The Decimus Burton Museum & Study Centre
Early in 2020, members of the Decimus Burton Society (DBS), together with members of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society (RTWCS) visited two vacant council properties (9 & 10 Calverley terrace) that were designed by Decimus Burton as part of his Calverley New Town development.
Decimus Burton laid out the development plans for John Ward’s 56 acre Calverley estate in Tunbridge Wells in 1828, so that its residents could enjoy the same benefits as those who lived in the more famous Pantiles area of the town. In time, the development was to include Calverley Parade, Calverley Terrace, Calverley Park Crescent (with its 17 shops and residences above, including a Library and Royal Baths), Calverley Park Villas and Calverley Hotel in their idyllic park setting, Calverley Place, Calverley Cottages and the Victoria National School. The importance of the development to Burton’s career, and indeed the town’s history, cannot be stressed enough. Even at the time, it attracted sufficient attention to warrant Princess Victoria and her mother, The Duchess of Kent, attending the ceremony of the laying of the first stone at the school, of which Victoria was a patron and donor.
In April 2020 the DBS prepared a paper, in consultation with the RTWCS to argue the case for developing the two buildings as The Decimus Burton Museum and Study Centre titled "The case for establishing the Decimus Burton Museum" (click here to see the paper)
During 2021 both societies continued to develop their ideas for the project, and in October the Civic Society gave an illustrated talk to promote the project to an audience that comprised members of both societies as well as councillors and representatives from other interest groups. It is hoped that this new venture, together with The Amelia Scott and Trinity Theatre, will provide Tunbridge Wells with a group of visitor attractions that will help to regenerate the centre of town. The new museum and study centre will also provide the nation with central archive of Decimus Burton’s work.
Following the talk, in March 2022 the Council agreed to give the Civic Society a year to develop a business plan for the venture, which is to be presented to councillors in April 2023. It was decided that the Civic Society would be best placed to take the lead in the project as it already had a proven track record of saving and re-purposing one of Burton’s buildings in Tunbridge Wells, Trinity Church, in the 1970s and 1980s.
A Management Team was immediately formed, and this has since been working on the project and development of the business plan. As part of this process, the Civic Society has organised a series of events to share our ideas with the public and to invite comments and feedback.
How you can help us with the project?
There are many ways in which you can support the project. The following are a few examples:-
Visit the free events to find out more about the project.
Download the leaflet and questionnaire. By filling our and returning the questionnaire you will provide the team with some valuable research. It will also give you the opportunity to have your say, and to share your thoughts and ideas.
Do you have any personal skills to offer that you believe would be of benefit to the project. If so, why not contact us.
Would you be interested in volunteering your time either at the planning stage, or if successful, once the museum is operational, for example:
- As a museum guide.
- In the museum shop.
- Helping to look after the museum garden.