Ditchling Museum receives royal seal of approval from Duchess of Cornwall

Duchess of Cornwall visits Ditchling Museum.
Duchess of Cornwall visits Ditchling Museum.

The Duchess of Cornwall visited the newly re-opened Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft last week.

Her Royal Highness, who has been President of the charity since 2006, toured the museum and met the staff, volunteers and supporters who have worked to turn the small local museum into an organisation of national standards.

The transformed museum reopened at the end of 2013 following a £2.3m redevelopment, funded by a significant grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as generous donations by trusts, foundations and individuals.

The Duchess of Cornwall was given a guided tour of the museum, which focuses on the artists and craftspeople who made the village a creative centre in the early 20th century.

The museum holds a nationally important collection, including work by Eric Gill, David Jones, Edward Johnston, Frank Brangwyn and Ethel Mairet.

Her Royal Highness met Adam Richards, the architect who has transformed the original museum buildings. He has created a bold and award-winning scheme that beautifully combines contemporary architecture whilst retaining the old museum’s vernacular charm.

Since reopening, the museum has received widespread critical acclaim and attracted interest from the world’s art and architecture press.

Central to the redevelopment was the creation of a dedicated learning space for activities for all ages, from early years to specialist adult workshops and lectures.

Her Royal Highness met local schoolchildren who have taken part in various workshops held at the museum, and watched them produce work inspired by the museum collection.

The Duchess of Cornwall had the rare opportunity to print a poster, using the Stanhope Press, to commemorate her visit.

The press, used by Eric Gill, Hilary Pepler and Edward Johnston, has pride of place in the new museum and is displayed alongside a selection of pieces printed on it.

Her Royal Highness has strong links to Ditchling as she attended Dumbrell’s school in the village. That was when she was growing up, as Camilla Shand, in the nearby village of Plumpton.

The Chairman of the Museum Trustees, and a former fellow pupil, Jenny KilBride, said: “It was such an honour to show Her Royal Highness the finished museum and we are delighted that her connection with the museum and the village continues.”