Winchester’s long-serving Head of Museums retires

Press Release: 29/07/2014

Dr Geoff Denford

Dr Geoff Denford retired as Winchester City Council’s Head of Museums last week after more than 30 years spent caring for the city’s historic collections.

Geoff’s retirement marks the end of an era for Winchester Museums – although his colleagues are well-used to marking historical eras, with collections spanning the prehistoric through to the contemporary life of the Winchester District.

With his team, Geoff was responsible for safeguarding around a million artefacts, as well as the operation of City Museum, The Westgate and City Space.

He was particularly proud of his work on the four-year, Heritage Lottery-funded refurbishment of City Museum, one of Winchester’s most-visited attractions which tells the story of the city.

During his time at the Council, Geoff introduced and wrote the series of beautifully presented guidebooks available from the museums and he was responsible for first securing national accreditation for the museums.

More recently, he curated the exceptionally popular Treasures of Hyde Abbey exhibition in 2010, celebrating the 900th anniversary of the founding of Hyde Abbey.

He has also been a driving force in creating the website which ensures that the fascinating objects in the care of the City Council can be shared with audiences around the world.

Geoff’s colleagues kept him hard at work until the last minute, accessioning a middle Bronze Age gold torc (or neck ring) between 3,100 and 3,600 years old. The torc was acquired by Winchester Museums last week from a local metal detectorist.

Geoff’s academic interests lay in other periods of history: his doctorate – also completed during his time in Winchester – was on Prehistoric and Romano-British Kimmeridge Shale.

Now Geoff is looking forward to spending more time with his wife Fiona, and – once his son finishes college next year – travelling to more historic sites around the world.

Cllr Mike Southgate, the City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Museums, said:

Geoff is known for his thoughtful and calm approach. He has an eye for presentation, and a wonderful ability to draw the interesting stories out of the objects in the collections. He has really lived and breathed the history of Winchester, having plunged in during the exciting era begun by the Martin Biddle excavations in the city and continued by the Council’s own archaeologists: the digs during this time have proved to be one of the most revealing archaeological programmes in the world.