Redfern’s Cottage, the Museum of Uttoxeter Life, has recently reopened after undergoing a complete refurbishment partially funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and JCB – and I was fortunate enough to be given a personal guided tour!
One of the oldest buildings in Uttoxeter, Redfern’s Cottage has a long and varied history. The oldest parts of the cottage date to 1628, and it is one of many buildings constructed in Uttoxeter around this time on land owned by Mr. Alport. Since its construction it has seen many uses from homes to shops, to a lodging house. Its most famous resident, for whom the cottage is now named, was Francis Redfern, who lived in the cottage from 1851 until his death in 1895. Francis was a cooper by trade but in his spare time his hobbies included history, archaeology, painting, writing poetry and keeping his diary. He did extensive research on Uttoxeter in order to write his book, The History and Antiquities of Uttoxeter and Neighborhood. First published in 1865, the book charted the history of the town from its earliest days to the time when Francis was writing. In the 1980s Uttoxeter Town Council purchased the building, opening it as a Heritage Centre for the town in 1987. In 2011 Uttoxeter Heritage Trust took over the running of the museum and in 2015 was successful in securing funding for redeveloping and extending the museum. It reopened this year as Redfern’s Cottage, Museum of Uttoxeter Life.
The newly renovated museum, on Carter Street in Uttoxeter, now includes eight innovative galleries to explore and a beautiful vintage 1950s style café, which offers Fair-Trade tea and coffee and delicious snacks.
I was shown around the wonderful Redfern’s Cottage by Gordon Collins, Curator of the cottage, who explained how they are working hard to bring Uttoxeter’s past to life and educate visitors on the history of our delightful town.
To do this, the museum organises a programme of Uttoxeter-inspired events, from lectures and performances to walking tours and re-enactments. During school holidays, it holds a range of drop-in activities, specifically designed to be fun and engaging for every member of the family.
Redfern’s Cottage also houses fascinating collections relating to Uttoxeter’s rich history, including social history, arts and artefacts and local history archives. Its archive collection is unique and covers a geographical area of Uttoxeter and villages within a ten-mile radius. It has many rare and unusual documents, such as the town poor law and settlement records, as well as wills, apprenticeships and other original deeds and legal documents. It really is a time capsule of Uttoxeter’s past.
The museum does rely heavily on the support of volunteers and members. If you care about the preservation of this wonderful building and the collections it contains, you can get involved in every aspect of the museum – whether you have one or twenty hours to spare. If you would like to get involved, call 01889 567 176 or email email@example.com to talk to a member of the museum team.
Memberships start from as little as £5 and entitles you to free entry all year round and discounts on selected events – the perfect Christmas present!
I would like to thank the team for their time. You have all worked so hard to deliver a real jewel in the heart of Uttoxeter, and I applaud you for your magnificent endeavours. I very much enjoyed sharing some tea and cake, which was particularly delicious!
You can find out more about Redfern’s Cottage Museum on its website, https://redfernscottage.org/ or by calling 01889 567 176.