The Petersfield Museum is not just a museum for the town, but for a number of surrounding villages that have contributed to life in the locality over centuries.
It has had a £3.7 million redevelopment and expansion project (supported by a significant award from the Heritage Lottery Fund) and reopened on 9th June 2021.
Artefacts and photographs from the Museum’s collections are displayed alongside materials collected by the local history group in question. The aim is to boost interest in local history in each community, helping the local group raise its profile (and, in some cases, obtain more volunteers) and enhancing awareness of the Museum.
It is anticipated that the stronger links between the local history groups and the Museum will last long into the future, boosting mutual knowledge and understanding.
The Museum’s outreach ‘Roadshows’ have already been held in Steep, South Harting, Liss, East Meon, Rogate and Hawkley, with more planned for 2020, including Buriton (14 March), Forxfield and Privett (18 April) and Stroud (16 May). Attendances so far have exceeded all expectations.
When the expanded museum opens later in 2020 there will be opportunities, amongst other things, for local history groups to host events and displays. Other highlights of the museum will include:
● A Victorian justice heritage site, with police station, cells, courthouse and stables (note, the Museum is housed in a former police station, built in 1858).
● A Study Centre dedicated to Edward Thomas (1878-1917) the poet ( 1 and 2), housing a collection of national importance: more than 2,000 books by and about him, including rare first editions. Towards the end of his life, Thomas lived locally, at Steep.
● An impressive collection of paintings by Flora Twort (1893-1985), the Petersfield artist who exhibited at the Royal Academy and painted vibrant works that portray the local area in the 1920s and 1930s.
● Thousands of photographs of daily life in the 60s, 70s and 80s, selected from the 100,000 images taken by press photographer Don Eades, who freelanced for the Petersfield Post.
● Findings from recent archaeological investigations, which have shown that the Petersfield area has the densest concentration of Bronze Age round barrows in the south-east of England.
Contributed by Doug Jones