Yearbook 2017

Ashwell yearbook 2017 museum report

By Peter Greener


Ashwell Village Museum for the Ashwell Yearbook 2017


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. On Monday evenings and Tuesday afternoons work continues on regular curatorial chores – please ask if you would like to help or carry out research. As well as our indispensable volunteers. We also have some students working for their Duke of Edinburgh award who have been really helpful on the computer and social media front – check out our Facebook page





The year has been pleasantly dominated by the legacy of the Whitby sisters, Marie and Pauline who lived in Mill Street. Their family allowed us to clear the house and use the contents as we thought fit. Dividing any proceeds between the museum and the church. We have kept a representative selection of artwork, photographs and documents charting the influence of the Whitbys on the village from when Geoff came in 1933 with his wife and children to be head of the Merchant Taylors School. The remains were sold in a very lively sale and auction in the church one Saturday. At the end of the year we erected an exhibition about the interesting and varied lives of the sisters  this will continue until May.

We were also fortunate to have the opportunity to display a set of drawings of the Votive Plaques in the Ashwell Hoard on loan from the British Museum. Craig Williams has prepared them to illustrate the forthcoming book on the hoard. It was wonderful to see the plaques in larger than life detail.



One of our duties as a museum is constantly aware of the condition of items in the collection. As part of this we draw up a list of items which we think are in need of professional conservation. In 2015 the list was headed by Walter E Sale’s suit made, in 1887 when he was 5, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The suit was donated to the museum in 1939 by the two Miss Sales of Hinxworth Place and comprises a jacket, breeches, and cap made from what is now a rather moth eaten woollen jersey. It is unique not only in the material of construction but also that we know it was made for a specific event and moreover a specific person. All of which makes it very important to conserve.


We were fortunate in securing a small grant which we thought would go not only to assess the work needing to be done but also, with a contribution from the Friends, would be enough to complete the project. However, despite the enthusiasm of the conservators, the estimate came in at more than twice our initial hopes. The suit is with the conservators and cleaning has started which should stabilise any deterioration and we have recently obtained another grant but we still need about £400 to mount it so we can show it off when it returns. So please contact me if you would like to contribute!


The Friends have also helped when part of our computing system came to the end of its days. Since 1989 the museum has had a computer which is used to document and digitise the collection and as you can imagine everything has to be backed up very securely for we can’t afford to lose this valuable asset.


The year reached a happy conclusion with the opening of our advent calendar window on the 1st December when a noisy but jolly crowd filled the museum looking for clues about the Twelve Days of Christmas.





Other research has been prompted by the many enquiries we receive.  



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.


 Two treasure items found by metal detectorists have come into our possession. A thimble and a post-medieval dress ornament.




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


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