Heritage Lottery Fund Brings Hyde Treasures Back To Winchester

a)	The picture shows (l to r): Graham Scobie of Winchester City Council’s Museums Service; Ron Allison, Chair of Hyde900; Head Boy of St Bede’s School (who supported the HLF bid) Callum Bruce; the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Dominic Hiscock; Head Girl of St Bede’s School Eve Gillies and Edward Fennell of Hyde900 who dreamed up the Treasures exhibition.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has just announced a £50,000 grant for the Hyde900 celebrations in 2010. The award will mean that an important exhibition, bringing treasures to Winchester that have not been seen together for nearly 600 years, will be able to go ahead next spring.

The Treasures of Hyde Abbey at Winchester Discovery Centre next March and April will be one of the highlights of Hyde900’s year of celebrations to mark the 900th anniversary of the founding of Hyde Abbey.  Inspired by Hyde resident Edward Fennell, the exhibition will be created jointly with Winchester City Council’s museums service, with loans from national institutions such as the Bodleian Library, British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum. Hampshire County Council, the University of Winchester and Winchester College are also supporting the exhibition.

Hyde Abbey was the successor of New Minster, which was established for the burial of King Alfred the Great by his son King Edward the Elder.  New Minster was one of the great centres of learning and cultural life in southern England. Moving to Hyde in 1110, the monks brought with them Alfred’s remains, their library and other precious relics. Hyde Abbey was to become one of the foremost monastic houses in England. On its dissolution in 1538 many of the abbey’s treasures were destroyed or dispersed, but those that survive are of national importance. All that is left of the Abbey today is Hyde Gate, but the site is marked out these days by Hyde Abbey Garden.

Among the line-up of objects which it is hoped will appear in the exhibition is the Book of Hyde (Liber Monasterii de Hyda), a chronicle of the affairs of England from the settlement of the Saxons to the reign of King Cnut. Another important loan will be the Liber Vitae, which records the names of the monks, their associates and benefactors remembered in the daily services of Hyde Abbey as well as a copy of the will of King Alfred and a history of the community.

The exhibition will be supported by a wide range of talks, tours, workshops and events to encourage visitors of all ages to find out more about the people who lived in and around the Abbey, and the treasures stored inside it. At the same time, an exhibition in the Discovery Centre’s City Space which will show how local artists have ‘re-imagined’ the treasures of Hyde.

Chair of Hyde900, Ron Allison, said:

“We are delighted at the outcome of this HLF application which we see as a very effective joint effort with Winchester City Council. Hyde900    was always intended to be a community celebration with a professional edge. Our earlier Lottery success in connection with the Living History project reflects lively community involvement while The Treasures of Hyde Abbey will be a professionally delivered exhibition of a very high standard to commemorate a uniquely important occasion in the history of Hyde. We believe that it will be a landmark event for 2010.” 

Cllr Patricia Stallard, Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and Sport, added:

“Hyde900 is a dynamic and successful community group, and we are excited to be working with them on this prestigious exhibition. We hope that the Hyde900 events will inspire other local communities across the district to explore and celebrate their own history and culture.”

Michelle Davies, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, stated:

“Residents and visitors will be given a unique opportunity to see a range of artefacts associated with the once great Hyde Abbey and so       gain a new perspective on the importance of this institution in the life of medieval England."

This is the second Heritage Lottery Fund grant which Hyde900 has been awarded. They received £18,000 last year towards an oral history project. You can find out more about this and about all the other activities organized by Hyde900 volunteers at www.hyde900.co.uk