Shipston Museum reopens its doors - The Stratford Observer

Shipston Museum reopens its doors

A NEWLY reopened museum in Shipston is looking to its future as it seeks to link even more residents with their past.

Shipston Museum swings its doors back open on Saturday (August 5) after closing in 2019 in order to find its ever expanding collection a new home.

And now not only does the museum have a brand new premises at New Clerk House but it has plans to become an accredited museum so it can raise more cash through fundraising and apply for grants to secure its future.

During the four year hiatus the museum team have been busy behind the scenes upgrading the museum’s system of cataloguing and recording the sizeable collection in more detail. There have been thousands of photographs to scan which they are hoping to make available online.

The museum and its collection exists thanks to Shipston and District Local History Society. The society was formed back in the mid 1960’s by local historians Harry Parry and Leonard Bradley, along with other like-minded residents, who had a shared interest in local history and a desire to preserve their communities’ heritage.

Mike Ashley, one of the younger members, believed artefacts with personal stories and memories were the best way to capture useful bits of the past for future generations.

In October 1965, the society hosted an exhibition at the Townsend Hall over a weekend – with members sleeping there overnight for security reasons. The public were invited to bring along items of historical interest – preferably local, many setting up their own stalls.

Attracting over 1,000 visitors, it resulted in many artefacts, photographs and donations being made to the society.

Occasional exhibitions continued but with the collection growing, by the early 1970’s it was eventually housed at the Old School Room on Old Road, now the society’s HQ.

With so many artefacts donated or on loan there was a drive to open a permanent museum but these plans were never quite realised due to financial constraints.

Eventually The School Room was no longer available to house the collection and with limited resources there was a real danger it would be dismantled or re-distributed elsewhere. With most of the items either on loan or gifted by local people, it was inconceivable to allow it to be lost.

Mike was determined to retain Shipton’s artefacts in the town and make the collection accessible for all and so he and his wife Jo decided to use one of the rooms in their home to house the museum until a new permanent base was found in Sheep Street in 2000.

The museum flourished there for nearly 20 years attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world coming in search of their ancestors.

Just before Mike’s death in 2019 it was agreed it was time for the museum to find a new home and bring it into the 21st century.

The rest is history.

Shipston Museum officially re-opens on Saturday (August 5) at 1pm. It will then be open each Saturday and Sunday between 1pm and 4pm until mid September when it will close for the winter and be back Easter 2024.

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