Latest News - Saffron Walden Museum (July 2020)

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Saffron Walden Museum Summer

Museum News for July

We remain temporarily closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  We continue to work behind the scenes and from home, keeping in touch with you all online through our social media, website and blogging.

Re-opening update

We welcome the government’s announcement that museums in England can re-open from the 4th July.

Our first priority is the safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors. 

We are working hard behind the scenes to ensure that all necessary safety measures are in place for re-opening in line with the government’s guidelines.

We will announce our official opening date (which is likely to be later in the Summer), across our social media channels, website and local media in due course.

Thank you for your continuing support of the Museum.

fossil pack

Click & Collect

Activity Packs

We're thrilled to have received such a good response to our new click & collect activity packs. 

We quickly sold out of the recent Fantastic Fossils packs.  We added some extra packs and they sold out too!

We will have a new pack available next week so keep your eyes peeled for that on social media.  




CV Walden

We are continuing to collect people's experiences of the current Covid-19 outbreak and how it has affected day-to-day life in the district for future generations to understand. 

If you are interested in compiling a diary now that we could archive at a later date that would be really beneficial.

We're also interested in audio and video clips, as well as artistic responses to the current situation, such as artwork, poetry and music, etc. If you are part of a community group or organisation - consider asking your members and contacts to take part in this project. 

These may be compiled to form an online or physical exhibition in due course.

Feel free to contact us about this project at and title your email "CV Walden"

hipposandal 2

Object of the Month

The Museum’s ‘Object of the Month’ provides an opportunity to explore interesting and unusual objects from our stores. 

July’s Object of the Month has been chosen by Curator, Carolyn Wingfield.  It's an iron ‘hipposandal’ found near Wixoe, Suffolk in 1985 by a metal-detectorist.

Before nailed on horseshoes were developed in Medieval times, the Romans developed a horse-shoe which was essentially an iron sandal strapped onto the horse’s foot; ‘hipposandal’ comes from the Greek word hippos which means ‘horse’. 

Our hipposandal is partly bent and has the back wings and upper frontal loop missing, but the iron plate, which covered the underside of the horse’s foot, is intact, with parts of the side wings.

To find out more you can check out the Object of the Month post on our website (latest news section) or see it on our new blog - links at the end of this newsletter



Development Survey

As part of our current National Lottery Heritage Funded "Resilient Heritage" Project we have been undertaking an audience development survey with consultants Julia Holberry and her team, investigating the museum's current and potential audiences.   

An online survey undertaken in June had 260 respondents. The data has now been crunched and the survey results show a clear appetite for developing the Museum and good potential for raising it's profile further.  We will keep you posted on the project's development. 

Don't worry if you missed out on the chance to respond to the survey the project is in its early stages, so there will be plenty of time to input ideas and make comments.



The museum's blog, which was setup to share our learning resources more effectively whilst we are closed to the public, is continuing to be well received.

Check it out for our current behind the scenes activities, new online tutorials, project updates, stories about our collections and insights into our diverse collections. 

How can we develop it further? What stories would you like us to share with you about our collections?

What resources could the museum provide that you might find helpful?  - local history, geography, science, maths, art....


Museum Natural Sciences Store improvements

Since last month, the work to seal the store has been completed, so we can start moving the taxidermy back from its temporary home downstairs.

Each piece will be checked for age and pest damage, and conserved if necessary. This may be freezing to kill pests, gentle brush cleaning or restoration of damaged areas of skin.


Digital Environmental monitoring

The new temperature and humidity gadget has been in place for a month, and James Lumbard (Natural Sciences Officer) is getting to grips with the huge amount of data it records. We’ve had fun(!) discussing strange readings as a team, comparing them with the mechanical thermohygrograph readings, and trying to work out rolling averages to smooth out some of the more drastic-seeming numbers (like when someone breathes too close to the data logger)!


Geology Documentation Project

James reports:

With only two days left to go as I write this, I’m drawing the work to a close. I’ve found as much information as I can about some of the mystery items, and it’s time to assign everything a proper museum Accession number. Most of the items have had temporary numbers since well before my time, but the national Accreditation standard needs everything to have an official number. Wish me luck!



Natural Sciences Store     @ Shire Hill


Behind closed doors work continues to improve collection areas whilst the Museum is shut. Sarah and Fiona are working at the Museum Store. In the natural sciences store Fiona has been doing a fantastic job cleaning dust off the metal racking and all the boxes of objects.

On the right of the picture you can see large geology specimens from the Precambrian, Silurian and Devonian periods of geological time.

The oldest rocks at the top are 600 to 590 million years old! They are from the old geology department at Newport Grammar School, which is now called Joyce Frankland Academy.

behind scenes

Virtual Highlights Tour

If you're missing the Museum as much as we are, then you might enjoy watching this quick Youtube virtual highlights tour which was created for us by Saffron Drones. 

What's your favourite bit of the Museum?

mystery objects


We're still sharing our online jigsaws based on the museum's collections.  How quickly can you solve them?  There are alternative designs and versions to suit different levels.  Let us know if you have any jigsaw requests and we'll create some more!

We've also created an online mystery object quiz game which you can find on the museum's Facebook timeline - test your expert knowledge identifying 10 mystery social history objects from our collections, with multiple choice answers to pick from.

new volunteer

Annual Season

Ticket Holders

Saffron Walden Museum (part of UDC) intends to extend the term of our current Annual Season Ticket memberships once the Museum re-opens. When we have more insight into our timeline for re-opening, we will communicate with you the specific measures we will take to ensure you are able to enjoy the full value of your Annual Season Ticket Admission membership.  Please note this is different from membership of the Museum Society which will be resolved as a separate issue in due course.

Thank you for your continuing support of the Museum.

The museum is closed for the time being, but remains active online...




Phone: 01799 510333