MGM 2007 - Ghosts Of The Past At Sir John Moore Foundation, Derbyshire

By Chloé Titcomb | 21 May 2007
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a photograph of two people dressed in eighteenth century costumes

Photo Chloé Titcomb © 24 Hour Museum / Renaissance East Midlands

24 Hour Museum student writer Chloé Titcomb goes along to a Night at the Museum event in Derbyshire and finds ghosts of the past as well as people dancing and playing music at the Sir John Moore Foundation.

As part of Museums and Galleries Month 2007, museums across the East Midlands opened their doors for the evening of Saturday May 19 and the Sir John Moore Foundation, Appleby Magna, was no exception, hosting a free ‘Ghosts of the Past’ evening.

Visitors were invited to drop in throughout the evening for a host of activities and spectacles, including creepy stories, 17th Century music and candle making.

Set in beautiful grounds, the foundation was established by Sir John Moore as a Free School for Boys. Moore had made his fortune in London and wished to use his wealth to benefit his home county.

Originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the work was carried out by a local architect and opened in 1697.

a photograph of various people sat in a classroom adressed by a woman in a dark suit

Photo Chloé Titcomb © 24 Hour Museum / Renaissance East Midlands

The MGM event gave people the chance to look around this old school building and for those that were brave enough there was the chance pay a visit to the Headmasters office.

The evening also presented the opportunity to see a slideshow presentation detailing refurbishments and changes which have occurred over the years, including the Old Laundry in the cellar being turned into a fully functioning bar.

Descendants of Sir John Moore, who were amazed at some of the changes, including how well the downstairs bar still creates the feel of being in an Old Laundry, attended the event.

a photograph of a two people in medieval minstrels outfits

Photo Chloé Titcomb © 24 Hour Museum / Renaissance East Midlands

The evening was also a good chance to learn more about the Moore family as an exhibition detailed some of their history as well as the history of the Appleby Magna area, where Sir John Moore was considered to be a great hero.

Many rooms were open to the public for the evening and costumed characters were on hand to tell spooky stories in the dormitories – perhaps it was a good thing that it was still light for much of the evening as people were entranced by stories of ghosts, soldiers, devils and ghouls!

Medieval dancing soon got underway in the Hall as children and adults alike were taught the steps to a medieval dance, which was then put into practice to the delight of family and friends watching.

There was also the chance to actually create the music people were dancing to. Equipped with tambourines and recorders, children were aided by musicians playing authentic medieval music.

a photograph of a group of people in seventeenth century outfits firing a cannon

Photo Chloé Titcomb © 24 Hour Museum / Renaissance East Midlands

The evening wasn’t all fun and games however: Appleby’s very own Victorian school mistress soon put people in their places, hammering home that you must “Always remember your station in life…” There were no excuses in class that evening, with visitors from France being forced to recite their times tables in English.

“It was hilarious watching the older generation sitting at the school desks, being disciplined and having their fingernails checked by the Victorian teacher,” said James Hendriksen, a visitor at the event, “and I really enjoyed the 17th Century dancing.”

A 17th century apothecary also took visitors back in time with his ancient cures and remedies, some of which people were understandably slightly dubious about! As he waited for his remedies to mature, people were shown how to make candles over the fire before experiencing a few bumps in the night!

Any nearby neighbours that had not heard about the event were soon treated to some first hand experience as the apothecary and his helpers fired cannons outside throughout the evening.

a group of children palying tambourines whilst a woman plays a recorder

Photo Chloé Titcomb © 24 Hour Museum / Renaissance East Midlands

An evening full of fun and frights, the Sir John Moore Foundation entertained all ages and despite some hesitancy at first, most people could not wait to join in all the activities.

For further information about the Sir John Moore Foundation and its future events, please call 01530 273629.

Shows the Renaissance in the Regions logo.

Chloé Titcomb is a Renaissance-funded student journalist covering MGM events in the East Midlands. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

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