There is cause for celebration for one of Spalding’s best kept secrets as its bid to become more accessible has received a cash boost.
Spalding Gentlemen’s Society houses an extensive, important and fascinating collection inside its listed building home – and yet many people have never heard of it.
Now it has secured a £20,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as it attempts to expand interest in and accessibility to its collection.
The fascinating heritage museum is he oldest provinci. I, it achieved museum accreditation in 2015 and now this grant will help develop a viable strategy for the future, including increased access for visitors.
A thorough options appraisal, including a review of the existing building and its future viability for the collection and better public access, will now take place.
There will also be a detailed governance and membership review with market research to increase public awareness and encourage interest in local history, together with an outline business plan.
An important part of this project is to raise awareness of and increase access to the fascinating collection in the museum and to promote knowledge and understanding of the museum’s cultural and heritage offering for people in South Holland.
In addition to the museum collection, the Society is custodian to an extensive library and archives. These offer a wealth of local history and interest, as well as being nationally and internationally important.
The Society wants to further encourage local residents, schools, historians, U3A members or individuals tracing their family tree to become more aware of these resources, as well as academic and local history researchers and college and university students.
The Spalding Gentlemen’s Society was founded in 1710 by Maurice Johnson and has had many well-known members, including Lord Tennyson, Sir Isaac Newton and local antiquarian, William Stukeley.
Its main purpose is to promote the arts, humanities and sciences. The collection has developed over 300 years and is now housed in a Grade II listed building in Broad Street, which is bursting at the seams and in need of structural repair.
Sadly, the nature and condition of the building make unaccompanied access difficult at present but the Society holds regular open days for visitors and arranged visits for interested individuals.
It also organises 12 Friday night lectures at Spalding Grammar School throughout the winter months.
Despite its historic name, membership of the Society is open to both men and women. Care and management of the museum, library and archives relies almost entirely on volunteers.
Membership is by open application – your interest and support are what is most important. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
• The Spalding Gentlemen’s Society was founded in 1710 by Maurice Johnson, a lawyer who had experienced coffee house society in London.
There, gentlemen met to share and discuss cultural, scientific and antiquarian knowledge with each other and, through correspondence, with others around the world.
The early 18th century was an exciting time of world exploration, scientific discoveries and cultural and social change.
Contemporary to the Society of Antiquaries in London, Spalding Gentlemen’s Society is the oldest provincial learned society in Britain to have survived.
The museum is located in Broad Street, Spalding, the current building dating from 1911. Today, members and visitors to the museum are able to explore an amazing collection, historic library, important archives, maps, paintings and much more which are often not available elsewhere.
The Society also offers opportunities for academic, literary or personal research, including local history.