Challis Museum

When Mary Challis left her house at 68 High Street in trust for the people of Sawston, she also asked for a museum to be set up inside the house. On Saturday 13th September 2014, the Challis Museum opened its doors for the first time, with an exhibition to mark the centenary of World War One.

The table laid for tea in Mary Challis's parlour

Photo: John Hunting

“The Mary Challis Museum was opened on 12th September 2014 by Chris Jakes from the Cambridgeshire Collection, which is held at the Central Library,” Challis Trust Secretary Mary Dicken reported to village magazine Sawston Scene. “The Chair of the AM Challis Trust, Rosemary Phillips, paid tribute to all those who had done so much to enable 68 High Street to be restored and become a museum, especially Reg Cullum, the Design Manager; Maurice Keeler and Graham Searle for their building expertise; T Butler & Son for all their support; Tony Fell for much work with the paintbrush; and the former Chair, Brian Butler, for masterminding the whole project.
Chris Jakes responded with some details about Sawston in 1916, which he had found in the Cambridgeshire Collection, and a copy of a sketch of Sawston in 1916 featuring the Queen’s Head. Rosie then invited Chris to cut the ribbon and allow access to the museum for the very first time, which was a great moment for all those who had been eagerly awaiting the occasion.

The first exhibition marks the centenary of the First World War and the part played by Sawston men and families, along with displays from several Sawston residents relating to their family role.

One room displays Mary’s Parlour, a representation of a late Victorian parlour. This is an ongoing display to which additions will be made as more artefacts are acquired.

The museum is open at the same times as the garden, as long as there are enough volunteers to staff it. If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer, please contact the Challis Trust.”