Great Bardfield Cottage Museum facing uncertain future

11:25 21 March 2014

Great Bardfield’s Cottage Museum is facing an uncertain future in the face of soaring costs.

The 400-year-old building is currently leased to the Great Bardfield Historical Society, from the Barfield Charities.

But, as well as paying rent, the group also has to fork out for insurance – costing just under £1,400 a year for both – and it is getting too high.

Bill Edwards, a committee member of the society, said the museum will be kept open for the next season, which runs from Easter until September.

However, when the lease comes up for renewal, the service may not be able to continue.

He said: “We are eating into capital and using money from other areas to try and keep the museum open.

“We have a few options – we could try and renegotiate the lease, try and walk away from it [the museum], or try to make more income by getting more visitors. But museums are having quite a hard time at the moment.

“You try to get more income but the costs are going up faster than the income.”

The former almshouse is used to trace the history of the rural parish through story-boards and displays of artefacts, paper records and photographs.

School children often visit to see what life would have been like when it was first built, when people had no hot water or electricity.

And Mr Edwards thinks people in the village would be upset if it was to close.

“It is a house poor people used to live in but few of these buildings are still in existence,” he added.

“They have either been taken down or upgraded.

If it was to close the artefacts would have to go to another museum, probably in Braintree.

“But they have been collected by local people so the connection with the village would be lost.”

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