Museum History
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 Date   Origin   Summary 
2012/3Magazine / Spring 2012The Gateway Project - a sustainable future / The Museum's trustees have approved the next stage of a major project aimed at enhancing visitors' experience and making a significant contribution towards the future sustainability of the musum. The project includes a new visitor centre and a new restaurant by the lake. This will allow Sole Street, one of the historic buildings, to be opened to the public once it is re-erected overlooking the market square. The project will also include improved interpretation and education. In recent months a feasibility study has been carried out into the project and future collaborative ventures with the National Park. These findings will form part of a Heritage Lottery Fund application for funding.
2012/3Magazine / Spring 2012Stonemasons create a new font for South Wonston Church / To complete the furnishing of St Margarets Church from South Wonston, opened last year, the museum commissioned stonemasons Will Davies and Tom Brown to make a replica of the original font which stood in the church (the original was retained by the parish of South Wonston for their new church). The stone used for the new font is Mocca Cr
2012/3Magazine / Spring 2012From the Director / The Museum enjoyed a strong and successful finish to 2011, with visitor admissions for the season totalling almost 140,000 and representing an 8% increase over 2010. The Autumn Countryside event and the Christmas Market were blessed with exceptionally good weather, the latter attracting more than 12,000 visitors. Tindalls Cottage was dismantled in 1974 and donated to the museum, and has been in storage ever since. Funding has now been arranged for the re-erection and work on the timbers will be carried out. It is planned to raise the timber frame over the weekend of 22/23 September. The Downland Gridshell celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Strong links are still being forged with the South Downs Park Authority and this year's Food Fair will also have a downland theme.
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012Raising the Roof / The Raising the Roof 2012 conference took place with the Raising the Frame weekend. The two events also marked the 10th anniversary of the building of the Downland Gridshell, designed by Edward Cullinan Architects with Buro Happold Engineers. The building has won many awards since it opened. It was built to house the museum's building conservation workshop and collection store. To mark the two events the conference considered the timber framing of roofs through the centuries, bringing together more than 130 specialists.
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012Raising the Frame / The timber frame of the 18th century Tindalls Cottage was raised in its new location at the museum on September 2012, 38 years after it was rescued from the Bewl Water Reservoir site near Ticehurst, East Sussex. It is now thought to date to 1721 and was the home of a labourer. It was dismantled in 1974 as a result of the imminent construction of the reservoir. The name "Tindalls" derives from the surname of its occupants from 1748 to 1806. After months of painstaking work and research the restoration of the timbers was led by Joe Thompson of Sussex Oak and Iron, the museum's Carpenter-in-Residence and Roger Champion, the museum's retired Master Carpenter, along with David Martin of the Robertsbridge and District Archaeological Society, who recorded the building in situ, assisting. The Raising the Frame weekend provided visitors with the rare opportunity of watching the process of reconstruction as the frame was put together on its new foundations. Over the weekend 1,500 people visited, \\
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012Building the Armstrong Library / The library's volunteer team, led by the museum's historian, Danae Tankard, continues its endless cataloguing work as it prepares bequests and gifts of books and papers relating to vernacular architecture and rural life. This is punctuated by enquiries from researchers and interested individuals. The library houses books, journals and newsletters from many organisations and offprints from magazines and other sources. To find out more, you can visit on Monday or Wednesday mornings (check first if there will be anyone there), on the museum website or by contacting Danae Tankard directly on 01243 811037. Donations of books are always welcome. If they are not wanted they will go into a book sale for library funds - good fiction is happily accepted for sale.
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012From the Director / We have just experienced the wettest summer of the museum's 42-year history, which has undoubtedly affected our visitor numbers. However, we are recording only a small percentage drop in numbers when compared to other museums and visitor attractions. The Rare Breeds Show saw a beautiful sunny day which attracted a record attendance. The traffic difficulties we have now experienced at the Christmas Market and the Rare Breeds Show are unprecedented and we are working with both West Dean Estate and the Police over future traffic management at the major special events.
Our stage 1 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund has been submitted for the Gateway Project, the aim of which is to secure the long-term future of the museum. Tindalls Cottage timber frame raising is at the end of September, and this forms part of this year's 10th anniversary of the opening of the Downland Gridshell. This has included a highly popular Historical Fiction Short Story competition which attracted over 130 entires, \\
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012The conservation of Tindalls Cottage - the carpenter's viewpoint / In 1974, when Tindalls Cottage was dismantled, the surviving oak timbers, stonework, brickwork and roofing tiles were brought to the museum. In 1998 planning permission was granted for its re-erection on a site facing Bayleaf Farmhouse. Roger Champion and I moved some of the timbers into the Gridshell in 2002. Much interpretation was carried out in conjuntion with Richard Harris, the then Director of the Museum. Museum Director, Richard Pailthorpe and I, in 2011, agreed a date of September 2012 for raising the frame on its new site. The remaining timbers were moved to the Gridshell in February 2012. The identifiable wall plates and tie beams were laid out and the principal rafters and side purlins reared. It was now apparent that many of the aluminium markers, attached to the timbers 38 years before, had corroded. When, after a week of working like forensic scientists, I was satisfied that we had got it right, we fixed new labels to all th \\
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012From the Chairman / Readers of the magazine will know that the Trustees have been planning to improve the facilities for visitors. The project has been named the "Gateway Project". The Stage 1 bid has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund and if this is accepted a more detailed proposal will be submitted. There are three sections to the grant bid which reflect the HLF's priorities for conserving the physical heritage: Conservation; Learning; Participation. The project will give us the space to support increased learning and participation and provide the necessary extra income to boost conservation in particular preserve our unique national collection of buildings for future generations; collection that would otherwise be threatened by lack of funds.
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012Roger is Sussex Heritage Person of the Year / The museum'[s former carpenter, Roger Champion, has been named Sussex Heritage person of the Year. He received his award at the Sussex Heritage Trust Awards lunch at Lancing College. Roger repaired and rebuilt most of the timber-framed structures at the museum, and still works part-time for the museum. Most of his work now is joinery, producing furnishings for the museum's historic buildings.
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012Museum links with the University of York for its MSc programmes / In a new partnership the museum's two well-established MSc programmes in building conservation and historic building techniques are to lead to degrees awarded by the University of York. Until last year the two programmes were validated by Bournemouth University. The University of York is a world top 100 institution with a global reputation for its excellence in research and teaching.
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012David Martin / David Martin, of the Robertsbridge and District Archaeology Society, gave his illustrated talk three times over the weekend, explaining how he started getting interested in buildings archaeology, culminating in the efforts involved to draw plans and rescue, with the Water Authority's permission, Tindall's Cottage. They were allowed to have the building, provided they took it down and cleared the site at no cost to the Authority. Plans to re-erect it locally and sell it on came to nothing and Roy Armstrong was persuaded to put it into store at the museum.
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012The museum on social media / The museum's Facebook and Twitter sites are growing in popularity. Most discussed items on Facebook recently have revolved around wooden pegs, pigs and charcoal! The first picture of the new piglets was posted on the site on 2nd September and more than 500 people looked at the photograph. A picture of Alan Wood making wooden pegs for Tindalls Cottage also proved very popular. On Twitter discussions have centred on subjects as diverse as conservation issues, Tudor hairstyles, new born piglets and family friendly activities.
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012Royal visit marks the Queen's Diamond Jubilee / The Earl and Countess of Wessex visited the museum as part of a day in West Sussex in June to mark HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. They visited some of the historic buildings, joined in with crafts in the Building Crafts Gallery and inspected restoration work on the timbers of Tindalls Cottage in the Downland Gridshell, with a short break for lunch in the hall from Crawley.
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012Domestic culture in the late medieval house / Bayleaf, a late medieval house from Chiddingstone in Kiont, is the most important building in the museum's collection. It forms part of the museum's only complete farmstead and it was the first exhibit house to be fully furnished. Its earliest occupants were yeoman (the top layer of the medieval peasantry), farming about 100 acres. They held their farm on a long lease from the gentry "manor" (or estate) of Bore Place. Until recently the furnishings of the hall included two tables, intended to reflect the hierarchical nature of the late medieval household in which the householder and his family sat at the "upper" table, whilst the household servants sat at the "lower" table. Those who have visited Bayleaf recently will have discovered that the "lower" table has been removed following a re-assessment of the evidence of how households like this one would have functioned in the late medieval period. Yeomen households functioned differently from the aristocratic ho \\
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012Interpreting the medieval shop from Horsham / The Interpretation Team have been working on a project to furnish one of the pair of shops from Horsham in the Market Square as a mercer's shop as it might have been about 1500. The shops were built in 15th century as a three-storey, double jettied building with two shop chambers facing onto the street. Their location in Butchers Row (later Middle Street) suggests that they started life as butchers' shops. Characteristic features of late medieval shops were their large windows facing onto the street, with an adjoining narrow door. Customers were not expected to enter the premises as the shops acted as market stalls.
It has been decided that although the shops probably started life as butchers' shops, the shop would be interpreted in the museum as a mercer's shop. Interpreting as a butcher's shop would have caused some awkward presentational issues. It was also felt that a shopkeeper trading in a broader range of items would have a stronger appeal to our visit \\
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012Filming Continues / The hire of the museum by film companies continues. In April Pendean Farmhouse was used to film "Restoration Women" presented by Lucy Worsley. The Celebrity Antiques Roadtrip show saw Gregg Wallace enter the museum in his classic green MG during June to meet Lesley Parker, who enthralled him with a lesson on how to make butter by hand.
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012In Brief / Various visits have been hosted for specialist groups this year, including a number who admire our adult learning programme and are seeking advice on providing similar services in their instituions. These include six Swedish museum professionals, and the director of an Alpine archaeological museum on the Italian/German border. Many other groups have also attended.
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012A tough year for harvesting / Despite the difficult growing conditions caused by the wet weather, the three acres of triticale (a wheat/rye hybrid) grown in partnership with master thatcher Chris Tomkins, have been successfully harvested by Nick Conway and Mark Buxton, using the working Shire horses, Mac and Neville. A hay crop was taken from the museum site as well as the overflow car park and part of the 10-acre field below the Pendean paddock. Some grass was cut by scythe and made a number of spectacular haycocks. It was intended to grow potatoes, but eventually decided to grow pumpkins. Unfortunately the adverse weather gave a disappointing crop. The Southdown lambs this included a "black" lamb, which along with a large litter of Tamworth piglets provided much interest and enjoyment for visitors. Two Saddleback sows have been introduced into the woodland cops at Gonville Cottage and the Pendean pigsty is also in use. In the interests of economy it has been decided to keep only two of the Sussex x Dair \\
2012/10Magazine / Autumn 2012Worth our Salt! / The museum has got together with West Dean Estate and residents in Singleton, East Dean and West Dean, and thanks to a
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