pass holders and Friends of Gressenhall members. The Easter holidays ran from 1-17 April and the event programme focused on Sensational Spring! An early-years accessible activity sheet that led families through the museum and down to the farm to engage with the rare breed animals. The site also trialled a ‘peak of the week’ approach with enhanced activities running on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.


          Ticketed Events – pre-booked and pre-paid events. These events, held outside of standard opening hours or out of the main season, offer a reduced charge to Norfolk Museums Pass holders. The first ticketed event this year had been a Banner Making workshop with Rebecca Strickson on the 12 April and 11 participants had booked for this.


For Mothers’ Day this year, mums had received a free treat from the Mardlers’ Rest Café and visitors could discover the true stories of parents from Gressenhall’s workhouse past. This event had coincided with the first weekend of the National Lottery Heritage Fund ‘Thanks to you’ campaign of free entry tickets with proof of purchase of a lottery ticket or scratch card, which ran from 18 to 26 March 2023.


NMS staff led tours continued this year and there would also be seasonally specific walks, talks and tours in partnership with the Environment Hub and external partners. The ‘Victorian Family Christmas’ day at Gressenhall was scheduled for 17 December 2023.


The Gressenhall events programme continued to be communicated via social media, Art Tickets and the Gressenhall website with its new Events Calendar. Promotion of events in print had been a new leaflet produced by the communications and Marketing team  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17/22


Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Monday, 11 September 2023, venue to be confirmed.


The arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Monday, 11 September 2023 in The Beech Room, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum, Fakenham Road, Gressenhall, NR20 4DR, were noted.