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Sandwich Guildhall Museum reopens after £100K refurbishment

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The finishing touches are being put to Sandwich Guildhall Museum ahead of its grand reopening on Saturday.

The museum situated off the Guildhall forecourt has undergone a £100,000 refurbishment over five months thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The upgrade will allow it to become a suitable home to the recently rediscovered Sandwich edition of the Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest, and follows a Mercury-backed appeal to bring the document back to town after it was found in archives at Kent County Council’s Maidstone base.

Sandwich Guildhall Museum, boosted by Lottery grant. Pictured is curator Linda Elliott.
Sandwich Guildhall Museum, boosted by Lottery grant. Pictured is curator Linda Elliott.

Its new features include updated display cases, a reception area and audio-visual equipment.

Some of the former fixtures and fittings have found a new home at the town’s White Mill Rural Heritage Centre.

The final pieces of work will be carried out over the next few days as well as training sessions for the museum volunteer stewards.

The opening ceremony will be held at 10.30am on Saturday, and people are invited to see for themselves the transformation that has taken place.

Honorary curator Linda Elliott said: “As well as the Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest, there will be a vast array of artefacts – many of which have not been on public display before.

“It is thanks to National Lottery players that the rich and varied history of Sandwich can now be more widely shared with local, national and international visitors.”

To add to the occasion, the Sandwich Local History Society will be offering free guided town walks throughout the day but numbers are limited. Booking in advance, at the Sandwich Tourist Information Office, is advisable.

The Magna Carta
The Magna Carta

The night before the opening, the man who rediscovered Sandwich’s Magna Carta will present a lecture entitled: New Light on a Very Old Document.

Research by Professor Nicholas Vincent, of the University of East Anglia, helped to rediscover the Sandwich Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest in 2014.

Ms Elliott said: “This discovery was the impetus to apply for Heritage Lottery Funding for the refurbishment of the Sandwich Guildhall Museum.

“Professor Vincent will discuss the rediscovery and the circumstances of the making of Magna Carta.”

The talk will be at 8pm in the Sandwich Guildhall.

Entrance is free but tickets must be obtained through the Sandwich Tourist Information Office.

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