The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £145,200 to the Priest’s House Museum and Garden in Wimborne, Dorset to enable it to develop its ‘ Revival’ project proposal which will ensure that the museum is fit for the challenges of the 21st century. The museum now has 12 months in which to finalise detailed plans and submit a Round 2 application.
This exciting project will include refurbishment and enlarging of exhibition and display space; enhancing the story of the Grade II* listed historic townhouse itself; telling the story of the people who have lived in East Dorset; further developing the schools programme, and making the entire building more accessible to all. The Priest’s House Museum will be repositioned as “The Museum of Wimborne and East Dorset” thus ensuring its continued existence for future generations. In addition, and importantly, Wimborne’s Tourist Information Centre will be amalgamated within the Museum, ensuring this vital community service remains in the heart of Wimborne.
The Priest’s House Museum was previously awarded an HLF award in 2010. This, together with additional funding from charitable foundations, local councils and local people was used to build The Hilda Coles Open Learning Centre which houses a new “museums standard” store for Collections, as well as a multi-functional learning and community space, a new tea room, and visitor facilities. The Museum boasts the most comprehensive Verwood pottery collection in existence; a collection of 350 Valentine cards from the later Georgian to the mid Victorian period – identified as of national importance; the Dacombe collection of clothes dating from the 1930s through to the 1950s; as well as some rare and significant archaeological artefacts from the Romano-British villa site of Tarrant Hinton.
Commenting on the award, David Morgan, Chairman of the Priest’s House Museum Trust said: “We are delighted to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund to help us develop the Museum further. We want to give the people of East Dorset a museum of which they can be proud and engage with all sectors of the local community as well as the many tourists who visit our beautiful town. The Trust’s vision is the one held by its founder, Hilda Coles, who believed that the museum should be: a ‘live’ museum – a centre of education and culture, continually changing its displays and appealing to children as well as to adults.
“We plan to submit a Round 2 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £982,200 in September 2017. The total project will cost £1.6 million so we need to raise the additional £472,600 through donations and grants from trusts and foundations. Our volunteer fundraising team will be working hard to achieve this ambitious goal. There will be plenty of opportunities for community consultation as the project plans are finalised. If the Museum secures all the funding, we plan to open the refurbished museum in 2018-2019.