Looking back over the year, what a tremendously full one it’s been of strengthening ties with the local community, building relationships and forming local partnerships, each in its own way a bridge to engaging with the rich and diverse heritage at our fingertips, with the Archive as powerhub supporting all our activities.
Collaboration with the estate, farm, garden and businesses on site, and incredibly hard work on the part of our Centre Manager has enabled us to widen our offering, from foraging walks and fruit tree pruning, to Hall tours and a choice of great fresh food and produce grown on site as a booking option.
There is more awareness of how business and community can all benefit from working together on open days: 2019 Railway Heritage Day, Open Farm Sunday, Heritage Open Days and Apple Day are all in the calendar for 2020 as is the ever popular Music in the Yard. Our partners from Lutterworth Railway Society, Leicestershire Museums Collections, Rugby Artists Group, Leicestershire Heritage Apples are all keen to continue working with us, as is too the Lutterworth Field Working and Archaeological Group who organised the digging of test pits in the Manor garden and paddock for the Festival of Archaeology as well as presenting their finds in a talk and showcase for HOD (also thanks to Gazeley Ltd for grant funding for this).
Regular Talk Tuesdays continued, whether expanding on previous themes: the turbulent history of this area around the time of the Enclosures Riot (Dr Richard Bullock, October), A Woman’s Place? (Wendy Freer, May; Cynthia Brown, June) or introducing new ones: ‘Time Flies’, about changes in transport and communications – for this, we welcomed Eilish Clohessy from Derby Museum of Making to talk about the Silk Mills development and Richard Clarke from Bruntingthorpe to tell us about the history of the iconic Vulcan bomber. Lastly, Pat Thomas who launched our latest theme ‘Reconnect 2020’ in November.
Our audience reach is expanding, as visitors realise how accessible, unique and diverse we are –among others we’ve had bookings this year from the Farfield Friends (Yorkshire), Market Harborough Business Network, the Organic Research Centre (Berkshire), Institute of Analytical Plant Illustrators (Birmingham). On every front we have been revitalising former contacts as well as cultivating new ones: as a result there are promising and varied projects in the pipeline for 2020, a solid basis for discussion and action about website development and student placements, for example, and inspiration – from visitors from New Zealand and the USA who have historic links to Cotesbach, to spread our wings to encompass more present, past, and future.
A huge thankyou to everyone for all your help and support. There are times this year when life has felt as fragile as a sheet of glass. Yet with unexpected turns have come results I never dreamed of this time last year, which gives us every reason to step boldly into 2020.
NB: Don’t forget to get your copy of ‘Kiki, Cotesbach Cat’!