The building in which the Museum is housed was erected and endowed by Sir Norton Knatchbull of Mersham-le-Hatch in 1635 and continued as the Ashford Grammar School, apart for an interval of ten years, until a new school was opened in 1881. It has since been restored with many of the original features of a 17th Century schoolroom remaining, including the old master's and usher's seats, the niches in the Walls for books and the Wainscoting carved with graffiti of former pupils.
History of museum
The Museum started with talks by local interested parties towards the late 1980's.
Charles Oliver arranged a meeting which included the local archaeological society to see if there was enough interest. A small show of mostly photographs was arranged in the Wilks Hall and attracted over 500 visitors during the weekend.
Charles then arranged a meeting which concluded that there was a need for a Museum in the town as this was one of the few areas in Kent without any form of outlet for local history.
The Wilks Hall became available soon after when the Museum opened under Charles' chairmanship.
Ashford Borough Museum Society
Ashford Museum is operated by the Ashford Borough Museum Society, a registered charity comprised entirely of volunteers. The Museum is managed by a Committee overseen by Trustees. The Committee and Trustees are elected by and report to members at an Annual General Meeting.
Go to the Support Us page for information on becoming a member of Ashford Borough Museum Society.
Ashford Museum is accredited by the Arts Council for England.
The Accreditation Scheme sets out nationally-agreed standards, which inspire the confidence of the public and funding and governing bodies. It enables museums to assess their current performance, as well as supporting them to plan and develop their services.
Ashford Museum On-line Resources
Ashford Museum has created a website to provide information about Ashford’s historical buildings and other aspects of Ashford’s Heritage. It includes an online version of the Ashford Town Centre Heritage Trail.
The site can be found at ashfordsheritage.uk
Kent Photo Archive
An increasing proportion of Ashford Museum's photographic collection can be viewed on Kent Photo Archive
Wheels of Time
Ashford Museum is the lead partner in Wheels of Time, a badge collecting scheme encouraging the exploration of 25 Kent museums and heritage sites for 5-11 year olds.
Children aged 5-11 visiting the Museum or any of the venues involved will be given a different badge at each site, showing the site’s logo or related picture. A map featuring the Wheels of Time mascot, ‘Roamin Rex’, which guides children to all of the sites, can be collected from Ashford Museum, any of the other sites, some Tourist Information Centres or downloaded from the Wheels of Time website, wheelsoftime.uk.
Ashford Museum has recently become an approved “Public Learning Destination” for Kent Children’s University™. This means that we are authorised to issue Learning Credits in participating children’s Passports to Learning.
We are so proud of this partnership as the Validation process shows that our methods for inspiring and education children and young people meets with the Quality Assurance process of National Children’s University™ Trust.
Learning Credits Available
The activities for which the Museum is approved are:
- Wheels of Time Visit – 2h *
- Ashford Museum Trail – 1h
- Ashford Town Centre Heritage Trail – 1h
Please ask the Steward's for the Museum Trail and Town Centre Heritage Trail quiz sheets.
What is Kent Children’s University™?
Kent Children’s University™ (KCU) is part of an international charity that provides 5 to 14 year olds with access to exciting and innovative CU Learning Activities and experiences outside the normal school day. They reward children’s participation in voluntary learning activities that will develop their skills and raise aspirations for the future.
How does CU work?
The Children’s University (CU) is able to recognise and reward children for all the additional learning they participate in voluntarily outside normal school hours. Once registered through a school or direct through the local CU, children can earn Learning Credits in a variety of ways including participating in activities held at “Public Learning Destinations.” Children are provided with a Passport to Learning for them to collect Credits as evidence of their learning.
Once children achieve a fixed number of Learning Credits, they will have the opportunity to have their successes celebrated at a very special Graduation Ceremony at either Canterbury Christ Church University, The University of Greenwich (Medway Campus) or The University of Kent.
Kent Museums Group
Ashford Museum is a member of Kent Museums Group, an organization which works to support and develop museums and related bodies in Kent and Medway.
Its key aims are:
- To raise standards across all aspects of museum operation by helping to train members and supporting them through the Accreditation process.
- To host topical meetings for members and other interested people in order to provide a forum and to facilitate the sharing of skills and experience.
- To provide a central link for members to the network of regional and national agencies in the heritage sector and to raise issues of concern where necessary on behalf of our members.
- To coordinate and disseminate information widely about those collections and their associated evidence held in Kent’s museums.
- To raise public awareness of the quality of museum provision in Kent whilst promoting public access to Kent’s material culture.