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Feering and Kelvedon Local History Museum

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Library and Museum

Aylett's Building, Maldon Road, Kelvedon, Essex CO5 9BA

Opening hours:
Monday 2.00pm - 5.00pm, excluding Public Holidays.
Saturday 9.30am - 12.30pm.
No Monday opening through November, December, January and February.

There is parking for cars, and wheel-chair access is no problem, but there are no toilets or other facilities.

What is in the Museum?

Our displays are open to the public in one large room and two smaller ones, in the old British School at Kelvedon. Documentary archives are kept in controlled conditions in a fourth room; subject to proof of identity, local residents are welcome to refer to these under the supervision of the Steward on duty. We do not attempt to reduplicate the massive resources of the Record Office, but in our Archive you may find more intimate information about life, individual or communal, in the villages of yesteryear.

The exhibits fall into the following categories:

1. Sage Room - archaeology:
Stone Age artefacts - flint axes, blades and scrapers. Roman pottery & coins - from Canonium, the Place of Reeds. Great Brick - from the Chantry House at St Mary's Lands.

2. Main Room - predominantly 19th Century:
Agricultural and seed-growing implements. Craft tools and devices. The village pump over Marler's well. Trades, occupations and transport. Domestic appliances, ornaments and amusements. Schools and children's pastimes. A century of change in the High St - photographs. Reminders of two World Wars. Charles Haddon Spurgeon - preacher of note. Artefacts found in field-walking and metal-detection in western Kelvedon and eastern Feering.

3. Small Room - content varies:
Famous dolls. Sometimes a temporary exhibit.

Library and Museum entrance

Background

Founded in 1975, the Museum is governed by a Constitution; managed by a Committee of twelve, including four Trustees and three Officers; served by between 15 and 20 voluntary Stewards; maintained by three Curators and several Researchers; financially supported by the Parish Councils and - most importantly - BY YOUR DONATIONS AND PURCHASES.

Most local museums charge a pound or so for admission. We have never done so. With your help, we hope we can continue to avoid admission charges. We have held our costs essentially constant for 25 years - except for insurance, which has now risen five-fold, thereby threatening to exceed our income.

How could I contribute to the Museum's work?

If a local resident, you should could consider joining the body of Stewards who man the museum on a rota, with a three-hour duty coming your way several times a year, on Mondays or Saturdays. Alternatively, you may have skills appropriate to the development of new exhibits, or to the repair of artefacts. An interest in local history topics can be met by taking up a research project, the only stricture being that you must leave the project file in a state amenable to its continuation by any other researcher at a later date.

You can initiate any such involvement by having a word with the Duty Steward when you next visit the Museum.

Thomas Aylett blue plaque

A brief history of the building

Thomas Aylett built this school about 1630, and endowed it in his will dated 1637. Within a couple of decades, it was used to accommodate Cromwellian cavalry. An enquiry in 1739 found the school house "ruinous and unsafe, without seat or flooring, windows broken and roof ready to fall in". The date of the restoration in 1746 is still visible on a wall inside the library.

With the death of schoolmaster John Fuller, the school closed in 1842. Led by the Minister of the Congregational Chapel, a committee succeeded in re-establishing it as The British School in 1846. John Orst, staunchly Liberal, and a smallholder, seed-grower and part-time accountant, took on the post of Schoolmaster, and markedly raised the standards of discipline and education. It became necessary to add a room for infants (now the main room of the Museum) in 1886. From 1902 to 1944, the school operated as a Non-Provided School under the dual control of Local Managers and the County Authority.

When it was again occupied by troops in the First World War, lessons temporarily transferred to the Quaker Meeting House on the High Street. Its most famous teacher arrived in 1919: this was the innovative Helen Corke, confidante of D H Lawrence, who instituted a school badge and uniform, physical education, and outings.

Lessons here ceased in 1944, but the building continued to serve as a school canteen for St Mary's Primary School (then in Easterford Road) until a new school was built in 1969. The local branch of the County Library transferred here from St Mary's Hall in June 1970, to be joined by the fledgling Museum five years later.

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