Halesworth and District Museum, ever-conscious that it serves not only the town of its name but also the surrounding villages, is constantly looking at ways of strengthening its relationships with its ‘rural hinterland’. In pursuit of that goal it has just signed a Partnership Agreement with the Trustees of Walpole Old Chapel, which is about to embark on a year-long community history project, the ‘Walpole Old Chapel Discovery’ Project.
The Chapel, a couple of miles from Halesworth, can justly claim to be one of the oldest nonconformist chapels in the country and is almost certainly the oldest to have retained all its original furniture and fittings. There is, however, much still to be discovered about the people who first came together in the 1640s as a worshipping community and who fitted out what had been a substantial cottage or farmhouse in 1689 to create the magnificent building which survives to this day.
A team of volunteers will be researching the people who attended and who preached here across more than three centuries and the Museum, with its Local Study Room and its already existing local expertise will be playing a substantial part in facilitating the project across its lifespan and helping with advice on how to exploit and display its findings.