Huguenot Museum – Rochester

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The planned Huguenot Museum in Rochester will tell the story of the thousands of French Protestants who fled to Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries to escape religious persecution in France.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a grant of £1.2m to the French Hospital in Rochester to establish the UK’s first museum dedicated to the history of the Huguenots.

Huguenot Museum, Rochester, Medway
Huguenot Museum, Rochester, Medway

The planned Huguenot Heritage Centre will tell the story of the thousands of French Protestants who fled to Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries to escape religious persecution in France.

The new centre will be based above the Visitor Information Centre on Rochester’s High Street. It will explore the contribution of the Huguenots to “the development of modern Britain” and the issues facing contemporary refugees that resonate with the Huguenot experience.

The French Hospital was established as a charity in the 1700s to offer sanctuary to impoverished Huguenots. The new museum will display items from the French Hospital’s extensive Huguenot collection, including paintings, prints, clock, furniture and silverware.

The centre will also provide access to archival records to enable local communities to trace their Huguenot ancestry.

The project will run schools and community outreach programmes on the culture and legacy of the Huguenots, teaching Huguenot crafts such as silk weaving and silver smithing.

The displays on the first floor will be divided into three themes:

  • The Persecution – The dramatic story of persecution, intolerance, secrecy and flight told through noise and audio drama and the artefacts held by the French Hospital.
  • The Refugees – Discover the Huguenots’ impressive ability for self-help and support, including through churches, societies, schools, charities and the French Hospital. Objects from the French Hospital, individuals and institutions will illustrate the skills that the Huguenots brought to England, including crafts, military leadership, education and science.
  • British Huguenots Today. Find your own Huguenot descendants and discover what it means to claim Huguenot heritage today. There will also be a small display area for changing exhibitions that are developed with community groups and individuals.

The new centre is set to open in summer 2015.

Huguenot Museum, 95 High Street, Rochester, Kent. ME1 1LX

Call 01634 789347

Visit our website  www.huguenotmuseum.org

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