Yearbook 2015

Ashwell yearbook 2015 museum report

By Peter Greener

Ashwell Village Museum for the Ashwell Yearbook 2015


The National Firefighter’s Memorial, St Pauls, London

Dress Fastening from the 17th Century





Perhaps the most visible occurrence over the year has been the refurbishment of the foyer. There has been a long felt need for visitors to be given a bright, friendly welcome and for the volunteers on duty a warm, comfortable environment. After consultation with the users and the input of design expertise of Bob Swain it was all made possible by with financial help from the Friends association, the county council and the district council.

One thing led to another and the dust created during the work spread throughout the building. It was felt that this went beyond the call of duty for our regular cleaning team so the Friends recruited a band of volunteers who over a two week period completed a comprehensive spring clean, which included delicate cleaning of some of the exhibits.


Blitz Firemen


We have been pleased to accept the generous donation by John Mills, the internationally renowned sculptor, of the maquette for his public statue ‘The Blitz Firemen’, the National Firefighters Memorial, which stands near St Pauls Cathedral, London. It is now on display in the museum and during the year we have mounted a special exhibition telling the fascinating story behind the making of the sculpture from its initial inspiration, through its construction, to the unveiling and dedication at St Paul’s.

The piece represents a major addition to the collection and fits in well with our policy of holding at least one representative work by artists who live and work in the area.




Other unusual items offered to us have come under the banner of ‘Treasure’. They have been discovered by metal-detectorists and then found to contain a percentage of silver. They are then declared treasure and are either kept by the crown or more usually offered to an appropriate museum. Two of these have come along in 2014. Their value is determined by a committee of experts however in at least one of the cases the landowner has agreed to a full donation so the item to the museum so it will stay in Ashwell with no cost to the museum.

Although they come from different periods they represent examples not found elsewhere in our collection. One is an unusual cast silver openwork dress accessory from the sixteenth or seventeenth century.  

The second it called ‘a hoard’ but actually consists of only two medieval silver pennies which have been deliberately folded together, one inside the other, with only the outer edge of the inner coin visible. The outer coin, the only identifiable feature, is a silver penny dated to c.1092-5 in the reign of William II.  




The museum is ‘Accredited’ under the scheme run by Arts Council England, which ensures that all designated museums reach a nationally agreed standard of excellence. Although the museum has been part of this since 1989 every few years we have to re-apply. The trustees and curator with consultation with the Friends have spent a considerable time updating policies on every matter from collections care to changing the light bulbs. While one is filling in the form one wonders whether it all has relevance to a little museum, but in the long run, we can see improvements in the running of the museum. It also gives us access to a wide range of expertise and grant aid that would otherwise be hard to find or put a value on.




The on-line community archive continues to attract interest from around the world but it still needs more from nearer at home. So if you, your house, your club has a history to tell why not publish it for all to see.  Go to  and add something now! Our Local and Family history resource centre is another way of finding out about Ashwell. Everyone is welcome to come along we are usually there on Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon but other times can be arranged. Also at these times we have a band of helpers of all ages who come in to help with curatorial tasks. We especially need help with creating displays and exhibitions, basic care and conservation of items and general building maintenance.


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 bodies help it will continue to provide a worthwhile service for many years.


It is your history in your museum.


Peter Greener

Honorary Curator

Ashwell 742956

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