Latest News - Saffron Walden Museum (September 2021)

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Saffron Walden Museum Summer

Museum News for September

volunteers welcome

Visiting the Museum!

Our opening times are currently Thursday-Saturday 10-5pm and Sundays & Bank Holidays 2-5pm.

We no longer require online advance booking.

Please pay by cash or card at our welcome desk on arrival at the museum.

In the interests of safety, we encourage

  • Wearing of face coverings
  • Maintaining social distance
  • Using hand sanitiser

These measures are no longer compulsory.

The QR code for the NHS Track & Trace app is displayed in the foyer for visitors who wish to scan it, but it is no longer compulsory for visitors to provide us with contact details.


Object of the Month

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

We are celebrating British staycations with September’s ‘Object of the Month’. The shell of this Edible Crab, Cancer pagurus, was found on the coast and it was chosen by Sarah Kenyon, one of the Natural Sciences Officers at the Museum.

This is the largest species of crab living in the seas around Britain. The shell, or carapace, can reach a size of 25cm across. Edible Crabs may live for twenty years. This large orangey-brown crab can be recognised by the pie crust edge of its thick, oval shell and the black tips on the end of its claws. Edible or Brown Crabs live on the lower shore and in the sea, down to a depth of 100 metres.

They can be found hiding under rocks on rocky shores, or amongst weeds off the shoreline. The predator comes out to hunt for mussels, whelks or smaller crabs and will dig in the sand for razor clams and other shellfish.

What sea creatures did you spot at the beach this Summer?

This species of crab is the most popular one to eat in Britain.

To find out more visit the Museum in September to see the Edible Crab on display or check out the Blog on our website.

Big weekend

kabir exhib

New Exhibition

Fossilisation: a slice of the Anthropocene              

18 Sep 2021 – 20 Mar 2022

Fossilisation features original bronze and mixed media sculpture by acclaimed artist Kabir Hussain.

Drawing on the concepts of fossilisation and preservation and accompanied by objects from across the museum collection, Fossilisation: a slice of the Anthropocene questions what traces of modern society might remain in the fossil and geological record thousands of years from now.

We are very pleased that Kabir’s original sculptures will be for sale throughout the exhibition period, with pieces available for collection once the exhibition has closed.

Kabir has exhibited at the Sainsbury Centre, Norwich, and completed various residencies across London and the East of England. He is based near Woodbridge, Suffolk, where he combines his art with a career as a professional bronze caster, and educational work for students and emerging artists.

book talk

Tuesday 21st September, 2pm


How to make a museum out of your own life

Rachel Morris was brought up not far from Saffron Walden. Her book, ‘The Museum Makers’, began when she opened up the boxes of old family mementos under her bed and saw inside them the entire history of her bohemian family. 

Despite all the years she had been running a museum-making company (called Metaphor) this was the first time that she realised that, just as museums are about making meaningful sense out of the confusion of the world, so – in what we do with our pasts and how we try to make sense of them – we are all museum-makers. 

Her book is part history of museums, part memoir of a wayward and bohemian family, part manual of how to make a museum out of your own life. 

Threaded through it are the themes that fascinate her most, of time and memory and museums and the stories families tell themselves and others. 

And it includes a section on Saffron Walden Museum, which was the first museum she ever visited.

Contact the Museum on (01799) 510333 or email to book a place at her talk to be held in the Museum on 21st September at 2pm. 

For more information about Rachel Morris and her writing career check out 

@MoMarcoPolo  @rachelmorris_writer

queen mother

Queen Mother visit

We were delighted to welcome Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa Ababio II to Saffron Walden Museum last month.

Here she is with Len Pole, a former curator at Saffron Walden Museum, who worked in Ghana in the early 1970s when he was employed in research for the National Museum of Ghana in Accra.

She specifically came to view the Ghanaian Royal and Cultural Heritage objects in the museum's World Cultures gallery.

A Balafon (xylophone) of the type used at ceremonial events, from the Lo-Dagaa area of north-west Ghana, given to the Prince of Wales by the Ghana Northern Region House of Chiefs in 1961. 

Interestingly, there are male and female versions of these instruments; this example, with a basketry structure at the larger end, to protect the largest of the gourd resonators which protrude somewhat out of the wooden xylophone frame, is regarded as a male form. 

She also viewed a miniature gold model of a Ghanaian Queen Mother's wooden stool, presented by the Eastern Region House of Chiefs Ghana to HRH Queen Elizabeth II in 1961

These items are on loan to Saffron Walden Museum from the Royal Collection Trust. 

and a Straw apron, originating from the Bolgatanga area of North Ghana, made in the early 1970s.

Ceremonial prayers were said in front of the objects in accordance with the Traditional Royal duties that the Queen Mother carries out in the UK on behalf of Her Predecessor Queen Yaa Asantewaa I, to take care and visit the Cultural and Royal Heritage objects that are part of the Shared Royal and Commonwealth History between Britain and West Africa (Ghana).


Emma Bridgewater visit

We were also delighted to welcome the design team from Emma Bridgewater ceramics to the museum on a research trip in August.

The museum is a great resource for artistic inspiration. A resource that is here for everyone to use. 

Please get in touch if you think we can help you with a project!

Mary Knight

Please note the change of date 

Mary Knight     

Memorial Service 

A memorial service will now be held on Saturday 9th October at 2.30pm at St. Mary's Saffron Walden, followed by refreshments at the Parish Rooms.  Her family would be delighted to welcome as many of Mary's museum friends as possible, that would like to join them to celebrate her life.

The family will also be launching the charity that they are setting up in her name The Mary Knight Foundation for Budding Gardeners which they are establishing with support from Bridge End Gardens to support young people wishing to learn about, study or practice horticulture and gardening, by providing small local grants.  

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

lost language

Lost Language of Nature Project

The project is progressing with conservation work on the little bittern, which is found across Europe, western Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa including Madagascar. It is the smallest member of the heron family in Europe, only about 30cm/12” long, though our specimen is smaller than that. It’s currently on a temporary foam base, waiting for work to conserve and rebuild some of the skin that has been lost from its feet. A blackbird has also had its head reattached and a wing strengthened. Work feels slow but we’ve started on some challenging pieces, so slow and steady is the order of the day! We want to make lasting changes and improvements to the information the museum holds on these items, including folk names, stories and histories of the birds. Please see the website or email to share your forgotten names and stories.


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.

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.



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 or direct

Initially three sessions will be available - Prehistory Hunters, Fantastic Fossils and Adaptions - with more being added in due course. 

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. 


Snapping the Stiletto Project 

Campaigning for Equality 

Artist in Residence

Heidi Sharp joined us during the school summer holidays as our artist in resident.  She explored women’s histories and untold stories, inspired by the Museum’s collections. She demonstrated her art practice in our Ceramics and Glass gallery during that time and ran a couple of printing/collage workshops in the Museum.  Her work and a selection of work by the workshop participants (as pictured) will go on display in the Museum shortly. 

Check out our learning hub for more information:

There will be a blog post from heidi on the museum's website shortly and more details on our social media feeds in due course. 


Human History Update 

Over the Summer we attended an open day at the Gardens of Easton Lodge at Great Easton attended by over 250 people, where we showcased and publicised the research and learning services the Museum provides. 

Last month the Gibson library attended a Historical Pageant's Day hosted by the English Folk, Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and King's College, London, which was held at Cecil Sharpe House on Regents Park Road in London. Over 100 people viewed archival material from our collections themed around the 1910 Walden Pageant, which was kindly showcased for us by the Gibson Library team, along with their own resources. 

We are currently working with Ashdon Museum helping to advise them on how best to go about cataloguing and storing their collections to museum accreditation standards.  

We value networking and working in partnership with other organisations on a range of different activities and projects.  So let us know if your community group, organisation or business would be interested in working with us too. 

We had a visit to Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome. It was great to hear about how their museum site operates.  It's useful to learn from other people and organisations. 

Our map collection stored at the Museum is currently being catalogued and gradually moved over to our external store at Shire Hill.  Once this work is complete it will be a much more effective resource for researchers.  The casual staff team have also recently begun to catalogue our collection of historic tokens from our paper records.   


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"


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.....  

Our featured shop product this month has been chosen by our Welcome Volunteer, Melanie, who likes the A-Z style of the poem on the Saffron Walled-In poster, which retails for just 50p!


Saffron Walden Museum Needs You!

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.

We plan to hold a tea party for our existing volunteers on Monday 20th September, invites will go out shortly. 

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



Phone: 01799 510333