Berkhamsted 'closer than ever before' to getting a museum

Berkhamsted is where the Anglo-Saxon lords surrendered to William the Conqueror
Berkhamsted is where the Anglo-Saxon lords surrendered to William the Conqueror
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Berkhamsted is ‘closer than ever’ to getting a museum befitting of its history.

The town was the historic site where the Anglo Saxons surrendered to William the Conqueror in 1066 – while Berkhamsted Castle became a favoured residence of the Royal family for more than 400 years.

But despite such a rich history, residents of the town have been fighting for their own museum – with little success.

But there are hopes the wait could soon be coming to an end, after a committee was set up to apply for a grant from the Lottery Heritage Fund which would enable a ‘history hub’ to be developed if the bid were approved.

Jenny Sherwood, chairman of the Berkhamsted Local History and Museum Society, told the Gazette: “I think it is possibly the best chance we have had, we are further down this route than ever before.”

A committee set up to to bid for cash will meet with the Lottery Heritage Fund in the next few months.

Members of the committee, which features groups including the Berkhamsted Local History & Museum Society, will travel to Cambridge to outline their bid to the fund group.

But the bid is by no means a guarantee that the idea will receive funding, and the application is at the ‘very earliest stage’ of a very long process, according to Jenny Sherwood.

She added: “The main venue that we would be looking at is in the town hall for a ‘history hub’.

“The castle is somewhere that has been considered in the past, but it would mean turfing out the tenants of the cottage, so it would not be viable. And we already have the visitors’ room with a permanent exhibition at the castle.

“We have not yet got to the stage of drawing up the exact figures, but there are a lot of permutations involved in this sort of thing.

“We have been trying to get a museum for 60 to 65 years, ever since the society was founded in 1950. We have wanted to have a museum, but the difficulty has always been getting premises.

“I think it is possibly the best chance we have had, we are further down this route than ever before.”

The news has been welcomed by long-time campaigner and member of the Dacorum Heritage Trust, John Waller.

John has in the past called for museum sites at both the castle and the old Bourne School site in the High Street, which has just been put out to lease. But he welcomed news of the application for heritage cash.

He said: “I believe Berkhamsted should have a museum or visitor centre that is worthy of its wonderful history.

“I’ve heard about the bid now and that’s just terrific, and I’m really glad it’s being done. Places such as Windsor Castle don’t have nearly the same history as Berkhamsted has. So the more people we can attract to the town with a museum, the better.”