Dereham landmark set to reopen after lengthy closure
- Credit: Archant
One of Dereham's best-known landmarks is set to reopen after a lengthy period of closure.
Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum will welcome visitors for the first time in two years from April 29 after a special ribbon-cutting ceremony has taken place.
Thought to be the oldest domestic property in Dereham, the building was initially shut in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Its owner, Dereham Town Council - in conjunction with Dereham Heritage Trust - saw the closure as a perfect opportunity to ensure much-needed renovation work was carried out.
The project has taken longer than anticipated but, in a few weeks' time, the museum, in Saint Withburga Lane, will finally reopen for the summer season.
Peter Wade-Martins, a retired archaeologist and trustee of the Bishop Bonner's, said: "It will be wonderful to see the museum open again following a fairly major restoration.
"Really, it is about time it reopened, but during the closure we have had great success in recruiting new volunteers which, of course, is a big help."
Improvements at Bishop Bonner's Cottage have included restoration of the exterior plasterwork, which had been in poor condition.
Decorative pargeting has been reinstated to its original white state, having been painted in increasingly "garish colours" over the years.
- 1 Drug dealing mother-of-five had ‘cocaine stuffed in bra’
- 2 What's going to be happening on Dereham Day?
- 3 Dereham school recognised for commitment to equality and diversity
- 4 Extra speed check camera vans to target Norfolk's 'village speeders'
- 5 Cost of living - 'Rising energy bills mean we've had to shut'
- 6 Crash on A47 causes delays and bus disruption
- 7 Norfolk woman dies after being stung by wasp in Spain
- 8 Excitement building ahead of first ever Dereham Day
- 9 Decision over dualling section of A47 expected by August
- 10 Dereham Day: Cinema to screen short film on 1930s life
Inside, various repairs and cleaning tasks have been completed, while a major new exhibition on John and Ellenor Fenn - known for their roles in translating the world-famous Paston letters - has been added.
Dereham's deputy major Hugh King, who is due to cut the ribbon later this month, said: "Bishop Bonner's reopening is certainly good news as it is one of the most historic parts of the town.
"The restoration work has obviously taken quite a long time and it has not been easygoing, but we hope it has been improved for the community and for visitors.
"I am sure it will be a real asset to Dereham once again."
Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum is due to stay open from April 29 until the end of September.
Days of opening are Friday (10am to 1pm) and Saturday (10am to 4pm), although dates and times are subject to change depending on volunteer availability.
History of Bishop Bonner's Cottage
The museum - which is actually a trio of cottages - is named after Edward Bonner, who first came to prominence as chaplain to Cardinal Wolsey from 1529 - when Henry VIII was king.
He was sent to Rome to try and negotiate with the pope over the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon, but failure led to the fall of Wolsey and the rise to power of Thomas Cromwell as chief adviser.
There followed various diplomatic missions for Bonner, after which he was rewarded by being appointed the Rector of East Dereham and several other parishes.
With his other duties, it is unlikely he actually spent much time in Dereham and, in 1540, he resigned after being made Bishop of London.
Bonner's association with the cottages is tenuous, but one theory is that the pargeting was added to commemorate what was believed to have been his birth date and possibly even his birthplace.
It was first converted into a museum in 1963.