Potted History of Museum
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This was written by Helen Poole in answer to a recent query, I am pleased to present it here.

Details of the acquisition of Marlipins.

In 1922 Robert Gates of the family building firm put Marlipins on the market, though it was agreed that the building had little commercial value beyond its site. One expert, Thackeray Turner, examined the building on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and reported that "a medieval building remaining in a High Street ought to be preserved at all costs. This one should be strengthened and tided up - restoration would rob it of nearly all its interest." Mr Gates agreed to sell it to a committee undertaking to preserve it, so the Committee of the Marlipins Preservation Scheme was set up by Henry Cheal. On 24 November 1922 William J Burstow provided the 500 needed for immediate purchase, a special price which the owners agreed in order to preserve the building, which opened to the public on 15 August 1923. The Duchess of Norfolk became President of the committee, in view of her family's long association with the town, and many other important figures in the area joined. It reached a wide audience and Rudyard Kipling gave 3 guineas, while Hove Corporation gave some pieces of Caen stone from architectural salvage. There were appeals to the public, with some imaginative fund-raising ideas, which persisted for many years. The purchase of the Freehold was completed on 12 November 1925, when it became one of the properties of the Sussex Archaeological Society, who formed a Trust for this purpose. The building first opened on 15 August 1923, with William Hughes Browning in attendance as a guide, and it became Marlipins Museum officially on 20 October 1926, "displaying antiquities and pictures of local interest."

The balance of the purchase price was paid off by Sir Hildebrand Harmsworth, Bart, an active Vice-President of the Preservation Scheme and younger brother of Lord Rothermere and Lord Northcliffe, the newspaper magnates. He also very generously funded most of the work needed for repair and modifications, to the tune of 664. The Curator listed all the work done in the five months between 15 November 1927 and 17 March 1928, and commented: "A quarter of a ton of black dust was removed by "Vacuum Cleaner" after the Renovations." Sir Hildebrand was ill when his wife reopened the museum on 25 April 1928. He died a year later and was buried at Hangleton. His name and generosity are commemorated in a plaque in the museum. The Sussex Archaeological Trust was wound up years ago as it was no longer needed, but the Sussex Archaeological Society was always the parent body and is very proud to have Marlipins in its portfolio.

Mrs H E Poole, BA, DipArch, AMA, PGCE
Senior Museums Officer
Sussex Archaeological Society


All views are personal to the contributor(s) and are not intended to reflect those of the SAS or others involved
Copyright 2002/6 Martin B Snow All rights reserved
Modified 27 March, 2006