About Us

About Wycombe Museum

Wycombe Museum has existed in some form since 1875, and has been in it’s home at Castle Hill House on Priory Avenue since 1962. It is now an independent charity managed by Wycombe Heritage and Arts Trust (WHAT), but was previously run by Wycombe District Council. Find out more about our history below.

A History of Wycombe Museum

1875

The Founding of the Free Library and Museum

  • Wycombe Museum has its origins in the charity of the local people, when James Olliff Griffits, a local lawyer, raised the funds to found a public library in the town. In 1875, he bought a house in Church Street and opened it as the Free Library, with a section devoted to a small collection of old artefacts that would grow to become Wycombe Museum. 

Caption

1932

Queen Victoria Road Library and Museum

  • On June 25th 1932, Wycombe District Council proudly opened its new library on Queen Victoria Road, with the upper floor housing the Museum. During its time within the Town Library, the Museum honed its focus on local craftsmanship, specifically the furniture and chair industry, alongside art and local history. Its collection grew, and by 1947 there was already talk of expanding the museum

1962

The Move to Castle Hill House

  • In 1959 Castle Hill House came up for sale, and it was bought by Wycombe District Council in 1962 for £60,000. Castle Hill House was opened as Wycombe Museum on July 7th 1962 on a temporary tenure, and we are still here today. 

2016

Wycombe Museum as an Independent Charity

  • Wycombe Museum closed during 2015 for major refurbishments, and reopened on 1st December 2015 with remodelled exhibition spaces and galleries, plus a new cafe and shop in preparation for a new phase in its life. A year later, Wycombe Museum parted ways from Wycombe District Council and transferred to being a part of Wycombe Heritage & Arts Trust, an independent registered charity

1875

The Founding of the Free Library and Museum

Wycombe Museum has its origins in the charity of the local people, when James Olliff Griffits, a local lawyer, raised the funds to found a public library in the town. In 1875, he bought a house in Church Street and opened it as the Free Library, with a section devoted to a small collection of old artefacts that would grow to become Wycombe Museum.

1932

Queen Victoria Road Library and Museum

On June 25th 1932, Wycombe District Council proudly opened its new library on Queen Victoria Road, with the upper floor housing the Museum. During its time within the Town Library, the Museum honed its focus on local craftsmanship, specifically the furniture and chair industry, alongside art and local history. Its collection grew, and by 1947 there was already talk of expanding the museum

1962

The Move to Castle Hill House

In 1959 Castle Hill House came up for sale, and it was bought by Wycombe District Council in 1962 for £60,000. Castle Hill House was opened as Wycombe Museum on July 7th 1962 on a temporary tenure, and we are still here today.

2016

Wycombe Museum as an Independent Charity

Wycombe Museum closed during 2015 for major refurbishments, and reopened on 1st December 2015 with remodelled exhibition spaces and galleries, plus a new cafe and shop in preparation for a new phase in its life. A year later, Wycombe Museum parted ways from Wycombe District Council and transferred to being a part of Wycombe Heritage & Arts Trust, an independent registered charity

The History of Castle Hill House

Castle Hill House, now the home of Wycombe Museum, was once a family home. The house itself is a Grade II listed building, with its oldest parts dating from the late 1600s. It is named for the motte – a castle mound, or Norman defensive earthwork – which sits beside the house, probably having been constructed between 1135 and 1154 during the Civil War following the death of Henry I. The site, now quiet and secluded by trees, would have once been an effective vantage point, offering views south over the Wye Valley and towards West Wycombe.

Although Castle Hill House is only around 400 years old, the site itself is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and archaeological discoveries indicate that the site has been lived on since the early Middle Ages. It was originally a Saxon Farm – an Anglo-Saxon burial site was discovered in 1901 near the main entrance gate to the Museum. 

About Wycombe Heritage & Arts Trust

WHAT aims to engage the local and wider communities in an exciting and creative range of story telling and displays promoting a love of heritage, culture and the arts to enthuseenlighten and inspire.  

Wycombe Heritage and Arts Trust (WHAT) formed in 2014 to produce a heritage and arts programme for Wycombe and the surrounding area, to enhance the cultural life and learning of the local community. WHAT serves the three historic market towns and surrounding areas of High Wycombe, Princes Risborough and Marlow.

WHAT is managed by a Board of Trustees from local organisations and backgrounds.

WHAT works closely with Buckinghamshire Council and other local partners in delivering a comprehensive programme of events whilst maintaining the Museum’s collection of art, furniture, and social history artefacts.

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