It must be thirty years since I visited Baysgarth House in Lincolnshire. It had then only recently opened as a small museum covering the local history of the area.
I decided it was time to revisit.
I bounced out on the bus which ambles its way all round the countryside with good views of the mud flats of the River Humber with its wading birds. Banks were covered with cow parsley and ox eye daisies. Hawthorn was past its best and replaced by elder and wild rose flowers.
Baysgarth House is a simple Georgian House set in parkland just of the market place in Barton upon Humber. It was originally the home of the Nelthorpe family, important local landowners. After they sold it, it passed through several owners before being gifted to the Urban District Council in 1930 for use by the community. It was part of Barton Grammar School for a few years after the war, before becoming council offices. In 1981 it became a local museum.
This is now run by CHAMP, (Community Heritage Arts Media Project) a local charity whose aim is to ‘engage communities in their heritage’. Two of the ground floor rooms of the house are used to host a rolling programme of exhibitions by local artists.
When I visited in June 2018, the top floors of the house were closed as the ceiling had collapsed eighteen months ago and was still awaiting repair. This meant that several of the period rooms, the grocer and chemist shops were closed as well as the war galleries.
Display cases on the ground floor corridor had a display of C18th and C19th ceramics donated to the local council by George William King who had been born in Barton and served in the Royal Navy before retiring back to the area. He had been an enthusiastic collector of pottery from all round the world until his death and his collection later became the hub round which the museum was developed.
Also on the ground floor is a reconstructed Victorian dining room and what is described as the ‘kid’s room’ with a wonderful carved wooden fire surround and plaster frieze round the top of the walls.
The two large ground floor rooms had a display by Grimby artist, Dale Mackie
The museum extends into the C19th stable block and cottage round the back of the house.
The cottage is described as the Craft Museum and has a stone flag floor with bay fronted windows designed to look like shop fronts. These are set up as a shoe makers, blacksmith and stone mason. There are display boards with some basic information and pictures for each.
The stable block forms the Industrial Museum. There is a display of Falcon bikes that were made in Barton until the 1980s. There is a small display of railway artefacts and display cases with models of boats that were used on the River Humber. One room is set up as the living quarters of the stable lad.
There are display panels and photographs as well as some information about rope making and the local cement industry.
In the yard is a small stationary steam engine.
Overall, I was disappointed by the visit. The museum can best be described as worthy but boring. I have a feeling the exhibits haven’t changed since the museum was set up. You get the feeling that the museum is being run on a very restricted budget and it shows.
Photographs are not allowed inside the museum. I can understand why they don’t allow photography of the artist’s work, however there doesn’t seem to be any reason why photography couldn’t be allowed elsewhere. Even the National Trust are relaxing their policy on photography in many of their properties.
Many of the exhibits felt ‘tired’. Information was basic, although the old photographs were interesting. The museum is only open on Saturday and Sundays from 12 to 4pm and is free, although they do ask for donations.
It may be better once the upper floors are reopened. If in Barton upon Humber it is worth popping in for a quick look.
There is a step into the museum although a sign points out disabled access round the back. As far as I’m aware there is no lift to the first floor rooms.