Dorset Chartered Builders, Greendale Construction Limited, has been entrusted with the keys to the historic Priest’s House Museum, Wimborne. A unique live theatre event culminated in the museum’s Director, Emma Ayling, handing the keys over to Greendale Construction director, Rob Hooker, as the company embarks upon a 30-week, £700,000 major restoration and renovation project supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
‘Echoes of the Past,’ was exclusively performed at the museum on 7 June by the Wimborne Community Theatre, Millstream Theatre Group (the museum’s own theatre group for young learning-disabled people) and children from a local school. It retraced key moments from the building’s past, following different characters who have lived in the historic Grade II* listed building over the centuries. The symbolic handing over of the keys signified Greendale’s role as it adds another layer to its rich history.
The Priest’s House Museum building and adjoining Tourist Information Centre (TIC) building are formed of one original Grade II* listed townhouse. During the period the museum is closed, Greendale Construction will carry out internal alteration works throughout; including minor refurbishment in some areas and a full strip-out and redecoration in others. Changes to the front elevation will result in a new entrance to the museum and a new combined visitor reception, shop, TIC and information point. A new platform lift and ramps will allow access to the upper galleries for all for the first time. New staircases and refurbished or new doors and partition glazed screens will be installed where required. Mechanical and electrical services will be upgraded. A key element of the project is to reveal some of the townhouse’s many period features. The oldest part of the house dates back to the Elizabethan period and each subsequent generation has made its mark on the building.
The £700,000 extensive restoration work is an important aspect of the museum’s £1.6 million Revival Project which will be completed by spring 2020. This also includes updating and upgrading exhibition and display space; enhancing the story of the historic townhouse itself by telling the story of the building and the people who have lived in the house, Wimborne and East Dorset; establishing new formal and informal learning and community programmes; building new opportunities and training for volunteers and initiating more outreach programmes to the villages of East Dorset.
The Revival Project is being made possible by generous donations and fundraising from The National Lottery Heritage Fund; H B Allen Charitable Trust; Garfield Weston Foundation; The Talbot Village Trust; The Foyle Foundation; Dorset Council; the former East Dorset District Council; The Pilgrim Trust; The Valentine Trust; The Georgian Group; Bloor Homes; Renaissance Homes; Teacher’s Building Society; The Civic Society, and the local community.
Rob Hooker, director, Greendale Construction Limited, commented: "We are honoured and delighted to have been appointed on this wonderful Revival Project in the heart of Wimborne. Once completed, the Priest’s House Museum and Tourist Information Centre will be accessible to all and an absolute must visit attraction. We look forward to working with the many other people and organisations involved, in order to deliver a stunning completed project for Easter next year."
Emma Ayling, director, Priest’s House Museum, commented: “We are looking forward to working with Greendale Construction and seeing how old and new come together in our wonderful building. The Revival Project will transform the access and facilities of the museum, provide some fantastic opportunities for volunteers in the coming months and ensure the area’s heritage is shared more widely than ever before. There will truly be a community museum for everyone.”
Stephen Boyce, Deputy Chair, London & South Committee for The National Lottery Heritage Fund, commented: “Thanks to National Lottery players, the home of the history and story of East Dorset will be fit for the future and for modern audiences. We’re delighted to support this project.”