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Bakewell Old House Museum

Founded: 1954        Governance: Independent Trust        Scope: Local history    Visited: Autumn 2012

Most of the time, local history societies and enthusiasts decide they would like a museum in their community, set up a group to bring it about, and look around for somewhere to house the collection, sometimes waiting for years until suitable premises become available. In Bakewell, they did it the other way around, founding the Local History Society specifically to save and look after the Old House, a Tudor dwelling built for the steward of the Gell family of Hopton, as well as a storehouse for the tithes of the Hopton estate. Towards the end of the 1700s the great engineer and industrialist Richard Arkwright opened a mill locally and converted the Old House into cottage dwellings for his workers. Quite a history for this not-very-big collection of buildings, and one which lends itself to a variety of interpretation. The volunteers of the Society gamely take on this task.

The Old House has a great deal of charm, to which the enthusiasm and affection of the volunteers contributes. A lot of the actual collection is relatively common local/social-history matter which you can see in most small museums, but it inhabits the building in such a way that a visitor's imagination is prodded to picture the place in its various incarnations and the people who lived there: sometimes it feels as though some Stuart gentleman might reappear through a doorway. There is a genuine sense of presence, and the structure has all the beauty of the Derbyshire architectural vernacular. Again, sorry there are only a couple of photos - I wasn't up to speed that afternoon!

Bakewell Old House MuseumBakewell Old House Museum

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