Kettering Museum among the winners at Northamptonshire Heritage Awards

The museums in Kettering, Rushden and Desborough were all among the winners at a countywide heritage awards night held last Thursday.
The Northamptonshire Heritage Forum 2019 award winners at Holdenby House last Thursday.The Northamptonshire Heritage Forum 2019 award winners at Holdenby House last Thursday.
The Northamptonshire Heritage Forum 2019 award winners at Holdenby House last Thursday.

The awards ceremony was held on a beautiful summer’s evening at the Grade II*-listed historic country residence Holdenby House in Northamptonshire, thanks to the house's owner and Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire James Lowther.

There were several winners from north Northamptonshire at the event, including Kettering Museum & Art Gallery scooping the Best Exhibition gong for its 'Local Treasures: The British Museum comes to Kettering' exhibition.

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That free exhibition, which ran at the Manor House Museum in Kettering from September 22 last year until January 12 this year, saw precious archaeological objects borrowed from the British Museum in London to be put on display in Kettering.

Stars of the exhibition were an early Saxon gold necklace, a Celtic mirror and a unique item of Roman pottery, all found in the borough of Kettering that had not been back to the area since being discovered in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Rushden Museum, based at The Old Stable Block in Rushden Hall Park, won the Best Volunteer Project award for its Store Room Blitz initiative.

Desborough Heritage Centre, an independent museum in Station Road in the town, won theJudges' Choice Special Award, while Irchester Parish Historical Society took the Best Project on a Limited Budget prize forits Irchester Parish in World War One project.

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The blue riband Heritage Organisation of the Year title went to Daventry Museum, which won three awards on the night.

Other award highlights included The People’s Choice, in collaboration with BBC Radio Northampton, which used online voting for the first time. The forum said there was stiff competition for the prize, with the winner declared as the volunteer-run Sywell Aviation Museum, which tells the story of flying in Northamptonshire from the early days to the present day, with particular emphasis on the Second World War.

Patron of the heritage forum, The Right Hon Earl Spencer, presented the main award to Daventry Museum, while the Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire David Laing, and his wife Mary, also attended and presented awards.

The heritage forum said: "We would like to congratulate and thank all the entrants. The judges commented on the diversity and imaginative nature of the various submissions and the presentations showed what a wonderful year 2019 was for heritage in the county.

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"[Patron The Right Hon Earl Spencer] spoke passionately of the need to respect our heritage sites, especially the important battlefield sites, particularly Northamptonshire’s Naseby, which will be affected by HS2.

"He compared the importance of Naseby to that of Gettysburg in the USA, with its impressive visitor centre and museum. Naseby’s access and interpretation is sadly lacking and it is time for a campaign to address the issue."

The event was compered by BBC Radio Northampton presenter John Griff and was supported by a small grant from regional body Museum Development East Midlands, which the forum committee thanked for its generosity.

The evening closed with forum chairwoman Jane Baile reporting on a campaign to keep the importance of heritage in the minds of local government during the planned switch to unitary authorities.

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The judging panel consisted of Neville Stankley, a principal lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, Matthew McCormack, a history professor at the University of Northampton, Dr Caroline Nielsen, senior lecturer in history and heritage at the University of Northampton and Dr Mike Rodgers, the Midlands sector development manager for transport and schools at The National Archives.

The heritage forum was founded in 2002 and its members include local authority and independent museums, historic houses and heritage attractions in Northamptonshire. The forum provides a network of support and enables members to share information, discuss issues, take part in training and act as an advocate for museums and historic houses in the county.

For more details about the heritage forum, visit its website at full list of award winners was as follows:

Heritage Organisation of the Year 2019

Winner: Daventry Museum

Best Event

Winner: Roade Local History Society for its Roade cutting 180th anniversary event and National Transport Heritage Site designation 2018.

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Highly commended: Northampton Museums & Art Gallery for its Transport Day at Abington Park Museum event

Best Exhibition

Winner: Kettering Museum & Art Gallery for its 'Local Treasures: The British Museum comes to Kettering' exhibition

Highly commended: Daventry Museum for its 'Victorian Daventry – A Period of Change' exhibition

Best Volunteer Project

Winner: Rushden Museum for its Store Room Blitz!

Best Project on a Limited Budget

Winner: Irchester Parish Historical Society for its Irchester Parish in World War One project

Best Special Project

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Winner: Brackley Town Council for its stained glass window project

Highly commended: Cogenhoe & Whiston Heritage Society for its Cogenhoe Village Green plaque scheme

Community Award

Award winner: Daventry Museum for its The Empty Chair Project

‘Hindsight’ Award for best published work

Winner: Northamptonshire Battlefields Society for its March 2019 book 'The Battle of Edgcote 1469 – Re-evaluating the Evidence'

People's Choice Award (in conjunction with BBC Radio Northampton)

Winner: Sywell Aviation Museum

Judges' Choice Special Award:

Desborough Heritage Centre