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Object of the Month – March 2024

This month’s object is a map illustrating the plans for the first ‘redevelopment’ of Frome, the cutting of Bath Street in the early 19th century

The work was approved in 1810 and the map shows it was completed by 1813.

The land was obtained from the Marquess of Bath (hence ‘Bath Street’) and the road was cut through a series of alleys and densely packed buildings (some of which were demolished) to reach the Market Place.

The upper and lower Market Places were joined together by the removal of several buildings that stood between Cheap Street and the Crown Hotel (now the Fat Face clothes shop).

Accessibility project with Bath Spa University

The museum  is hosting a series of workshops in collaboration with the OpenStoryTellers charity in Frome, and with Bath Spa University,

The workshops look at different ways of making the museum more accessible and approachable for a range of visitors who might at present not consider themselves our core audience, from a starting point that says that people are disabled by barriers in society, rather than by their ‘impairment’ or ‘difference’.

Barriers can be physical, like buildings lacking accessible toilets, or they can be caused by people’s attitudes to difference, like assuming that disabled people can’t do certain things.

We are exploring how this approach can suggest changes to museum practice that can provide value for all, including, for example, the handling of objects from the museum’s collections and displays.

Stained glass surprise

Rev Jeff Hopewell, an expert on the 19th century Frome stained glass manufacturer Horwood Bros has confirmed using old company invoices that a section of stained glass at the museum was originally in Christ Church, Oxford, probably on the south side. It was given to the museum by the renowned stained glass artist Patrick Reyntiens when he replaced all the glass at Christ Church in 1983.

The invoice Rev Hopewell has found refers to the holly pattern on the museum’s piece and to the same ‘seven panes painted on obscured glass’. There is also a distinctive root device on the first pane that is seen on other similar items manufactured by Horwood Bros.

A few other pieces in the same style, with different foliage variants, have been identified by Rev Hopewell in houses and churches. However, examples are rare as these plainer pieces of glass seem to have been a temporary measure provided by the manufacturer until donors were found, or funds raised, to pay for more colourful, complex and expensive stained glass.

The distinctive root design seen in Frome Museum, shown here on a window at Great Shefford church in Berkshire.