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July 2009 Meeting Report

SVHS Visit to Ashdon Museum

BA group of fourteen SVHS members visited Ashdon Museum on Thursday 9th July 2009 by special arrangement. We were given a brief introduction by Cherry Fisher, one of the curators at the museum. Glenn Miller and Malcolm Moore were also involved.

The founder, Glenn Miller, wanted to be a museum curator from an early age and made it his business to visit every house when someone died to see if the family would give him any articles pertaining to Ashdon which they didn't need or want.

As his collection grew he was able to use a shed on a local farm, then more sheds and a caravan. This obviously could not go on so a search began for a suitable building in which to house and display his ever increasing collection. Eventually, in the 1960s, the Labour Hall came on the market and fund raising began in earnest.

Once purchased it took another five years to repair, renovate and decorate the hall and set up the 'rooms' in which to display the artefacts. Further renovations and upgrading have taken place since the opening as the hall has been flooded twice and now flood defences are in place to prevent a similar catastrophe.

The museum is cunningly divided into a number of small 'rooms' each depicting a different aspect of Ashdon village life and packed with interesting objects, photographs and legends. There is a disabled toilet, kitchen and comfortable tea rooms at the end of the hall where hot drinks and delicious homemade cakes are for sale at a very reasonable price.

The displays include a kitchen, laundry display, toy and games room, cobbler's display, hunting and gaming artefacts, war time memorabilia, chemist and medical goods, a post office, and many more including in the toilet area, a small scale model of the human body showing the internal organs and an amputated 'leg' complete with 'blood' at the top of the thigh. It's the sort of place that could be visited time and again and still one would see something new.

The museum is open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons with a small admission charge and donations are also very welcome. It is closed during the winter months when a complete refurbishment takes place and the displays are changed, so each year there is something new to see.

A visit to this museum is to be thoroughly recommended. The older generations will journey back to their earlier years and younger people can marvel at the curiosities of yesteryear. Although space is somewhat restricted owing to the nature of the layout, the building would be accessible for moderately disabled people, and there is limited car parking.

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