This article appeared in the Summer 1970 (Issue #20) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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A New Home for the Gravesend Museum.
For over sixteen years the Gravesend Historical Society has maintained a small museum at the 13th century Milton Chantry at the Fort Gardens at Gravesend. Although not very convenient it was possible to store and display some of the many interesting finds from Springhead and also much of the material belonging to the Corporation.
Recently, however, the condition of the Chantry has become such that it is now no longer safe or suitable to house the collections and accordingly the Corporation have offered us temporary accommodation at the old Town Hall buildings in the High Street. Here we are in the process of organising a museum, with store and research rooms where we can work in dry, well lit premises. An archaeological library is also being formed.
The importance of a local museum can scarcely be exaggerated; its educational value is inestimable. Gravesend is the centre of a district rich in past history and discoveries from bygone and recent excavations must have a permanent home where students and research workers can view and make use of the material. The interest of the local schools was amply shown by the many parties of children that visited the Chantry and it is hoped that the more accessible Town Hall buildings will be used more often by them.
A museum's work must not be confined simply to the exhibition of specimens, and it must not exist for the mere collection of curiosities. It must be a living institution aiming to encourage serious interest in the subjects which come within its scope, to educate and to foster civic pride. With these ideals in mind it is the Society's wish to form a museum where the exhibited material will serve to illustrate the history of the Gravesend district. Particular attention will be paid to the provision of descriptive labels, illustrations and models, points of great importance to the non-scientific visitor.
We are sorry to leave the Chantry which has been our home for so long, but we realise that the cost to do it up and put it into a reasonable state of repair is far too prohibitive. It is only the cobwebs and the wood-worm holding hands that keeps the old place together.
We are very grateful to the Gravesend Corporation, the Borough Librarian and his staff for their co-operation and assistance in the transfer, and for their encouragement. Whilst we appreciate that the accommodation is only temporary it is a great step forward to the day when we will have a museum and research centre second to none in north Kent.
If you are in Gravesend any Thursday evening come and visit us, we promise you an interesting evening, a cup of tea and a job washing and sorting pottery.