Agenda and minutes

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

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 14th October 2019.



The minutes of the meeting held on 14 October 19 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Councillors Brame and Eagle.


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 134 KB

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



The Curator of Kings Lynn and Thetford Museums, Oliver Bone presented the report to Members that covered the period from October to November 2019. He explained that the Studio Ceramics exhibition had been well received and the investment through secure display cases showed off the high value items very well. The display included portrait photographs of the potters, and the Chairman commented the narrative explaining the techniques used was highly informative.


In autumn 2018 the Ancient House exhibited Pride of the People: Helping History out of the Closet which was curated by the Museum’s Teenage History Cub. The pop-up version had been on tour and gone down very well and in November it was shown at the Provoke conference in London. Learning Officer Melissa Hawker had worked with the young people to curate this exhibition exploring LGBTQ+  history and as in indicator of the national significance and reach of this work, Melissa and one of the young people from the Teenage History Club gave a presentation at the 2019 annual Museums Association Conference in Brighton about the project.


For forthcoming displays The British Museum had agreed to lend a number of items including a selection of items from the late Roman hoard of inscribed silver spoons and gold jewellery. This was limited to 12 items of which they had picked the best and most interesting. This display would run from June to November and demonstrated another example of working together with the British Museum. The Curator commented that Ancient House, enabled by grants, benefits from high security display cases which facilitates loans from national collections.


The Ancient House is part of the Brecks River and Fen Edge landscape project which had been part of a successful bid to draw down two million pounds of National Lottery Heritage Fund support with a number of partners contributing to this five year scheme. The funding would be used for exhibitions around Viking and riverside heritage and provide the opportunity for public access to the latest research in these areas.


The Ancient house continued to look forward to a permanent larger presence of the Maharajah Duleep Singh and his family and were working with partners for a new festival later in 2020. A number of donations had been received towards this project, totalling so far approximately £2.500.


The museum continued to play a part in finding activities with families and children with a Wednesday afternoon for primary school aged children and a Friday after school Teenage History Club. The Curator particularly commented on the efforts of Melissa Hawker who worked well with the children, encouraging them to think of new themes and ideas to explore and had excellent ideas to guide them to take it forward. Melissa also went with a couple of members of the teenage history club and attended a Kick the Dust Takeover Event at the national HQ of the National Lottery Heritage Fund at the Museum of London on 22 November which was also a great chance to visit the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/20


Ancient House Museum - Kings Head Planning Application 3PL/2018/1499/F

To receive an update from Councillor Kybird on the proposed alterations to the Kings Head, White Hart Street.


The curator of Kings Lynn and Thetford Museums, Oliver Bone said there had recently been issues with the building next door with problems with the roof junction between Ancient House and the old Public House, The Kings Head. Some of the lead flashing had come away from the junction between the two rooves, damp was seeping in and they were seeking legal action with the current owners of the property to repair this and make it good so Ancient House could remain dry. The Chairman suggested that with the ongoing planning application for the renovation of the Kings Head, (Ref: 3PL/2018/1499/F) that the Curator should copy in the Strategic Property Manager at Breckland Council, Ralph Burton to let him know what the situation is.



Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 128 KB

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



The Operations Manager East and West, Andrew Smith, presented the report to Members that covered the period from October 2019 to December 2019. He said the programme of events continued to offer a broad range of activities based around the four key operational models.


He explained that within Special Events Days this seasons Apple Day had been a challenging day with a tremendous amount of rain which made all outside event activity more difficult. Visitors did persevere despite the weather Gressenhall still had over twelve hundred visitors.


The event offer across the October Half Term period, Awesome Autumn, received over fourteen hundred visitors across twelve days with The Norfolk Collections Centre open for three of the event days.


With ticketed events, people had booked to attend the Early Bird Openings but some families did not take up their booking. The tailored event was good but the timings might not be suitable to all so this will be reviewed to see if a change in time slots might improve visitor numbers. The Victorian Family Christmas was a bookable key event and a really vibrant offer across two days with a 250 capacity on site per day. Although the weather was inclement, it was mainly held inside the museum and the reviews were very positive.  Tickets sold out a week in advance so next year the events team will increase the capacity to 300 per day and look at a weekend day option as well.


An events review was held at the end of the main visitor season to complete the planning for next year’s event programme with a fresh focus on family fun and engagement with a few tweaks to popular events to ensure maximum success. Two events were renamed as it was thought changing the name would improve on line event searching and reflect the feel of the events more. Forties Village at War has been renamed to reflect the strong theme of the 1940s which had been diluted and staff are looking at other ideas to improve the event. The Chairman suggested regular bus tours of the battle area and Councillor Duigan suggested that as it was the 80th anniversary of the Americans coming to this region maybe some focus on that element and also to invite some Americans along to the event. The Operations Manager said they would explore these ideas to enhance the event. Once the final programme has been firmed up the new leaflet would go to print.


Gressenhall also organised a number of leisure learning short courses throughout the year, with the Ploughing Experience days and the Apple Tree Pruning courses both doing very well.


The temporary exhibition Once Upon a Time had now been de-installed and staff had managed to re-cycle many parts of the exhibition including the learning tree which had been sent to a local school for their library.


The 2020 temporary exhibition season starts with Full Steam Ahead which opens on 17th February 20. This exhibition is designed to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8/20


Gressenhall New Adventure Playground

To receive an update with visuals and plans for the proposed new Adventure Playground from Andrew Smith, Operations Manager – West.


The Operations Manager for East and West, Andrew Smith gave a short presentation on the plans for the new adventure playground with slides showing the theme and plans for the area stating it was hoped to be ready for use as soon as practically possible. There was no extra cost for visitors to enter the play area and it would not affect the current admission prices but it was hoped the area would encourage repeat visitors.


It was planned to retain a small kiosk to sell refreshments and there were seating areas for families to use and for parents or carers to watch over the children playing. There would be 2 main playing areas, once for the younger children aged 2 to 5 and a further area aimed at ages 6 to 14.


They had already been contacted by the EDP regarding the opening of the new play area and the museum would investigate a possible launch event.


Next Meeting

To note the date for the next meeting, Monday 13th April 2020 at 10am at Ancient House Museum, Thetford.



The next meeting will be held on Monday 4th May 2020 at 10:00am at Ancient House Museum, Whitehart Street, Thetford.