Arundel’s Big Society

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The Big Society is an important part of David Cameron’s vision for a vibrant and cohesive Britain, but some have doubted how much can be achieved without taxpayers picking up the bill.

In Arundel West Sussex the Big Society is alive and well, with over 90 volunteers working tirelessly over a period of 5 years to raise funding (including a successful Heritage Lottery bid) to build a new Museum to keep alive the rich history of this fascinating town.

A total of £1.5m was raised and the new building looks resplendent on the banks of the River Arun and opposite the entrance to Arundel Castle, seat of the Duke of Norfolk. The artefacts are now out of storage and Arundel Museum is open for business.

But if the traditional view of museums is glass cases full of slightly obscure relics then visitors to Arundel will find a very different experience.

Yes there are some glass cases but the ethos of this new venture is to bring history alive. A stunning wall display depicts both the significance of the river in the development of the town as a port as well as showing the rich and varied wildlife and plants which can be found on a short riverbank stroll. Or if riverbanks are not your thing, try a guided walk to discover just how many pubs this community supported in days gone by or the wide range of trades which a busy port supported in the 19th century.

Younger visitors can take part in hands on history events (meeting a Roman Soldier proved very popular) and for bakers, the planned event as part of Arundel‘s food festival will seek to revive some traditional Sussex recipes.

For the more artistic, a programme of exhibitions featuring local artists and photographers is already underway.

The new Arundel Museum is open every day from 10.00hrs to 16.00hrs but see www.arundelmuseum.org for more details.