In our latest guest blog, Clare HuntCuratorial Manager at Southend Museums Service, tells the story of the emergence of a new network for SHARE Museums East.

I have a habit of saying things like ‘Would anyone be interested in a historic buildings network?’ Well, of course they were, and at a very busy launch event last September we decided what our priorities would be for the group as far as event themes. I like to think that the HBN events will not all be training as such, but networking or case study days where we can nose about in each other’s buildings and unearth handy information and mutual frustrations!

Prittlewell Priory smThe first event for the HBN was about interpreting historic buildings – the top subject identified at last year’s launch meeting. I decided to set it in Southend where we have two beautiful listed buildings, Southchurch Hall and Prittlewell Priory, which have had radically different approaches to interpretation.

All in all I think everyone enjoyed poking around our lovely buildings and the 8 delegates included curators from the National Trust and English Heritage who are obviously taking an active interest in other historic sites in the region and enjoyed seeing how other organizations cope with the challenges that complicated and crumbling buildings bring!

Southchurch Hall smI certainly enjoyed showing our buildings off whilst giving the group some case studies about the differing methods we have used to explain our buildings to the visiting public. Assisting this were Rob Colby-Blake (pictured here in full Tudor regalia at Southchurch Hall) who explained the way schools are introduced to Southend’s sites, and Cathy Terry from Norfolk Museums who talked about her dynamic Mayors and Magnates project at Strangers’ Hall in Norwich.

Our plans are that the next HBN event will concentrate on conservation and the historic environment. The lovely conservators in our network will be organizing this so keep a look out on the SHARE calendar as it will be full of helpful information and essential for those who are trying to keep old buildings and their contents in good order.

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