Ditchling welcomed a royal visitor today (Thursday, October 16) as the Duchess of Cornwall returned to the village for the first time in several years.
Schoolchildren, artists and volunteers were among those who welcomed the Duchess to Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft.
The Duchess, who has been president of the museum since 2006, arrived on site today to view two exhibitions.
She was greeted by Stephanie Fuller, director and chief executive, and Jenny KilBride, chairman of the museum friends.
Abby Butcher, communications manager for Ditchling Museum, said: “The Duchess and I discussed my job, and she said that the museum was a lovely place. It was such a lovely visit, and it was great to hear her talk about going to school in the village.”
Led by the director through the museum, the Duchess viewed the typography exhibition Kitching in Ditchling: The London Series as well as the new show Disruption, Devotion + Distribution.
Staff spoke to her about many of the paintings, photographs, and textiles on display.
The latter exhibition is due to open on Saturday in the museum’s Main Gallery, and features never before seen work by Eric Gill, an artist who moved to Ditchling in 1907.
The Duchess also met the museum’s board of directors, staff and volunteers, artists and craftspeople, and Adam Richards, the architect who designed the museum.
Pupils from Ditchling (St Margaret’s) CE Primary and Nursery School, who were taking part in a drawing activity, also had the opportunity to meet the Duchess.
The schoolchildren spoke to the Duchess as she sat with them to look at their work.
The children were sketching items from the museum’s collection that represented the history of the village, including a copper tea kettle, awarded during the annual Ditchling Gooseberry and Redcurrant show.
Those who met the Duchess spoke of their delight at meeting the royal visitor.
Katie Holmes, 19, an air cadet, grew up in the village.
She said: “It was fantastic to meet such an inspirational woman, who grew up in the same village as me. The Duchess has known my family for years as my grandparents ran the village post office, which is now run by my parents.
“When I was younger, my class had a lesson about Camilla, and we had a trip to Dumbrell’s school.
“As I’m ageing out of cadets, it’s wonderful to meet the Duchess as we both grew up in Ditchling. It’s like life has come full circle.”
The Duchess also met Lucy Jenner, the museum’s learning and public programme manager, and her three-month-old daughter Martha.
Lucy, who met the Duchess during her last visit to the museum in 2014, is currently off on maternity leave, but returned to her place of work today to introduce the Duchess to Martha.
The Duchess visited the museum along with her sister, Annabel Elliot, who also went to school in the village.
She has long-standing links to the village having gone to school at the co-educational Dumbrells School.
Prior to her Ditchling visit, the Duchess visited Crawley to open a new activity centre. Read more here.