Monday, November 7, 2016

Wisbech & Fenlands Museum

Located in the market town of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire the Wisbech & Fenland Museum offers not only a very fine small museum of the Fens but is the caretaker of many records of interested to genealogist and historians. To find out which parish registers are held by the museum you can check their website.

In addition, they have a collection of maps, manorial records, local government records, diaries, estate and business records and much more. They have the sort of records that can add some meat to the bare bones of genealogical research. The registers on micro film are available to be viewed in a special room in the museum. Beyond just the genealogical aspects, the museum has many interesting exhibits to enjoy. 

The noted abolitionist Thomas Clarkson was born in Wisbech and many things that relate to him can be found in the cases. One treasure not to be missed is an original copy of Charles Dicken's Great Expectations. Roman items recovered in excavations and a case of advertising items taken from one store in town are also on display along with lots of posters and cardboard food packaging from yesteryear. A display of photos of buildings in Wisbech and the surrounding area is of particular interest.

One that was of interest to me was of the Wisbech workhouse where many local people died including an ancestor. Robert Bell was quite knowledgeable about it and was able to say that it was the only hospital in town in that time period. If you find a record that gives the workhouse as the place of death, it may very well mean that the individual was brought there as a patient and was not necessarily a resident of the workhouse.

The museum has a small store with a collection of postcards and books on local topics. It is open year round with the exception of the first few weeks of January. If you would like to visit during that time, contact the assistant curator Robert Bell. He will be able to help you to arrange a time to visit.

I have used this museum several times and it has added greatly to my knowledge about my grandmother’s family.

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