Bede’s World, a museum dedicated to the life and times of the Venerable Bede, suddenly announced their closure last week, claiming a lack of funds. Now efforts are underway to save the site.
Located in the northern English town of Jarrow, the a museum dedicated to Anglo-Saxon history and the life of the Venerable Bede. First opening in 1983, it would draw in visitors and school groups where they could learn through Living History about the Anglo-Saxon period.
News was announced on their website and Twitter by their Trustee Board. “Steps are being taken to put the company into administration through the appointment of an Insolvency Practitioner,” said the statement. “The Trustee Board have made arrangements for the immediate care of the farm animals and the security of the site. The Board would like thank all staff, volunteers and stakeholders for their hard work and dedication to Bedes World.”
Mike Smith, chairman of the trustees, explained in an interview with The Chronicle Live that “It is absolutely terrible but we have had no choice while we look at how best to transfer the operation of Bede’s World into a different form. We are still in negotiations with insolvency practitioners.”
Over two-dozen staff worked at Bede’s World, and hundreds of volunteers have also helped out a the site, which includes a museum and a working reconstructed Anglo-Saxon farm. Many of the buildings on the site were built based on archaeological research. The museum includes medieval artefacts, and last year introduced a cast of Bede’s skull to its collection.
The news of the closure of Bede’s World was a shock to those involved, but not entirely unexpected. Despite drawing up to 70,000 people a year, it was experiencing financial problems. According to one person who volunteers at the site, “the recent management seem to have been struggling to keep a sinking ship afloat.”
Local officials are now looking to see if the site can be saved. A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council commented, “we can confirm that ownership of the land and buildings will revert to the council under the terms of the existing leases. The council is currently looking at a range of options for the site, and most importantly, to find a more affordable way to keep the facility open in the long term.”
Meanwhile, supporters of Bede’s World have been rallying to assist the site. Lily Oak led a group of two-dozen people in a march through Jarrow on Saturday, despite bad weather. “Passers by stopping to talk all day, cars sounding their horns,” she explained.
Meanwhile, a fundraising campaign has begun on Crowdfunder. It has already reached close to a fifth of the £10,000 that they want to raise for Bede’s World.
Hildy Harland is organized the fundraising drive. She explains, “we want save Bede’s World because it has a great community value to Jarrow. Everyone was welcome there was lots of educational groups which used the facilities as well artists and creatives, gardeners, history groups, re-enactment groups, students, teachers,. And that was just the museum you have Jarrow Hall next door a Georgian house which was open to all kinds of community groups and charities. Not to mention the art studios and radio station in the green shed! Then we have the national and international historical significance of Bede and the living archeology.”
Like many of those who want to help the site, Harland also spent a year volunteering for Bede’s World. “Our aim is to use the funds to give any re-opening a kick start and to show potential investors how much the community is behind it’s museum,” she adds.
Many others have voiced their support for Bede’s World on Twitter:
So, so saddened by the news about Bede's World today. A loss to Medieval Studies – hoping the doors will reopen idc. @BedesWorld
— Meg (@meg_boulton) February 12, 2016
Anglo-Saxonists: what to do to help save Bede's World (link to a public FB post from Sarah Semple): https://t.co/Qh13KDseh1
— Martin Foys (@martinfoys) February 13, 2016
In discussions with South Tyneside Council on the future of Bede's World
— Stephen Hepburn (@jarrowstevemp) February 15, 2016