What's On at Nantwich Museum

Cheshire Civil War Centre now based at the Museum

THE new Cheshire Civil War Centre gallery can be found at the Museum, just before the Millennium Gallery. This used to be the Your Space Gallery, which has now been relocated upstairs at the Museum.

   The Civil War Centre was opened by Cllr David Marren as one of the events towards the end of his term as Mayor of Nantwich. He said: “Although the Civil War produced a military dictator in the form of Cromwell and ultimately led to the restoration of the Stuart monarchy, it did create the foundation for a new kind of monarchy which was quite different from the “absolute” monarchies which dominated the rest of Europe.

   "The exhibition tells how Nantwich played its part, and how its people were affected by the conflict and the hardships and sufferings they endured but also explains the strategic importance of the town."

   Cllr Marren added: "In late 1643, Nantwich was the only town in Cheshire still held by the Parliamentarians. The defeat of Royalist forces at Nantwich thwarted King Charles's plan to create a field army in the northwest based on regiments returning from Ireland and so altered the course of the conflict and therefore in some small way we can claim credit for a constitutional monarchy and the supremacy of Parliament."

   The display features interpretation panels developed by the museum's Research Group, which enjoys a wide range of expertise including art, design and model making, all supplemented by artefacts of the time and informative replicas.

   The Chairman of the Museum Board of Management, Nick Dyer, observed that the new display helps to bring the Civil War to life and enable the community to understand its past. He hoped it would be of interest to specialists, local residents and visitors.



   In development since 2015 under the direction of Dr Keith Lawrence, the centre (pictured left) was conceived as an educational resource focussed on the war in this locality.

   Speaking at the opening, Keith Lawrence explained how much of what we think we know about the Civil War is inaccurate, because it is based on seventeenth century tales which have become accepted as fact over the years.

   He stressed: "The new centre is trying to paint an accurate picture by peeling apart the conventional stories, which are mostly propaganda".

   He acknowledged all those who had helped create the centre, including the National Civil War Centre, Newark, and Grosvenor Museum, Chester, as well as Colin Bisset and Brenda Rampling of The Sealed Knot, whose attendance in period costume added a touch of colour to the occasion.




WHILE being exercised near the Fairfax Bridge over the River Weaver in Nantwich, after a flood, Sasha, a rescue dog belonging to the Shepherd family, unearthed a fragment of decayed wood (right). Close inspection revealed that the crescent-shaped wood had a tapered blade and a hole in the centre and was clearly man made.

   The dog’s minder, Dave Shepherd (pictured with Sasha)was alert to the origins of the find and in discussion with local historian, Andrew Lamberton, soon ascertained the fragment was part of a rake once used to remove salt from the pans in which brine was being evaporated.

   The rake head was probably liberated as the flooding river washed away the remains of a former wich or salt-making house.

   The salt-making industry was at its height during Tudor times so the rake head could be more than 500 years old.

   The rake head was transferred to the Museum where it will be conserved to eventually be displayed as part of the story of salt-making in the town.


THE Museum has been "overwhelmed" by the generosity of donations to finance a new kitchen. They have now been able to install new lights, remove the old fan heater, and install new flooring and a splashback.

   In constant use, the kitchen had fallen into a very sorry state of repair.

   The Chair of the Board of Trustees, Nick Dyer, commented: “Capital spends to maintain the Museum are always a challenge and for some years the need to replace the ailing kitchen had been regarded as a low priority."  


THE Museum's Book Group, now in its 22nd year, provides an opportunity for members to read books chosen by the group, and discuss their merits and the impact they have had on them as readers. Meetings are held at the Museum at 7.30pm on Tuesdays, between September and June. Not at the moment, of course.

   An annual subscription of £15 is payable as a donation in aid of Museum funds.


A SPECIAL OFFER . . . Become a Friend of the Museum and pay no renewal fee until April 2021. Help to support the work of the Museum. Membership includes

e-mail newsletters, a copy of the Journal, discounts on talks and events, invitations  to exclusive member events and an opportunity to vote at the AGM. Individual membership £20, families £30. Further details are available from the Museum.  



COFFEE mornings are held in the Millennium Gallery on the last Friday of each month (except bank holiday weekends) in aid of museum funds. Enjoy a hot drink and a slice of homemade cake while catching up with friends old and new. There is no charge, but donations to keep the Museum going are appreciated. The events have raised £2,493.01 in the past two years.



THE Museum hosts a Dementia Friendship Group which meets at 2pm on the first and third Monday of every month. It is open to anyone living with dementia, their carer, family and friends. No charge is made to attend the meetings. For more details visit www.nantwichmuseum.org.uk/dementia-friendship-group/


CONTACT THE MUSEUM on enquiries@nantwichmuseum.org.uk or telephone 01270 627104; website: www.nantwichmuseum.org.uk. Or visit https://www.facebook.com/nantwich.museumoffical/ or https://twitter.com/NantwichMuseum. Or call in to the museum in Pillory Street (CW5 5BQ) - opposite the pillory.

   The museum is normally open from 10.30am to 4.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Admission is free. The museum is a registered charity.



MUSEUM Trustee Dr Graham Dodd was presented with the prestigious Dutton Prize at the Museum's Annual Dinner.
   The Dutton Prize includes a medal endowed by medal-maker Ron Dutton in memory of his parents Alderman and Mrs Dutton. It features an image of the church as a symbol of the town and its community. Each year since 1990 the Museum Board has nominated for the prize unsung heroes regarded as making an extraordinary contribution to the life of the town.
   Graham is a former Vice Chair of the Management Board of the Museum. He is active locally as Vice Chair of Nantwich Historical Society, a founder member of the Nantwich Camera Club and other local organisations.

   In making the presentation (left) , Chair of the Museum Board, Nick Dyer, said that Graham was an expert on the history of Nantwich salt production, the local canal system and many other aspects of local history.

   He recalled that when a Chinese television unit turned up at the museum seeking an expert to talk about Nantwich brine and salt, Graham was the obvious choice and he is now probably famous throughout China without knowing it.

    Graham also appeared on the BBC's North West Tonight programme recounting the murder in 1572 of Roger Crockett the licensee of The Crown.
   After the presentation, Graham gave a talk on his “Heritage Journey” describing his introduction to industrial archaeology at Bath University and subsequent developing interest in the subject as he discovered examples around the country including the Potteries and Coalbrookdale in Shropshire.

  This was reinforced when he moved to Nantwich and became interested in the salt industry and its local heritage. Graham is well known throughout the area where he gives talks to local groups and societies.


TOUR THE TOWN - after the virus is beaten . . .

GUIDED walks in Nantwich are led by volunteers from the museum, either as a general tour for members of the public, or an exclusive one tailored to meet the requirements of a group.

   The Museum offers a town tour and a tour of Welsh Row each month. Tours leave the Museum at 11am sharp. There are also Riverside Walks (the River Weaver),

  General tours last for between an hour and a half and two hours and can feature Tudor  Nantwich, Victorian Nantwich, the Battle of Nantwich, and the Civil War. Or they can have a specific theme such as industry in the local area to suit a group.

   The tours cost £4 per person (£3 Museum members) for a minimum of six people. Larger groups or parties of individuals may be split into smaller parties so that participants can hear the leader of the tour and see any relevant object easily. It is advised that you book ahead to avoid disappointment.

   To join an arranged tour, or to set up one for your group, telephone 01270 627104, e-mail education@nantwichmuseum.org.uk, or call in at the museum.

   For more information visit the museum website or call in at the museum.



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A RUBBISH EXHIBITION  (that's the subject not a comment!)

WITH the continuing enforced closure of Nantwich Museum due to the Covid-19 pandemic it has not been possible to install the scheduled temporary exhibition: "Reincarnated Rubbish - Endangered and Extinct", an inspired exhibition by creative recycling artist Val Hunt.

   Elements of the exhibition have, however, been made available on the Museum’s website: www.nantwichmuseum.org.uk.

   The artwork employs ingenuity, humour and skill to create a fascinating and inspiring selection of sculptural pieces which will appeal to visitors of all ages. Animals including insects, exotic birds, fish and dinosaurs, all on the edge of, or now, extinct have been made from a selection of throw-away materials, especially Val’s favourite medium, drinks can metal.

   The online exhibition presents some of the animals it was originally intended to display making a subtle message about recycling and preservation, raising awareness of why the creatures are endangered or extinct. Find out why species are disappearing from this planet at an alarming rate. The exhibition aims to inspire, inform and encourage everyone to experience the fun of creative recycling.

   Val retrieves everyday things we throw away and presents them in a new and fascinating dimension. Her work recycles a diverse selection of rubbish from which she creates innovated sculptures, wall hangings, hats and jewellery.

   It has been shown in exhibitions around the U.K., Denmark, Japan, United Emirates, and the U.S.A., and has toured overseas with the British Council. Val has worked in many permanent collections. She won the Gold Award for specialist media in the "Craft and Design" magazine awards in 2014 and was runner-up in 2013.


DESPITE continued closure of Nantwich Museum because of the Covid-19 pandemic some activities continue.

   The Research Group meets each Friday through online conferencing enabling members to keep in touch and exchange ideas while other groups ensure the Museum continues to run smoothly.

   A new, improved website has been launched at www.nantwichmuseum.org.uk including continuously updated stories of Nantwich Buildings and notable People. For the first time there is an opportunity to download digital copies of the popular Research Booklets documenting various aspects of local history.

   Ten titles are available immediately at prices of £2.95 and £3.95 with plans to extend the range. The booklets have provided a welcome boost to Museum funds which, it is hoped, will be enhanced through their wider availability online, especially at a time when other income streams have been curtailed.

   The website provides an opportunity to assist in the running of the Museum by becoming a Member of the Museum Trust or a Volunteer, while the “Donate” button is an ideal way to support its service to the community.

   Also, now featured on the website are online exhibitions based upon those staged by the Museum in recent years. Visitors to the site can enjoy “From Nantwich to Oxygen: Joseph Priestley’s Journey of Discovery” and “Empowerment of Women”.

lIN the meantime, Nantwich Digital Museum launched in March on its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nantwichmuseum/ and Twitter @NantwichMuseum is proving a great success. A programme of local history stories, pictures and interactive activities form the basis of daily postings, with  a different theme for each day of the week, including images and interpretation of exhibits from temporary exhibitions, Buildings and Places, Nantwich People, Quizzes and Questions, Memory Lane, the Civil War, and Science and Nature.

New website   |   Online shop



Guests at the 40th anniversary reception are: Nick Dyer (Chairman of the Museum Board of Trustees), Cllr Pam Kirkham (now Mayor of Nantwich), Kieran Mullan (Crewe and Nantwich MP), Cllr Carole Thomas (formerly Mayor's Consort), Cllr Arthur Moran (formerly Mayor of Nantwich), Andrew Lamberton (Museum Volunteer) and Kate Dobson (Museum Manager). 


THE Museum is marking its 40th anniversary this year. As well as the usual temporary exhibitions, walking tours of the town, workshops, and more, special events to celebrate the anniversary were planned but are subject to the coronavirus pandemic arrangements. These include a talk on Saturday, June 6, by Gaye Blake-Roberts, Curator of the Wedgwood Museum, a Community Collection Day and competitions for children.

    The celebrations so far included a reception for stakeholders and other guests in the Millennium Gallery in March.

    The Mayor of Nantwich, Cllr Arthur Moran, reflected on the "little gem" which is Nantwich Museum. He thanked the Museum for helping to make Nantwich such a vibrant market town and assured it of the continued support of the Town Council.   

    Nick Dyer, Chair of the Museum Board of Trustees, welcomed guests and observed how far the organisation had come in 40 years. He outlined several special events to mark the anniversary including a 1980s Collection Day, a summer exhibition aimed at showcasing the work of the Museum, and a special lecture: "Josiah Wedgwood - Potter, Pioneer and Philanthropist".

    He paid tribute to Cheshire East Council and Nantwich Town Council for their support of the independent charitable trust without which its continued existence would be in jeopardy. 

   Museum volunteer, historian Andrew Lamberton, gave an illustrated talk about the second edition of the book "The Lost Houses of Nantwich".

   Museum Manager, Kate Dobson, cited current projects which highlighted the Museum as vibrant community hub. She noted the need to respond to the requirements of the community.


nTHE Museum opened in January 1980 in the former Nantwich Free Library building in Pillory Street with the aim of preserving the history of the town and its environs. As the collection developed in the early days, temporary exhibitions were the mainstay including one, in 1983, concerned with fire insurance emblems from which the Museum's sun logo was derived.

   The cheese and dairy exhibition was originally housed in a lean-to outside the Museum but moved indoors in 1990 at the same time as the Joseph Heler Room (upstairs) was opened as an exhibition / meeting room.

  The Millennium Gallery was a major addition in 2000 along with a secure collection store and general storeroom. Plans are in hand to re-develop the Museum and its permanent displays.


THE Crown Hotel is the subject of a booklet launched by the Museum and available in the Museum Shop. "The Crown - a brief history of this historic inn", joins a range of booklets which look at the town's history.

   It was written by Andrew Lamberton and Bill Pearson who produced the "Nantwich Pubs" book (164 pages for £11.95). But they found during their research that they had far more material about The Crown than would fit into a book covering all the town's pubs.

   Photographs and other material in the booklet were given to the Museum by the inn's owner, Bill Schofield, whose father, William Schofield, bought The Crown in 1962 when it was in a perilous state.

   The booklet, which is also available from The Crown Hotel in High Street, costs £2.95 with all profits going to support the Museum.