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.

Waltham Abbey Market Square

We often share images of the Market Square in Waltham Abbey on our social media sites and thought we would make a little gallery of some of the photographs we have.

Find more images of Waltham Abbey and the district at http://www.efdhistory.org.uk

Waltham Abbey Church

We often share images of Waltham Abbey Church on our social media sites and thought we would make a little gallery of some of the photographs of the church we have.

To see more images of Waltham Abbey and the district visit our local history website http://www.efdhistory.org.uk

The Pubs of Waltham Abbey

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook you may have seen our Pub of the Day campaign. The museum has a fantastic photograph collection showing the pubs of the district so we thought we would share them with you.

Here are some great photographs of all the pubs in Waltham Abbey.

What have we been up to while the museum is being refurbished?

Its been a busy summer for the museum team. Along with all the planning and work involved in the redevelopment of the museum the staff have been out and about putting on a variety of events and activities all over the district. Here is a little insight into what we have been doing!

From March this year we have been out and about all over the district attending and putting on events.

Throughout the year we have been running Family Fun craft activities in Waltham Abbey Library during school holidays. Here are some of the great crafts that have been made throughout the year. To find out more about our family activities while the museum is closed email us: museum@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

In March we had a stall at Waltham Abbey Marriot Family Fun Day where we saw a lot of people and gave visitors the chance to have a go at some of the old toys in our handling collection!

Waltham Abbey Marriott Family Fun Day

This was also the first year that our organisation has taken part in Museums at Night. We ran our event at our sister site Lowewood Museum because we are closed for refurbishment and lots of people of all ages joined us for an evening of archaeology. We heard from a Roman soldier, dug up some artefacts and had a talk on the archaeological history in the Borough of Broxbourne.

Museums at night

June was a busy month with us putting together a special World War One day at Budworth Hall in Ongar. The Hall itself became a war hospital during the war so a fitting place to run this event. The day was run alongside Ongar Millennium History Society and was a chance for people to see displays and bring along any First World War objects and memories to share with us.

We also attended Waltham Abbey Town Show and Epping Town Show over the summer. Two great and well attended events with lots of activities including Tour de France inspired masks and WW1 medals.

After our day in Ongar we were able to put together a special community exhibition with the objects loaned to us by members of the public. The display ran from 4th August to 4th September. Look out for more displays in our special community cabinet exhibition case in Epping Civic Offices.

Did you see us at North Weald Airfield Community Day in September? A D-Day inspired day we had our WW2 handling objects on offer for people to see!

Our Museum redevelopment display was taken to Lopping Hall in Loughton and Waltham Abbey Church in September to keep people updated on the fantastic project going on at the Museum.

Finally we attended King Harold Day in Waltham Abbey Gardens in October. A great day with lots going on!

To find out more about our future events, join our mailing list or get in touch about any projects please email us museum@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or call 01992 716882

Update on our Heritage Lottery Fund Project

Finally we can share with you some of the updates on our Heritage Lottery Fund Project and the redevelopment of the Museum!

A lot has been going on behind the scenes with the Museum project. Although the building work is yet to begin there are some very exciting updates that we wanted to share with you.

Before the building work can start all the plans and designs for the building, provided by Hawkins Brown, have to be finalised. One of the key missions of this project is to make the museum and its collection accessible to all and this is something that we have been working on with the architects.

The team and people involved with the project have been very excited to see the developments of the plans and it is fantastic for us to finally be able to share with you some of the updated plans and some proposed images of how the museum is going to look when we reopen!

Entrance to the Museum
Part of the project is the plan to reopen the original entrance on Sun Street. In this image you can see what would have been the original front door to the house and this will become the new main entrance to the museum.

Image showing the original entrance to the house that is now the museum

Tudor Gallery
Another key area for the project is a chance to interpret the Tudor part of the building. The house itself has a fascinating history and the team are very keen to share and expose the story of the building.

tudor gallery

Community and Education Room
Along with new galleries and a new entrance the museum will have a dedicated community and education space. The room will be able to fit a class of 30 children making a better visitor experience for school groups but the space will have open arts and craft storage to allow for creativity but also be equipped for lectures, talks and presentations providing a fantastic new space for the museum.

activity room

The Core Gallery
As you may already be aware the redevelopment of the museum will allow for on-site collections storage and a new gallery ‘The Core Gallery’ this space will feature key objects from the collection and give visitors the opportunity to see behind the scenes into the stores, and people at work caring for the collection.

Core gallery

Art Stores
Along with the new on-site storage there will be the chance for visitors to see into the stores through glass viewing areas. This will include views of the picture stores which will be on a new racking system. This is great because the team will be able to showcase some of the fantastic pieces of art in the museum’s collection even when they aren’t on display.

art stores

We would love to hear what you think via Facebook, Twitter, comments on the blog or through the contact us links on the menu above. We will have more updates for you soon!

Epping Forest District Museum – History of a Tudor House

As you already know work is underway on a Heritage Lottery Fund redevelopment project to improve Epping Forest District Museum. As well as improving the services with a community room, lift and the collections at the heart of the museum, the team will also be working to preserve and interpret the history of the house that the museum lives in.

So we thought we would share a little history about the building with you.

The first recorded references to Sun Street are seen in a rental of Waltham c.1320 and two deeds of c.1321-2. Here Sun Street is referred to in its former name, East Street.

The building that the museum is now housed in (no 41) started life in the 16th century as a two storey timber framed house.

model of 41 sun street as it could have looked in 1520

In the early 17th century the roof was raised to add an extra storey to the building.

Prior to 1730 41 Sun Street was owned by Henry Woollasten. Woollasten was a leading figure in Waltham Abbey, he was the son of a draper. He was prominent in church and local affairs and in 1642 he was given a commission from King Charles I to repair the keepers’ lodges in Epping Forest.

The houses and the wider estates it was a part of stayed in the Woollasten family before parts were sold to James Dobson a draper from Covent Garden. The property then stayed in the Dobson family for 200 years.

fireplace lintel initals

Within the house the fireplace lintel in one of the downstairs rooms reveals some history about one of the tenants. It bears the initials “TCT.” It is likely these refer to Thomas Taylor and his wife Constance. Their 6 children were baptised in Waltham Abbey church between 1671 and 1680.

Other occupiers included Richard Watkins from c.1731 and the Harvey family who seemed to have been occupiers between c.1742/3 and the early 1790s.

c. 1761/2 39 and 41 Sun Street were given their common roof. This was at the same time as number 39 was built. Number 39 is also a timbered framed structure.

The previously mentioned Harveys were the occupiers when a fire broke out in August 1786 which could have destroyed 39 and 41 Sun Street but was averted because of a change in wind direction.

1870 Ordance Survey map of Sun Street

Another notable occupant was John Bently and his son who were occupiers of 39 and 41 Sun Street by 1890. Bently had a lot of importance in the area as a builder, contractor and undertaker. He was involved in the building of St George’s Church, Enfield Highway, Waltham Abbey Town Hall and Woodredon House as well as the rebuilding of the upper part of the Abbey Church tower in the early 1900s.

He largely reconstructed 39 Sun Street himself and was responsible for the mock Tudor timbered front on the two houses.

scale drawing of the sun street facade of 39 and 41 sun street

For a large part of the 1900s 41 Sun Street was occupied by various doctors including Dr Percy Streatfield, DR R H Carter, Dr Bell Smith and lastly Dr Parkinson who lived and practiced at no. 41 until 1973. Parkinson extended the property by the addition of a purpose built surgery and waiting room.

The last owner-occupier was Rowland Blake, wheelwright, who owned the property from 1958 to 1972. It was then bought by Waltham Holy Cross Urban District Council in connection with the town centre redevelopment. It was then used under Epping Forest District Council as a residence before being empty in 1979. It was in this same year that vandals entered and set fire to the property. Luckily this happened during the day so a lot of damage was prevented.

Historical Society Museum

In 1974 No. 41 was listed as of “special architectural or historic interest” (Grade II) before being upgrading to Grade II* and in 1975 the Waltham Abbey Historical Society were granted a tenancy-at-will to use the ground floor as a museum. When they took over the building they had to remove the ceiling as it was falling down – when the material was sifted they had some interesting finds. Amongst the finds was an Elizabethan silver sixpence dated 1562, it was in mint condition and could have been lost shortly after it was made.

elizabeth I coin found in 1975 at 41 sun street

Finally in November 1981 the District Museum was opened in both 39 and 41 after a conversion project in the previous year.
Museum Opening

Our sister site – Lowewood Museum

Have you heard of Lowewood Museum in Hoddesdon?

In 2012 Epping Forest District Council entered into a five year partnership with Broxbourne Council to run Lowewood Museum in Hoddesdon. Under this partnership, Broxbourne Council continue to own and maintain the Grade II listed building which houses Lowewood Museum, with staff from Epping Forest District Museum managing the site.

PAJ-40

Lowewood Museum and the building in which it lives has a great history. The site where the museum stands today has been occupied since the 1570s, when a property known as The Harvey’s stood there. Most of today’s building dates from the 1750s, and was built by Hugh Hughes, a pharmacist by profession. It is thought that parts of the original property may have been incorporated into the new Georgian building built by Hughes.

In 1835 the house was bought by John Warner, a local Quaker and brass founder, and from then on was owned by the Warner family for over 100 years.
In 1935 Lowewood was sold and bought by Mr Douglas Taylor. A year later, Taylor sold the property to the town council, to be used as a library and museum in memory of his late wife.

Lowewood House c.1950s

The library was transferred to a building in Hoddesdon’s High Street in the 1970s. The museum remains a much loved part of the local community, revealing the history of the Borough of Broxbourne from the earliest inhabitants to the present.

Lowewood Museum runs a fantastic programme of events and activities. Along with great exhibition and education programmes, the Museum hosts a number of special events during the year, as well as family activities, specialist study days, community events and much more.

Lowewood Museum

If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Museum (free entry) you can find out more about it here: http://www.broxbourne.gov.uk/lowewoodmuseum

Lowewood Museum is open Wednesday to Friday 10am – 4pm and Saturday 10am – 5pm.

Heritage Lottery Fund Project Update – What did we find in our building survey

As part of the initial stages of the project the listed building that the Museum lives in had to be assessed. Working with listed building officers, surveyors, architects and structural engineers this involved discovering what was under the floors and behind the walls in the Museum.

So what did we find?

Below are some images of the main discoveries we have made so far!

Door to 39 Sun StreetMuseum Building

These images show the door to 39 Sun Street and an image of the Museum building from the street.

You can see where the doorway is on the outside of the building in the image of the street but who knew the door itself still existed inside the Museum! This would have been an Edwardian doorway which was plastered over in 1979/80 when the Museum was first established. It has been hidden behind the walls in the Museum shop and reception area all this time.

Lath Wall

Here you can see parts of the 18th century lath wall structure on the first floor of 37 Sun Street. This was a method of construction used before plasterboard. Internal partition walls and ceilings were lined with individual strips of timber lath and plastered over. The laths, about an inch wide, were made from split timber, and individually nailed to each ceiling joist or wall stud. Lathing a new house would use thousands of nails, each hammered in by hand.

Below is an image of one of our contractors. They carefully revealed the floor joists of the Grade 2 timber frame building for assessment. This joist is a hand sawn, reused piece of timber that seems to be contemporary with the 16th century building next door. It was reused in the floor construction in this part of the building in the 19th century.

floor

The next stages include finalising plans and drawings ready for the building work to begin. Part of the new display will involve a better interpretation of the Museum building’s history and construction using some of the discoveries we have made in the process.

Heritage Lottery Fund Project Update – what have we been up to?

packing images
The major task at the moment has been to move the collections to a safe environment and empty the Museum building ready for the building work to begin.
Staff and the museum’s many volunteers have been working on the painstaking task of cataloguing, sorting and packing the Museum’s vast collection. Everyone has said what a very enjoyable task this has been even though it has been hard work. For many volunteers and some of the new staff working on the Heritage Lottery Fund Project it has given them an insight into the fantastic collection that the Museum holds.

The museum collection contains a skeleton from the Waltham Abbey Chapter House burial of around 1250 AD. Evidence suggest the man is thought to be an abbot of Waltham, a facial reconstruction has been completed, showing what the abbot may have looked like.

The museum collection contains a skeleton from the Waltham Abbey Chapter House burial of around 1250 AD. Evidence suggest the man is thought to be an abbot of Waltham, a facial reconstruction has been completed, showing what the abbot may have looked like.

Items have included artefacts as diverse as a mummified cat, an abbot’s skeleton and artworks by artists connected with the district.
Mummified Cat
One of the most important items in the museum, the Tudor panelling, on a long term loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum has been carefully moved to a suitable storage area and will be redisplayed when the museum reopens.

Everything has been packed before being stored securely and in a suitable atmosphere in order to preserve the collection’s precious and often irreplaceable items. Building specialists are now investigating and recording the historic listed building the museum is located in ahead of building works, which will begin later this year.

Look out for more updates on our exciting project in future blog posts!