For November 29, 2008


This year sees the 25th anniversary of the foundation of Steyning Museum and the occasion was marked by a celebratory reception at the Penfold Hall next door to the Museum.  There were short speeches followed by a toast and a cake cutting ceremony.

The evening included the launch of a newly commissioned History of the Museum edited by the Chair of the Museum Trust Committee, Sarah Leigh, which will be available on sale at the Museum.

The occasion also included the opening of a new exhibition on the Museum’s 25 years in Steyning entitled ‘Tales of the Unexpected’.  It features donations and exhibits from each year of the Museum’s existence, some of which have rarely or never been put on show before. The exhibition will continue into the New Year.

Steyning Museum was founded in November 1983. The party invitation was for founder volunteers and past committee members to celebrate the 25th anniversary.
Gillian Downham, whose father Harry Ford was the founding inspiration for the museum, gave a talk about her father’s involvement and exhibited his splendid illustrated diaries. Peter Hoare, who was one of the founders and is currently Vice-Chairman, having been a member of the management committee for 25 years, proposed a toast to the Museum’s future. Liane Watt, who has also been on the management committee since the first days of the Museum and has run its shop for 24 years, cut the anniversary cake, which was made by Cakes for all Reasons of Storrington and had a model of the Curator (Chris Tod) in his favourite blue woolly trying to get to grips with a mysterious artefact on the top.

Guests were able to collect their personal inscribed copy of a short history of the Museum, listing the volunteers who have worked to maintain it over the last 25 years. Sarah Leigh apologised in advance for the errors she was sure it contained. Copies of the book are available from the Museum at cost price, £3. All volunteers listed in the book (all stewards, cataloguers, deliverers and social events helpers) are entitled to a free copy which can be collected from the Museum during its opening hours (10.30am -12.30 and 2.30pm - 4.00 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and on Sunday afternoons).

The Tales of the Unexpected exhibition especially features many items of the Museum’s amazingly large and varied collection which, for lack of space, have rarely been on view to the public before. The collection has grown over the years, in many instances thanks to members of the public loaning or donating items, often curiosities or finds they have come across themselves and brought to the museum for identification.

The Museum would never have reached its 25 years without the voluntary help and donations of time, money and exhibits of the local community whose history it records. If you have never been before now is a great time to visit and see what the museum has to offer and perhaps what you can offer the Museum!

The Museum has always been run entirely by volunteers and funded by charitable donations, legacies and grants.  Many local people have devoted great energy and goodwill and the reward has been to see the Museum grow beyond imagining into an approved and award-winning modern amenity.

The original premises were a modest basement under no. 93 High Street and later moved to the historic Saxon Cottage, itself one of the sights of the town.  The Museum is now housed in a modern purpose-built establishment which has itself recently benefited from a large extension.

In its 25 years Steyning Museum has become a well-loved and widely used facility attracting visitors from across the county and across continents, while working for the community to provide not only displays and exhibitions but a research library, an invaluable archive for local history and family research, services to schools and outreach oral history, preserving the living memories of Steyning for generations to come.  Sure enough, there will be a lot more Steyning history collected and recorded by the Museum by the time its 50th anniversary comes around.

Steyning Museum is open 5 days each week - 10.30 to 12.30 and 2.30 to 4.30 (4.00 October to April) on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday plus Sunday afternoons and Bank Holiday Mondays.

David Haseldine,
Publicity Officer,
The Museum,
Church Street,
West Sussex
BN44 3YB

Telephone: 01903 813333

Tony Kitson kindly snapped some photographs for the website.

So, let's get this party started . . .

A champagne toast celebrating 25 years

Say it with flowers

What a magnificent cake!

Cake Fireworks
A sparkling event, sparkling champagne and wow a sparkling cake

Cutting the Cake
What a shame to cut it. Can we have our cake and eat it?


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Page last updated
16th August 2021