Added: 15 May 2021
We hope you are enjoying all the new ways of engaging with the museum, through the new website, our Facebook page and the QR Codes. But you may be wondering when you can visit the museum and see our whole collection?
At the moment, we are taking a cautious approach to re-opening. Our collection is so rich that we have very little opportunity for social distancing within the museum itself. We also rely entirely on our team of volunteers to keep the museum open and to operate the tea room. Many of our volunteers are at higher risk, or are caring for those at high risk and we want them to be entirely comfortable with the pandemic situation before we ask them to come back into the museum.
All is not not lost though, we are progressing with our plans to develop a larger group of volunteers and begin a series of new projects, working with our colleagues at Marvellous Micromuseums. If you would like to explore volunteering opportunities, please do contact the museum as soon as possible. We are beginning a series of discussions soon. There is absolutely no commitment at this stage, we would just like to discuss how we can serve the village and support people’s hobbies, interests and skills through our collection.
New website and Facebook launch
Added: 4 Apr 21
Hopefully many of you have read about the work the museum has been doing over lockdown, in our article in the village magazine. Behind the scenes we can see more activity on the website and on our Facebook page as people explore. The QR codes around the village seem very popular which is great news. Do give us feedback on what you are enjoying and what you want to see more of through Facebook. The museum is here for you, so it would be great to hear what you think of our developments.
In the meantime, here’s some more chocolate – look, this one is supposed to be medicinal!
Added: 20 Feb 21
Ashdon Village Museum has teamed up with Marvellous Micromuseums to launch a series of projects in 2021.
First of all, we have redeveloped our website – please wander round and see what’s new. We are developing ways of engaging more with the Ashdon community. We are starting a Facebook page where you can join in conversations about your family heritage, old objects, stories from the past, old Ashdon. We are also supporting the village primary school with some heritage lessons, as well as having a special education space on her, where we will put up interesting things to do – and of course we welcome your pictures and stories of things you have made and done.
Marvellous Micromuseums is an organisation that specialises in supporting the smallest museums of village history. We helped them with some of their original research and now are reaping the benefits of that work.
A stitch in time
Added: 20 Jan 21
During both world wars the women of Ashdon knitted socks for the troops. Anyone remember Aunt’s or Grandmothers knitting away on 4 needles? An interesting fact about this subject came to light in a recent TV programme where Greg Wallace visited a sock factory.
Apparently during WW1 a number of cases of “Trench Foot” were exacerbated by the seam in knitted socks. This led to the introduction of the Kitchener Seam which eliminated the hard seam which caused so many problems.
It doesn’t seem likely that Lord Kitchener knitted many socks himself, but well over 100 years later there are still socks being knitted with the seam named after him. Including here at Ashdon Museum.
Dee, a volunteer at the Museum, showing how a Kitchener seam is knitted
Added 10 Jan 21
We are looking for information about Willie Smith. In the early 1900s Ashdon had its own photographer, Willie Smith. Ashdon Museum has a fine collection of his photographs and is always on the look-out for more. His pictures are signed J.W.Smith `Brookside’ Ashdon.
Albert Bassett (1881-1943) and his wife-to-be Minnie (1881-1981) in an engagement photograph take outside Willie Smith’s house, Brookside
We are also trying to find out more about the man himself. We have a small amount of his family tree, we think that he left Ashdon with his widowed mother in about 1914, but where they went is unknown.
Harry Akker (1823-1911) and his wife Mary Ann (1825-1912) taken by Willie Smith at their home
Can you help? Please contact the Curator Glenn Miller if you have any information or any photos you would like to donate to our collection.
The Annual Big Clean
Added: 5 Jan 2021
Every year, the Museum has a ‘big clean’ during the closed season, between Christmas and Easter. Of course this year was a bit different as we have been closed for the whole 2020 season. However, the work never stops, we may be a small museum, but we have a very large collection. The organisation and sorting of the collection behind the scenes is a constant job, items have to be correctly labelled, their condition has to be noted to ensure they aren’t being damaged in storage, and they have to be stored according to what they are made of, how fragile they are, and how they might be affected by temperature, or folding, or daylight etc.
We also use the time to refresh a few display areas – we have about 30 different display areas on a wide variety of themes covering work, home life, childhood, crafts and the like. We like to refresh three or four of these each year so that there is something new to look at, or a new perspective through which to view objects. We also add new objects into existing themes, and refresh labels where we get new information.
There’s also the constant museum dilemma of space – we really don’t want to hide things from display, but the museums space is already very busy with items. But so is our limited storage space! A rich collection is a wonderful thing to have, but as we mature as a museum, we must begin to be more selective, about what we accept and what we keep. In 2021, one of our tasks will be to look at how other small museums handle this issue of collection size, so that we can develop our own plans.
And all that while getting wildly distracted and off-track by the wonderful stories that lie behind so many of our objects. Have we told you about the red velvet dress? Well, it was ….