Agenda and minutes

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

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 212 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 5 June 2023.


The minutes of the meeting held on 5 June 2023 were confirmed as an accurate record.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Councillors Eagle and Kiddle-Morris.


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 961 KB

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 May to July 2023.


A number of the COVID-secure systems and procedures implemented across the Norfolk Museums Service (NMS) sites during the pandemic remained in place to ensure both staff and visitors could enjoy the museums in as safe an environment as possible. CO2 monitors provided through Norfolk County Council (NCC) continued to operate in a number of spaces across NMS sites where there was more limited natural/mechanical ventilation. These were monitored locally by staff and also linked into the LoRaWAN network, facilitating the use of monitoring dashboards to track live data and trends.


The building works continued next door at the old Kings Head Public House, and it remained covered in scaffolding which had caused some disruption to the museum operation since the work began in autumn 2020. It was hoped that the scaffolding would be removed fairly soon.


The museum’s ‘Vikings, History on Your Doorstep’ exhibition ran from 16 July 2022 to 9 July 2023. The exhibition had 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, as well as a number of finds from the Thetford area from the Ancient House and NMS Norwich Castle collections. All exhibits had now been packed up and returned safely.


The Ancient House was a partner for the National Lottery Heritage Fund funded Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers (BFER) landscape project. The scheme had won a £2m Heritage Fund grant as part of the proposal for a £3.5m landscape conservation scheme. The project was engaged with local communities, schools and other organisations to understand, reveal celebrate and protect the lost heritage of the Brecks’ Fen Edge & Rivers over the next five years. The Ancient House Museum was receiving funding as a partner organization to produce exhibitions and activities on the themes of Vikings and Riverside Heritage.


During May half term, Ancient House ran a Vikings Family Event using funding from the BFER project, which had been well attended.


The current BFER project exhibition opened on 22 July 2023, titled ‘Made by the River’, which featured stories of making beer, malt, fertilizers, steam engines and pulp ware and also featured Thetford Coffee Mill, the town’s tannery and cannery.


Work continued on the development of a project focused on the Duleep Singh family at Ancient House. Following a period of consultation, work was underway to cost up the proposals to explore the stories associated with the family of the founding patron, Prince Frederick Duleep Singh. The museum team was aiming to integrate the story of the Duleep Singh’s more seamlessly into the museum displays and offer an exciting activities programme alongside the new exhibits.


Ancient House continued to offer a varied programme of school workshops and the Museums’ Learning officer, Melissa Hawker continued to build flexible and good working relationships  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/22


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 972 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 June to August 2023.


Covid-secure systems and procedures implemented across NMS sites during the pandemic remained in place for the safety of staff and visitors. On the Gressenhall main site, the CO2 monitors were located in the Library, Learning Centre, First Farmers Gallery, Women’s Land Army Gallery, Training Room, Board Room and in the Environment Hub in the Beech and Ash rooms. They were also in the Café, Chapel, Garden Room and Gift Shop. On the farm, monitors covered the Farmhouse, St Nicholas’ Barn, the Roots Building and the staff cabin. The CO2 detectors were monitored locally by staff, and also linked into the LoRaWAN network.


Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse continued to run four operational models with the events programme and these were reviewed at the end of each calendar year to assess visitor attendance and feedback. The four models included:


·         Special Event Days

·         Days with a Difference

·         Norfolk School Holiday activities

·         Ticketed Events


Special Event days were major events that required full event staffing and set up, including the large parking fields. A premium ticket price applied to these events to reflect the high level of activities that took place. Free admission continued to be provided to Norfolk Museums Pass holders and Friends of Gressenhall members. Special Event days this season consisted of Open Farm Sunday on 11 June 2023, Heritage Open Day on 10 September 2023 and Apple Day on 15 October.


Days with a Difference were smaller themed events which required a smaller of staff and only used core parking. They were aimed at attracting approximately five to eight hundred visitors.  These events also remained free for Norfolk Museums Pass holders and Friends of Gressenhall members. Retro Revival was an event held on Sunday 27 August 2023 and Horse Power (Heavy Horse Day) on 24 September 2023.


Norfolk School Holiday Activities held extra themed activities delivered each day throughout the school holidays with minimal increase in staffing and free to Norfolk Museums Pass holders and Friends of Gressenhall members. This summer Woodland Fun was the main holiday theme which ran from 22 July to 5 September 2023. Additional activities were Bug Hunting on Saturdays, Crackling Crafts on Sundays and Object Handling: From Axes to Acorns on weekdays. Other highlights included Nature Lab days and Woodland Wednesdays.


Ticketed Events were pre-booked and pre-paid events. These events were held outside of standard opening hours or out of the main season and offered a reduced charge to Norfolk Museums Pass holders. Visitor sessions were offered for Curatorial Object Conservation with the Gressenhall Curator on four dates in August whilst joining the Trees Outside Woodlands Project Officer to experience work in the Community Tree Nursery on the farm was bookable on two further days in August. Monday 21 August 2023 Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse hosted the annual evening Bat Walk with the full allocation of 30 tickets for this event sold out ahead of the event.


Gressenhall  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/22


Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Monday, 4 December 2023, The Beech Room, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum, Gressenhall, Beetley, Norfolk, NR20 4DR.


The arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Monday, 4 December 2023, in The Beech Room, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum, Gressenhall, Beetley, Norfolk, NR20 4DR, were noted.