May 2018

The Mary Challis Museum and Archive was formally opened on 27th April by Dr Tim Wreghitt OBE. This is a significant milestone for the Challis Trust and the culmination of ten years’ work renovating 68 High Street to accommodate the Sawston history archives and to house museum displays and exhibitions. To mark the occasion, two rooms on the first floor were formally named after two key people who dedicated their time to this cause. The main meeting room is now the Brian Butler Meeting Room, after our former Chair and Patron, who directed the work of the trust and started renovation work on the house. The library/archive room is now called the David Dockerill Library. David was an enthusiastic and energetic believer in the importance of local history and was instrumental in the founding of the Sawston Village History Society in January 1991, serving as its Chair until September 1995.

It was very pleasing and fitting that Dorothy Butler and Liz Dockerill were present to witness the naming ceremony. In her introductory talk, Rosemary Phillips, our Chair, also paid tribute to others who had made significant contributions to the Challis Trust, most notably Sheila Blackwell, Sue Reeve, Paul Mann, Bruce Milner and Bryan Howe.

The current collection includes the archive assembled by SVHS and housed for some years in the Parish Council offices. Most of the material has been donated by Sawston residents. The collection includes a set of Sawston Scenes, the Sawston Crier and a number of local and national newspapers as well as photographs taken of the village in 2000 and other photographs from the less recent past. Cataloguing is still in progress but a list of the various files is available. There is also a small range of books on the history of Sawston and the surrounding area. Books of which the trust has multiple copies may be borrowed.

During the course of the renovation work and initiated by Tony Fell, a time capsule has been concealed in the house, containing items and documents that are topical and pertinent to the Challis Trust and to Sawston in general. We hope this will create a lot of excitement and interest to whoever discovers it, whenever that may be! Who knows when?

The Mary Challis Museum and Archive will be open regularly to the public on Tuesdays from 10am to 12 noon. It is hoped that additional opening days will be held, provided there are stewards and archivists available to welcome visitors.

The garden will be open on Sunday 10th June specifically for the National Gardens Scheme from 2pm to 6pm. Money raised from the gate entry fee goes to a number of nursing charities supported by the NGS. Last year, over £3 million was raised. We are proud to support this excellent cause. Teas and homemade cakes will be available from the house. Plants, garden produce, preserves and honey will be on sale.

The Challis garden will be opening again for the NGS, on 1st July, as part of the Sawston Group, along with four other Sawston gardens. Sweet Tea café (across the road from the garden) will provide refreshments on that occasion.

On Sunday 17th June, we will again be honouring the memory of Jo Cox MP, who was killed in 2016, by taking part in the the Great Get Together event. The garden will be open from 12 noon to 5pm for visitors to bring a picnic and share a meal together, in a spirit of friendship and compassion. For more information, see Do let us know if you intend to bring a group, so we can set out enough tables and chairs. Or bring your own chairs and rugs.

In the garden, volunteers have put in a lot of time weeding and manuring the herbaceous beds, planting up the vegetable plots, raising bedding plants and keeping on top of the grass. All this effort should ensure a very colourful display through the summer and into autumn. Do come along to see the wildflower meadow, bee border and main herbaceous beds, which are at their best in the coming period. Some of our specimen trees will also be in flower for a few weeks during this period – false acacia in June and golden rain tree in July. Mike Redshaw 

Published in Sawston Scene, June– July 2018