Woodhouse Eaves

Maplewell Hall School Museum

The museum now has its own website at www.maplewellhallmuseum.co.uk

The Open day on May 9th 2012 was a great success. Thank you to everyone from the local schools and community who turned up and watched the presentation and took part in the site tour, museum quiz, and themed activities. A big thank you to all the Maplewell staff who dressed in period costume and uniforms for the day and our own students who helped out on the day or were involved in the activities. Also a special thank you must go to the owners of the armoured vehicle and vintage fire engine who made them available for students to see.

We're looking forward to holding more events like this in the future.

Some photographs from the Open Day can be seen below.

Maplewell staff dressed in period costume for the open day.

Maplewell Hall School had an Ofsted inspection on 21-22 March 2012 and the inspectors were very impressed with the museum. This is what they wrote in the inspection report:

'The impressive museum in the school is also used by other schools and the community. This resource has an excellent range of artefacts related to different periods in history. The current display of uniforms, money, passes, ration books, etc originate from the two world wars and give students extremely valuable hands-on experiences and effectively support the strong curriculum. Many artefacts have been donated through the community.'

Museum Open Day 9th May 2012

In the Summer of 2012 the museum held an exhibition about life from the start of the First World War in 1914 through to the end of the Second World War in 1945. The exhibits included original WWI and WWII uniforms and artefacts, along with the history of their owners.

There was the uniform, medal and mess kit of Private Robertson from New York, who joined the army during WWI and served in France with the Advance Section Service of Supply to keep the American troops at the front fed and supplied with everything that they would need to fight the Germans in the trenches. There was also a captured German belt buckle that he bought or 'acquired' during the war.

There was the dress uniform of Lt Col Colin Morrison who parachuted behind enemy lines in WWII in Malaya and worked with the resistance to free Indian prisoners from Japanese prison camps. He was present at the Japanese surrender of Malaya and headed the war crimes tribunal after the war. Along with his uniform was a collection of photographs he took or was given during his time in Malaya, including photos of the Japanese signing the surrender documents.

Other items on display included money and stamps used by the Germans, Japanese and British from 1914 to 1945. During the interwar period Germany suffered from hyper-inflation and there were some German notes in the collection to the value of 500 million Reichmark!

There were poignant reminders of the casualties of war in the remembrance cards of deceased German soldiers, the bullet converted to a lighter by a British Tommy who, along with his brother, was killed before the end of the First World War. There was a WWI German Iron Cross and a letter confirming the recipients award, along with the World War I War and Victory medals, awarded to 22464 Private Thomas Frederick Pywell, of the Leicestershire Regiment. There was a WWII German Waffen SS steel helmet with swastika and SS insignia still visible, an Austrian Field cap, and a reproduction German WWI Pickelhaube helmet.

There were also many examples of daily life; the 1915 identity cards of a Desford rail worker and his wife, an autograph book started by a woman in WWI, an engraved silver-plated teapot presented to a British officer on the occasion of his wedding, a Leicester teacher's notebook, gas masks and evacuees suitcase, glass bottles (some made in Leicester), a shop-keepers scales and a reproduction of a week's rations from the 1940's.

Photos of some of these artefacts are shown below but the exhibit also contained many more items. Photographs of other previous exhibitions are displayed at the bottom of this page. To see what is currently happening at Maplewell Museum please go to the new website via the link at the top of the page.

World War II armoured vehicle

Vintage fire engine and armoured vehicle

Rear of vintage fire engine

A week's rations.

Private J Robertson of New York

Why have a school museum?

When I started at Maplewell Hall School in 2004 as History subject leader there were very few teaching resources available apart from worksheets. I wanted to change this as I believe History is a subject that students should experience and not just read about. I wanted students to live the stories, wear the armour, clothing and even the gasmasks that our forebears wore. I wanted them to handle real artefacts, know what money looked and felt like before decimalisation in 1971, understand how heavy chainmail was when worn, and for them to have the chance to hold objects in their hands that are hundreds of years old. I wanted them to feel a connection with the past and understand how life has changed with the passage of time.

To this end I began collecting historical artefacts to use as teaching resources for the topics that I taught. These included Local History, life in Roman, Medieval, Tudor, Stuart, and Victorian times, and the two World Wars. Over the next seven years I collected an array of artefacts and resources related to these topics. Before long my classroom was cluttered with suits of armour, historical costumes, an evacuee's suitcase and gasmask, roman mosaics, a Victorian bed warmer and chamber pot, various coins and medals, and a host of other historical objects. Many other artefacts were packed away in storage only to see the light of day once or twice a year.

In 2009 I researched and wrote a book about the History of Maplewell. During this research I collected maps, plans, pictures and documents relating to Maplewell and Woodhouse Eaves. About this time I decided to create a school museum to house all of the artefacts, documents, costumes etc that I had been collecting for the previous five years.

From Idea to Reality

Mrs Tindal, the Head of Maplewell Hall School, was very supportive and the idea became a reality when she allowed me to use what was known as 'the old sewing room' to house my collection. When I told him about my project Paul Parker, a historical re-enactor from Bosworth Battlefield who worked closely with myself and the students of Maplewell, offered to sell me his English Civil War collection of costumes, armour and weapons. Half the money for this collection came from the school budget with the other half donated by the school student fund. Lance Prince, a Roman historical re-enactor who has worked with the school for many years also donated a Roman roof tile and an original facing stone from the Colosseum in Rome which he was given while filming a documentary at the Colosseum.

After a year of preparing the room and putting together the first exhibition the opening date for the museum was finally set for 18th May 2011 and, with the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton being the topic of the moment, the opening exhibit was based upon the theme of 'Coronations and Royal Events.' This exhibition included many artefacts such as medals dating back to the coronation of Charles II in 1661, military uniforms, swords and coronation, jubilee and royal wedding souvenirs dating from the time of George III to the present day. I was also lucky enough to be loaned a blue velvet covered chair with the royal monogram on that was used at Westminster Abbey for guests at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, by Peter Osborne whose parents had been present at the occasion.

The opening ceremony was conducted by Captain Mortimer (a character in period medieval costume played by Bosworth Battlefield's Paul Parker). It was good to see many local people there as well as representatives from Woodhouse Eaves Parish Council, the local History Society and school governors. The Loughborough Echo ran a story in the newspaper about the event. You can see the story at the link below.


I would like to thank everyone who loaned or gave artefacts to the school for inclusion in the museum, particularly Paul Parker, Lance Prince, Peter Osborne, Katharine Hughes, Stephen Canessa and Stuart Tyler. I would also like to thank Brian Axon and Mike Jenkins for allowing me to use this website to promote the museum while the museums own website was being created.

If anyone has anything of historical or local interest that they would like to loan or donate to the school museum please contact me at Maplewell Hall School, tel: 01509 890237.

Darren Harris

Photographs from previous exhibitions.

Maplewell Hall School students in the Museum

Official Coronation Medals William IV to Elizabeth II

Unofficial Medals George III to George V

Souvenirs of George V Coronation and Silver Jubilee

Edward VIII Coronation Cups - Souvenirs of the Coronation that never happened.

A glass bowl made to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887

An Officers Commission in the Lancashire Hussars signed and sealed by the Earl of Derby 1848.

A Roundhead lobster pot helmet, cuirass or chest plate, "buff" coat made of buff leather from a deer, and leather baldric (belt) for holding a sword.

A Cavalier's clothing

A Suit of Armour

A 15th Century Sallet and Bevor

A Pig Snout Helmet

Details of the museum and the latest exhibitions can be found on the new website. To access this please click on the link at the top of the page.

In the mean time if you would like to see more about Maplewell Hall Special School follow this link:-