Culture for free at Herefordshire museums

PUBLISHED: 14:54 11 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:08 20 February 2013

Culture for free at Herefordshire museums

Culture for free at Herefordshire museums

There are museums and heritage sites which are free to visit in the county which many people don't realise come as part of Herefordshire Council's public offer. They will give you masses of interest in and knowledge of the county

There are museums and heritage sites which are free to visit in the county which many people dont realise come as part of Herefordshire Councils public offer. They will give you masses of interest in and knowledge of the county and theyre open throughout the winter months


Old House
Right, slap, bang in the middle of High Town in Hereford is the Old House, a splendidly preserved 17th century, timber-framed, black and white establishment, idiosyncratically set in the modern city centre. You cant miss it but, somewhat oddly, there are many folk who dont recognise that its there for all to visit, free of an admission charge and holding a stunning collection of English oak furniture, the envy of many a house of similar pedigree. The house is home to some rare wall paintings of a classical and biblical nature. There are also examples of childrens furniture amongst which are the intriguing Jacobean, if somewhat modern looking, baby-walkers.


Theres even a dogs door on the top floor but youll have to visit to find out why its there!


Bearing the date 1621 above the main doorway, the Old House has remained on the same spot hosting many businesses over its chequered history. Originally a butchers shop and still with the guilds excellently carved shield over the porch, the building was later used as a saddlers, a china, glass and hardware shop, a fish shop, a grocers and finally a bank before landing in the hands of the City of Hereford in 1928 and becoming a museum in 1929.


There are some excellent activities throughout December. Theyre all free, with no booking required. You can meet Tudor re-enactors, make your own decorative wreaths and try some Tudor provender on December 1. Then the house changes to a Victorian themed Christmas on December 4, 8 and 11 when you can make traditional cards. On December 8 you can try some Victorian amuse bouche and meet more re-enactors and then enjoy music from Diabolus in Musica on December 11.


From December 14 the house delivers a World War II Christmas. On December 15 you can make a Christmas tree from goose feathers, no less! You can meet re-enactors of the period and try some wartime culinary delights. Live music from the era is offered on 18 December.


Join in with the new TV sensation, Turn Back Time The High Street, on December 4, when the Old House will be the centre for activity and the starting point for a lantern lit procession to the official re-opening of Widemarsh Street. Between 1pm and 3pm, take your old photos of the city centre to Old House to create a timeline of Herefords history and listen to a story.


Hereford Museum and Art Gallery
Opposite the cathedral, in an absolutely splendid 1874 Victorian Gothic building situated on Broad Street is the Museum and Art Gallery, upstairs from the Library. The foyer and imposing stairwell have frequently changing displays and art exhibitions, as does the Art Gallery itself, in the far room upstairs.


In between the two areas is the museum which is superbly informative given its modest size. It was graced with a complete overhaul last year, making it much more accessible with hands-on elements and a timeline with beautiful woodcut-type illustrations to explain what happened and when in Herefordshires history. The central display cases show different aspects of the county such as Natural, Cultural, Border and Productive County, allowing you re-evaluate the county as a whole.

You can also see displays relating to Norman, Saxon and Medieval, Roman, Tudor and Stuart and Victorian times which give an idea how people lived and the items they would have been familiar with.


Throughout December, the Art Gallery and stairwell will be host to Shifting Perspectives, a photographic exhibition which captures the vitality and personality of the models in the images. By and about people with Downs Syndrome, the works aim to dispel preconceived ideas, attitudes and prejudices.


To tie in with Turn Back Time The High Street on December 4, you can make a lantern, between 1pm and 3pm, at the Museum and Art Gallery and then take part in the procession at 3.45pm to
Widemarsh Street.


Museum Resource and Learning Centre
Just outside the city walls to the west of the city centre, in Friars Street, are the Museum Resource and Learning Centre. This purpose-built centre houses the countys entire museum collection in several impressive, climate-controlled stores in order to keep the items preserved in the best possible way for future generations. Having said that, they are also available for the public to view now, on the third Tuesday or second Thursday each month when you can drop in from 10am to 1pm and chat to the curators, have a store tour, get your treasures identified or ask for advice on how to care for them. On Thursday, December 9, the Costume and Textiles, Geology, Natural History, Documents and Ethnography curators will be available or on Tuesday, December 21, you can meet the Archaeology, Fine and Decorative Art, Social History or Arms and Armour curators.


A Winter Wonderland Open Day will take place at the Museum Resource and Learning Centre on Tuesday, December 21 when families can make masks of animals in their winter coats and blossom to add to the holy thorn tree which, according to folklore, grew from St Andrews staff and still blooms in midwinter.


Museum on the Move
You might well have seen the Museum on the Move bus on its travels around the county. Its a museum in a bus which is shared by Herefordshire Heritage Services and Shropshire County Councils Museum Service. This year its exhibition theme is Folklore and Fairy Tales featuring stories from Herefordshire along with some more familiar to Herefordshires Eastern European residents. The MoM bus can be hired by schools, community groups, village fetes; in fact anyone
at all.


Ross and Ledbury Heritage Centres
These too come under the umbrella of Herefordshire Heritage Services. Rosss Market House Heritage Centre is open throughout the year with an exhibition of work by June Baker to visit throughout December. Ledbury Heritage Centre will re-open in time for Easter next year.

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