Agenda and minutes

Venue: Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum

Contact: Teresa Smith 

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 67 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 10 February 2012.


The minutes of the meeting held on 10 February 2012 were agreed as a correct record.




To receive apologies for absence.


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



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 Interest

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





Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life pdf icon PDF 208 KB

Report of the Curator, Ancient House.


Mr Oliver Bone presented the report which covered the period from February to May 2012.


A new exhibition opened at Ancient House called ‘Mapping the Town’, which told the story of Thetford using old maps, archaeological finds and handmade maps. Some featured local wildlife, local treasures and pubs and inns. 

The exhibition was opened by Cllr Barry Stone, Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for museums, and Neil Ackroyd, Director of Data collection from Ordnance Survey.


The previous exhibition on World War Two had seen an oral history recording of memories of the area which was available to read at the Wise Archive Website on:


During April, a window display was created by Dan Morgan, a volunteer for the Matthew Project.  The piece explored layers of Thetford history and positive, encouraging comments were received on the social media network, Facebook.


The Museum had been well visited by schools during 2011-2012 financial year, and welcomed 2400 pupils which had been a record for the museum.


Work continued as part of the Norfolk American connections project with the museums’ learning officer working with schools on the production of a touring exhibition which would be seen at libriaries, museums and other venues around Norfolk later in the year.


The museum club for younger children which met monthly was still a success and going very well.


The museum welcomed a visit from Satinder Sartaaj during April.


Ancient House staff had been assisting in research into a new book about Sophia Duleep Singh, daughter of the Maharajah and a leading suffragette.


A textile partnership between Ancient House and Gressenhall had been formed.  Fleece from a Gressenhall sheep had been prepared, and then spun and knitted into a hat and gloves by members of the Ancient House Knit and Knatter group. 


A team of volunteers and friends of the museum continued to provide generous support to the museum.  The talks programme by joint Friends and Museum staff had been a success.


The visitor numbers were circulated at the meeting, and members were informed that Ancient House museum was doing well with numbers increased from the previous year.


Cllr Brindle said that the film produced by the Young People was a great success and passed on his congratulations to the Museum for interacting with the children who found it very beneficial and informative.


The Chairman asked if the figures of school children were just of those in Norfolk, or included Suffolk.  Mr Bone informed the Committee that whilst he did not have an exact breakdown of figures, he could report that the numbers were mainly Norfolk, but that some were from villages in Suffolk, and they had received visits from Essex.


The Chairman thanked Mr Bone for his report.






Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Report by the Western Area Manager.


Mr Robin Hanley presented the report which covered the period from March to May 2012.


The Museum opened for the 2012 season on the 11 March.  Most of the activities had been dominated by the weather which had not been the best of seasons so far.  This had impacted on the number of visitors the museum had seen, however the staff and visitors continued to deliver.


The Spring Fair took place on Monday 9 April and featured a number of Easter-themed activities, including ploughing displays by the Suffolk punches.  Unfortunately the event was badly affected by the weather with heavy rain throughout the day which impacted on visitor numbers.


‘How does your Garden Grow’ event ran on 6 May which included a networking event organised by the Norfolk Master Gardeners.  The event was also impacted by the weather which saw a low number in attendance.


The Norfolk History Fair took place on Sunday 3 June.  This had a Diamond Jubilee theme and included a range of displays and activities.  The numbers were very disappointing as the weather affected the turnout.


Gressenhall would be hosting an event for Breckland District Council called ‘Festival on the Farm’ on Sunday 29 July.  There would be a host of activities based around arts, sports and the environment.  Breckland would be hiring the facilities of Gressenhall and it had been a pleasure working with the Officers at Breckland. 


A Fathers Day event was being held on Sunday 17 June.  This had been successful in the past and a range of activities would be available including vintage vehicles.


Other Days with a Difference had been organised such as Food Glorious Food and an Archaeology day.


Throughout the school holidays there would be additional marketing spend available in promoting the site.  Mr Hanley said that it could be a difficult year if the weather continued to be changeable.


The Rediscover Gressenhall event did not see the success it would have liked.  There was a 17 percent take-up on visitors using the vouchers.  It was likely the very poor weather in April suppressed take-up of the voucher scheme and would therefore be repeated towards the end of the year or beginning of 2013.


Gressenhall hosted a Night in the Museum evening which was a pre-booked, pre-paid event and was fully booked.  90 participants attended the fun evening.


Gressenhall marked the Diamond Jubilee with a range of activities and displays during the June half term.  The planting of two commemorative beech trees were planted at the site, which saw good media coverage.


Gressenhall supported the Breckland Film Festival with a screening of the Railway Children in the workhouse cinema.


The National Monument Fellowship programme had recently come to an end.  This had been a successful project and staff were very pleased with how knowledge had been shared across the site.


Changes had been made to the site, and the key project was the move of the shop.  The former shop had been transformed into much needed toilets with visitors  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Skills for the Future Project pdf icon PDF 1 MB

A presentation by Sally Ackroyd, Project Officer.



Mr Hanley introduced Sally Ackroyd, Project Officer Skills for the Future Programme. 


Ms Ackroyd informed the committee that the Skills for the Future programme had been running for a year and was shared between Gressenhall and the Museum of East Anglian Life. There were currently 10 trainees in post, learning a range of skills on all aspects of the museum.


Partnerships had formed with external stakeholders making the training a success, and also encouraged the trainees to extend their networking.  An example was given whereby a trainee worked with the National Trust 1-day per week to learn skills from professional gardeners.


The training that was learnt was then shared with employees and volunteers at Gressenhall.


The trainee posts were structured giving a combination of part or full-time posts over a short or long term period.  This provided a balance and was reflected with the current age ranges (approximately between 17 to 50) on the programme.


Members of the Committee were shown a short film on how the Skills for the Future programme worked at Gressenhall during first 6 months.


Next Meeting

To agree a date for the next meeting.



The next meeting to be confirmed.



Following the meeting members were invited on a tour of the farm.