A brief history by way of explanation of how this museum became established
Back in 1973 three teenage boys were bored during the half term holiday. On a whim they decided to go in search of old bottles, having recently seen a television programme about this increasingly popular hobby. Armed with spades they chose a site in Kate’s Lane and by the end of that day had found quite a selection of glass bottles and jars. They were hooked!
For the next three years they roamed the fields and hedgerows of Ashdon in search of their treasure, returning at the end of each exploration to ‘The Hut’. This was an old railway carriage at Hill farm which they had been given the use of by Joy & Leslie Bidwell. Before long the collection ran into hundreds of bottles.
By 1976 all three boys had left school and started work, gradually digging for bottles became less of an attraction. Eventually only one ‘boy’ was left collecting. Since an early age he had always been interested in anything old and had become a bit of a magpie even before digging up bottles. His family had lived in Ashdon for generations and stories of the village and its people were part of growing up. This interest in local history was encouraged by two teachers at Ashdon school, Dorothy Homewood and Arthur Kemp.
The ‘Hill Farm Collection’, as it had become known, eventually expanded to more than just bottles with objects coming from many sources, so much so that it outgrew three successive buildings! By 1995 it was decided that the collection should be safeguarded for the future, and what had been a private collection became Ashdon Village Museum.
A committee was formed and charitable status gained. In 1999 this building was purchased with money given by kind individuals keen to help.