News In Brief - Week Ending September 17 2006

By 24 Hour Museum Staff Published: 11 September 2006

Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending September 17 2006.

photo of a man in knights armour on horseback

15.09.2006 - National Army Museum To Stage Horses At War Event

London's National Army Museum, will be staging its annual Horse At War event on September 16-17 2006.

Visitors will be able to learn about 900 years of horses in action, from the Norman knight to the First World War. Live horse shows will demonstrate the skills of the medieval tournament, the Victorian lancer and the mounted rifleman of the Boer War.

"The event aims to celebrate and commemorate the army horse’s conscripted service", said Andy Robertshaw of the museum. "Life for an army horse certainly isn’t the Pony Club, and we want to recognise their extraordinary, unconditional contribution."

15.09.2006 - Blue Plaque For Sir John Betjeman

The poet, writer and broadcaster Sir John Betjeman has been commemorated by an English Heritage Blue Plaque at his former home at 31 Highgate West Hill, London N1, where he lived from 1908-1917.

Bentjeman lived from 1906-1984 and was to become a well-loved Poet Laureate. He also made many television and radio appearances, notably in the 1973 BBC documentary Metroland, and was a passionate architectural conservationist.

photo shows the exterior of a castle

14.09.2006 - External Work Completed At Cardiff Castle

The outside of Cardiff Castle can now be seen in its full glory after the scaffolding surrounding the historic site for the last five years was recently removed.

Conservation work costing more than £4m has seen major external work carried out on the castle's Roman fort, medieval towers and magnificent neo-gothic house, completing an important phase of the restoration of the 2000-year old international visitor attraction.

The variety of the work undertaken has been immense including major stonework, as well as work on water gutters, slate roofs, windows and doors. Much of the work has involved making the castle watertight which will allow the next phase of work, the conservation of rare interiors, to proceed.

Conservation project manager, John Edwards, said: "This external work followed on from a research and analysis programme that determined best practice in conservation at one of Wales' most important historic sites."

You can find out more about Cardiff Castle - past, present and future, at

14.09.2006 - Museum Of Oxford Scraps Entrance Fees

After nearly closing due to financial pressures, the council-run Museum of Oxford in St Aldates is set to open to the public for free.

The Museum tells the story of the city's history, and for a time has been the only museum in Oxford still charging for entry.

Now the city council have scrapped charges and hope to recoup the costs from increased visitor numbers to the new cafe, recently opened in the building.

Visitors can also see a new Exploring Space exhibition. Described as "a hands-on 'out of this world' exhibition", the new show includes cosmonaut's clothing, ancient astronomical instruments and space technology from Oxfordshire's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

a photograph of a man bearing the soles of his feet

13.09.2006 - Cleansing Of The Sole Ceremony Returns To Rievaulx Abbey

A tradition last seen over 450 years ago is set to be resurrected for three Saturdays in September at Rievaulx Abbey, when the tradition of feet washing returns to the Abbey - with a contemporary twist.

The tradition was common at Rievaulx - as many other Abbeys - from the 12th to the 16th centuries, when the Abbot would wash the feet of the monks in the order each Saturday morning, replicating how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

Similarly, the monks would wash the feet of any visitors arriving at the abbey as an act of humility, showing they were not above the task of washing people's feet. For the 21st century version, the foot washing has been adapted to become a foot freshen and massage, to ease the weary feet of visitors.

13.09.2006 - Research Provides New Insights Into Tilbury Fort

English Heritage say on-going research at Tilbury Fort, the Henry VIII built fortification on the Thames Estuary in Essex, has reached a significant milestone.

The European Community has agreed to partly fund a three-nation project called "Crossing the Lines", aimed at regenerating historic fortifications. At Tilbury Fort, it has assisted in several schemes to improve the interpretation of the site for visitors, building on a new exhibition about the fort's history installed by English Heritage in 2004.

The projects include re-opening the Victorian underground gunpowder magazines, and the installation of an interactive computer in the guard room on which are recorded the memories of people during war and peace time, who experienced the fort, the docks and the Tilbury area in the course of the 20th century.

a phtograph of an early british tank on the edge of trench

12.09.2006 - Tank Museum Celebrates 90 Years Since The Appearance Of The Tank

The Tank Museum at Bovington will be marking the 90th anniversary since the first use of the tank with a special exhibition in the museum's Trench Experience.

The stories behind the invention and its early use in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 will be explored in the exhibition together with some of the stories of the men who fought in them.

"The anniversary is an important one becuase it marks the first time that this British invention, the tank, was used in war. From that moment, warfare changes dramatically," said Interpretation Officer Martin Wright.

A family weeked, with various tank related activities, takes place at the museum on September 16 and 17 together with a 90th anniversary lecture titled: 'The Battle of Flers and the first use of the tank.'

12.09.2006 - V&A Awarded £9.75 Million HLF Grant For Medieval And Renaissance Galleries

The V&A has been awarded an Heritage Lotter Fund (HLF) grant of £9.75 million towards the museum's new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries.

Opening in 2009, the galleries will be the culmination of the first phase of the V&A's FuturePlan project to transform the museum through new galleries and beautiful displays.

"The V&A's Medieval and Renaissance collections are among the best in the world and one of the glories of the museum," said Mark Jones, Director of the V&A. "This HLF grant will enable us to show these treasures in exciting new displays, incorporating innovative approaches to interpretation, which will shed new light on this fascinating period."

a photograph of a sailing boat heading towards a castle at sea

12.09.2006 - Plain Sailing At Blackness Castle As Private Boats Are Welcomed

Access to the Firth of Forth’s formidable 15th century fortress, Blackness Castle, has recently been enhanced as visitors can now sail there on their own yachts and boats.

"Use of the pier to visit Blackness Castle is a logical progression following its structural renovation by Historic Scotland," said Susan Loch, Historic Scotland’s visitor services manager for the region. "The recent works, such as fitting signs, complete the preparations necessary for the reception of visitors."

12.09.2006 - All Steam Ahead For Papplewick Pumping Station Steam Day

Friday September 15 will see the second Experience Steam Day of 2006, at Papplewick Pumping Station in Nottinghamshire. Up to 12 individuals will be carefully guided through the operations of the Boiler House and Engine House and given the chance to fire a boiler and start a beam engine.

The Mayor of Gedling will also be attending in the afternoon to accompany the group on a tour of the original reservoir and present certificates to the guests.

“The past Experience Steam days have been very successful for Papplewick Pumping Station and we are very pleased to have the opportunity to offer our guests a behind the scenes look at the original reservoir, which has never been seen by the public," said Marketing and Events Manager, Catherine Gough.

a drawing showing two arms and hands

11.09.06 - Leeds Prepares For Priceless Da Vinci Exhibition

Staff at Leeds Art Gallery are readying the gallery for a loan exhibition of exquisite drawings by Renaissance master Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 - 1519) from the Royal Collection as part of the celebrations to mark Her Majesty's 80th Birthday.

'I am delighted Leeds has been chosen as one of four venues to host such wonderful treasures from the Royal Collection," said Executive Member for Leisure Councillor John Procter.

The drawings on loan to Leeds showcase the breadth of Leonardo's career and demonstrate the extraordinary scope of his interests. The pictures included demonstrate all the techniques and drawing materials Leonardo often used, including metal point, pen and ink, brush and ink, and red and black chalks.

The Leeds drawings have been in the Royal Collection since the 17th century and were probably acquired during the reign of Charles II, (1660 - 1685). They will be shown in Leeds from September 14 to November 26 2006.

11.09.06 - China's Leading Performance Artist Delays His British 'Rock Tour'

The leading Chinese performance artist, He Yun Chang, has delayed his performance art tour of Britain carrying a rock by one week because of commitments in China.

The planned bus trip from Newcastle to join He Yun Chang at the start of his walk will go ahead but will now travel directly to Boulmer rather than Rock, and one week later on Sunday 24 September.

The Beijing-based artist is amongst the most important artists presently working in China, creating unique solo performances in which he has placed exceptional physical demands upon himself both in terms of his strength and endurance.

Touring Round Great Britain With A Rock is He Yun Chang's most challenging and ambitious performance to date and it is set to become a landmark project in the history of durational performance art.

Starting from Rock, in Northumberland, he will walk to the nearby coast at Boulmer where he will select a rock and set off to carry it around the island of Great Britain in a counter clockwise direction, eventually to return the rock to the precise location from where it was taken.

a photograph of a lady dressed in grey on a stairwell

11.09.06 - More Ghost Tours At Preston Manor In Brighton

Due to popular demand, extra dates for the paranormal Twilight Tours atPreston Manor, Brighton, have just been announced.

Tales of ghostly sightings and supernatural experiences at Preston Manor go back through history, including Sister Agnes, the medieval nun who helped travellers on their way; a body buried under the patio; a disembodied hand floating by the four-poster bed; the White Lady and the elegant Lady in Grey who descends the grand staircase with nowhere to go.

The extra tours will take place at 7pm on Tuesdays 17 October, 14 November and 12 December so book in advance on 01273 292770 and take a tour of Brighton's most haunted house!

11.09.06 - Weston Park Granary Reaps Heritage Lottery Fund Harvest

Staff at historic Weston Park on the Shropshire/ Staffordshire borders are celebrating, following the announcement they have received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund which will enable the property to begin planning the future conservation and restoration of the disused eighteenth century Granary building.

The grant, totalling £45,000, will enable a full conservation assessment to be undertaken and for plans to be drawn up to give the building a new economically viable lease of life for the future whilst preserving its historic interest.

11.09.06 - Royal Naval Museum Invites Public To Have Their Say On New Naval History Website

The Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is looking for members of the public to join a User Group for the second time, to gain feedback and ideas about their new online website detailing the 20th Century Navy.

The Sea Your History website will digitise and provide on-line access to 15,000 items from the Museum’s 20th Century collection. The User Group will be able to comment on the first designs for the website, meet the team and discuss in detail, the plans for content.

The session will take place on Wednesday 13th September at 2.30pm in the Royal Naval Museum. Please contact Katy Elliott at the Museum on 023 927 27576 or email

11.09.06 - Archaeologists Discover Corn Mill Under Industrial Heritage Site

Archaeologists have discovered an early 18th century corn mill beneath one of Scotland's most important industrial heritage sites.

Stanley Mills outside Perth was an important cotton spinning mill, but it is now clear that the location had previously been used for a more traditional type of water mill.

The discovery of the corn mill beneath the cotton mill was made while a main drain was being dug in an area where a riverside terrace is to be created for visitors as part of a multi-million pound regeneration scheme. The remains will now be incorporated into the new displays and improvements at the mill.