Heritage museum may have to stay closed throughout 2021

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A town’s heritage museum may remain closed this summer, its chairman has warned, if maintenance work on its 500-year-old building takes longer than anticipated. 

Trevor Ogden, chair of the Dereham Heritage Trust, said that work on restoring Bishop Bonner’s Cottage, which houses the museum, was ongoing.

“The town council has placed a contract for the remaining building work, and it is due to let us know what the timing is, but we haven’t got that information yet,” said Mr Ogden. 

The museum has been closed since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, and is typically open from May to September.

Dereham Heritage Trust chair Trevor Ogden

Dereham Heritage Trust chair Trevor Ogden - Credit: Submitted

In January, the trust had stated its intention to reopen the museum in June, but Mr Ogden said this had become less likely.

“We are now feeling that perhaps we won’t be able to open this year, but we don’t know that yet,” he said. 

“If we can’t go in until September, say, we will have to weigh up whether it’s worthwhile,” he added. 

The cottage is undergoing repairs to both its interior brickwork, and its exterior pargeting.

South wall of Bishop Bonner's Cottage

The plaster on the south wall of the cottage is being re-applied. - Credit: Noah Vickers

The plastering on the south end of the building is currently protected by a plastic sheet, and needs redoing, while work is required to combat dampness on the cottage’s north gable.   

Most Read

The museum had been hoping to host an exhibition about the lives of John and Ellenor Fenn, who lived in Dereham in the 18th century.

Ellenor Fenn, a pioneer of the home-schooling, is to have a pocket park on Wright’s Walk named after her, which is set to visitors as soon as July.  

Mr Ogden explained that the exhibition may still be able to go ahead, and could directly coincide with the park’s opening: “[The] aboutDereham [partnership] put us on to the possibility of getting a shop window [in which to host the exhibition] on Wrights Walk, because there are a couple of empty shops there.” 

He added that the trust still had a healthy number of interested volunteers, who were keen to help get the museum up and running again when possible.