IN 2018, the Museum of Farnham will be celebrating the 300th anniversary of Willmer House, the home of the museum in West Street since 1961.
This is a huge milestone and there are plans to mark the occasion in style. A series of events will take place over the course of the year, including a special garden party that will be held in May featuring a gin bar and music from local bands.
The museum’s usual range of family-friendly summer activities will be given a Georgian touch, and an archaeology exhibition will help members of the public discover the history beneath Willmer House.
Visitors will also get to experience a Georgian-themed event coinciding with the national festival Museums at Night in October.
One of the highlights of this programme will be a special temporary exhibition about the history of Willmer House, specially curated by pupils from Potters Gate Primary School.
Willmer House is a fine example of a Georgian townhouse, built by a hop merchant by the name of John Thorne in 1718; it is now a Grade I listed building. Over the years it has been many different things to different people; a hop grower’s residence, a school for young ladies and a dentist’s surgery.
The special exhibition will include objects relating to the many occupants of Willmer House, including a portrait of the dentist Sidney Longhurst painted by WH Allen, selected archaeological artefacts excavated from the museum garden, an oil painting by the headmaster of the boys school which occupied the building in the 1850s and a programme from the official opening of Willmer House Museum dating from 1961.
Members of the public will also have the opportunity to see the title deed for the land that Willmer House was built upon, which dates from 1710.
Emma Sutcliffe, assistant curator at The Museum of Farnham, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the public to learn more about Willmer House, an iconic part of the town’s history.”
The pupils from Potters Gate School will get the opportunity to write the interpretation and design the exhibition itself.
Amanda Pettey, community and learning officer at the museum, said: “We are delighted that Potters Gate School wanted to be involved with this exhibition and are very much looking forward to seeing what ideas they have.
“The display will run from January 30 to December 22, 2018, and can be viewed by the public during museum opening hours, Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm.