Museum celebrates history and heritage of Midhurst
Gill and Peter Nightingale were surprised when they discovered Midhurst didn’t have a museum, so they decided to open their own.
Peter said: “When we couldn’t find one despite the wealth of history and heritage in the town and surrounding area we decided we’d open one - we’re enthusiastic amateurs, not museum professionals, with an abiding interest in the town.”
It opened its doors in Knockhundred Market, Midhurst in December 2011 at the Christmas Street Party and at the time Peter says it was ‘probably the smallest Museum’ at 2.6 m by 2.6m
Together with life-long collectors Dave and Tom Rudwick and the support of other knowledgeable people it helped them to establish the museum along with start-up grant funding.
Peter added: “In addition, local organisations and individuals sponsored the display cabinets, frames and a digital screen.”
In 2016 the museum had the opportunity to open into additional premises opposite the existing museum.
This meant greater display opportunities and is where they have its permanent exhibition of Midhurst and district memorabilia including the Stone Age to Today – which showcases the timeline of Midhurst from the Stone Age to the 20th century.
The display theme in the original rooms changes every month, for June it will be Literary Links.
In July and August there will be a guest exhibition created by the Novium in Chichester on woolstapling, which will feature the trade of dealing with wool - particularly raw wool from shearer to wholesaler.
Peter said: “We are always keen to hear from people who have a collection they would like to exhibit for a month in the museum.
“We’ve shown a wide variety in the last nine years including Oxo, Cadbury’s and Concorde, Jelly Babies and Liquorice Allsorts, the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the railways in Midhurst - there were three branch lines in Midhurst at one time, commemoration of 100 years since the WWI Armistice, and the A272.”
The museum is also the custodian of the original border stone between the parishes of Midhurst and Easebourne and has a small reference section stocked with local books and pamphlets.
Peter said: “The history of Cowdray and the families who owned the estate are depicted as well as historical maps of the town.
“We have photographs of how Midhurst looked in times gone by, including the Victorian Assembly Rooms - later the Orion Cinema, before being demolished in the 1960s to make way for a supermarket.
“Aerial photos show the development of White City (housing built of local Midhurst White bricks), also demolished and replaced by another supermarket.”
The museum is looking for volunteers with an interest in Midhurst and the district’s history and heritage.
Peter said: “People are very welcome to help. We are open from Tuesdays to Saturdays every week and the day is divided into morning and afternoon shifts for volunteers. Some do once a month, some more.
“We’re pleased to hear from anyone who would like to join us.”
Entry is free. For more information, visit midhurstmuseumandtearooms.co.uk