Bedfordshire’s first ‘micro-museum’ is to be launched in Ampthill on Aragon Day – an annual festival held to celebrate the town’s rich history.
The attraction, which documents Ampthill’s history from Norman times to the current day, will be the county’s smallest museum with visitors learning about the town’s association with Henry VIII and why Kit Williams chose Ampthill as the hiding place for the treasure of his 1979 book Masquerade.
The deveopment of the museum has been funded by Ampthill Fireplaces and located at its town centre showroom.
James Gray, 27, managing director of Ampthill Fireplaces, said: “When we started the showroom renovations, I realised we could do something interesting with the space upstairs. And then, when I spoke to people in the town, a museum seemed like the perfect idea. Ampthill’s a small place but it has a big history.
“The support we’ve received for our business from the local community has always been overwhelming. This is our way of giving something back.”
Local historian John Heele, who has curated the museum’s collection, said: “We have long wanted to have space in Ampthill to tell the town’s story but had almost given up on the idea for good as it was going to be far too expensive. “The generosity of James and the Ampthill Fireplaces team now means we can share Ampthill’s illustrious history with people for the first time.”
Thérèse Gray, co-founder of Ampthill Fireplaces, added: “I am so pleased to see this project come to fruition. Ampthill is a beautiful market town with a fascinating history and a great place to live and work. I hope this inspires more people to come and visit Ampthill and frequent the locally run shops, restaurants and bars the town has to offer.”
Ampthill town mayor, Simon Peacock, will cut the ribbon to officially open the musuem.
Admission is free of charge with visitors offered Pimms, finger food provided by local businesses and museum tours by local historians between 10am and 4pm on opening day, Saturday, July 30.