Agenda and minutes

Venue: Ancient House Museum, Whitehart Street, Thetford, IP24 1AA

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 102 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 4 July 2016.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 4 July 2016 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Dr K Robinson.


Chairman's Announcements


The Chairman welcomed Leanne Neave to the meeting in her capacity as Democratic Services Officer.


It was requested that Robert Kybird be co-opted to this committee, an invitation to the next meeting would be duly sent.


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.





Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse report pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Report by the Operations Manager – West.



Hannah Jackson presented the report from Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.


A broad programme of events was still in operation, which ranged from large scale events such as Apple Day to the smaller scale events like the Workhouse Experience. There had been activities throughout the school holidays and special ticket only events such as“Ghostly Gressenhall” and “Victorian Family Christmas”.


Visitor numbers for the events were noted as:


Village at War 1390 Sunday, 2130 Monday

Apple Day 2006

Gressenhall Goes Wild 520

The Workhouse Experience 347

Heritage Open Day 2169

Horse Power 780

Summer Holidays 11339

October Half term 2153

Ghostly Gressenhall 243

Victorian Family Christmas 528


The Horse Power day goes from strength to strength, it had however been removed from the coming years programme to enable the programme to remain fresh but would return in the future.


The Victorian Family Christmas days were both fully booked. There had been some fantastic coverage in the Guardian newspaper and visitors enjoyed a full activity programme.


A review of the programme had taken place in November and a new programme had been designed to keep events fresh. Apple Day was now in its 26th year and remained incredibly popular. A Murder Mystery night was planned for June and would be a pre booked event.

The site would open on Sunday 19th March for a Lottery Players Preview and similarly Workhouse After Dark on 27th and 28th October. These events gave Lottery players and their families the opportunity to see the site free of charge. These events link in to the heritage funding and Voices from the Workhouse project.


Events held throughout the year help with Museum Pass sales. On Apple day alone half the visitors were pass holders and a further 23 Museum Passes were sold at that event.


The costs of delivering and marketing the Gressenhall event programme continued to be subsidised by ACE (Arts Council England).


Marketing had taken a digital route with the current trend seeing people looking on line for events. Some hard copy marketing would still be produced but the majority would be done online.


Cllr Clarke asked if there were any events they were particularly pleased or disappointed with regarding the attendance figures.

Hannah Jackson advised that the Heritage open day had over 2100 visitors which was great. It was something done slightly differently to showcase Gressenhall which then encouraged people to come back.

The “day with a difference” workhouse experience had only 300 visitors which was disappointing. In recent years the event day in August had not worked as well as hoped, several different days had been tried but numbers always fell short. It had been decided that during the school summer holiday the museum would focus on school holiday activities and events days would be held at other times of the year.


Cllr Ward queried the absence of the “Horsepower” day and what was new on the programme.


Hannah Jackson confirmed the “Horse Power” day had run every year since  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Ancient House, Museum of Thetford Life pdf icon PDF 358 KB

Report of Curator.


Oliver Bone presented the report from Ancient House Museum.


As part of the Thetford remembers project, funded by Heritage Lottery there have been several events looking at Thetford experiences of WW1. The final event was the opening of the commemorative garden in Kings House gardens. Ancient House had been invited to be part of the Beacon lighting event in 2018.


The last main exhibition had been “Flint Rocks” which showcased the different aspects of flint. It received support from other groups donating objects to display.


The current exhibition focussed on the story of Thetford Pulp Ware. This distinctive local industry worked in a very green way, using power from the river it pulped recycled materials to produce new products.  This exhibition would run through to December 2017. The new exhibition will be “Hand Made” where a lot of different types of material will be displayed.


Work was currently underway on a feasibility study to redevelop one of the rooms located upstairs to incorporate displays relating to the Maharajah Duleep Singh and his family.


Melissa Hawker presented the Learning section of the report.


As part of the Learning Activity programme for the summer holiday a variety of Museum trails were used to encourage exploration of the museum on a particular theme. Upon completion of the trail the visitor received a small prize. A Loyalty card was available to promote additional visits and a free trail was given upon completion of the card.


There are many different clubs at Ancient House. A “mini museum club” was held for the under 5s monthly on a Thursday, History Club for children in Year 1 and above was held on a Wednesday after school and Teenage History Club aimed at 12-19 year olds was held on a Friday after school. In addition Discovery Day family activity events were held on certain Tuesdays during school holidays. These focussed on different areas of the museum and included costumed characters.


As part of the “Flint Rocks” project the teenage History Club had been working with teenagers in Nagawa in Japan. In 2015 the group went to visit them in Japan and in 2016 15 Japanese teenagers visited Thetford as part of the East meets West project.


Takeover day – This gave young people a taste of adult life and jobs. Ancient House had been awarded a Gold Commendation for participating in the Children’s commissioner’s Takeover Challenge. The Museum also took part in the “Teen Twitter Takeover day” teenagers were responsible for “tweeting” throughout the day, connections were made with the Time and Tide Museum, The Oriental Museum in Durham and followers in Canada.


Talks on a variety of subjects organised by the “Friends” were ongoing. An event was held each month with the exception of August and December. Some of these talks were already fully booked.


It was hoped the Textiles group that meet at the Museum would be involved in the new “Handmade” exhibition. It was hoped the Spinning and Knitting group at Ancient house can link  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Next Meeting

To make arrangements for the next meetings.  Suggested dates are:


Wednesday 19 July 2017 at 2.00pm – Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum

Monday 13 November 2017 at 2.00pm – Ancient House Museum, Thetford

Wednesday 21 February 2018 at 2.00pm – Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum



The date of the next meeting was confirmed as 19th July 2017 at 2.00pm to be held at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse. It was noted that prior to the start of the meeting a tour of the Museum would be available to Members.