News In Brief - Week Ending June 17 2007

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 11 June 2007
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  • Archived article

Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending June 17 2007.

a ceramic figure

15.06.2007 – Hampshire Museums celebrate recovery of stolen statue

Staff at Hampshire County Council Museums Service are celebrating the recovery of an important late 17th century tin-glazed earthenware figure of Ignis, the personification of fire; which was stolen from the Allen Gallery, Alton in April 2002.

The Allen Gallery is one of the major collections of English ceramics in the regions, and Ignis was the star item.

The figure was acquired by the Museums Service in 1987. Described at the time as among the top twenty pieces of English Ceramics, the figure was made in Southwick, London in 1679 as a special one-off commission for a wealthy client.

Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage Councillor Margaret Snaith said: "This is wonderful news and we're very grateful to the police for recovering this unique piece of art."

The figure is currently undergoing minor conservation work prior to redisplay at the Gallery.

15.06.2007 – Benedictine Monks to take ferry across the Mersey

The original ferry crossing of the River Mersey, first made by Benedictine monks in the 12th century, is to be recreated this weekend. The historic re-enactment of what became the world’s most famous ferry service will begin at 1pm on Sunday, June 17 at the slipway near to the original priory in Birkenhead, Wirral.

Six teams, made up of sea cadets and the Mersey Rowing Club, will take to the river in 15-foot-long boats similar in design to the original vessels. And one team is going the extra mile - by dressing up as monks!

The teams are also aiming to break the Mersey crossing record, for a four-berth rowing boat, of 24 minutes and 50 seconds.

The event, organised in partnership with Wirral Council, is part of a maritime heritage weekend by the Liverpool Culture Company to mark Liverpool's 800th birthday. The 'All Aboard' weekend features several Tall Ships and free activities at Wellington Dock.

15.06.2007 – Armoury collection back on display at Preston Hall Museum

Pikes, muskets, rifles, rapiers, maces and more have all gone back on display at Preston Hall Museum following a major refurbishment.

The collection of weaponry is one of the finest in the country, including pieces from local collector Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert Ormerod Spence. Also now on view in the new gallery space is a sculpture created by young Stockton residents. The work, titled Beyond the Sword, was created with the help of artist-blacksmith Adrian Wood and creative writer Maureen Almond Wood.

Sunday June 17 will see a day of activities and re-enactments at the Museum to mark the re-launch, involving 'Napoleonic Royal Marines' and medieval group Rosa Mundi.

detail of a mural with flowers and birds

15.06.2007 – Children paint mural on historic Welsh coastguard station

A group of children have breathed new life into the old Coastguard Station at the spectacular location of Mynydd Mawr, in Llyn, Wales.

The children, members of the Aberdaron Urdd group, have created a colourful new mural on the hut with the help of artist Kim Atkinson. The painting takes visitors on a journey through the heathland and over the cliffs to discover the wildlife on the beautiful headland.

The old coastguard station, which commands stunning views over Bardsey Island, was a lookout point for coastguards for nearly 80 years until satellite technology made the building redundant in 1990. As well as showcasing the children’s work, it’s home to an exhibition which explains the importance of the surrounding heathland and how the National Trust is working with partner organisations to look after this unique landscape.

Llyn’s coastal heathland is one of the most important in Europe. The carpet of purple and yellow provides a rich habitat to many of Britain’s rarest species, such as the spotted rock-rose, yellowhammer, the chough, and golden hair lichen.

15.06.2007 – Archaeology for the masses in Nothern Ireland

The next few months will give everyone the chance to dig up some information about the past in Northern Ireland as a summer of archaeology events gets underway.

Starting with Archaeology Days on June 16, the celebrations will culminate with Heritage Open Days on September 8 and 9.

Pick up an Archaeology Days brochure at Tourist Information centres and libraries, and find out about other events such as medieval fairs, armoury displays and tours on the Environment and Heritage Service website.

a photograph of a workman working on the roof of a house

14.06.2007 - English Heritage offer tours of Jacobean house rescued from brink of dereliction

Tickets have gone on sale for one-off guided tours of Apethorpe Hall, a Grade I-listed country house in a picturesque corner of Northamptonshire.

The Hall is currently the subject of an ambitious £4 million rescue programme by English Heritage to save it from total collapse after it was left to rot by its previous owner, a foreign businessman.

Apethorpe Hall has a particularly important place in the nation’s heritage because of the role it played in entertaining Tudor and Stuart royalty at the pinnacle of its influence around the turn of the 17th century.

The summer’s tours represent a special opportunity to see inside the hall before it once again becomes a private home. Tours cost £5 (no concessions) and must be pre-booked by calling English Heritage Customer Services on 0870 333 1181. Places are limited so early booking is advised.

14.06.2007 - National Archives to help government preserve digital archives

A ground-breaking project led by The National Archives is to look at options for setting up a shared service across government departments to take, migrate and preserve digital data.

The government announced the plans this week to address the need for digital preservation with a warning that vital government information is becoming increasingly fragile and could be lost forever unless something is done to keep up with the rapid pace of technological change.

"Making sure that information remains accessible despite the rapid pace of changes in technology is a significant issue for all government departments," said Natalie Ceeney, Chief Executive of The National Archives.

The project is designed to ensure that government´s digital archives are kept secure and accessible for accountability, business continuity and efficiency.

Scissors cutting into folded yellow paper

14.06.2007 - Darwin home officially withdrawn from World Heritage bid

Having received expert evaluation of the Darwin at Downe World Heritage Site nomination by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the World Heritage Committee's advisory body, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has formally withdrawn the nomination of the site.

The DCMS hopes to submit a revised nomination to UNESCO in January 2009.

Darwin at Downe – Darwin’s home and workplace - was submitted to UNESCO as the UK's 2006 nomination to become a World Heritage Site in January last year.

ICOMOS has questioned the outstanding universal value, authenticity and integrity of the nominated site. However, the government considers that the report fails to recognise Darwin at Downe’s significance as a site for the heritage of science.

14.06.2007 - Scotland’s finest 13th century castle hosts massive medieval fair

On Sunday June 17 Bothwell Castle, Scotland’s largest and finest 13th century castle, will be hosting Medieval Merriment, Historic Scotland’s medieval living history summer event.

Events at Bothwell Castle usaully attract a large and appreciative crowd and this year Historic Scotland have organised something even bigger and better with plenty to see and do including combat displays, jewellery-making for children and a living history camp with lots of living history activities.

Medieval Merriment takes place from noon to 4.00pm on Sunday June 17. Main performances are set for 1.30pm and 3.00pm. Entry is included in the standard ticket price.

a photograph of a castle keep standing out against a blue sky

13.06.2007 - Helmsley Castle hosts weekend Knight School

Visitors to Helmsley Castle in Yorkshire this weekend get the chance to practice their chivalry and to become an apprentice to an Elizabethan Sword Master, when the site hosts the Tudor Knight School on June 16 and 17.

A trio of interpreters from Royal Armouries Live! will highlight different aspects of Tudor life, including presentations of Elizabethan swordsmanship using a buckler, rapier and dagger, and the chance to sign up for a 30-minute Knight School. These are have-a-go sessions for children to learn how to wield a 16th century sword, taking place throughout the day.

Alongside the two expert swordsmen will be a historical interpreter telling the story of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. Presenting letters written by Anne Boleyn during her incarceration, after Henry’s affections had moved onto Jane Seymour, the story takes a poignant and dramatic look at how the Queen was thrown aside by the King, but kept on loving him until her execution.

Throughout the weekend, visitors will be challenged to hunt around the grounds to find the mini-Tudors. These are foot-tall acrylic models of the best known Tudor of them all, King Henry VIII, along with his wives, hidden in nooks and crannies around the castle in a fun Tudor Trail.

Admission to the event is £5 for adults, £4 for concessions and £3 for children, with a family ticket (two adults and up to three children) for just £13. English Heritage members get in free.

Grand Tour Logo

13.06.2007 - National Gallery transforms central London into open air gallery

Tuesday June 12 saw central London transformed into a massive open air art gallery as reproductions of paintings by Old Master artists ranging from Caravaggio to Constable were put up on walls around Piccadilly and Covent Garden.

Called The Grand Tour, the initiative is the result of a collaboration between the National Gallery and Hewlett Packard with the aim of encouraging people to make the short journey to visit the genuine works, and many more, for free.

A map of the entire Grand Tour (including a selection of ‘mini-tours’), along with further information about the paintings, the story of how the project came about, audio downloads and a picture gallery are all available on a specially created website -

National Gallery Director Charles Saumarez Smith said: “I am very delighted that the National Gallery's long-standing association with Hewlett-Packard is continuing with a characteristically imaginative effort to bring art into the local community and to encourage new audiences to be aware of the great works of art to be seen in London.”

13.06.2007 - Thetford council unveils plans for a Dad's Army Museum

Civic leaders in Thetford have unveiled plans to convert a former garage and fire station in the town into a Dad's Army museum.

The town council's proposals aim to turn the buildings into an exhibition area celebrating the town's strong links with the fictitious Walmington-on-Sea. Thetford was the main TV location for the series between 1968 and 1977.

Thetford's clock tower was used in a famous Dad's Army episode involving a stranded Nazi parachutist and Dad's Army tours have seen more than 2,000 fans following in the footsteps of Captain Mainwaring and his Home Guard platoon over the last two years.

photograph of a large country house seen from beneath the boughs of a tree

13.06.2007 - Pupils get to grips with the Bard at the Bowes Museum

An amusing piece of theatre that introduces schoolchildren to Shakespeare is proving a huge hit at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle.

Actors from Mad Alice Theatre Company premiered Shakespeare Soirée at the Museum to appreciative family audiences during February half term. Since the launch there have been two weeks of organised performances for schools coming to learn more about Shakespeare in a production presented in an engaging and educational format.

“Pupils reaching Year 6 have to look at Shakespeare as part of the national curriculum,” said Lisa Jeffries, Education Manager at The Bowes Museum. “The touches of humour from the actors introduces them to the comedy, history and tragedy of the plays. The Museum has also engaged with Year 7 pupils, whose teachers thought that it could reach children from that year upwards."

Anyone wanting further information about the project, which is also available to secondary schools, can call the Education Department at The Bowes Museum on 01833 69402. For further information about the Museum call 01833 690606 or visit the website at

a photograph of a display case with stuffed wild animals in it

13.06.2007 - Red Squirrels return to Perth Museum and Art Gallery

Perth Museum has announced the installation of a new and improved woodland case featuring the Red Squirrel, Capercaillie, Black Grouse and other Perthshire species.

The old woodland display had been removed to allow the development of the Larger than Life discovery area for younger visitors, featuring a video microscope, enabling families to experience nature in all its minute detail. However the removal of the woodland display case did not go unnoticed by visitors who petitioned the museum to re-instate it.

Now the species have been restored to their rightful places within a colourful and realistic woodland setting, and the display is now fully interactive thanks to the addition of authentic animal sounds provided by the British Library Sound Archive.

Councillor Liz Grant, Convener of Lifelong Learning, said: “I am delighted that the museum is able to offer families the chance to learn about these animals and see them up close, while promoting enjoyment and awareness of the woodlands of Big Tree Country.”

photograph of two hand puppets fighting with swords

13.06.2007 - Medieval Robin Hood puppets come to Richmond Castle

Forget Mr Punch, there’s a new puppet in town on the weekend of June 16 and 17 when Robin Hood, his merry men, and rival Guy of Gisbourne arrive at Richmond Castle for a series of medieval-style puppet shows.

Puppet shows date back to the 5th century BC, but it is the 15th century version that will delight visitors to Richmond Castle in a version of the Robin Hood legend based upon a ballad from the 1470s.

During this period, puppetry was especially popular, with puppeteers having to obtain a licence to perform from the local town hall before the show could enjoy a public performance.

Each show lasts around 20–25 minutes, with shows taking place at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Admission to the event is £4 for adults, £3 for concessions and £2 for children. English Heritage members get in free.

13.06.2007 - Royal Marines Museum hosts Amateur Radio Weekend

Horndean and District Amateur Radio Club will be holding a Special Event Radio Station at the Royal Marines Museum on the weekend of June 16 and 17.

The events celebrate the International Museums on the Air weekend, where radio stations from all over the world, located at museums and other places of interest, try to make contact with each other.

Examples of those stations registered for the event include the Tower of London, IWM Duxford and even the Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum from Queensland, Australia.

“This is the third time the Museum is participating in International Museums Weekend and is once again looking forward to delivering this fun and hands-on interactive day for all the family alongside the Horndean and District Amateur Radio Society,” said Museum Marketing Manager, Kealey Izod.

a photograph of round white building on a quayside thronged with crowds

12.06.2007 - Male Voice Choir to mark temporary closure of The Beacon

The temporary closure of The Beacon Museum in Whitehaven Cumbria is to be marked with a concert by the Whitehaven Male Voice Choir in The Beacon’s Harbour Gallery at 3pm on Sunday June 17.

The Beacon is scheduled to be closed to the public completely from June 18 until the autumn for the completion of an ongoing £2.2m redevelopment scheme that will transform the exhibition spaces and provide a brand new 'painting store' which will house the museum’s fine art collection.

As well as bidding a temporary adieu to the old Beacon the concert also coincides with Whitehaven’s International Maritime Festival, which takes place over three days on June 15, 16 and 17.

During the Maritime Festival weekend, The Beacon’s Harbour Gallery will be open giving visitors a last chance to see a 30th Anniversary Exhibition about the Male Voice Choir together with a special exhibition of contemporary art entitled Legacy that has been housed in the gallery since March. Legacy reflects on the 21st century legacy of the abolition of the Atlantic Slavery Act.

12.06.2007 - Summer late opening and picnics for Museum of East Anglian Life

The Museum of East Anglian Life has started its summer late opening programme with a new closing time of 8pm every Thursday evening throughout June, July and August.

Newly opened riverside and woodland walks have been introduced to entice local people to enjoy the museum after work and perhaps bring a picnic to enjoy the evening at their leisure.

The new hours have been introduced following feedback from visitors who said they would like to be able to visit the museum, which ranges over 30.5 hectares (75 acres) and features steam engines, horses, rare breeds of cattle and sheep and 15 restored historic buildings.

a photograph of the ruined arches of an abbey

12.06.2007 - Map discovered at National Archives reveals previously unkown features of Hailes Abbey

The discovery of an Elizabethan-era map has revealed for the first time a clear picture of Hailes Abbey near Winchcombe in Gloucestershire, shortly after the Dissolution of the Monasteries by order of Henry VIII in the late 1530s.

Discovered recently at the National Archives at Kew by an English Heritage Archaeological Survey and Investigation team, the map shows a range of previously unknown or unconfirmed details on the estate, including the size of the estate, the water supply, the use of the land and the position of several key buildings.

It was produced in around 1587, less than 50 years after the abbey’s suppression, by Ralph Treswell, a renowned surveyor and cartographer who was among the first cartographers in England to produce scaled plans of estates.

The Cistercian abbey of Hailes was founded in 1246 by Richard of Cornwall, in thanksgiving for deliverance from shipwreck, and dissolved on Christmas Eve 1539. It was famous among pilgrims who flocked to the site to see a renowned relic, ‘the Holy Blood of Hailes’ – allegedly a phial of Christ’s own blood.

a photograph of a steam traction engine

11.06.2007 - Amberley Working Museum prepares for weekend steam show

Amberley Working Museum, in the heart of West Sussex, will be holding its third Midsummer Steam Show on Saturday and Sunday June 16 and 17, providing a grand display of a range of steam traction engines and rollers.

Amberley’s 14.5 hectare site will be host to its own steam traction engines and rollers, a steam crane and a steam-driven sawbench that will be powered by guest engines. There will also be rides around the site by engines pulling trailers.

“The Mid Summer Steam Show generates a lot of interest,” said Derek Kilburn, one of the event’s organisers, “and it will provide visitors with the opportunity to discover (or remember) the role steam power had in society.”

11.06.2007 - Anglo-Saxon house rises from the ashes at West Stow Anglo-Saxon village

The Farmer’s House at the centre of West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village is due to rise from the ashes, two years after being destroyed by fire.

Onsite construction will start with the cellar and floor during the week of June 18-25. The oak frame, floorboards and wall planks have been made by teams of skilled workers based in Ipswich and Essex and are now ready for assembly over the summer.

Lastly the house will be roofed with ash rafters and hazel battens and then thatched with a crop of spelt wheat grown especially for the project, probably in October.

The Anglo-Saxon village will remain open throughout the construction so visitors can watch as the building takes shape, using the same methods that it is believed Anglo-Saxons used to build their houses on this site, 1,500 years ago.

Visitors are welcome to call ahead to enquire what construction activities will be taking place on the day of their visit. Call 01284 728718 or email for more details.

a photograph of a line of soldiers in eighteenth century garb

11.06.2007 - Jersey Militia takes over Elizabeth Castle in St Helier

The St Lawrence Battalion of the 1781 Jersey Militia will be at Elizabeth Castle at St Helier Jersey this Sunday June 17.

Visitors will be able to hear the sounds and feel the atmosphere of the late 18th century. Cannons will be roaring, whilst re-enactors will be giving flintlock musket demonstrations and demonstrating drill from the 1764 drill manual.

The occasional duel may also break out as part of the demonstrations which will be held throughout the day between 10am and 4pm.

11.06.2007 - Archaeologists find WWII helmets in gun emplacement at Olympic park

Archaeologists have discovered a number of WWII helmets and other objects on a gun battery site on the north-east of the Olympic park construction site in East London.

The team from the Museum of London and Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd found the items while investigating four gun emplacements that were established on the site in 1941.

The items will now form part of the Museum of London collection and researchers are currently busily tracing the history of them as well as the personnel who used them and operated the defences.

11.06.2007 - Replica of Jamestown 400 ship to come to Chatham

A full-size replica of one of the ships that took the first settlers from England to America in 1607 is coming to the Historic Dockyard Chatham, Kent.

The Discovery was the smallest of the three ships that made the voyage and its replica will be at Chatham from June 16-July 1 2007 as part of The Discovery Tour 1607-2007, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown Virginia, the first permanent English-speaking settlement in America.

The ship will be displayed ashore on a specially constructed cradle.

In 1606 three ships - the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery - left London for the new world. They sailed into Chesapeake Bay in April 1607 and founded Jamestown after sailing up a broad waterway they called the James River after King James.

Discovery was only 11 metres long at the waterline and 3.5 metres across, carrying 22 men across the Atlantic.

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