Latest News - Saffron Walden Museum (July 2021)

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Saffron Walden Museum Summer

Museum News for July

volunteers welcome

Visiting the Museum!

Thank you to everyone who has already come back to visiting us in person again. 

Our opening times currently are Thursday-Saturday 11-4.30pm and Sunday 2.30-4.30pm. 

Full covid precautions are in place.

You can book a ticket online to visit the museum via our website  


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 Objects of the Month have been chosen by Carolyn Wingfield, Curator

This pair of solid gold bracelets, found in North-west Essex are nearly 3,000 years old. They date from the late Bronze Age, around 900 – 750 AD and seem to have been deliberately buried on their own. The Museum purchased them through the Treasure Act thanks to the generous support of the Arts Council England / V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Art Fund, the Beecroft Bequest and two local donors and they are now on public display in the museum.

Two members of Creative Walden’s Writers’ Room are pictured modelling the Bronze Age bling!!

To find out more check out the Object of the Month post on our website

mary knight

Mary Knight

A service of thanksgiving will be held on the 4th September at 2.30pm in loving memory of our friend and valued volunteer Mary Knight.

Here Mary is pictured being presented with her Museum long service certificate.


Summer Events

Crafts at the Castle, 10:30am - 3.30pm


Thursday 29th of July

Week One, Castles! 

Build a junk model castle, design a coat  of arms and make a siege catapult.


Thursday 5th of August: 

Week Two: Under the Sea

Make a seascape box, pomp om sea urchin and a flapping seagull  


Thursday 12th of August:

Week Three: Brilliant Beasts

Make a sheep keyring, bird kite and design your own beetle


Thursday 19th of August:

Week Four: Toys and Games

Make your own cup and ball, dominoes and marbles


Thursday 26th of August 10:30-3:30

Week Five: Wonderful Wildlife.

Make a clay hedgehog, paper flower and your own beautiful butterfly


Join Saffron Walden Museum in the Museum grounds in the shadow of the newly opened Walden Castle for some crafting at the castle. To join in simply order that weeks activity pack via our art tickets page. The packs will contain all the materials you need to complete 3 crafts/makes, plus an A4 colour instruction booklet and trail to do around the Museum. Come to the Museum to collect your packs each week on Thursday and, weather permitting, join us in the grounds where we will help you with the activities in your pack and provide equipment such as paint, scissors and glue. Bring along a picnic blanket and stay for the day. If its raining you can take your pack to complete at home.

 In person collection of packs. Help from the Museum Learning team in the grounds is weather permitting.

Activity packs are suitable for ages 4+

You will need to order your activity pack in advance via our art tickets page

£5 per activity pack please note this price does not include entry to the museum


Learning & Outreach

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

Now that the national lockdown has been lifted we can now welcome schools or groups back to the Museum or offer outreach sessions.  Why not book for the next school year or for your community group over the Summer.

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



lost language of nature

Lost Language of Nature

This project is now under way, with James and Charlotte conserving items from the bird taxidermy collection. Current work includes a mandarin duck which needs its head and tail reattaching, and a night heron which needs its tail reattaching and a new base. We also want to make lasting changes to the information we hold on these items, including folk names, stories and histories of the birds, which come from all over the world. Birds for this month are the mandarin duck (Aix galericulata), night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), blackbird (Turdus merula) and little bittern (Ixobrychus minutus).

Please see the website or email to share your forgotten names and stories.

leanring hub2

Online Learning Hub

Our online learning hub is full of digital resources to help people explore the Museum’s learning and outreach services online.

The aim is to make the Museum’s wide-ranging collections available to support home learning and beyond, as well as providing blended learning for schools and informal groups of all ages from badged groups to the WEA and care homes.

The Learning Hub can be accessed from the Museum website’s homepage 

Initially three sessions will be available - Prehistory Hunters, Fantastic Fossils and Adaptions - with more being added each week.

qr codes

QR Code 

Object Labels

In order to comply with Covid guidelines we have removed all the hand-lists from all the display galleries.

These have been replaced with QR codes produced by Jenny Oxley (Collections Officer, Human History).  The codes can be scanned by visitors during their visit, so that they can view their own personal copy of the object labels for each display, rather than multiple people touching physical copies of the labels. 

cataloguing vol

Natural History Volunteer

We welcome the return of a very dedicated volunteer to tackle another mammoth task of transcribing written documents onto the computer. This time, the subject is the handwritten lists of photographic slides which belonged to Barry Kaufmann-Wright, who managed to take and keep 72,000 photographs of wildlife and landscapes throughout his life. To catalogue them properly, each list is being broken down into boxes which contain trays of slides, with each slide being given an individual number ready to be entered into our central online system for managing the collections. Valuable work, but heavy going!



The Museum frontage has been planted with wildflowers which are now in full bloom. The special bumble-bird mix should provide seed for birds to eat into the winter, so the plants need to be supported all through the year. Thanks to some very clever coppicing by the Forestry Commission volunteers at Hales Wood, the beds are now lined with hazel fans to stop the flowers flopping toward the car park, and are almost invisible next to the foliage.


Discovery Centre

We change microscope drawers in the Discovery Centre weekly for covid quarantine and to keep things interesting for visitors. This week’s selection include mammal skulls, owl pellets, seaweed and reptiles!

sts project logo

Snapping the Stiletto Project:

LGBTQ+ Archive

Queer Reflections: revisiting our collections

This new online archive of LGBTQ+ relevant objects from Saffron Walden Museum and Southend Museums explores sexuality, gender, and identity. Jenny Oxley, Collections Officer (Human History) at Saffron Walden Museum, and Vittorio Ricchetti, Assistant Curator (Material Culture) at Southend Museums, with suggestions from their colleagues, have delved into their collections to highlight objects that have connections to LGBTQ+ histories. In doing so they have identified a range of items that demonstrate that non-binary gender identity, queer relationships, and fluidity in its many forms are represented in our museum collections.

We cannot define or label people or movements retrospectively, if queer histories are not identified and recorded at the time an object is collected that connection is at risk of being silenced. This project seeks to revisit areas of our collections where stories may have previously been overlooked or unexplored in order to hear from people living in Essex today. We have identified objects with different degrees of connections to LGBTQ+ history in order to begin a discussion.

We want you to submit your reactions and reflections to these objects, and research other objects in our collections. Help us collect your stories and document your experiences in order to preserve them for the future and celebrate them in the present. Is one of these objects significant to you and your experience? Do you have a story connected to it?

Get involved:

React to the objects by sending in comments for us to upload on the website

Share your stories and experiences of LGBTQ+ Essex

Research relevant objects from our collections

We will be adding new objects every month so don’t forget to check back.

In June we started the process of recruiting an artist in residence to work with us on the Stiletto project over the Summer.  Watch this space for more information very shortly.


CV Walden

We are continuing to collect people's experiences of the Covid-19 outbreak and how it has affected day-to-day life in the district over the past year, 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"


Fete de la Musique

Sunday 20th June saw the museum and castle grounds hosting part of Fete de la Musique with a range of music and puppetry performances during the day.

Here is the scene as The Umbrella Big Band performed to the crowd.



New Archaeological Treasures

We are celebrating Uttlesford’s ancient heritage with new archaeological treasures now on display.  A gold Roman ring from Broxted, set with a polished amethyst, and a hoard of ten silver coins from Barnston. The coins date from AD 395-402 and were probably buried in the early 5th century. When the last Roman legion left Britain in 410 and the supply of new coins dried up, silver coins like these continued in use into the 5th century, and are often found in hoards. The ring and coins were metal-detector finds and acquired by the Museum through the Treasure Act, with thanks to the Gibson Walden Fund who supported the purchase of the ring. 

cat bench

Visitor enjoying the listening bench!

Originally created by Essex Record Office Sound and Video Archive in partnership with Saffron Walden Initiative this listening bench in the grounds of the museum features stories about life in Castle Street and the wider town during the mid-20th century. Check it out on your next visit to the Museum.

castle launch

Castle Relaunch

On Friday 18th June the remains of Saffron Walden Castle were officially re-opened after conservation work. They will now be open to the public (during the museum's opening hours).

Pictured at the official re-opening are Cllr Arthur Coote, Chairman of Uttlesford District Council (with the chain of office) and representatives from Historic England (Tony Calladine) Caroe architects (Patricia Forero) and Bakers of Danbury (Adrian Ward), Sarah Kirkpatrick (Uttlesford Blue Badge Guide), Lewis Merle (Uttlesford District Council), Museum Curator Carolyn Wingfield and invited guests.

castle booklet

Shop Focus


We stock a full range of gifts in the Museum shop all year round, and there are always seasonal special offers and themed products linked to our collections.....  


With the relaunch of the Castle and our castle themed summer activity coming up, why not purchase a copy of our information booklet which we have on sale at £1.50 and find out more about the fascinating history of the Castle.




Why not join our team?

We are always looking for new volunteers to join our team on a regular basis.  We would also be delighted to hear from volunteers who are able to provide adhoc ‘cover’ for our regular shift volunteers when they have planned absences such as holidays, hospital appointments, etc.

To find out more about these and ‘Learning and Support’ volunteer opportunities please contact the museum using the details below.

For full details of our opening times and to book online:



Phone: 01799 510333