Agenda and minutes

Venue: Training Room, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum, Fakenham Road, Gressenhall, Beetley, Dereham, NR20 4DR

No. Item



To elect a Chaiman for the ensuing year.


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




To elect a Vice-Chaiman for the ensuing year.



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



Minutes pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 18th March 2019.


The minutes of the meeting held on 18 March 2019 were confirmed as an accurate record and signed by the Chairman.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Councillors Bowes, Brame, Eagle, Jermy,  Harvey, Kiddle-Morris and Dr Robinson.



Chairman's Announcements


The Chairman announced he had recently been elected as Vice-Chairman of County Museums and Vice-Chairman of Records at Norfolk County Council.


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 133 KB

To receive the report from Oliver Bone, Curator of Ancient House Museum.


The Curator of Kings Lynn and Thetford Museums, Oliver Bone, presented the report to Members that covered the period from February 2019 to June 2019.


The current exhibition at Ancient House displayed the life and work of Pioneering British photographer Olive Edis, which continued to be popular and would remain on display until 14 September 2019.


As part of the Festival of Norfolk and Punjab, plans were in place for a pop-up exhibition at Ancient House about Princess Sophia Duleep Singh who had been a leading suffragette. Included in the exhibitions would be a borrowed portrait of the Princess by Suman Kaur, winner of the BBC’s Big Painting Challenge in 2017. Other events for the Punjab Festival included a series of talks at Ancient House and 2 family focused events with a festival finale being held on Saturday 3 August 2019.


Ancient House would be participating in local events planned to mark the anniversary of Thetford’s celebration of peace following the end of the First World War.


Learning Officer Melissa Hawker had worked with the Teenage History Club to curate an exhibition ‘Pride of the People, ‘Helping History Out of the Closet’ that explored LGBTQ+ history. Pop-up versions were planned to tour various community venues during the summer.  A photograph of the teenagers would be on the front cover of the new Norfolk Museums Service 5 year strategy that was widely circulated and would give the club good publicity.


Forthcoming displays would include an exhibition on studio ceramics from 21st September which comprised of recent acquisitions and items previously not shown for public display.


Work continued to plan and create a display to promote the connections with Duleep Singh who gifted the Ancient House building to the Town of Thetford in 1921, it was refurbished in the early 1920s and it was hoped to use one of these anniversaries to celebrate this.


The museum was preparing for the summer holidays with activities for children and families with a programme of themed gallery discovery trails with a new trail available for each week of the school holidays.


Over the last financial year the Norfolk Museums Service had recorded its highest number of school children with over 50,500 children visiting.


Dr Hanley added it was a fantastic achievement as across the country museums had struggled to maintain school numbers so for the Museums Service to maintain and improve was a really impressive performance and a testament to the enthusiasm and hard work by the learning teams to ensure it was constantly evolving and adapting to the changes in the school curriculum.


Learning Officer Melissa Hawker had appeared on the BBCs One Show talking with presenter Ruth Goodman about ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ and the Museum also has a new and regular History Corner feature on Radio Norfolk.


The Kings Head Public House, situated near to the Ancient House Museum, had applied for planning permission with an intention to renovate upper storeys and change an outside building into housing. There  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18/19


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 132 KB

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


The Operations Manager for East and West, Andrew Smith presented the report to Members that covered the period from February 2019 to June 2019.


Gressenhall continued to offer a broad programme of events based on the four operational models of Special Event Days, Days with a Difference, Norfolk School Holidays and Ticketed Events.


The Retro Revival, as part of the Special Event Days, had been successful with over 1200 visitors attending. In addition the Days with a Difference, - ‘Winging it’ achieved 368 visitors.


Open Farm Sunday on 7th June had been a record day and a great success. Parking was to the maximum and saw a record number of 3,300 visitors in attendance.


The events programme continued to attract Norfolk Museums Pass holders and acted as a driver for further pass sales.


The Panhard et Levassor car attended the Royal Norfolk Show, which had been a great team event, with staff and volunteers involved in transporting the car to the show and taking turns manning the stand over long hours and generally engaging with the public promoting both the car and Gressenhall.


The re-development of the Adventure Playground at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse that had been funded through the Norfolk County Council capital programme, was now at the main contractor tendering stage. It was hoped it would play a key role in attracting families and repeat visitors to the site.


The Museum continued to work closely with the farm and an event planned for the summer, ‘Hooray for Horses’ involved the six Suffolk Punch horses which were a crowd favourite and always attracted a lot of attention. They have recently purchased a new Suffolk Punch ‘Casper’ and with help from the Friends of Gressenhall were purchasing a new bespoke handcrafted bridle.


The Friends of Gressenhall continued to support a range of activities across the site and had agreed to support a project to restore the Farmers’ Foundry engine boiler back to working use. Additional funds from a successful application to the Arts Council England Investment fund would enable additional conservation work to be carried out.


School numbers remained strong with more than 10,000 children visiting between April 2018 and March 2019.


On 15 June Gressenhall hosted the annual Family Fun Day for NCC Looked After and Adoptive children. The day offered families a chance to meet in a relaxed environment with NCC Family placement staff on hand to talk to families. Numbers for the day were a record 652.


Gressenhall continued to develop a range of commercial activities as a means to generate further income including a wedding venue and exploring options for more events such as private hire, birthday and corporate events and away days.


Presentation - 'More Than Oliver Twist'

An introduction to the Workhouse Subject Specialist Network (SSN) project presented by Megan Dennis (Gressenhall Curator) and Elspeth Hunter (Project Support Officer).


The Curator for Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, Dr Megan Dennis and Elspeth Hunter the Project Support officer gave a presentation to the Committee. After research it had been found that few workhouse sites were Heritage sites and it was agreed there was opportunity for organisations to get together nationally, build relationships and learn from each other. In 2014 there had been an exploratory meeting at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse and the network had been born. The network would meet annually and so far had proved beneficial for all partners involved. Whilst not yet formalised, permission had been given to apply for funding for £50,000 towards projects and had created the ‘More than Oliver Twist’ pilot project. There were six institutions involved:


·         Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse

·         Llanfyllin Workhouse

·         Spike Heritage Centre

·         The Workhouse, Southwell

·         Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds

·         Ripon Workhouse museum 


The project was currently in the recruitment state, looking for research volunteers to include both new volunteers and also building on the skills of existing volunteers. The second phase would be the research and development stage looking at the idea of lives of people within the workhouses. It was then hoped to have an exhibition to tour around the six locations. There are three vital aims of the project:


·         To enter into and maintain beneficial partnerships

·         To build confidence in a museum workforce

·         To increase public engagement with welfare histories


It was believed it would make an exciting exhibition and spark discussions of welfare in society today.


Next Meeting

To arrange the date of the next meetings. Suggested dates:


Wednesday 16th October at Ancient House Museum, Thetford.

Wednesday 15 January at Gressenhall Workhouse & Museum.


The arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Monday 14th October at 10.00am at Ancient House Museum, Thetford were noted.


Members provisionally agreed the date of the following meeting which would be held on Wednesday 15th January 2020 at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum. Further details would be confirmed in due course.