What's On at Nantwich Museum

The Cheshire Civil War Centre is 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 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.

A SPECIAL OFFER . . . Become a Friend of the Museum and pay no renewal fee until April 2022. 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.  

The following events are temporarily cancelled during pandemic



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.



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), the 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.




Guests at the 40th anniversary reception are: Nick Dyer (former 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. At a reception for the anniversary, the then 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 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.





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SUBJECT to further Covid-19 restrictions, the Museum plans to reopen on Thursday,  December 3, resuming its earlier arrangement of Thursday to Saturday openings, 10.30am to 4.30pm.

   Because visitor numbers are restricted, the Museum requests that people ring in advance to book their visit. The Museum will close for Christmas and the New Year at 4.30pm on Thursday, December 24 and reopen at 10.30am on Saturday, January 2.


o THE museum shop will be open offering a wide range of goods including Christmas cards, other greeting cards, games, toys, souvenirs, craft work including jewellery, books, etc. The extensive range of books cover various aspects of the town’s history with two new titles available this year.

   Local History Snippets from Nantwich Digital Museum by Helen Cooke is a collection of items featured in the popular Facebook posts developed this year during the Museum’s enforced closure. The book, priced at £10.95, provides bite-size chunks of information on a wide range of topics including local history, stories, old photographs, paintings and images from the Museum collection, some of which are only rarely seen.

   Lost Halls in Cheshire by Andrew Lamberton costs £15 and looks at over 70 Cheshire country houses and mansions that no longer exist, ranging from the late 14th century to Victorian times. Some were replaced by new houses, others destroyed by fire or vandalism, while some did not recover from military occupation during the Second World War. Although the main properties may be lost, evidence can sometimes be found of outbuildings such as lodges and private chapels.

   Shop items can be ordered by telephone on 01270 627104 or by emailing the Museum at education@nantwichmuseum.org.uk. Payment can be made by telephone, when collection times can be arranged.  Some items can be purchased online by visiting https://www.nantwichmuseum.org.uk/shop/ including books and booklets detailing local history, some of which are downloadable.


o CHRISTMAS is also an ideal time to become a Friend of the Museum with no renewal required until April 2022. Friends support the work of the Museum and, subject to Covid-19 restrictions, membership includes e-mail newsletters, the Journal, discounts on talks and events, invitations to exclusive Member events and a voice at the Annual General Meeting. Individual membership costs £20 and for families it is  £30. Further details are available from the Museum and it is possible to join online via the Museum website, https://nantwichmuseum.org.uk/product/individual-membership.



FOLLOWING the latest announcement from the UK Government, the Museum will be closed until Wednesday, December 3.

   The staff and volunteers will be working from home again and will be answering the museum's usual contact links: see the details in the first column of this page.

   Work will continue on the digital education project, and places are still available on the online webinar with books and pamphlets being available through the online shop.


ALTHOUGH the Museum is once again closed because of the nationwide lockdown, the Digital Museum featured on the website continues to flourish.

   "Nantwich at Play" was a temporary exhibition staged in the Millennium Gallery of the Museum in 2015,  and key elements can now be found on the website: www.nantwichmuseum.org.uk.

   Fun was the keynote of the exhibition which took as its theme changing social influences to illustrate how the people of the town spent their leisure time through the ages.

   A painting by the Museum’s artist, Les Pickford, depicting a medieval fair near the parish church, introduced the exhibition. The panels, drafted by members of the Museum’s Research Group and designed by its photographer Paul Topham, include visits to early fairs, excursions by road and rail, a variety of sports and horse races at the local course as well as visits to the theatres, cinemas and local zoos.

   "Nantwich at Play" is the latest addition to the Museum website, which now includes several previously-staged exhibitions developed in-house and some from external exhibitors.

   There is an opportunity to purchase copies of local books produced by Museum members, and to download some of the popular research booklets documenting various aspects of local history. All of these provide a welcome boost to Museum funds at a time when other income streams have been curtailed.

   The website also provides an opportunity for people to assist in the running of the Museum by becoming a member of the Museum Trust or a Volunteer.

 Look out for the forthcoming special offer at Christmas.

 The “Donate” button is an ideal way to support the Museum's service to the community.



THE Museum are staging a series of online talks in the Autumn “Historical Nantwich Online”. They are:

  Wednesday, December 2: "The Great Fire of Nantwich" by Keith Lawrence. On December 10, 1583, fire swept through the town, destroying much of the centre. Although not an unusual event, it is significant because of the survival of documents showing the extent of the fire, how a national collection for "The Relief of Nantwich" was organised and how this money was distributed to those affected by the fire. 

   Wednesday, December 9:  “1910 Lloyd George Domesday Survey” by Bill Pearson. The Valuation Office survey which is described includes detailed maps and residential data enabling family historians to locate exactly where their ancestors lived. Records from this survey of Nantwich will be shown, including details of properties and residents. Guidance will be given on how to access the survey.

   Wednesday, December 16: “Nantwich in Tudor Times” by Graham Dodd. This talk considers various aspects of life in the town and some of its people. Find out more about what life was like in Nantwich more than 400 years ago.


lParticipants can join the talks online from 1.50pm for a prompt start at 2pm. Full instructions for joining will be provided when booking.

   The cost is £5 per talk with all proceeds supporting the work of the Museum, which is a registered charity. Tickets for the talks can be purchased through the online shop. The Museum will need participants' e-mail address so that a link can be sent to them.

   The online address is: https://nantwichmuseum.org.uk/webinars-2020



THE Museum is pleased to announce its selection as one of the 60 diverse organisations participating in The Lab which is part of the Digital Heritage Lab providing digital mentoring support.

   The Lab aims to develop, on a bespoke basis, the individual digital capabilities and capacity of participating organisations. It is a free programme for small to medium-sized heritage organisations and is project managed by the Arts Marketing Association (AMA) in partnership with Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy, One Further and the Collections Trust and is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the Digital Skills for Heritage initiative.

   The Museum will be paired with an expert Digital Skills Mentor who will advise it on digital strategic planning, assess training needs and encourage, inspire and provide new ideas and approaches.

   Visitors will benefit through, for example, improved displays, interactives, animations and videos.

   Museum Manager, Kate Dobson, commented: "This is a brilliant opportunity to develop our digital skills at a time when we need to look outside the box for new and exciting ways to make accessible the important local stories and artefacts that illustrate the history of the town". 



AFTER 40 years of serving the community by recording the rich history of the town and its locality, the Museum is laying ambitious plans to update its Main Gallery.

   The four key elements in the design of the new gallery are:

 The story of Nantwich brine and the making of the high-quality salt for which the town was known and which was valued by the Romans

 The changing face of the town

 Events which shaped the town including the Great Fire of 1583

 Nantwich’s various trades and industries.

   Modern displays are envisaged, employing material from the Museum’s Collection with new technology enhancing interpretations in part through the medium of oral histories.

   Museum Manager, Kate Dobson, commented: “A lot of the groundwork for the re-development has already been covered, and the first phase of work with a design agency is already in hand. What was already a major challenge has now been made much more difficult by the pandemic and especially the question of finance, but that is being addressed with the practicality of the project in mind.”

  Visit the Museum’s website: www.nantwichmuseum.org.uk. Also Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nantwichmuseum/; and Twitter @NantwichMuseum.



DESPITE the closure of the Museum due to the pandemic some activities continued.

   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.

   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.

l Nantwich Digital Museum was launched in March on its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nantwichmuseum/ and Twitter @NantwichMuseum is proving a great success.

New website   |   Online shop


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.