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.

 

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

Sporting Heritage in the Epping Forest District

Today is #sportingheritage day and we are encouraging people to share their memories and photos of sports with us via Facebook and Twitter. The best one will win a goodie bag!

The district has many connections with sport from the cycling history to the more recent Tour de France and much more.

Below is a gallery of images from the Museum’s collection showing sports in the district – why not share your memories with us?

 

 

Artwork of the month – John Varley

John Varley

John Varley

John Varley was a British artist born in London in 1778. He was an English landscape painter mainly working in watercolour.

Varley was working at a time of transition and his work shows the transition from tinted drawing to the more fluid and bolder watercolour painting that took hold in the 19th century.

In 1798 he exhibited a highly regarded sketch of  Peterborough Cathedral at the Royal Academy  and became a regular exhibitor at the RA. In 1805 the Old Watercolour Society (OWS) was founded and as a founding member of the OWS Varley exhibited over 700 drawings there.

As well as being an artist, Valey was a teacher with pupils including Copley Fielding, David Cox, John Linnell and William Turner (artist) of Oxford.

He died in London in 1842.

Varley’s work is represented in many major museum collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum.

John Varley
This image, part of Epping Forest District Museum’s collection, is one of a number of studies of the church made by the artist, showing the path along the south side of the church.

Waltham Abbey Town Hall

Below is a gallery of images of Waltham Abbey Town Hall.

During the First World War it became a make shift hospital which you can also see in the images below.

Find more images of Waltham Abbey on our local history site efdhistory.org.uk. Find out more about the Waltham Abbey Town Hall Hospital here too: http://www.essexregiment.co.uk/vadhwaltham.html

Queen Elizabeth II and the Epping Forest District

On 9 September 2015 Queen Elizabeth II claims the title as Britain’s longest reigning monarch, having reigned since the age of 25.

She acceded the throne in 1952 following the death of her father and has reigned during a time of great change in technology and the transformation this has had on the world.

Queen Victoria previously held the title of longest reigning monarch.

The Epping Forest District has a number of connections with Queen Elizabeth II, including a visit she made as a Princess prior to acceding the throne.

She made a visit to Grange Farm in Chigwell in 1951 and was the first person to sign the visitor book there. The Museum is lucky to have this in the collection and below you will see her signature.

The Museum also has a collection of images showing street parties and events for Queen Elizabeth II coronation.

Here is a small gallery of images:

 

Waltham Abbey’s old schools

Below is a small gallery of images of schools and Sunday schools from our archives.

Find more images of Waltham Abbey at efdhistory.org.uk

 

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.

James Paul Andre’s Sketches

James Paul Andre the Younger was a London based artist, active between the years 1823 and 1867. He painted landscapes of many English counties in oil. His work was exhibited at the Royal Academy, Suffolk Street Gallery and the British Institution. Among some of his listed works are views of Woodford Bridge, Loughton Church and Hainault Forest.

Below is a selection of images from an album of works by Andre in the museum’s collection.

The Windmill at Chigwell Row

Windmill at Chigwell RowThis Windmill stood about 270 yards south-east from the south side of Lambourne Road opposite the junction with Vicarage Lane. The first mill here was erected in about 1610. The mill was struck by lightning in 1842 and burned down.

The James-Paul André album of watercolours shows four views of the windmill, three of the mill and its immediate surrounding area, and a fourth from a distance, possibly painted from near the top of Manor Road at the junction of Hainault Road and Fencepiece Road.

Hainault Forest

Hainault Forest

For over six hundred years Hainault Forest was part of Waltham Forest. All this changed in 1851 when an Act of Parliament was passed for the disafforestation of Hainault Forest, and this led to the destruction of 100,000 oak, hornbeam and other trees. The cleared land was sold for farms. A little woodland remained to the north of the King’s Wood, mostly in Chigwell and Lambourne parishes. However, by 1900 the bulk of the remaining woodland was in the private ownership of the Lockwood family of Bishops Hall, at Lambourne. Edward North Buxton, who had played a key part in the fight to save Epping Forest in the 1870s, could see the need to secure the last remnants of Hainault Forest as an open space for the public. In 1902 he persuaded the London County Council to purchase 801 acres of land formerly Hainault Forest in Lambourne and Chigwell and Foxburrows Farm. The ‘new’ Hainault Forest which exists today was formally dedicated as a public open space in July 1906.

Snaresbrook

snaresbrook-early-moonlight

The Eagle Pond at Snaresbrook is an ancient pond that is shown on maps surveyed in 1773 (Chapman & André) and 1745 (Rocque). It was formed in the early eighteenth century by damming the valley of the ‘Snares Brook’ and was at that time called ‘Snares Pond’. It adjoins the Snaresbrook Road that runs west from the Eagle Hotel, once a coaching inn on the main Woodford Road from London to Newmarket until 1829.

The watercolour painted by James Paul André in 1839, shows the pond from the west end. In the distance can be seen the Eagle Inn. Today the east end of the pond is shrouded with trees but the Inn can still be seen directly opposite the end of the Snaresbrook Road. The Royal Infant Orphanage was yet to be built at the time the picture was painted.

‘Near Loughton’

Near LoughtonThe picture shows the head of a lane, descending into a valley, and in the distance a substantial mansion with a red-tiled roof. The most likely location from which André painted this picture is at Rolls Corner on the Chigwell to Abridge Road, looking down Chigwell Lane. The house in the picture may be the artist’s impression of Loughton Hall which had been burned down in 1836, and which was not replaced until 1876.