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

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.

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.

#VolunteersWeek – Backlogs and Ephemera

In our last volunteer blog update, we explained how our volunteers had been assisting staff in repacking and relocating objects at our off site collections store. Since January, we have recruited five new volunteers, from all different walks of life – some are students, some are recently retired and some are wishing for a change of career – but they all have an incredible amount of enthusiasm and diligence in common. In this blog we’ll give you a catch up of what our volunteers have been doing with us, and why they get involved in the first place!

In mid January all new and existing volunteers took part in documentation training workshop with Katie, the Volunteer Coordinator and Jill, the Collections Officer. Through this they learnt the essentials of museum documentation, and the journey our museum objects go through in their time with us.

With their new found documentation training skills, our volunteers have been assisting Katie, the volunteer coordinator, in going through our ‘recent acquisitions backlog’. This is essentially the same as a build up of paperwork, or bits you haven’t had a chance to look at, in your home, or non museum office. Our backlog ranged from a 20 strong collection of spectacles to romantic love letters.

We all swiftly discovered our favourite things to register into our collection; everyone found their own particular interest – even if it was nothing that they’d previously thought of before. Everyone learnt to spell ephemera correctly, and we all got pretty clued up on its definition – ‘Ephemera is any written or printed matter that is meant to be temporary, or throwaway. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day. Some examples of types of ephemera are advertisements, letters, postcards, posters or tickets. It’s a funny thing to collect these, but they provide a wonderful example of normal life throughout the decades.

Favourite Objects

As well as our favourites, objects hauled out of the boxes proved to be really useful and downright strange.

Since January, our volunteers have undertaken an impressive 323 Hours with us and fully registered a whopping 426 objects for the museum.

We are incredibly proud of our volunteer team, and we’re very thankful that they devote their free time with us. We recently nominated our collections volunteer team for 2015 SHARE Volunteer Awards in the Behind the Scenes Award category. The volunteer collections team has been nominated for their contributions and fantastic work during 2014.

Our volunteers have joined us for all sorts of reasons, below is a collection of all the words used when our volunteers were asked ‘why are you interested in volunteering with Epping Forest District Museum?’

Volunteer Word Cloud

Our collections volunteers are getting a bit of a break whilst we prepare our museum collections for relocation back to the new Epping Forest District Museum and their new home in our onsite collections store. But we will be starting new projects in the autumn and finding more new learning experiences!

We will be looking for new volunteers to join us, in both the collections team and other aspects of the museum so keep an eye out for adverts in the next six months.

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!

Would you like to have a go at being a curator?

Epping Forest District Museum’s Community Cabinet Project

As you may have seen in a previous post Epping Forest District Museum has been taking part in a SHARE Museums East project encouraging the public to get involved and curate their own displays.

The ‘Community Cabinet’ is an invitation to members of the public and community groups to curate a single, dedicated cabinet with objects of their own choice. We would like to invite groups, individuals and societies with collections or objects to get in touch with us if they are interested in putting on a display next year.

The cabinet is currently on display in the Civic Offices in Epping while the museum undergoes a redevelopment project. Once the museum reopens the cabinet will feature in the newly redeveloped museum and continue to put on exhibitions curated by members of the public.

WW1 exhibition

WW1 exhibition

Get in touch if you would like to hear more about the project or have a collection you would like to display.

Email museum@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or call 01992 716882

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

Epping Forest District and the Great War

A new temporary community exhibition “Epping Forest District and the Great War”
WW1 Exhibition poster

Epping Forest District Museum was one of the Museums selected to receive funding and be part of the SHARE Museums East Community Cabinet project. The ‘Community Cabinet’ is an invitation to members of the public and community groups to curate a single, dedicated cabinet with objects of their own choice. Objects may come from their own lives and ‘collections’ or from the museum’s vast array of objects.

Epping Forest District Museum’s community cabinet will be displayed in Epping Civic Offices while the Museum is closed for a Heritage Lottery Fund redevelopment. Once the Museum reopens the dedicated community cabinet will feature within the newly redisplayed museum and we will have a series of exhibitions throughout the year.

Our first project was working to help document the links between Epping Forest District and World War One. As part of the project the team have been going out and about into the district, holding Heritage Events in various venues to allow people to share their stories with us. The objects have been recorded and stories documented and these records will become part of the Museum’s collection.

The objects and stories discovered have now come together as the museum’s first community cabinet display. These unique and unheard stories feature in a free temporary exhibition at the Civic Offices in Epping High Street from 4th August to 4th September 2014.

exhibition opening

The exhibition was opened on Monday 4th August by the Chairman of the Council, Tony Boyce, who also met invited guests who had loaned objects to be part of the display.

Here are some photographs of the exhibition.
WW1 ExhibitionWW1 exhibitionWW1 exhibition

If you have a collection or might be interested in putting on a display in our community cabinet then get in touch with the museum:

T. 01992 716882
E. museum@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Touring Exhibitions

EFD Exhibition Hire 2

Epping Forest District Museum has a long standing reputation for its touring exhibitions and has produced over twelve in the past ten years. The programme began in 2002/2003 with our very first production, Welcome to Brambly Hedge, which displayed the work of the Epping author, Jill Barklem. Brambly Hedge is still popular with venues today and has recently been hired out to Mansfield Museum in Nottinghamshire.

Since Brambly Hedge, the exhibitions programme has received various streams of funding from a variety of official bodies. All exhibitions have toured the East of England and beyond, creating support networks and partnerships which have increased the sustainability and resilience of the sector in the region. Most importantly, it has allowed smaller museums with limited resources the opportunity to have changing displays, encouraging repeat visitors.

In 2013, the touring exhibitions programme was renewed with further funding from Arts Council England. This provided the programme with enough resources for the production of a further six touring exhibitions which were to be created over a period of two years. The funding also allowed for the opening of a new post within the museum team and our Touring Exhibitions Assistant joined us in August 2013.

1950's Fashion Exhibition

1950’s Fashion Exhibition

Ready and raring to go, the first exhibition of the new series, 1950s Fashion: A Decade of Glamour launched at Harlow Time Machine Galleries in October 2014. Showcasing stunning collections from around the East of England, this exhibition features a fully working jukebox, a vintage dress up rail and a bespoke Teddy Boy Suit. 1950s Fashion was a huge hit with all ages and received fantastic feedback. Hiring venues seemed to like it too and the exhibition is now been booked until Summer 2015.

Response and Rescue Exhibition

Response and Rescue Exhibition

Coming straight after this, Response and Rescue: The Making of the Emergency Services was launched in March 2014. From Victorian volunteer fire brigades to today’s dedicated coastguard crews, the exhibition tells the story of the creation and development of the emergency services. With a special emphasis on emergency services in the East of England, the exhibition also includes an audio tour of collected objects and stories from the region. Response and Rescue is due to close at Harlow Time Machine Galleries on the 28th July (so still time to see it!) and begins its tour of the region with the RNLI Henry Blogg Museum in August.

Design Icons Exhibition

Design Icons Exhibition

Currently in production, Design Icons: Through the 1960s, 70s and 80s, is the programme’s biggest exhibition yet. Set to launch on August 23rd 2014, this exhibitions is curated by two students from Herts Regional College as part of the museum’s Young Curators programme (which has further funding from Royal Opera House Bridges). Made by young people for young people, the exhibition is set to be an exciting and dynamic display, with Icons such as the Rayleigh Chopper, Mary Quant Fashions and Nintendo Gameboy stealing the show. Accompanying the exhibition is a series of workshops, from photography to film making, these are designed to engage and interest teenagers in the creative arts and their heritage.

With another jam packed 12 months lying ahead of us, we have little time to reflect on the past year. In 2014/15, we will produce another three exhibitions, with one curated and created by students at Epping Forest College.

For any more information on our current touring exhibitions, where you can see them and how you can hire them please:

Visit our website: http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/museum
Get in touch : museum@eppingforestdc.gov.uk