Agenda and minutes

Venue: Ancient House Museum, 27 Whitehart St, Thetford, IP24 1AA

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 83 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 17th July 2019.


The minutes of the meeting held on 17 July 19 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Councillors Jermy, Bowes, Ward, Clarke and Dr Robin Hanley.


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 144 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 July 2019 to September 2019.


He explained that the Arts Council provided funding to support their exhibition programme at The Ancient House which allowed them to change the exhibitions once or twice a year and with the use of some Lottery funding they had been able to create a room for the exhibitions.


The current exhibition Studio Ceramics: Materials, Makers and Meanings which presented the best in Norfolk Museums Service’s collection of British studio and art pottery, would run from 21st September 2019 until 28th March 2020. Dating from the 1870s to the present day many of the items on display were from a recent donation and were seen here for the first time. The Curator praised the efforts of Paula Murphy, The Ancient House Museum Trainee, who had worked on the exhibition to make it more highly illustrated than it had been before on previous exhibitions.


The Ancient House Museum had created and displayed a new pop-up exhibition in the Hall of The Ancient House about Princess Sophia Duleep Singh who was a leading suffragette. The exhibition had also featured a touch screen exhibition lent by the Sikh Museum Initiative and a display of Indian miniatures. It was thought that the pop-up exhibition would be a useful long-term resource for learning events.


Feasibility work continued with thoughts to create a new and more permanent display to make more of the unusual connections between the Museum and the Maharajah Duleep Singh and his family. Good links were being formed with the Sikh Museum Initiative and the Centre for Punjab Studies. The Museum also planned to submit a bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and have a target date of 2024 to tie in with the 100th anniversary of the opening of the museum.


The Curator of Kings Lynn and Thetford Museums explained that The Ancient House Museum had also been involved with a project on the First World War, which was assisted by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to mark the forgotten soldiers and their families who had been affected by the war in various ways yet perhaps not been commemorated on any war memorial thus far. There were also plans for two First World War themed interpretation boards to be installed at Thetford Cemetery.


The Ancient House would also be part of the Brecks River and Fen Edge landscape project which had succeeded in a bid for National Lottery Heritage Fund support. It was hoped the project would engage local communities and schools to understand and protect heritage of the Brecks’ Fen Edge & Rivers over the next five years. The Ancient House Museum would receive funding as a partner organisation to produce exhibitions and activities on the theme of Vikings in 2021-22 and Riverside Heritage in 2022-23.


The Curator of Kings Lynn and Thetford Museums said they continued to promote and develop social  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27/19


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 134 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 July 2019 to September 2019. He explained that the events programme at Gressenhall was a massive undertaking and extremely complex as organising learning events for both indoor and outdoor spaces with large farming machinery involved was convoluted.


The events programme continued to offer as broad a range of activities as possible with special events days going down very well with Apple Day the most recent event on Sunday 13th October. This included exhibits from local organisations, a working apple press and green woodwork demonstrations and chainsaw carving creating masterpieces from wood. Visitors could also view the collection of vintage tractors and old combustion engines. There had been special events dedicated to children with circus skills, campfire cooking and children had a chance to meet the Bubble Fairy at one of her short shows. Further events in the courtyard included stalls in the marquee, crafts in the learning centre and lots of exciting events on the farm. Although the weather had not been fantastic they had not been defeated and the Morris Dancers performed in the Chapel.


The Operations Manager for East and West advised that Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse had also participated in a number of national programmes offering free admission and had worked in conjunction with the Borough Council of Kings Lynn & West Norfolk to assist the development and delivery of the Forties Lynn:  Life on the Home Front event day on Sunday 21st July 2019.


A new Events Officer was welcomed to Gressenhall at the end of August and as part of their role a review of the events offered over the past year would be undertaken to assist in planning for next year’s event programme which was already underway with a fresh focus on family fun and engagement.


The Farmers’ Foundry steam engine restoration project which was funded through Arts Council England now had a revised and approved timetable. The steam engine would be returned to Gressenhall and made fully operational again which would be an opportunity to train and engage with a new and diverse audience and volunteer team. Partnership working with the county-wide youth engagement project was planned which would look at working with learning officers and younger people to attend a training day followed by a six week placement on how to maintain and look after a steam engine of that magnitude which would enhance and expand the skill set.


The plans for the re-development of the Adventure Playground at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse continued and was now at the main contractor tendering stage, hoped to be completed ready for the start of the 2020 season.


The Friends of Gressenhall remained very active and supportive having helped with funding to restore the Foundry Engine and support and investment for the Suffolk Punch horses with a pair of bridles.


The report was duly noted.




Presentation - Learning Programme and School Engagement

To receive a presentation on the Learning Programme and School Engagement including visits for both sites by Jan Pitman.


The Learning Manager from Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum, Jan Pitman, gave a presentation on the Learning Programme and School Engagement including School Visitor Numbers 2018-19.


The programme had been mainly dedicated to Reception, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils but also included Key Stages 3 and 4 and special schools. The programme was produced once a year and mailed out twice, once in half term and again in wintertime. Previous history had shown the leaflet produced was the most efficient way of getting the information out to schools. In keeping with the Norfolk School Services they engaged with young people, providing mainly costume characters and period settings.


He described a typical Victorian day for Key Stage 2 pupils which included encouragement to dress up and then divided into groups and were encouraged to meet Victorian characters in period costume. They would experience work on the farm with both hands on events and listening to stories of what it was like for a farmer’s wife or a washer woman. They would also have experience of the Workhouse and meet the Master of the Workhouse and a typical inmate of the time. Lots of different learning styles were accommodated and pupils were encouraged to look at attitudes appropriate today against attitudes appropriate in the past and discuss the difference.


The Learning Manager explained the Once Upon A time event which was a literacy focus day which started around 5 years ago that had become very successful. It encouraged children to think about life through stories in Victorian times, recently with a mystery. Candlesticks were stolen from the Chapel and the children had to work out who stole them and a murder mystery where the children had to work how who did it. They also had an exhibition in the museum with fairy tales where the children were encouraged to meet characters with a witch turned to stone that stimulated another object of discussion.


The Learning Manager stated for Key Stage 3 pupils they focussed on homes and habitats with contemporary characters with a scenario of a property developer wanting to build homes on the Gressenhall Museum site, the children were invited to meet all parties concerned and discuss at the end of the day and make a decision as to whether the homes should be built or not.


The Learning Manager also stated that the majority of the work they did was programmed but it could also be bespoke when requested, for example; they recently held a Beatrix Potter day and a witches and wizards day with links to Harry Potter. He went on to explain they had three different groups and lots of learning volunteers who assisted with delivery, he said they were a fantastic group of people and it was important to get involved with the education of young children and it was important to remain current with the topics. He further stated the pressure on teachers had changed over time with financial and time constraints and had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29/19


Tour of Studio Ceramics Exhibition

Tour of Studio Ceramics Exhibition (and wider museum if requested) with Oliver Bone.


After the meeting Members of the Committee were invited on a tour of the Studio Ceramics Exhibition at Ancient House, which was on display from 21st September 2019 to 28th March 2020.


Many of the items on display were from a recent donation and now could be seen at Ancient House together for the first time. Dating from the 1880s to the present day, the exhibition featured 39 pieces made by around 30 different makers including some of the leading names in ceramics over the past 100 years such as Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie, Edmund de Waal and Kate Malone.


Next Meeting

To agree a date for the next meeting, suggested date Wednesday 15th January 2020 at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum.


The arrangements for the next meeting on Wednesday 15th January 2020 at 10:00am at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum were noted.