What's On at Nantwich Museum

The Cheshire Civil War Centre gallery is based in Museum

THE Cheshire Civil War Centre gallery, set in the Museum, tells how Nantwich played its part, and how its people were affected by the conflict and the hardships and sufferings they endured. It  also explains the strategic importance of the town.

   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.

  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.

  A the opening ceremony of the centre, the former chairman of the Museum Board, Nick Dyer, observed how the 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 was conceived as an educational resource focussed on the war in this locality.

   Dr Lawrence explained how much of what we think we know about the Civil War is innacurate


because it is based on seventeenth century tales, which have become accepted as fact over the years.  He stressed: "The 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.

   The centre was opened by the then Nantwich Town Mayor, Councillor David Marren, who 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 work of a group of professional artists from the Cheshire East and Staffordshire border is on show in the Museum's main gallery until Saturday, July 16.

   The exhibition, "Idiosyncracies" by Outline Art, reflects their own idiosyncracies and individual practices, and they give information about their research, exploration of ideas, methods, material and techniques that has gone into the work.

    There are paintings, mixed media, print, textiles and photographs with art as a retrospective of their work from the past few years as well as some current pieces.

   Some of the art on display is available to purchase

   As with the Museum, admission to the exhibition is free of charge.



THE remainder of the 2022 programme of exhibitions in the Millennium Gallery will be:

   July 20 to September 24: "A Spectacle of Sport", an exhibition staged by Museum volunteers. "A grandstand journey through the local sport stories and objects that have made headlines (often international) over the past 150 years."

   September 28 to November 26: "Reincarnated Rubbish" by Val Hunt.



DR Keith Lawrence, a former Stapeley Parish Councillor, was announced as the winner of the prestigious Dutton Prize at the Museum's Annual General Meeting of members.

   The prize includes a medal endowed by medal-maker Ron Dutton in memory of his parents Alderman and Mrs Dutton and features an image of St Mary's Parish Church as a symbol of the town and its community. Since 1990, the Museum Board has nominated unsung heroes for the prize - people regarded as making an extraordinary contribution to the life of the town.  

   Keith was twice a Stapeley Parish Councillor. On the first occasion, as Chairman, he represented the local parish councils on the Nantwich Local Area Partnership and executive committee of Cheshire Association of Local Councils. For several years he worked with the Nantwich Food Festival with responsibility for co-ordinating the Volunteer Marshalls.

   Currently, he is a managing Trustee of the Wybunbury United Charities, and for the last 12 years has been an Oxfam volunteer developing the music sales in conjunction with his wife, Joyce. 

   At the Museum he has contributed to the development of exhibitions about the Civil War in this locality, Turnpike Roads around Nantwich, the 1851 Board of Health Map and associated Cholera epidemic, and yearly exhibitions coinciding with Holly Holy Day, also representing the Museum on the Holly Holy Day Organising Committee.

   He is an active member of the Museum's Research Group, working with it to develop a new permanent exhibition on the Civil War in Cheshire, and is currently Chairman of the Cheshire Civil War Centre at the Museum.

  During the last five years, and working with a number of authors and editors, he has developed a series of booklets on the history of Nantwich. The range is now approaching 100.

  Keith has also run courses at the Museum on the English Civil War in Cheshire and still writes articles and lectures on a wide range of subjects. 



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 was 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.”



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" - 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.



ITEMS on sale in the Museum shop include booklets by a wide variety of local writers. The latest include those on Theatre in Nantwich, Nantwich Cotton Mills, Nantwich Doctors, Nantwich Clockmakers, Nantwich Almshouses and Nantwich Photographers.

   They are on sale in the Museum and online. 

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 open from 10.30am to 4.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Admission is free.

  The museum is an independent charity and costs around £1,200 a week to run.

  About half of the funding comes from grants awarded by Cheshire East Borough Council and Nantwich Town Council. The remainder is raised through other grants, donations and fund-raising activities. 

   Nantwich Museum Trust Ltd is a Registered Charity, number 509386.



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THE Museum has launched an appeal for more front-of-house volunteers. They are needed to help with activities including welcoming visitors, answering questions and shop sales.

    Full training will be given and the aim is to have two people on the front desk at all times, meaning that members of staff or experienced volunteers will be on hand to provide support. Interested and have a couple of hours to spare on a regular basis? Contact the Museum by telephone (01270 627104) or email enquiries@nantwichmuseum.org.uk to arrange an informal chat and learn more.



"Pride in the Provinces: an LGBT History of Cheshire" by Gill Rossini" will take place in the Museum on July 16 at 11am. Cost £5.



THE Museum will be closed to the public on Tuesday, July 5 and Wednesday 6 for the final installation of a new display case. The Museum will reopen as normal on Thursday, July 7, at 10.30am.


INFORMATION SOUGHT ON RACECOURSE CAMPDocument box madee by Italian prisoners of war at Racecourse Camp 74 near Taporley

THE Museum is seeking information about Racecourse Camp 74, a Second World War camp for prisoners of war, which was near to Tarporley.

   The recently-acquired, hand-crafted document box (right) is currently on display at the Museum. It was made by Italian prisoners from scrap wood.

   In 1943, three of them presented the box to Camp 74 Foreman, Len Pearson. Their names are inscribed on the box. With the box was a photograph of the camp's prisoners.

   Racecourse Camp 74 was located on the site of Tarporley Racecourse near to Oakmere.



THE Museum's programme of  highly popular guided walks include a Riverside Walk, Nantwich Town Tour, Welsh Row Tour, Lake and Woodland Tour, and Nantwich East.

   The Riverside Walk introduces visitors to the river, its wildlife and history. The riverside area is home to the saline spring which feeds the outdoor Brine Pool, and on which Nantwich's prosperity has largely been founded.

   The next Riverside walk is scheduled for Saturday, July 9.

  The Nantwich Town Tours and the Welsh Row Tours have proved popular and are now fully booked, but here are some new dates:

   Wednesday, July 6, town tour; Saturday, July 23, Welsh Row tour; Wednesday, August 3, Welsh Row tour; Saturday, August 20, town tour; Saturday, September 10. Welsh Row tour; and Wednesday, September 14, town tour.

   All the walks begin at the Museum at 11am, and last approximately 90 minutes. They cost £5 (£4 for Museum Members). Numbers are currently limited to 12 people and pre-booking is strongly advised either in person at the Museum Shop, or by phoning 01270 627104 or e-mailing the Museum at enquiries@nantwichmuseum.org.uk.

   o Groups of six or more people are welcome to book their own walking tours on chosen topics.


A COFFEE MORNING is held on the last Friday of each month from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Cake donations appreciated. Entrance free.



THE Chairman of the Museum's Board fof Trustees is Dr Trevor Evans, a former chemical engineer. The Trustees are responsible for running the Museum.

    During his career, Dr Evans managed professional bodies in the UK and Australia where, he commented  “The interface between volunteer and staff inputs was a key factor”, and noted “one of the key roles of any charity in UK law is to inspire the volunteer”.

    Dr Evans has a keen interest in local and architectural history. On retirement he enrolled in Liverpool University’s History Department, where he was awarded an MA (with Distinction) in Slavery Studies, while at the same time taking up a position as a Visiting Professor at University College, London, in Chemical Engineering.

   This enabled consideration of the interface between history and technology in connection with both sugar slavery and the First World War munitions industry.

   Dr Evans commented  “I hope that my skill set may be relevant to helping the Museum thrive and prosper”.



THE enforced closure of the Museum to the public during the Covid-19 pandemic enabled several housekeeping tasks to take place which are difficult under normal circumstances. The office has been re-located upstairs in anticipation of a major re-organisation of the permanent displays, while the installation of filters on the skylight has facilitated more subdued lighting in the main gallery to avoid damaging valuable artefacts.

   Regular income streams, including education activities with schools, town tours and outreach activities, through which the Museum generates much of its income, were all severely curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic, although the online shop and a series of successful webinars offset some of the losses.

   The social media activities of Nantwich Digital Museum on Facebook and Twitter also played a significant part in keeping the Museum active.



BECOME a Friend of the Museum and pay no renewal fee until April 2023. 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 and it is possible to join online via the Museum website, https://nantwichmuseum.org.uk/product/individual-membership.