Friends of Morpeth MuseumPutting the case for a Museum in Morpeth:


The "Friends of Morpeth Museum" was formed at a meeting held on 6th September 2001.
 

The aim of the Friends is to see a Museum established in the centre of Morpeth, to display the history of the town.


We are appealing for the support of residents, ex-residents and visitors who agree that there is a need for a Museum in Morpeth.

Morpeth has been a market town for at least 8 centuries. A Charter to hold a market was issued by King John in 1199, and it is believed to be a confirmation of an earlier charter. So Morpeth has a very long history, about which much is known.

The early history has survived in document form – for example, the edict of 1282, which demanded that all corn grown in Morpeth should be ground at the Lord’s Mill. That edict was still being enforced in the 18th century.

In more recent times, artefacts have survived. However, both documents and artefacts are scattered around Morpeth and beyond. For example, the Morpeth Court Rolls are held by Durham University, although an enterprising Past Chairman of Morpeth Antiquarian Society obtained copies, now housed in the Northumberland Records Office, at present in Morpeth.

The Friends have a list of important artefacts that still exist. Their location is known. Their ownership is known. In some cases, promises have been made that if a museum existed, artefacts would be given or loaned on a long-term basis to it.

It is the belief of the Friends that the treasures of Morpeth should be brought together in one place, properly cared for and put on display to the general public.

 

There is no longer dedicated local history museum space in the town, partly because the items mentioned above are in different ownership, There is no Morpeth town museum where the owners could lodge such items (Newcastle University owns the Newminster Buckle in the Great North Museum: Hancock; the Town Council owns the civic silver and high status items housed in the Mayor's Parlour and Council Chamber of the Town Hall which are in the town though the Parlour is only open to the general public two days a year (the Gathering and during Heritage Open Days) while the Council Chamber is open to the public only when Town Council meetings are in session.

Successive council decisions have shifted the Morpeth Antiquarian Society collections out of town - they were in public ground-floor spaces within the Chantry from 1965-1997 but Castle Morpeth Borough Council required them to be moved to rear room storage in the Town Hall in 1997; in 2010 the new unitary County Council moved them out to the old fire station and then to Newbiggin Library in 2011 - and, after free use of the Morpeth spaces for decades, a small rent had to be paid from then on. Since 2016, no council building has been made available, and the best option at short notice in 2016 was a move to Pegswood costing a significant annual rent which is still draining the finances of the volunteer MAS organisation. The austerity era means that this is not the best time to be seeking funds for heritage and cultural activities, but if a town is to retain its character (which implies an awareness of its origins) and remain distinctive and attractive to visitors, locals and employers, - then a heritage centre or museum is essential.
Views of Old Morpeth
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