Visit the new Combe Martin Museum this Easter

THE new Combe Martin Museum will be opening its doors this Easter weekend after four years of hard work from a dedicated team of volunteers, thanks to major funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Devon Renaissance. Parish Council Chairman, Julia Clark

THE new Combe Martin Museum will be opening its doors this Easter weekend after four years of hard work from a dedicated team of volunteers, thanks to major funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Devon Renaissance.Parish Council Chairman, Julia Clark said: "After four years of hard grind, the museum committee has realized its aim of turning the run down Parish Council owned building in Cross Street into a magnificent asset for the whole of Combe Martin."The new museum site next to the Tourist Information Centre in Cross Street has been fully refurbished to house all the original exhibitions in new themed galleries: Land and Sea, Ship and Shore, Village Life, Business and Trades and The Earl of Rone. The Hunting of the Earl of Rone is a traditional ceremony in Combe Martin which takes place over the spring bank holiday weekend. The tradition includes a hobby horse procession, fool, grenadiers, drummers and a chase through the woods to catch the "Earl," who is then mounted backwards on a donkey, 'shot' and thrown in the sea - fortunately the Earl does usually survive the experience! The museum will also have new interactive displays, a marine laboratory with video microscopes for examining rock pool discoveries and a community archive area for local and family history studies with an online connection to Barnstaple Record Office. A scissor lift has been installed to enable everyone to access all three floors; the top floor, known as the Sail Loft, will provide space for temporary exhibitions and meetings, and will also be used as an educational resource for schools visiting the local beaches. Jackie Ward, the learning co-ordinator, has been liaising with local schools to set up a varied programme of activities for all ages.Tricia Hampson, the museum committee chairman, has been co-ordinating the renovation of the new site and is looking forward to moving in: "The old museum lacked many basic amenities such as water, telephone and toilets and was inaccessible for many of our volunteers," she said."The new museum has been very much a village effort with a huge amount of fundraising by all sorts of means from book sales at the Farmers' Market to selling roofing slates. "Combe Martin has a rich history combining unique social customs with silver mining, lime burning, strawberry growing as well as the maritime aspects; the new museum will allow us to display all of the exhibits properly and create a facility for the whole community." The museum has received �267,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, �90,000 from Devon Renaissance, �25,000 from North Devon Council, �10,000 from Exmoor Sustainable Development Fund and �4,000 from Devon County Council.The new opening hours will be 10.30am to 5.30pm from April to the end of October, with reduced hours for the winter. Admission will be �2.75 for adults, �1.50 concessions, children aged 14 and under must be accompanied and will be admitted free of charge. Entry for parties outside normal opening hours can be organised by arrangement. For further details call (01271) 889031.


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