Opening up a special local collection at Storrington, West Sussex - Culture24 on the road for Museums at Night

By Mark Slawinski in Storrington | 16 May 2009
a photo of a museum with lots of artefacts in cases

© Mark Slawinski / Culture24

Culture24 reporters have been hitting the road this weekend to report on Museums at Night events happening right across the UK. Here Mark Slawinski heads to Storrington in West Sussex for a spot of local history and amateur dramatics...

Residents of Storrington and surrounding villages showed great spirit as they braved a grey and rainy Friday evening to attend this quirky, intimate and locally themed Museums at Night event.

Housed in the old village school, this compact but comprehensive local museum displayed such treasures of interest as writer and one-time Storrington resident Cicely Mary Barker’s ‘Flower Fairy’ literature and her charming, ethereal artwork.

Also featured was an ancient and rickety harmonium, a retrospective of Drama Society photographs and a beautifully time-weathered bridal gown from the thirties chaperoned by its original owner in a period shot.

The visitors, who enjoyed a glass of wine or two as they swapped reminiscences of times past, were greeted by an intriguingly chilling tale of village paranormal activity, centred upon the account of local lad Bernie Crabbe’s haunting during one of Storrington’s theatrical productions.

a photo of glass display cases in a museum

© Mark Slawinski / Culture24

An apparition named ‘Phoebe’ appeared several times in a particularly frenetic period of activity for the village drama group, and Bernie became the focus of this voice from the past. Spooky stuff indeed.

Elsewhere the wealth of items of local interest gave the single exhibition room a disarming and varied charm, and as night fell we were able to further explore arcane farming equipment and horse ware, crisp leather ice-skating boots from yesteryear and a host of wartime ephemera with poignant village links.

The atmosphere throughout was warm and friendly and the show was bolstered by a hugely knowledgeable crew of volunteer helpers on hand to pepper the evening with facts, tales and a pearl of wisdom or two.

With a strong network of local links and dedicated staff, the night was argument indeed for further time to be invested in discovering this hidden gem.

Over 150 museums and galleries across the UK took part in Museums at Night 2009, which ran from May 15 - May 17. We hope next year's event will be even bigger and better, so watch out for news of Museums at Night 2010 on Culture24!

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