Museum on the Move reopens

11201810_1288186537863313_6734758118269799242_nEpping Forest District Museum reopened it’s doors to the public on Saturday 19 March 2016 after a 2 year long Heritage Lottery funded redevelopment.

The bells of Waltham Abbey Church rang as reenactors from the 44th East Essex Regiment marched up Sun Street towards the museum.

Party atmosphere

A party atmosphere was enjoyed by all who came to celebrate the museum’s special day. They were treated to a jive dance demonstration and a morris dancing display by the Chingford Morris Men in Sun Street.

Over 750 people visited the museum, they enjoyed activities including decorating eggs in the new community space, and were given access to all the museum’s new galleries for the first time.

Welcome back

Museum staff were thrilled with the positive feedback they received. Comments include “Big improvement, proud to live in the Abbey” and “Welcome back! We’ve missed the museum and love the new look!

Museum on the Move

The museum team also celebrated the reopening of the museum by making a film showing what has been going on behind the scenes. The ‘Museum on the Move’ film also features as part of the museum’s first temporary exhibition all about transport through history.

 

Church Street, Waltham Abbey

Here is a gallery of some of the images in the Museum’s collection of Church Street in Waltham Abbey.

Find more images of Waltham Abbey and the District at efdhistory.org.uk

Update on the Museum redevelopment project

Since our last update lots of changes have happened at the museum site. The majority of the building works are now complete and the project is on to the furnishing and decorating stage.

A key milestone in the last month or so is the installation of the lift. A big part of the museum project, the lift now makes the museum fully accessible throughout.

The new spaces are also taking shape with the education/community room, temporary exhibition gallery and core gallery ready for decoration and furnishing.

The project is progressing well and still on track for a Spring 2016 opening.

Sneak Peak: Objects going into the Museum’s new archaeology display

Catherine Hammond, the museum’s Education and Outreach Officer, has been busy at the stores selecting objects for the Archaeology display in the new museum which is due to reopen early 2016.

‘I’ve been trying to find objects from all different periods of history and from different locations around the District. My aim is to show how long people have lived and worked all over this area.

As you go through box after box, taking photos, checking lists and making sure everything is recorded properly, it can be easy to forget what an incredible amount of history has passed through your hands. Its only now looking back through all my photos of potential objects I realise I took a journey through 5000 years worth of history in about 7 hours! One of the most exciting objects I found was this Neolithic bowl from Waltham Abbey. It is around 5000 years old and hasn’t been on display since it was sent away for conservation work.

Neolithic Bowl

Neolithic Bowl

Sometimes an object gives a direct link with the past when it shows what we have in common with people who lived here over 1500 years ago. These Roman tweezers used by a Roman lady to tidy her brows have hardly changed from ones we might use today.

Tweezers

Tweezers

As a horse lover, I can’t resist including something horse related, but I didn’t expect to find this ornament, made from a horse’s tooth! It dates from Saxon times and was found near Nazeingbury.

Horse Tooth

Horse Tooth

Sadly, some objects have no information with them so we have no way of knowing how old they might be or where they were found. This Axe Head is one such mystery object, but such a good one I’m tempted to include it.

Axe Head

Axe Head

My favourite find of the day had to be this Giant Mug, found in York Hill, Loughton. I happened to look in an unusual shaped box and was delighted to uncover this. After a day spent sorting over 150 objects from over 5000 years worth of history, I wished I had a mug as big as this for a cup of tea.’

Giant Mug

Giant Mug

Waltham Abbey Stonework

As part of the redevelopment project the museum has decided to undertake an assessment of some of the collections. One area of the collection that is being assessed is the stonework from the Augustinian Abbey Church.

The Abbey Church has a long history dating back to the seventh century when a wooden church existed on the current site. At this time Christianity was coming back to England. The church has within its collection a small book clasp which features eagles and a fish in the Salin II style. Both these animals have links to Christianity therefore it is likely this clasp dates to the earliest times in the church’s history.

Book Clasp

This church was then enlarged on the same site in the ninth century and later the Holy Cross was installed at the church.

The next stage in the church’s history comes during the time of Harold. After he was cured of a skin disease by the Holy Cross and as a response to Edward the Confessor building Westminster, a new church was founded on the site in 1060 by Harold.

Following Harold’s death at the Battle of Hastings Henry I builds a church which is similar in structure to today’s church.

The Augustinian Abbey Church was then built by Henry II in 1177 as part of his penance for the murder of Thomas Becket. The museum’s stonework collection comes from this part of the church’s history. Below are some computer generated images of what the Augustinian Abbey Church would have looked like.

The Augustinian Church was later demolished in the reformation during the reign of Henry VIII (1536) and the stonework was used in various parts of the town.

After several excavations the museum now holds a number of pieces of stone from the Augustinian Abbey in the collection which are being assessed as part of the Museum’s redevelopment project. Here are some images of the stone work within the collection.

Waltham Abbey’s Other Churches

Here is a small gallery of images of some of the other churches in Waltham Abbey from our photographic archive.

To find more images of Waltham Abbey and the district visit our local history website efdhistory.org.uk

What will feature in the redeveloped Museum displays?

As you might have seen in our recent blogs, the building work at the museum is well underway and the building itself is starting to take shape. While this work continues the Museum team are starting to plan and select objects to go on display in the newly redeveloped museum.

Over the coming months we will be giving you a sneak peak at some of the objects will be displaying!

Our first sneak peak is the whipping post:

195-Waltham-Abbey-Whipping-Posts-and-Stocks-q75-330x500

The Whipping Post dates to 1598. It is over 400 years old. It was used to punish people who had committed crimes in Tudor times. The person’s arms were locked in at the top so they couldn’t move or escape.  They were then whipped as a punishment for their crime.

Below are some images of the whipping post being unpacked and measured for its new case at the museum.

Museum Heritage Lottery Fund Project Update

Building work is progressing on the Museum’s redevelopment project so we thought we would share a little update with you.

Since our last blog all the internal walls in the new extension to the museum have been installed. This is the area above Waltham Abbey Library.

plan

This means the new spaces in the museum including the community room, temporary exhibition gallery, Core gallery and new storage spaces are really taking shape. The team can get a feel for the spaces and what each space can really be used for.

Community Room

Community Room

Temporary Exhibition Gallery

Temporary Exhibition Gallery

The preparations for the lift are also complete and this will be installed as one of the next tasks. Once all the wiring and electrics are complete the decoration work can begin!

We hope you are looking forward to seeing the completed museum and visiting us next year.

Waltham Abbey Houses

The museum has a fantastic collection of photographs of Waltham Abbey and the surrounding district. For this blog we thought we would share images of some houses in Waltham Abbey from our collection.

Find more images at efdhistory.org.uk

Museum Redevelopment Update – Building work has begun!

Museum team on a site visit

The building work has begun on Epping Forest District Museum’s Heritage Lottery Fund redevelopment project. Work began on site on 20th April 2015 after Coniston Limited was appointed to do the construction work.

Coniston Limited have worked on a number of museum based projects including the Imperial War Museum, The British Museum and are also currently working on the refurbishment of the Europe Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Work has started to prepare the building for its new layout and expanded facility. The museum which is extending into the first floor above the local library has been opened up to create a blank canvas for construction to begin on the new room layouts. The stairs have been removed and work has also begun to prepare the space for the lift which will be installed to make the museum fully accessible.

The next stages of the project will include the installation of new wiring and electrical systems before the decoration can begin as well as the continuing work to install the lift and new staircase.

Another major part of the project is the opening up of the front door to 39 Sun Street which will form the new main entrance to the Museum. This work will also take place in the coming months.