I guess that’s the question on so many minds these days. What dystopian world do we find ourselves living in, and what does the future hold? Well it won’t come as any surprise that these are pretty much the same questions we are asking ourselves as a small independent charity.
We closed from late March, reopening on reduced hours, 10.30am to 4.30pm, seven days a week on Monday 27th July, initially also offering a slightly reduced service. We furloughed all of our staff when we closed, making what savings we could, and then in early June started to bring them back to work on a phased basis so that we could progress some of our broader strategies and investigate a reopening plan. Of course, there was also a need to apply for a range of emergency funding pots that had become potentially available.
Since early June not only have we managed to secure some vital funds from the National Lottery Emergency Fund, which covers our projected losses in the months of August, September and October, but also from a couple of other charitable funders. Frankly without these generous contributions we’d be looking at a much darker future.
Our revenues are generated from our shop, exhibition gallery, donations and café, all of which feed off visitor numbers. Clearly all virtually zero when we’re closed. We debated long and hard when to reopen, juggling the needs of the business with the demand and the safety of both customers and team members. Of course, no one really knows for sure, but we talked with partners, followed advice from the Association of Independent Museums, https://www.aim-museums.co.uk/ and The National Museums Directors Council, https://www.nationalmuseums.org.uk/
I’m pleased to say that since we reopened we’ve achieved visitor numbers of 55%, retail income of 74% and donations by visitors of 98%, compared with 2019, which is a fabulous result. We’re hoping this continues into September and we’ll monitor this to make sure we continue to make the best decisions we can for the charity.
There are only two parts of the museum not yet open, the temporary exhibition gallery and the Christopher Tower Reference Library. The gallery is closed as we cancelled all of our forthcoming exhibitions, but I’m now working on a plan to reopen, and am meeting next week with the gentleman who I hope will be our reopening exhibition in November.
The library remains closed but should reopen to the public on its traditional Wednesdays and Friday mornings in the first two weeks of October. Our volunteer team are already working in there and other access can be arranged via firstname.lastname@example.org The big news is that over the lockdown process we completed the installation of our new flexible shelving and storage systems. This has provided us with nearly ½ kilometre of space, quadrupling what we had previously. Since its completion this has allowed us to start to reorganise the boxes we had stored in a multitude of corners! There is more on the shelves than ever before, access has been greatly increased and we’re working hard to catalogue, digitise and display what we’ve got. It has been a wonderful project contributed to by not only the team here and the volunteers, but also some wonderfully cooperative external contractors, such as Longdown Builders, Rackline Storage Systems and Easton Removal Company (who had the unenviable task of moving everything, keeping it in a specific order and then putting it all back. Thanks Mike and Mark!)
However, whilst the library may have been closed, our research facilities have found themselves very much in demand over lockdown. Our website New Forest Knowledge, https://nfknowledge.org/ has had more traffic than ever, with views over June, July and August up by 94% on the same months in 2019. We’ve recently completed some significant pieces of work on here, so have a look, there’s over 20,000 things to look at and listen to.
Finally, as a team we continue to work through the process of reapplying for Accreditation. Accreditation is an Arts Council scheme, which recognises those museums which care for their visitors, their collections and their governance to the highest of standard. There is a lot to be done ahead of submission in April 2021, but I’m confident we’ll be ready.
The Centre has been a fully accredited museum for many years now, and such accreditation is both a clear recognition of what we do, but also sends a clear message to funders, donors, visitors and volunteers, that we are committed to the highest of standards, and whilst we recognise that ourselves, this is supported by those who hold us to the highest of standards.
In conclusion, yes, it has been a trying and testing time, but I’m delighted to report that the team has pulled together well, we’ve achieved a huge amount, and the future, whilst not secure or clearly laid out, is looking promising. Come on in and see us, and if you can’t and you’d still like to support us, then there’s always our Just Giving page, https://www.justgiving.com/newforestheritage
That’s more than enough from me for the time being. If you would like to discuss anything, do please pop in and see me, or get in touch at email@example.com
Did you know that the New Forest Heritage Centre …
… was first built in 1988 … is a charity … is not run by the Council … has a free Museum that tells the story of the New Forest … has a Library with the largest collection of material on the New Forest … relies on volunteers and has very few staff … survives on donations and other funding that we generate ourselves … and crucially, needs to raise a seven figure amount of money to update the Centre and give it a new lease of life!
My name is Chris Howard and I am the newly appointed Capital Fundraising Manager. It is my job to work with the Trustees, our dedicated staff and volunteers and most importantly our visitors to raise a significant amount of money to update the Heritage Centre and make it an immersive and inspiring Museum, Library, Gallery and Shop that tells the story of the New Forest.
You have probably been to the car park in Lyndhurst and dropped into the Heritage Centre. Our perception with the outside world needs to improve and your input is vital to making a place where people want to visit to find out more about the New Forest.
In visiting the new Centre, the inspiring presentation of the New Forest must influence people’s views of how to behave and conserve the Forest for future generations. Otherwise over time things will erode, more ponies will be on the side of the road, towns will grow and the attitudes and the way of life in and around the New Forest will decline. We have a vital role to play in helping protect the New Forest.
It reminds me of a quote by Matthew Webb, the first man to swim the English Channel in 1875 where he famously said “Nothing great is easy”. We have inspiring plans for the Heritage Centre and want to achieve great things with your support to preserve this special landscape.
So what I would really like is to hear from you … What do you think of us? What can we do better? What changes do you want to see at the New Forest Heritage Centre?
We certainly have a significant but exciting challenge ahead of us. Please get in touch.
Hi I’m Mel and I have just taken over as Retail Manager from Louise Bessant who has recently retired after 30 years. Louise played a huge role here and will be missed by us all. A tough act to follow…..I’ll try my best. I do feel very privileged to be given this opportunity but I draw the line at wearing this!
Louise set very high standards not only with the shop display, but also with customer service. This is high on my list of priorities too. Whether you are coming here to meet friends in the coffee shop, have a look round the museum, visit the reference library, ask for directions or browse in the shop, you will always be greeted with a smile and a hello.
I am lucky to have lived in the area all my life, yet still the forest amazes me with its many wonderful species of plant and animal life. Our visitors too, with different interests, and reasons for visiting make our days in the shop full of variety and my job of buying extremely interesting. The fact that I love shopping is definitely an advantage!
I recently visited the Spring Trade Fair in Birmingham. It was a long, tiring day, but very worthwhile, meeting suppliers old and new. I returned with a bag heavy with catalogues and head bursting with fresh ideas. Since then I have been busy buying and over the coming weeks, new stock will be appearing on our shelves. Some has arrived already. It’s so exciting!
Not forgetting the addition of our very own The New Forest A Souvenir Guide. Available in our shop and via this website.
We post regularly on social media, so do follow us there for all our news.
Every purchase made in our Gift shop supports the work of the New Forest Heritage Trust, so I hope you like what you find here, and please spread the word to your friends and family.
I am now looking forward to a busy spring and summer season. Hope to see you soon.
It’s exciting times at the New Forest Heritage Centre. In the past few months we’ve appointed both Museum Designers, Imagemakers https://imagemakers.uk.com/ and Retail Designers, CRE8 https://arjcre8.co.uk/.
For those of you who don’t know the process that museums generally follow as they seek to redevelop, or establish a new gallery, there is a well-structured pathway that makes sure we all don’t stray too far from the path!
These are the eight Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) stages, https://architectureforlondon.com/news/the-riba-plan-of-work/
0 – Strategic Definition.
1 – Preparation and Brief.
2 – Concept Design.
3 – Developed Design.
4 – Technical Design.
5 – Construction.
6 – Handover and Close Out.
7 – In use.
We’ve been working hard to progress through these RIBA stages, and are now at the end of stage 2, Concept Design. This in turn becomes stage 3, Developed Design, which will be complete by the end of March 2020. We’ve been working hard with all our partners and stakeholders, such as New Forest District Council, Forestry England, The New Forest National Park Authority, Lyndhurst Parish Council, The Friends of the New Forest, The Commoners Defence Association, and Go New Forest, to name a few.
It’s certainly at the forefront of our minds that we are our customers’ and partners’ Heritage Centre, not our Heritage Centre, so its essential that the story we tell, the interpretation we use and the messaging we put forward must be co-ordinated, clear and appropriate. However, we do take care to make sure we maintain our politically neutral stance, not taking sides in arguments. It is our mission to preserve, interpret and share the Forest’s heritage, not to pass judgement on it.
So, work continues apace, and soon you’ll see the plans, and of course, hear our messages seeking support. However, its not too late to have your own say in the what our galleries might look like and what stories they might tell, so do get in touch with me directly as soon as possible.
Another key piece of work on my desk is that of a change of governance. This is a detailed, and somewhat challenging process, but it’s integral to the continued success of the Centre. Since 1987 the Centre was essentially controlled by the New Forest Ninth Centenary Trust (NFNCT), but on 1st February 2020 this changed. A new charity has been created, the New Forest Heritage Trust, https://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/CharityFramework.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=1186656&SubsidiaryNumber=0 and the assets and responsibilities of the NFNCT recently transferred over to the new charity. This makes no difference at all to those visiting or using the Centre in any way at all, but it does leave us in a position where we are able to take advantage of a number of tax efficient schemes, as well as protecting our directors from any personal liability surrounding debt.
Finally, I am currently working through the process of reapplying for Accreditation. Accreditation is an Arts Council scheme, which recognises those museums which care for their visitors, their collections and their governance to the highest of standards https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/accreditation-scheme/about-accreditation There are a whole range of criteria that we have to fulfil, not least those of best practice in collections care, laid out under Spectrum 5 https://collectionstrust.org.uk/spectrum/spectrum-5/
The Centre has been a fully accredited museum for many years now, and such accreditation is both a clear recognition of what we do, but also sends a clear message to funders, donors, visitors and volunteers, that we are committed to the highest of standards, and whilst we recognise that ourselves, this is supported by those who hold us to the highest of standards.
That’s more than enough from me for the time being, and I hope to see many of you soon at one of the numerous events we have planned for the near future, some of which you can already buy tickets on-line via our website, so watch out for those, but if I don’t and you would like to discuss anything, do please pop in and see me, or get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Jackie and I have been a volunteer at the New Forest Heritage Centre for about 3 1/2 years. I have to admit I have lived in the area for over 25 years and had never been inside the building or been aware of the work they do. I first learnt about them after visiting a volunteer fair held in Lyndhurst community centre. It has been a great way to learn about the New Forest – which is essentially on my doorstep and under my nose – yet I was so unfamiliar with.
The time has flown by and I have learnt so much and made so many good friends in the process.
It is usual for volunteers to focus on one area which could be:
The library – helping with documenting the collection
The museum – talking with visitors to enhance their experience or simply answering questions about where to walk or places to visit
Discovery and craft days – helping people get messy as they learn about the New Forest.
Special events – helping with exhibition preview evenings in the New Forest Gallery by serving drinks and nibbles to guests
Fundraising – this could be anything!
However I have been lucky enough to be able to volunteer across all areas as well as some back office support. Some of the madder things I have done include dressing up as the Queen of Hearts for an Alice in Wonderland preview exhibition and dressing up as Pete the Pony for a marketing event in Winchester Great Hall. Everyone else was chilly on a cold winter night but I was warm and snug in my costume !
Helping at the preview nights is a good way to get a sneaky first peek at the new exhibitions and often meet and talk the contributors
Helping at one Discovery Day enabled me to have my first ever visit to the New Forest Show.
The best thing about volunteering at the Centre is that there is never any pressure. You do as much or as little as you are able to give – and it is appreciated.
I have had spells where it feels like I am there all the time and periods like now where I can only give a little.
But what I have learnt about the Forest will never leave me and for that I am grateful.
So if you have some time to give why not get in touch there will undoubtedly be something that your skills can be matched to.
Come and have fun!
Considering the content of my blog entry had me staring at the floor and my new Blundstone boots which I am currently breaking in. Which in turn led me to thinking about walking in the New Forest.
Being of a certain age and aware that I must start to look after myself, I build a walk into my day. The New Forest suits me really well as there are not too many hills and it’s easy (ish) walking. I am trying to discover new places in the Forest and so I’ve been using the New Forest Walks app. This led me to Ashlett Creek on a recent cold January day, and despite it being a grey day, it was really lovely and interesting. Walking to Calshot allowed me to look at the turbine blades laid out at the back of Fawley Power station, which were a total surprise to me!
This morning I definitely didn’t have the correct footwear. Despite a let up in the rain, this ford was impassable in trainers, meaning I walked rather further than planned!
In 2020 I aim to discover more of the northern New Forest, an area I don’t know at all well. With the app to help me, all will be good!
Place-names are the names of locations including villages, rivers, hills, and woods. They have meanings which form an essential geographical reference system. In general, place-names in England contain three broad elements: personal names, natural features and settlement functions. These elements often derive from ancient languages.
As place-names lose their original meaning when new or modified languages become spoken, they are changed or drift to new forms; this can disguise their origins. Place-names also get lost and cease appearing on maps. They provide valuable insights into the historical geography of a landscape and its culture.
Many place-names in the New Forest can be traced back to Old English. This is a West Germanic language that was in use for approximately 700 years until about 100 years after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Other place-names are derived from Latin or Old French.
Beaulieu Hants. Bellus Locus Regis 1205, Beulu c.1300. ‘Beautiful place (of the king)’. OF beau + lieu
Lyndhurst Hants. Linhest 1086 (DB). ‘Wooded hill with lime-trees’. OE lind + hyrst
Minstead Hants. Mintestede 1086 (DB). ‘Place where mint grows or is grown’. OE minte + stede
The Christopher Tower New Forest Reference Library holds a second edition Richardson King and Drivers’ map. The eastern-most third is missing, yet what survives is of exceptional importance. As well as showing timber enclosures made after 1814, it displays annotations of almost 200 place-names. Two-thirds of these names do not appear on published maps or plans. Concentrations occur in the Walks (keepers’ beats) of Burley, Bolderwood, Eyeworth and Bramblehill.
Many have a story to tell:
Coal Earth Bottom is a corruption of Coal Hearth Bottom and indicates the use of charcoal kilns in this area.
Myrtle Tree and Pretty Beech are recorded in a list of notable trees drawn up in 1850 in which no locations were given.
Rushmoor Bottom from which Rushmoor has been taken as a prefix for ponies bred by a certain commoning family.
Publisher: James Wyld Scale: 4 inches to 1 mile Date: 1814 annotated c.1855
Gelling, M. 2000. Place-Names in the Landscape: The geographical roots of Britain’s place-names. London: Phoenix.
Gover, J.E.B. 1961. The Place Names of Hampshire. Unpublished typescript.
Reeves, R. 2009. An important find for placename research. New Forest History and Archaeology Group Report 1, 9-12.
I can’t believe I have been a trustee for nearly 30 years here and during that long time I have seen the charity go from strength to strength from an idea to a well established and respected organisation. Surely it must be time for me to retire but I really want to make sure that I do my utmost to make sure it is in the best possible shape for many years to come. So with this in mind I am hoping to work with the brilliant team in a major refurbishment of the museum, huge improvements to the library and getting the whole charity on a secure financial basis in the next 2-3 years. That’s the tricky bit, as we don’t get any statutory funding and financial sustainability is a constant worry. We have just taken on new fundraisers to help with the task and are putting together our Masterplan for the future of the centre.
We are looking for new trustees to join our board to help use their skills to advise on a wide range of things, like finance, HR, retail, museum collections, fundraising and education so if you might be interested please get in touch. The trustee board is really friendly and its great to volunteer for such a special cause.
I just love the New Forest so much, having been brought up here all my life and take a huge interest in its people, history and environment. I’m passionate about protecting it and sharing its story and special qualities with everyone. I have two ponies on the Forest and have had four cattle, which I shared with my mother. I love to go out looking for them and making sure they are safe and well. We regularly go walking in the Forest, take little picnics and sit in the glades, hoping to watch the deer. One thing I like is the smells of the New Forest, in particular the Bog Myrtle which is so aromatic in the warm summer evenings. Or the smell of damp leaves and rotten wood in the winter months. We are just so lucky to live here, I often think that I never have to go on holiday anywhere else as there is so much fun right on our doorstep. I like to explore new areas every year as the New Forest is so big, I can’t possibly know it all.
Its medieval origins fascinate me and I find it easy to time travel back in my imagination to the Royal hunting scenes of the 13th century. Beaulieu Abbey was founded in 1204, some 125 years after the creation of the New Forest when the land it was built on was just scrub, trees and a beautiful river. No wonder the monks chose to come there, it was Beaulieu, a beautiful place and had all they needed for a remote religious order to thrive. They cultivated the land, reared sheep for wool and lived simple spiritual and healthy lives. We too can continue to learn from their example, healthy minds and bodies through the inspiration and enjoyment of our special new Forest natural environment. Take a walk in the Forest, breathe deeply, be still and listen to the world around you. It is the best cure for a stressful and hectic life and it costs nothing. What a special place this is, how lucky we all are to live amongst it.
So it falls to the fundraising department to write the December Blog.
December is a strange month, not only is it the month that we over indulge, spend a few more, gain a few more pounds than any other time of year.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. Sometimes, even the smallest gesture means so much more than a huge extravagance.
Sharing and liking our social media posts can help raise our profile and bring about a better awareness.
Holding an event on our behalf, it doesn’t have to be huge! A popular event is a coffee morning with your friends. Ask them to donate what they would have paid in a cafe for their coffee. Not only are you raising money for a good cause, think of how great it would be to catch up with your friends that you’ve been meaning to do for ages!
I personally stopped buying Christmas cards many years ago and donated what I would have spent to a local charity. Imagine, if we all sent that £5-£10 to a charity, what a difference that could make, not to mention the environmental aspect.
Here at the New Forest Heritage Centre, we have many ways of accepting your donations, should you wish to support us.
We can accept:
As I was doing some research I stumbled across a website, exclaiming #GetKidsOutLearning. It made me think about how much time we spend learning new things and where that learning occurs.
Children’s University states that by the time a child turns 18, they will have spent just 9% of their waking life in a classroom. So what of the remaining 91%.
Research shows that participation in extra-curricular activities can positively impact children by building self-confidence and resilience. Research also shows that children who do not have access to these opportunities fall behind, lack confidence, and fail to develop career aspirations. The resulting attainment gap is so significant that 25% of children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds achieve below expected attainment levels. (https://www.childrensuniversity.co.uk/about-us/what-we-do-and-why/)
Every child should be given the opportunity to experience life and lessons beyond the classroom walls as a regular part of growing up. These experiences expand the horizons of young people, opening their eyes to the wonders of areas such as art, heritage, culture, adventure and the natural world. (https://www.lotc.org.uk/about/)
So what does this have to do with the New Forest Heritage Centre? Well we pride ourselves on being a venue where children and adults alike can learn something they didn’t know before. We are a Children’s University Learning Provider as our Museum based worksheet trails have received accreditation for Children’s University hours.
These can be accessed at all times and if you have completed the ones on show then a volunteer is usually on hand to find you another one on a different theme.
The family Discovery Days that we run during the school holidays (Tuesday and Thursdays) are also accredited hours, so decorating a crown and learning about the Royal forest, or making a cardboard tube animal and learning its place in the New Forest habitats can all count.
Now the New Forest Heritage Centre has signed up to #GetKidsOutLearning.
Research shows that children who are more engaged outside school can better maintain their levels of understanding. What better way for young people learn outside school, than to get out and about visiting places to inspire their young minds? (https://tutorful.co.uk/get-kids-out-learning)
The great outdoors is marvellous place for learning but Museums and Galleries have their place too. In fact I can remember as a child my mother and I would always visit at least one museum in every location we went to. Never one for being boring my mother would always find the buttons to push, the doors to open and quiz sheets were always a source of healthy competition. I hope that families who come to the New Forest Heritage Centre can have the same fun experiences I did a child. Who knows it may lead to a career choice!
I am Jen Blaxall, Front of House Supervisor and I’ve worked at the Centre for three years.
When I started with back problems through the many years of working as a riding instructor and freelance equine groom, I begrudgingly gave it up but replaced it with another love of taking guided walks and writing a blog about the wildlife and my time spent amongst nature in the New Forest: https://www.newforestnatureandnurture.com/ along with studying a degree in environmental studies and creative writing, but this didn’t pay the bills! So when the job vacancy for a Front of House Supervisor became available I jumped at it!
As a Front of House Supervisor, I am not just a shop assistant; I spend a lot of my day talking to tourists and locals about different aspects of the forest. Whether it is someone inspired by something they saw in the museum, or trying to find a specific area on one of our new forest maps to re-live a happy childhood memory, or to give advice on the ideal book that gives them a better understanding of the working forest. The beauty of this job is it encompasses all my passions of donning on my wellies and sharing the beauty of the sights, smells and sounds of the different seasons of the working forest with people who want to learn more.
As Front of House Supervisor, I am the first point of contact when visiting the Centre where enthusiasm and passion for where I live coincides with the love of my job at the centre and is shared with the customer. The shop provides beautiful forest related and locally produced gifts and cards, as well as maps, books and postcards for the New Forest visitor.
As a lover of the forest, it is fantastic to work with a team of like-minded people as we all have that shared passion and I for one am proud to be part of the Heritage Centre as it is a wonderful resource of knowledge, education and history with a selection of beautiful gifts.
Hopefully by now you’ve read a range of blogs by others members of our very diverse and dedicated team, detailing the huge variety of projects we’re involved in, tasks that get delivered and enquiries that we respond to.
Having been in post now for just over six months, my admiration continues to grow for what has been achieved in the past and what continues to get delivered. For an organisation with the resources we have there is no doubt that we’re ‘punching above our weight’. However, it isn’t always easy to maintain, communicate, or even fund.
As I said in my previous post, my aim over the next few years is to finalise and deliver the Masterplan, a redevelopment of the Centre and a refinement of the physical spaces we have, ensuring our financial sustainability, allowing us to continue to spread the word to both our local community and our visitors.
Over the past few months we’ve pulled together a plan for new collections storage, spoken to a number of expert retail designers and shortlisted and interviewed a range of museum designers, as well as beginning to investigate a sustainable business model. Frankly, if we can’t be financially sustainable after the project, then we should ask ourselves if this is a project worth pursuing.
We’ve also spent time conducting outreach with our audiences, building our database and encouraging feedback on what our future might look like. Last week saw our first consultative forum with our ‘partner’ organisations, where we posed them a range of questions, all of which are designed to help us shape our future.
We divided these into a number of sections, and I’ve listed them below. Hopefully you can see that we aim to challenge everything that we do now, not wanting to base any of our decisions on opinion and assumption, but rather on actual data and analysis.
If you have any thoughts on these questions, or indeed any others you think we should be asking, do please get in touch, my details are at the end of this post.
Why does the New Forest Heritage Centre exist?
Would it matter if it did not exist?
Who is it there for?
Could it be somewhere else?
What sets it apart from other organisations?
How is it relevant to you and your organisation, what can we do for you?
What can we do for your organisation?
What stories can we tell for you?
How can we preserve your heritage?
How can we work together better?
What should we be collecting?
Are collections that the public do not see still important?
What story should we be telling and why?
How do we ensure that our visitors feel engaged with the New Forest?
How can we further enhance the sense of place and purpose within the local community to the New Forest?
How do we reinforce cultural identity within the community?
How do we communicate with users/partners?
How do we instil a love of the New Forest and its Heritage?
How can we extend our reach in terms of distance, people and diversity?
Who is our audience, and how do we reach differing ones with differing messages?
How do we reach new audiences?
What are our key messages?
Day to Day Operations
What is the best thing we do?
What do we do less well?
What we are doing now and what we can do in the future?
What are the key messages in our museum?
How can we all be more financially sustainable?
How can we be more environmentally sustainable?
Who should fund it?
Who should staff it?
Should all our services be free?
The challenges I encountered when I took up post still exist, but I am so much further on in my understanding of how we might overcome them.
Yes, visitor numbers are important, yes, how we deliver our charitable objectives is important, but sadly, the most important part of my role is how we keep the lights on and the bills paid. As an independent charity, like so many others around the country, we face a day to day battle on how to deliver best value from what we have, how to stay relevant to our partners and visitors, and how to pay the bills.
Unsurprisingly, we rely heavily on donations, which can now be made via contactless technology in the Centre, and grants we receive, along with the support from the numerous volunteers we have, those who support us as Friends, and those who support us as donors. Frankly we couldn’t do it without them, and for their continued contributions, we are truly grateful. Every piece of support, big or small, is significant, and we really do appreciate it.
I hope to see many of you soon at one of the numerous events we have planned for the near future, some of which you can already buy tickets on-line via our website, so watch out for those, but if I don’t and you would like to discuss anything, do please pop in and see me, or get in touch email@example.com
Hi, I’m Chris and volunteer as an information enquiry person within the gift shop of the New Forest Heritage Centre.
I retired by accident (long story!) and moved to the New Forest just 3 years ago. I had been visiting for the previous 31 years. My very first visit was when I was 12 on a school field trip and I fell in love with the place way back then.
I was now time rich and looking for ways to contribute to my new community.
I went along to the volunteers fair last year and spoke to several organisations and charities all looking for help towards their cause.
The New Forest Heritage Centre appealed to me as they were looking for people to help visitors (both locals and tourists) find their way around the Forest, share knowledge and promote New Forest etiquette. (Slow down and don’t feed the ponies!)
My profession was in Learning and Development and imparting knowledge was what I enjoyed about my work. I knew I wasn’t an expert on all things New Forest but I knew ‘my part’ of the Forest and I have a passion for preserving the New Forest environment and learning more about the area in which I live.
Well ….I have learned so much!
Through training and conversations with the lovely experienced people at the Heritage Centre I now know; the best walks and cycling areas depending on the individuals needs and requirements; what buses, trains and ferries to get to travel across the New Forest; what to do when it’s raining, (Heritage Centre Gallery and Museum, obviously top of the list); where the dog friendly beaches are; the best places to see bluebells, birds, dragonflies, cattle, pigs and of course ponies.
Some of the more unexpected enquiries I have had are:
‘What time does the National Park open?’
‘Where is the best place for a fashion photo shoot?’
‘Where is the National Park?’
‘How much does it cost to go into the National Park?’
These questions remind me not to take this precious place for granted.
But there is one question I still struggle to answer… it’s when a gentleman comes in, he stands in the doorway, his eyes briefly scan the shop and then he asks ‘Where’s my wife?’
Life here in the Centre Office is never dull. There’s such a variety of stuff happening that no two days are the same. This is what keeps me coming to work day after day.
I live half an hour’s drive away from The Office, and usually stop for a walk on my way in. I’m so lucky to have the Forest, and also the coast in the New Forest National Park, for my exercise. By the time I get into work I’ve walked most of my 10,000 steps and set up my head for the day. Today I was privileged enough to watch a large stag with antlers so big it’s a wonder he could hold his head up.
We are a small, friendly bunch here. As there are so few of us we all need to roll up our sleeves and deal with the unexpected. Much as I love spreadsheets I’m rarely able to complete the task! My assistance may be needed in the shop, a colleague may need my input, or our website might need updating. After 30 years in the workplace it’s the first place I’ve felt truly at home.
I’m constantly amazed at the incredible information in the reference library. I love it when the team come across really old maps of the Forest, or posters from bygone times. For instance, when the New Forest Show was approaching, we were able to post on social media the cover of an official show catalogue from 1934. Unbelievable, how we can use modern media to showcase really old information.
I take my hat off to the education team. They have such detailed knowledge of the New Forest, its people and places, and they can impart this to anyone aged two to 92. They lead sessions here at the Centre, out on the Forest, and even at the Verderers’ Court. Participants get to see behind the scenes of this ancient institution with exclusive access. There’s no way that I could do what the education guys do.
And our wonderful, ever-willing volunteers! What can I say? They give their time and their expertise and without them we couldn’t operate this place. Thanks to each and every one of them.
I’ve learned so much about the New Forest since I’ve been here. Who knew that pannage is letting the pigs out to eat the acorns that otherwise would make the iconic New Forest Ponies sick? I didn’t, until five years ago. What about the ponies’ tails? They’re cut in a particular way to show that their owners, the Commoners, have paid their fees. To find out more about commoning, visit https://www.realnewforest.org/about/.
I’m really looking forward to the next few years. I can’t wait to see what the future brings!
As an archaeologist, I have always been interested in the study of people through material culture – the things they leave behind. The objects in our library and museum collections have biographies which are interlinked with those of the people who owned them or used them. Some objects come into the collections directly whereas others have passed through different hands, sometimes over a long period of time. I have selected three of my favourite items from the collections. Each of them has a story to tell.
Herbert Druitt’s letter
The Christopher Tower Library has copies of the various editions of John Wise’s New Forest: Its History and Its Scenery, including the two elaborate limited edition Artist’s editions. Inside the front cover of a very ordinary copy is a letter to:
Mr and Mrs Parkinson on their leaving The Priory Christchurch for the Rings, Beaulieu. With all good wishes for life in the New Forest. Christchurch, H.D. Druitt. Saturday 3 Nov. 1934. But alas! For good intentions, I did not send the book Wises’s N.F. till Wednesday 21 August 1935! HD.
By the time of his death, Herbert Druitt had amassed one of the biggest private collections in southern England. He gathered flint implements, pottery, fossils, shells and other items of interest. This material formed the basis of the Red House Museum, Christchurch, which opened in 1951.
Crawford’s map of Breamore
We have an Ordnance Survey map of Breamore which at first sight looks unremarkable, but a closer look reveals another story. In the top right-hand corner are the initials O.G.S.C. It is annotated with archaeological sites and monuments. Osbert Guy Stanford Crawford (1886-1957) was the first Archaeology Officer of the Ordnance Survey. From 1920, he toured Britain, often by bicycle, recording archaeological sites by hand and correcting mapping errors. He was assisted by regional antiquarian societies and by his correspondents whom he called “ferrets”. They referenced reports, including Heywood Sumner’s Local Papers for the Ibsley Common barrows and Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine for the find of a rare and beautiful Alpine jade axe-head at Marsh Farm, Breamore.
Crawford’s maps were the blueprint for what has become the Historic Environment Record, the list of known archaeological sites, held by each county or unitary authority in the United Kingdom.
Flint axehead from Burley
In a display case is a flint axehead of Neolithic date, the period traditionally linked to early farming communities. It is finely ground with sharply flattened edges. From the raw materials that were chosen, to the forms and finishes they were given, as well as the conditions and locations in which they were deposited, we know axeheads mattered to past people. This axehead matches one recorded by Félicité Hardcastle in her book Aspects of a New Forest Village: Records of Burley. Finds of Neolithic date are rare in the Forest making this particularly special.
More than any other National Park in this country I bet most people somehow feel they know the New Forest. We drive through it, travel across it by train, ride or walk on it, or just see numerous photos of animals and visitors appearing to happily coexist in a sort of idealistic Enid Blyton image of what we would prefer the rest of England to look like.
Our parents and grandparents might have camped here and told endless stories of never ending beautiful summers. These in turn have stimulated next generations to feel uniquely linked to these special 220 square miles of what I consider to be part of Britain at its best. I guess these sentiments describe my opinion well.
My wife Victoria and I moved here from London about 20 years ago and since then I have never lost that sense of living in a unique part of the country visited by millions of people visit each year. On which point, average visitor days each year to the New Forest already exceed well over 15 million and that’s set to increase still higher as the UK population expands. This means we really do have to protect and preserve what we have.
About ten years ago we moved from Bartley, near Totton, to the village of Emery Down, just outside Lyndhurst. Something clicked at once with me that this was a very special place. For example, living just a few doors away from where the famous snake catcher Brusher Mills was born (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brusher_Mills).
Across the road is a church war memorial that commemorates so many local young men who perished in both world wars, plus for some reason, a relative of the late Queen Mother and the two sons of the actual Alice in Wonderland (Alice Hargreaves, née Liddell). Alice lived nearby and in 1927 opened our lovely village hall. Not far away the New Forest Inn was allegedly the last place where the Captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith, spent his final night on land before setting sail from Southampton in 1912.
Like many other villages in the New Forest, I consider a church, village hall and pub should become important community focal points (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emery_Down) and I feel privileged to officially look after our church fabric, chair the trustees of the village hall and, of course, frequent the pub. Several years ago I also led a small team that converted the old village telephone box into a library/information point and have been amazed since then at how many people visit this little kiosk in the New Forest from the UK and much further afield (e.g. Australia).
Adding this all up, I was delighted earlier this year to also become a Trustee of the New Forest Heritage Centre to hopefully play a small part with my colleagues in not only helping to tell others about one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture, heath and forest land in the UK, but to also help preserve what I think can be described as the ‘peoples forest’ for this generation – and generations to come: To inform and share with the many people who flock to this comparatively unspoilt corner of England that for me, is still a combination of Blyton, beauty and Britain at its best.
Rachel, our current Fundraising Development Manager is off on a year’s sabbatical and I have been brought in to cover her position.
So, who am I? I am a small person with huge shoes to fill.
I was born in the New Forest, a long time ago and spent most of my adult life in Bristol. It was always my ambition to return. I love the New Forest, it’s where I call home!
I came into the charity sector quite by chance and have not looked back. Prior to that I worked in IT, even running my own company. Even further back I was a Saw Doctor, yes, that is an official title.
Fundraising for the New Forest Heritage Centre is a different style from the other charities where I have worked, but the principals are the same:
It’s not all about the money!
Over the coming months, we have some great events and big plans; we can’t fulfil our needs without your support.
Your time is as valuable to us as actual cash. Donating time is priceless.
Sometimes we need volunteers to assist at an event, host a collection, bake cakes for a cake sale… so many ways where time rich people can help.
If you have an idea on how to support us and need some advice, please do get in touch.
Why not create your own fundraising event and use our digital donation platforms?
My name is Suzie Moore and I have been part of the education team at the New Forest Heritage Centre for over 11 years. I was a primary school teacher for ten years before that and was lucky enough to have had the freedom to create a whole curriculum based around the New Forest. Having lived near Dartmoor and Exmoor in my formative years it was a wonderful challenge to come to a different National Park and discover the similarities and differences between them. When the opportunity arose to make teaching about the New Forest a full time job I didn’t hesitate and luckily for me got the position!
Since then my own personal learning journey has never stopped. Firstly I needed to learn the ropes in a new organisation, then I needed to learn the education sessions I would be teaching. As I took on the role of development officer I needed to expand my horizons again and find out more about the New Forest, its history and culture so I could develop further education programmes, not just for children but for adults as well.
There were times when the theatre aspect of Gail Goldwin’s quote was hugely important as I didn’t always feel confident in my own personal knowledge, but with time and that all important preparation, my knowledge and confidence grew and I really began to understand why some people are so passionate about the New Forest.
The education team at the New Forest Heritage Centre has always been a source of great pride and I hope that my input over the last 11 years has helped to keep the Heritage Centre in touch with education and moving forwards, not just in terms of formal school and college education. As Thomas Merton said “The least of the work of learning is done in the classroom.” So much learning happens within informal settings when we are with our families and friends, and a key part of my role has been to continue to develop the informal education using crafts and fun sessions to engage with all ages.
Admittedly this sometimes involves a lot of fun on my part – with the occasional costume to help with those unforgettable learning experiences!
So whether you are a teacher in a school or college, a leader with a youth or adult group or just friends or family keen to learn, the education team at the New Forest Heritage Centre has so much to offer. More information can be found on our Learning pages and the team are happy to talk through bespoke options for you and your group.
I started work at the New Forest Heritage Centre in 1991; so twenty eight years later and one or two moves within the organisation, I’m still thoroughly enjoying the job! What keeps me motivated? Firstly, a commitment to the ethos of the New Forest Ninth Centenary Trust which took root in the early years working alongside Jude James, well-known local historian (and consultant to the New Forest Ninth Centenary Trust at the time) and being part of a hard-working team. In addition, my current role as Retail Manager fulfils my passion for maintaining the highest level of customer care and attention to detail.
Our visitors may be making their first or fiftieth visit to the shop – they are always made welcome and my mission is to tempt every one of them with new and unusual gifts and souvenirs to enhance the retail experience. The summer holidays are nearly here and it is good to see the popular New Forest Tour Bus again. We expect to be at our busiest over the next few weeks; but we have been gearing up well in advance.
We start by choosing new lines for the summer season whilst still in the depth of winter. We visit Trade Shows in February and March to get a feel for what’s new, and then assess the very best products for relevancy to our own retail offer at the New Forest Heritage Centre.
This year we have concentrated on applying our new and contemporary branding to a range of popular gifts. The colourful, forest-themed montage of flora and fauna works really well as a memento of any visit to the New Forest. We are also working on an online shop, starting with the New Forest Record Series, local interest book titles and walking maps, together with a range of branded gifts. As new products arrive, we will be updating the online shop – so please visit our webpage to see what has been added. www.newforestheritage.org.uk
Recently we have introduced a range of locally produced alcohol from small breweries and distilleries based in or close to the New Forest. We are selling small-batch gin, mead, wine, beer and cider. We also wanted to expand our range of Men’s Gifts this year and we are particularly pleased with the response to the new range of “At Home in the Country” gifts from country-themed handkerchiefs to unusual desktop accessories as well as a range of very smart cufflinks from Onyx Art.
The three-day New Forest Show annual event starts on Tuesday 30th July. This is often a good time to visit the New Forest Heritage Centre whilst many visitors are at the Showground. We will be providing craft activities for children in the museum area and the chance to view and purchase original artwork from the 2019 Open Art Competition in our New Forest Gallery summer exhibition. Congratulations to Penny Driscoll who won First Prize this year. Please pop in to say hello and take a look at what’s on offer at the New Forest Heritage Centre this summer.
Welcome to the first blog post of the New Forest Heritage Centre. Our aim is to post around one a fortnight, with different members of the team contributing on a rotating basis, so you get a good insight into what we’re all doing, what’s happening and what there is to look forward to.
You’ll be hearing from members of our Board, the executive and our volunteers. Everyone’s motivation and perspective is different, but it is all of these diverse inputs that makes us the team we are.
I’ve now been in post for almost 3 months, and there is no doubt what a committed team I’ve inherited. Hilary was held in such high esteem, so I know I’ve got my work cut out to measure up!
As some of you may know, I’ve recently spent 9 years working in Portsmouth as Head of Commercial for The National Museum of the Royal Navy, and before that 9 years as Operations Manager for Salisbury and then Wiltshire Council. I wanted a role where I could add value and have a positive impact, and the opportunity open to me at the Heritage Centre seemed simply too good to be true. I’m a practising commoner, living in the north of the Forest, and the subject matter and objectives of the trust are very dear to my heart.
I join at such an exciting time for the Centre. Yes, certainly there are all of the challenges that independence brings, but also so many opportunities. New branding, a new outlook, and new approach, and a genuine understanding that a redevelopment will allow the Centre to continue to flourish and build on the successes of the past. The library is an example of this, with offers of acquisition coming in on a regular basis, and a storage system that simply isn’t fit for purpose anymore.
My aim over the next few years is to finalise and deliver the Masterplan, a redevelopment of the centre and a refinement of the physical spaces we have, ensuring our financial sustainability, allowing us to continue to spread the word to both our local community and our visitors. Easily said, not so easily delivered, but it is the dedication and support that I’ve encountered since I started that is the bedrock on which this will be built.
We rely heavily on donations and grants we receive, along with the support from the numerous volunteers we have, those who support us as Friends, and those who support us as donors. Frankly we couldn’t do it without them, and for the contributions made, we are truly grateful. Every piece of support, big or small, is significant, and we really do appreciate it.
I hope to see many of you soon at one of the numerous events we have planned for the near future, some of which you can already buy tickets for on-line via our website, so watch out for those, but if I don’t and you would like to discuss anything, do please pop in and see me, or get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.