Yearbook 2016

Ashwell yearbook 2016 museum report

By Peter Greener


Ashwell Village Museum for the Ashwell Yearbook 2016


Ashwell museum was founded in 1930 based on the collection of some schoolboys and is run by volunteers under the control of a board of trustees. Since opening it has continued accruing all sorts of material about the history of Ashwell and its immediate neighbourhood. At the last count we had over 15,000 objects, pictures and archives all of which need keeping, conserving and cataloguing so we can provide a useful service to the public.



Our application to renew our ‘Accreditation’ under the Arts Council England scheme was presented to the panel in February and on the 5th March we heard that we had again been successfully awarded Full Accreditation.  

There are many advantages in meeting a nationally agreed set of standards. It not only gives our organisation extra credibility but also provides a sound basis for good governance and opens us up to a wide range of advice, services and grants that would otherwise be difficult to access.

The many documents needed were devised and approved by the Trustees and curator with the consultation of the Friends. They include policies and plans on Access, Acquisition and Disposal, Collection Management, Emergencies, Environmental Sustainability, Forward Plan, Security, Workforce, and Volunteer Agreement. I have added these to our website where they can be viewed. From them you can see the full range of responsibilities involved in the running of a museum. We can always welcome suggestions and help to put them into practice.



We have been fortunate in securing several small grants which would not have been open to us without accreditation. Two have involved training and the skills gained by volunteers are an essential part of improving our standards and services.

Of special mention was our Conservation Housekeeping Course which was held in the museum on Tuesday 5th March by a conservator from the Museum of London. We had to think in a completely different way to ordinary cleaning as the long term preservation of the objects was of primary importance. At the end of the day we were better able to identify the causes of damage, use appropriate cleaning methods and were given a housekeeping kit to get on with it. The outcome is already having a beneficial effect.


Work continues on regular chores such as documentation, display, conservation, and historical research by our indispensable volunteers on Monday evenings and Tuesday afternoons. We also have a small band of students working for their Duke of Edinburgh award who have been really helpful on the computer and social media front. And not least Sarah Talks has been appointed as Assistant Curator providing support and taking responsibility in many curatorial fields.


We were asked by the Parish Council and the British Legion to look into the stories behind the men commemorated on the War Memorial and other servicemen who may be qualified for inclusion. The research has proved extremely interesting and as with all things in the museum has expanded to include all those who served and are named on the various ‘Rolls of Honour’ in the village. A detailed report will be prepared.


Other research has been prompted by the many enquiries we receive. Over the year they have included: Family history about the Bonnetts, Worboys, Totmans, Bacons, Glasscocks and Turners from as far afield as New Zealand and the USA. Two evacuees have given us information about their time hear during the war. Of constant interest are the numerous pubs and breweries that were everywhere in Ashwell. People’s houses are another favourite topic but apart from individual enquiries we have helped with the forthcoming edition of ‘Pevsner’. The Springs have inspired artists and film-makers and, with our help, been featured in two post-graduate degree shows.



We are always being offered new items. The main criteria for keeping them is a firm connection to Ashwell (however old they are) and that we can look after them in a proper manner.


Something that fitted the bill perfectly was the donation of the MBE awarded for services to the community to the well-known local character Flo ‘the Post’ Worboys. The family felt the medal should stay in Ashwell because it was the villagers that petitioned for her to receive it and that the museum was a worthy place to keep it in perpetuity.


We keep a wide collection of archives about Ashwell and these have been greatly expanded by the addition of several interesting donations. Olive Anderson had the forethought to start a series of Scrapbooks that tell the story of the Music Festival since its inception in 1954. We hope we can continue this with collecting in the future. A large dusty brown paper parcel tied up with string turned out to contain the records of the Nursing Association from early 20th Century and the Evacuee Provision survey of 1939 that details every house in the village. All of these would repay more detailed exploration and interpretation.



Our annual special exhibition was called‘Did You Know?’  Ten little known facts about the village were explained in the museum (including the origin of the Philosophers Gate). You could then pick up a leaflet and follow a self-guided walk to find the secrets for yourself.


It gives me great pleasure to thank the large band of volunteers who keep the museum running throughout the years: The trustees, the curatorial and research volunteers, the Friends association, and the cleaning team. 


Ashwell is lucky enough to have such a unique resource and with every ones help it will continue to provide a worthwhile service for many years. If you would like to help or just find out something about our history do drop in, look on our website , on social media or just contact me.


It is your history in your museum.


Peter Greener

Honorary Curator

Ashwell 742956







This page was added on 20/02/2017.
Comments about this page

Why the ungrammatical (pretentious) "Philosophers Gate" and not "Philosopher's Gate" or "Philosophers' Gate" (still pretentious but at least grammatical)?

By M Brodie
On 04/04/2017

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