Agenda and minutes

Venue: Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse, Gressenhall

No. Item



To elect a Chairman of the Committee for the ensuing year.


Mr P Duigan was elected as Chairman for the forthcoming year.




To elect a Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the ensuing year.


Mr M Kiddle-Morris was elected as Vice-Chairman for the forthcoming year.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 4 February 2011.


The minutes of the meeting held on 4 February 2011 were agreed as a correct record.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Cllr D Irving, Cllr C Jordan, Mr D Blackburn, Mr Oliver Bone, Ms V Trevelyan, and Cllr J Bracey.



Chairman's Announcements


The Chairman welcomed Cllr Carl Clark onto the committee and also welcomed Cllr R Richmond and Cllr W Richmond to the meeting.



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 Interest

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests which they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.


Mr M Kiddle-Morris and Mrs C Walters declared a personal interest in the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse report by virtue of being Friends of the Museum.



Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life pdf icon PDF 195 KB

Report presented by Melissa Hawker, Learning Officer.


Melissa Hawker presented the report which covered the period from January to May 2011.


The Young Volunteers at the Ancient House were the winners of the 2010 East of England regional award for Museum Learning.  The Volunteers were aged between 16 – 24 and were very excited to be going to London to receive the award.


During March, Ancient House had been involved in two art projects.  The first focussed on creating a portrait of Thetford over a 24 hour period.  Images could be viewed on the website


The second was called the Thetford Travelling Menagerie and was run by a team of Canadian artists called DodoLab.  The artists used animals that had lived in Thetford over the past to explore what local residents thought of Thetford today.  As part of this, the Museums knitting group created knitted versions of the animals which were used in window displays during the project.


The museum worked with the Youth Inclusion Support Panel to create a film exploring the life and death of Boudicca and created a CSI-style film.  This had been shown to an audience of friends and relatives and had been really well attended.  Discussions were taking place about this film being included in Thetford Festival later this year.


Thetford’s painting collection, illustrated in Norfolk’s catalogue of Oil Paintings in Public Ownership, would be shown in a documentary to be screened on 26 June on BBC1 at 6pm. 

The documentary looked at the portrait collection and the connections with Prince Frederick Duleep Singh and his family.

Filming took place at Ancient House and other locations in and around Thetford, and included time at Gressenhall where some of the paintings were on display in the public board room.


As well as the oil paintings collected by Prince Frederick, there was an extensive collection of works on paper, mainly prints.  Work was being undertaken to add this collection to a computerised catalogue.


The Stitch in Time sewing group based at Ancient House was fully engaged in their interpretation of the portrait of Lady Littlebury of the 1600’s.  The group visited Oxburgh Hall to view embroideries there, and were progressing well with their bench cushion.


The Extended Schools History Club met each Wednesday during term time, and this term they had been looking at historic food.  They had seen a range of food cooked from the Roman times through to the 1980s microwave chocolate cake.  Staff and parents had been invited to attend a meal which had been well attended.


Friends of the museum had agreed to continue to support the museum’s history club and uphold the programme of social events.  Mr Robin Hanley had recently done a talk on the Seahenge display.


The Committee was informed that Ancient House would be hosting the WWII exhibition on local secrets and stories.  It was looking to hold a wartime tea and cakes day on the 26th June.


School visits had increased compared to 2010 figures which was encouraging. 


The Chairman asked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Report of the Western Area Manager.


Mr Hanley presented the report which covered the period from January to May 2011.


Gressenhall opened on 13 March 2011.


Copies of the site leaflets and events programme were circulated to the Committee.  Mr Hanley explained that the new style booklet worked well and two versions had been printed to market test which leaflet worked with the public.


There was a busy event programme scheduled for 2011, with Big event days and smaller themed days called ‘Days with a difference’.  These would be farm-based days following the farming year.


The smaller themed days this used a smaller complement of staff therefore reducing costs.  The events during 2011 would cost less than those held in 2010.


The first event had been held on Sunday 3rd April which included demonstrations of heavy horses working in the fields.  The day attracted 625 visitors, an increase from the previous year.


The first big event was the Easter Fair which took place on Monday 25th April.  This featured the traditional Easter Bonnet procession, and a range of craft and food stalls.  There had been a reduced number of visitors from the previous year.


The May Day celebration event had been held on Sunday 1 May and was a new ‘Day with a Difference’ event for 2011.  This coincided with the Royal Wedding so children had been encouraged to make King and Queen garlands.  A procession had been held together with may-pole dancing; 653 people attended which was encouraging.


The main History Fair took place on Sunday 29 May.  In the past this had been held on the Bank Holiday Monday, but this year it was held on the Sunday as a trial basis in order to reduce costs.  There had been large number of stalls manned by local history societies, museums and other related organisations.  The event also included costumed characters and members of the Norfolk and Norwich medieval Association.


Gressenhall boasted a lively events programme and included:

  • Sunday 19th June Day with a Difference - Father’s Day, promoting big boy’s toys.
  • Friday 8th July – Day to Remember – event for 55+
  • 28th and 29th August - Village at War event.


Public attendances were being closely monitored at all events, and were expected to grow in numbers during the school holidays.


Final work was taking place on the Women’s Land Army Gallery which was scheduled to open at the end of June.


The Board Room had been re-displayed and featured some of the oil paintings from Thetford and Norwich collections.  The Thetford collections had been the subject of a BBC programme, as mentioned earlier.

The improved Board Room was being increasingly hired out for meetings, providing the museum with additional income.


Carbon reduction works funded by Norfolk County Council’s Carbon Energy Reduction Fund had now seen the replacement of most gallery display lighting with low LED units, therefore providing a reduction in energy costs.

A Biomass boiler had been installed which would provide heating to the office wings.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Next Meeting

To agree a date for the next meeting.


The next meeting would be held on Friday 14th October at 2 pm in Thetford.  Venue to be confirmed.