Latest News - Saffron Walden Museum (Xmas & New Year 2020)

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Saffron Walden Museum Summer

Museum News for Christmas & New Year

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.

xmas staff


Season’s Greetings from Saffron Walden Museum


Thank you to all our friends, supporters and volunteers for your ongoing support, particularly this year when things have been tough for everyone.


We wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas and hope for a return to a more "normal" way of life for everyone in 2021.


Re-Opening the Museum

The museum reopened for 2 weeks in December exclusively for our Season Ticket Holders, Museum Society members and Museum Volunteers.  It ran smoothly and tickets were available to purchase online for timed slots through the Art Tickets website which is operated by the Art Fund. We will await further guidance in January from the government regarding full public re-opening in 2021.


Project Update:

Resilient Heritage

We are grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a grant to help us to plan a new chapter in the Museum’s history. Work has continued with our consultants Fourth Street and Julia Holberry Associates throughout 2020, and we now have a very comprehensive Options Appraisal & Feasibility Study and Audience Development Report to guide our plans for redeveloping the Museum. This lays the foundation for some busy and exciting years ahead!


Object of the Month

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

Snowdrops from Littlebury are January’s ‘Object of the Month’. Specimens of these plants are preserved in Saffron Walden Museum’s herbarium collection of dried plants. They have been chosen by Sarah Kenyon, one of the museum's Natural Sciences Officers.

The snowdrops were collected in a meadow at Littlebury in March 1864, so these preserved plants are 156 years old.

George Stacey Gibson of Saffron Walden published the first Flora of Essex in 1862. This is an illustration of Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, from volume five of the Museum’s copy of his flora.

These beautiful little plants produce their white flowers from January to March and they signify that spring is on its way. Snowdrops grow at the entrance to the Museum on Museum Street.


Learning & Outreach

Saffron Walden Museum is committed to continuing to share stories from its collections through its learning and outreach services.

With the current government guidelines we can’t welcome schools or groups to the Museum or offer Outreach sessions.

However our loan boxes are still available for hire, £18 for 6 weeks, and will be quarantined in between hires to ensure they are Covid 19 secure.

We are also developing virtual learning sessions for the lockdown period and offering a bespoke "click and collect" learning packs to schools and groups.

To find out about any of these services or for a list of loan boxes contact our Learning & Outreach Officer Charlotte Pratt via email at


Click & Collect

Activity Packs:

Winter Wonderland

Thank you to everyone who purchased one of our Winter Wonderland Activity Packs and Grown Up Art Club Maker's Packs they were extremely popular and the museum staff enjoyed wearing their snow crowns too!

If you missed out on these click & collect activity packs in 2020, watch out for more when we return in 2021!


Collections on the Move

Sarah Kenyon, Natural Sciences Officer moved a green turtle shell from Saffron Walden Museum to the Museum Store. At 71cm long and 62cm wide it just fitted into her car. The shell was given to Maldon Museum originally and was collected in the 19th century (1800-1899). It is too fragile for teaching sessions, so the shell is going to be displayed in the natural sciences section of museum store. Green turtles, Chelonia mydas, live in tropical and subtropical areas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.  They feed on sea grass, mangrove roots and leaves. Young turtles also eat jellyfish, molluscs and sponges. An adult turtle can grow to a length of 1.2 metres. They breed on isolated sandy beaches. These beautiful ocean creatures are protected now.


Taxidermy conservation

Back in the summer, James and Charlotte started an ambitious piece of work to move, condition check and carry out conservation work on the taxidermy bird collection. The first job has been to freeze or fumigate items which showed recent signs of pest activity, which has meant creating a dedicated section of the Natural Sciences Store at the Museum to house the defrosting and recently fumigated specimens. This stage is coming to an end and they are looking forward to starting the conservation work itself in the new year.

They will be taking plenty of photos of the work so keep an eye out for updates on everything from gentle dusting up to the really delicate work such as securing heads and wings on some of the older specimens.


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.

Contact Jenny Oxley, Collections Officer (Human History) about this project at and title your email "CV Walden"


Elf House Trail

The Elves have been busy in the Museum, helping us prepare our Christmas Activity packs. They have made homes in our grounds and left you a message. Can you find all the houses and decode the secret message? You can download a copy of the trail from our website and hunt for Elf Houses in the Museum and castle grounds at any time, no need to book.



Social History Project:

"Snapping the Stiletto"

The second phase of Snapping the Stiletto: Campaigning for Equality begins this month, led by Essex County Council. Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project aims to seek equality and challenge stereotypes by sharing and celebrating the stories of Essex women. 

Project Manager Kayleigh Boyle commented, ‘We want to find and tell the stories of women of all ethnicities, LGBTQ+ individuals, working women, and women with disabilities. We will re-examine the Essex Girl identity, and see what it is like to be a woman living in Essex today. We are looking for local groups and communities to work with and develop collaborative projects that provide people with space to have their say.’ 

Saffron Walden Museum is one of the regional museum partners in this phase of the project.  Jenny Oxley, Collections Officer (Human History) will be leading our elements of the project.  The project aims to collect the histories of underrepresented communities in the county and the objects that tell these stories. By collecting stories and encouraging local communities to donate relevant items, the project hopes to preserve women’s experiences and celebrate women in Essex.  

For more information on the project see the Snapping the Stiletto website.


Museum Shop Spotlight

Linked to the museum's acquisition of a new cabinet of butterflies and moths....we are highlighting our bespoke jigsaws....

Unique - Saffron Walden Museum commissioned jigsaw puzzles, inspired by our British Butterfly collection.  These are very different to standard jigsaw puzzles:

Whimsy pieces - Victorian puzzle ‘whimsies’ – this jigsaw has bespoke pieces which reflect the nature of the puzzle itself.

Irregular Pieces - The mini jigsaw puzzles (40 pieces) may be small but that doesn't mean they're easy. Perfect for adults and children to complete together or alone they’re still challenging.

British Made Wooden Classic  - Not only are they made from sustainable wood, which gives a fabulous tactile feeling, but they are cut using lasers. Laser cutting the pieces ensures that each piece fits together perfectly  On sale for just £7.50 each.

Our stationery packs and jigsaws are now available for sale online via the TIC website, here are the links:


Stationery Pack:

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




Phone: 01799 510333