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The Weald & Downland Living Museum first opened its doors on 5 September 1970 to preserve and celebrate the history of rural England.
To mark the Museum’s 50th anniversary, the Museum has launched an ambitious two-year fundraising campaign to raise in excess of £2m that aims to secure the Museum’s future for the next 50 years and beyond.
Pledging their support are Campaign Ambassadors including much-loved actor, Hugh Bonneville, star of Downtown Abbey. Hugh comments,
“I am delighted to support the Weald & Downland Living Museum in celebrating all that this innovative institution has achieved over the past 50 years [and] to ensure it can continue its inspiring work for the next generation and beyond."
Joining Mr Bonneville are fellow ambassadors; Jay Blades, Will Kirk, Julie Tatchell, Amanda Middleditch, Ruth Goodman and Dr Jonathan Foyle.
The main objectives of the Campaign are to enrich the visitor experience, improve facilities and underpin the protection of the buildings and artefacts within the care of the Museum. These objectives fall under four pillars, which are:
1) Access: The improvement of access; this includes upgrading pathways (the number one visitor suggestion), overhauling public facilities and creating new resources to support those with additional needs. There will also be greater access to the artefacts collection including a searchable database to allow visitors to delve deeper into the Museum’s treasures. Funds will also be allocated to an enhanced bursary for schools in order to support visits from educational organisations that may have financial constraints. This will allow more students from a broader variety of backgrounds to access the resources of the Museum and experience living history.
2) The conservation of Titchfield Market Hall. The Museum has developed a plan to research and conserve the iconic Titchfield Market Hall. The seventeenth century hall stands at the heart of the Museum, having been saved from demolition in 1971. With funding from the Golden Future Campaign, major works will take place informed by detailed research into the Hall’s history and original configuration. Over a period of time trained crafts professionals will undertake the project to dismantle the building tile by tile, timber by timber and brick by brick to be carefully repaired and conserved before returning it to the Museum’s market square.
3) Underpinning the Museum’s future by raising money for the Museum Endowment. The Museum endowment invests funds that then release profits made back to the Museum. This will help to build the foundation for a sustainable financial future for the Museum for the next 50 years and beyond.
To support this goal, the Weald & Downland is one of just fifteen nationwide charities that have been awarded match funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The award means that all donations raised, up to a maximum of £500,000, towards the endowment will be matched, pound for pound by the Heritage Fund, creating a £1m endowment.
4) Finally, a Museum fund, called The 50 Fund, will be created to expand interpretation on site with more live, hands-on demonstrations as well as supplement ongoing building maintenance and conservation. The fund is intended to last for three years at which point annual grants from the Museum endowment will take over. Historic buildings especially those open to the elements require continually and skilled repair and maintenance; the 50 Fund will provide the resources to ensure that our collection has the very best of care. In addition, the fund will allow us to increase our interpretation team so visitors can experience more live demonstrations that bring history to life alongside the existing Victorian classroom, working Mill and Bakehouse and the role of working horses in rural family life. The 50 Fund will allow the Museum to respond confidently to unexpected repairs and meet their story-telling ambitions.
The Golden Future Campaign launched on 3 October 2019 and will run throughout the 50th anniversary year in 2020 and continue until the end of 2021.
To find out more, or to support please visit https://www.wealddown.co.uk/goldenfuture