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Iconic town centre museum set to reopen to the public with new exhibitions

PUBLISHED: 16:48 29 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:40 01 May 2019

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum will reopen to the public. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum will reopen to the public. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

It is known as one of Dereham's most iconic and attractive town centre sites.

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum will reopen to the public. Photo: Denise BradleyBishop Bonner's Cottage Museum will reopen to the public. Photo: Denise Bradley

And now, Bishop Bonner's Cottage, on Saint Withburga Lane, is reopening its doors to the public with brand new exhibitions which celebrate the town's past industries and the history of the town and cottage.

There will be six new displays on show, including an exhibition of Metamec clocks, which was based in Dereham during the second half of the 20th century, and an insight into what it might have been like to live in Bishop Bonner's Cottages in the early 20th century.

Other displays include a history of Dereham's shops and businesses which is set in Dereham's own toy shop, an examination of how the cottages were constructed, a history of Dereham's Market Place and a Hobbies of Dereham exhibition.

Peter Wade-Martins, chair of the Dereham Heritage Trust, which rents the town council owned building so it can put on these displays, said: “Dereham has had a lot of industry in the past but of course most of them are gone now.

A new exhibition of Metamec clocks will be on show at Bishop Bonner's Cottage in Dereham. Picture: Supplied by Peter Wade-MartinsA new exhibition of Metamec clocks will be on show at Bishop Bonner's Cottage in Dereham. Picture: Supplied by Peter Wade-Martins

“Metamec was an incredible success story for Dereham. In the 1960s and 70s it employed around 800 people and produced around 25,000 clocks a week. It became the largest clock manufacturer in the UK.

“We have also created our own little Dereham toy shop. Many people wouldn't know about this part of Dereham's history, it's nice to be able to remember that.”

Originally three cottages, Bishop Bonner's Cottage is the oldest surviving domestic building in Dereham and was preserved during the great town fires of 1581 and 1679 and later when bombs were dropped in 1915.

It takes its name from Bishop Bonner, the Rector of neighbouring St Nicholas's Church during the 1530s.

Eric Head doing some restoration work on Bishop Bonners Cottage in Dereham many years ago.  For: Emma KnightsEric Head doing some restoration work on Bishop Bonners Cottage in Dereham many years ago. For: Emma Knights

Mr Wade-Martins added: “When you go down Church Street you are confronted with this extremely attractive building that looks very out of place. It's very much part of the town's history.”

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum will be officially reopened by the town's mayor Hilary Bushell on Saturday, May 4 at 1pm, with free entry and refreshments offered to all visitors who come to the opening.

The Museum will then open between 1.30pm and 4pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays and between 11am and 2pm on Fridays until September 28.

A picture of Bishop Bonner's Cottage in Dereham, taken at some time before 1906. Picture: Supplied by Peter Wade-MartinsA picture of Bishop Bonner's Cottage in Dereham, taken at some time before 1906. Picture: Supplied by Peter Wade-Martins

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