The Heritage Centre next to the village school in the High Street is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

The Heritage centre has closed permanently and its collection has passed to the Archbishop’s Palace Conservation Trust  (APCT).  Should you wish to contact the Heritage Centre you can do so by email info@otfordheritage.co.uk

You can download the Heritage Centre Leaflet:

 

Permanent exhibits include a model of Otford Palace and information about the pioneering aviator, Percy Pitcher.  There is a small reference library and if you are undertaking local research we may be able to direct you to useful sources.  Other information is available at Sevenoaks Library and the County Records Office in Maidstone.

There is also a small sales area where you can purchase copies of books about the history of Otford and neighbouring villages published by the historical society and other publishers, postcards and greeting cards by local photographer Jane Mucklow and other reminders of your visit.

   

The Heritage Centre Model of Otford Palace as it may have looked in its heyday

  

Model of pioneering aviator Percy Pitcher

The Otford Heritage Trail consists of a series of information boards which explain historically important buildings in the village.  Each board is linked to a QR code and NFC tag providing your smartphone with a two-minute commentary.  Commentaries are available in English, Francais and Deutsch.  There is also a series of worksheets for students.  You can access the Heritage Trail Map at the following link: 

https://visitotford.org/2018/10/25/otford-heritage-trail/

Heritage Centre News Update August 2020.  Press release from the Archbishop’s Palace Conservation Trust and the Otford Heritage Centre:

Heritage collaborates for the future

After lengthy discussions, the Archbishop’s Palace Conservation Trust and the Otford Heritage Centre have reached agreement on a programme of close collaboration which, it is intended, will lead to a merger of the two organisations in due course.  In the short term it opens the way for the museum to achieve accredited status.  Much of the preparatory work on accreditation has been carried out over the past six months and the formal application will be made shortly.  The next step will be a complete review and cataloguing of the collection of objects on display in the Otford Heritage Centre and those in storage in various locations in the Village.  The long-term intention is that the collection will be displayed in the Palace, in the ground floor space of the conserved and refurbished North West Tower.  The two organisations are also planning an outreach programme that will enable schools in the Darent Valley and London to access the objects in the collection, supported by educational materials and talks by local historians.

Speaking at the formal signing ceremony on 23rd August 2020, Nick Rushby, Secretary of the Trust said: “The Trust and the Heritage Centre Committee have been working on this merger since the beginning of the year.  The agreement marks the start of a new phase for both parties and the opportunity for a far greater audience to engage with the heritage of Otford and the Darent Valley.”  Sir Mike Bett, who has been the Chairman and then President of the Otford Heritage Centre since its formation twenty-one years ago, said: “I am delighted that the museum created by these collaborative arrangements will enable villagers and visitors to enjoy an increasingly comprehensive and coherent picture of Otford’s remarkable 4,000 years history in the Darent Valley.”

Heritage Centre News Update March 2020.  Doug Cracknell, Chair of the Management Committee writes:

In view of current concerns over ‘Coronavirus’ the Otford Heritage Management Committee (OHCMC) has decided the Centre will remain CLOSED until further notice.  This decision will be reviewed regularly in the light of Government advice.  Should you wish to contact the Heritage centre you can do so by email info@otfordheritage.co.uk

Heritage Centre News Update January 2020.  Doug Cracknell, Chair of the Management Committee writes:

2020 will be a year of considerable significance for Otford Heritage Centre – it will celebrate its 21st birthday!  It was on 27 November 1999 that Lord Weatherill, a former Speaker of the House of Commons, declared Otford Heritage Centre to be officially open.

Yes, there many reasons to celebrate those first 21 years and to extend our warmest thanks to many people:

From the beginning, the centre has been managed and manned entirely by volunteers – sufficient people have come forward, enabling the doors to open at stated times, artefacts to be received and cared for and the centre’s work to develop steadily.

Our Visitors’ Book contains entries written by people from many parts of the country and beyond and virtually all of them show warm appreciation of our displays.

We have always been able to meet our financial commitments, Foundation Subscribers gave us a flying start, many visitors have made a voluntary donation, the centre’s shop has contributed a steady income and people have  made donations to help us meet the cost of particular projects, our charitable status enabling us to benefit from Gift Aid and rates relief as appropriate

The parish council and its clerk and assistant clerk have encouraged and helped us in our work.

In extending thanks for support during this first twenty-one years I may have given the impression that everything is going along swimmingly and that we have no present or anticipated needs.  This would be very far from being the case.  The management committee has recently reaffirmed its commitment to seek Arts Council accreditation as a museum..To bring that aim to fruition we will make Coming of Age Appeals, asking individuals, organisations and businesses for service as a volunteer and/or financial support and we trust that the response will be as generous as it was to the appeals made 21 years ago.

One more point, please. Five years ago I had the privilege of being appointed interim chair of the centre’s management committee.  I still have that privilege.  I trust that a new chair will be appointed before November this year.  Indeed, an ideal arrangement could be for a prospective chair to become vice-chair, working with me as we approach our anniversary celebrations and taking over as or before that stage is reached.  If you would like to explore the possibility of becoming chair, or helping the centre in any other way, please ring me. Doug Cracknell on 01959 522325 and we will see how best to take things forward.

Heritage Centre News Update April 2019

In addition to weekday morning opening the Centre is now open at weekends from 14:30 – 16:30.  There are new displays exploring historic maps of Otford, the open spaces of Otford and pre computer games.  The ‘history of the village school display’ is currently ‘on the road’ and can be viewed in Otford village library.  Do pop in and see if you can spot yourself (or one of your family) in the selection of class photographs.

Heritage Centre News update January 2019

Look out for confirmation of the weekend opening dates and times from spring 2019 (details will be in the ‘Otford History and Heritage Newsletter’) and the Centre is of course open on weekday mornings.  The ‘History of Otford School’ display can still be viewed in the Heritage Centre and we welcome comments and reminiscences from former pupils (please write, neatly of course, in the book provided!).  Interesting developments are being proposed including the creation of an ‘art archive’ listing paintings of Otford, and discussions are underway about the creation of a ‘digital archive’.  Watch this space for further news.  Also do take a look at the ‘Visit Otford’ site.

Heritage Centre News update January 2018

In late November over twenty guests attended a ‘coffee and cake’ event at the Centre at which Alan Williams explored the history of Otford Village School.  Look out for the next ‘coffee and cake’ event in the spring.

During the winter months the Centre can be accessed during Parish Council Office opening hours (09:00 – 12:30 Monday to Friday).  Please note the Centre will be closed at Weekends until mid February.

The Heritage Centre Management Committee has arranged its schedule of meetings for 2018 which will include the development on new displays including the projects outlined in the last ‘Otford History and Heritage Newsletter’.  These include ‘now and then’ illustrations of Otford, especially based on paintings and historic photographs and the development of the history of clubs, associations, churches and schools in the village. We are also hoping to develop a digital archive of material.

If you might be able to help with these activities?  If you have any documents, photographs or artifacts about the history of the village we would love to see them and obtain digital copies or follow-up any leads you can provide.

Should you, or a local group of which you are a member, feel that you could contribute to any of these projects, we would be delighted to hear from you.

If you can help in any way please contact the Heritage Centre by email at info@otfordheritage.co.uk

Heritage Centre News update December 2017

There is a new display about the history of Otford Primary School illustrated with historic photographs of the School including some of its past school students.  Do pop in to see if you can recognise yourself (or family and friends!).  Please also leave your memories of the School in the ‘reminiscences book’.  If you have any photographs of the School we would be very pleased to see them.  You can contact the Heritage Centre by email at info@otfordheritage.co.uk

The cast of the 1954 Otford School play ‘ The Problem Princess’

Please also remember one of the current Centre projects is in connection with an Art Archive, which will link the past with the present.  We already have copies of several historic paintings of Otford, but we need to know more about the artists and whether there are any more such paintings to be found in galleries or private collections. If this (voluntary) work could be of interest to you, please contact Doug Cracknell, chair, management committee by email at: info@otfordheritage.co.uk

Heritage Centre News update August 2017

Doug Cracknell, Chair of the Heritage Centre Management Committee writes:

New, relevant displays are obviously of great importance and the management committee is working on three particular projects.

  •  First, paintings by “old masters” of views of Otford, or particular buildings within it, before the days of photography, accompanied by a photograph of the same subject as it is today, or early photographs of Otford scenes which would have next to them a painting by one of today’s local artists of the same place, as it is today.

There are two ways in which you could help: Do you know of an old master’s picture of Otford, who owns it and where it may be found or do you have a photograph of Otford, going back towards the first days of photography?  We would gladly follow-up any lead.

  •  Second, we wish to record the history of every church, school, club or association in Otford, each body having its own “page” of the same size.   Help in collecting and preparing this material, in accordance with an agreed specification, would obviously be greatly appreciated.
  •  Third, we would like to begin work on a digital archive, the contents of which, for practical purposes,would be unlimited but also readily accessible.  For example, we have some pre-war films of Otford which could be included, but there is so much else.  Just thinking of films for the moment, do you have any early examples which would merit a place in a digital archive?

For projects one and two, we already have offers of help from appropriate village societies to take a leading role and of persons to be project coordinators and, in the case of the first project, to take the necessary photographs.  Should you, or a local group of which you are a member, feel that you could lead or coordinate the third project, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Lastly, another request: we need two or three more simple (but attractive) notices boards which could be put up at appropriate times, announcing that the heritage centre is open – and that admission is free! Should you believe that you could help with this, please do let us know.

In advance, warmest thanks for any help that you are able to give.  You can contact Doug using the Heritage Centre email: info@otfordheritage.co.uk

ARCHBISHOP’S PALACE CONSERVATION TRUST (APCT): The APCT (a registered charity, number 1173486) has been set up with the aim of acquiring the Otford Palace site and buildings and creating a visitor centre that will not only present the history of the Palace and its Tudor history, but also act as an interpretation centre and springboard for the Darent Valley.  You can find out more about the work of the Trust and subscribe to its (free) email distribution list for information and updates at the following link: http://otfordpalace.org/background/ You can also contact the Trust Secretary by email: secretary@otfordpalace.org