We love visiting museums, even little tiny ones – and maybe even especially little tiny ones, so while we were in Derbyshire we visited the Wirksworth Heritage Centre. We discovered that it was new, it had only properly and completely opened a few days before. There has been a heritage centre in the town for over thirty years, apparently, but it relocated to provide better access for everyone and to present better displays, telling the fascinating story of this fascinating town. The new centre is housed in an old building which had been bequeathed in the will of a Mrs Webster, whose family had been associated with and owned the shop on the ground floor and the two floors above.
What a wonderful and inviting place! As soon as we stepped in there were things to look at, well-displayed and informative so we didn’t feel crowded. A very friendly lady behind the information desk told us a little about the museum, and the area and passingly mentioned something I didn’t quite catch, Todd man? Toad man? We spent the next hour or so exploring, prehistoric animals and their fossils, Romans and Saxons, Vikings and Normans, lead mining and red-tape production (actual red tape from which the phrase originated) George Elliot, D.H. Lawrence… fascinating! Well presented, informative, intriguing, wonderful illustrations, a clever use of wall space and window blinds (with transparent pictures on the fabric illuminated by the daylight behind) and then of course, the tearoom! We had to have a cup of tea and a scone!
Back in the shop and chatting to the friendly lady again, I realised that what she had been saying was the T’Owd Man, The Old Man! He was a figure, probably about eight hundred years old, found in Bonsall Church during restoration and now living in St Mary’s Church in Worksworth. He’s obviously a miner with his pick and his kibble (basket) and setting of determinedly to do his work; he’s become somewhat of a symbol for Wirksworth and I bought a wooden spoon with his image!
We had to go to the church where he now lives, and I took the photo which is my featured image.