Covid-19 update, 31st July 2020

Current property reopening status:

Marlipins Museum, The Priest House, and Anne of Cleves House remain closed until further notice. Due to social distancing and one-way visitor flow requirements, these three properties are too small to open safely at this time.

Lewes Castle and Barbican House also contain areas where social distancing is challenging and so, for the moment, they also remain closed.

Fishbourne Roman Palace is currently closed but there may be occasional opening from mid-August. Please check the Friday updates each week for further information.

The gardens at Michelham Priory have been open for the past few weeks, with the café offering a takeaway service. We hope to reopen the house in early August. Visitors will need to collect a timed entry ticket for the house on arrival. This will allow us to control numbers and ensure a safe visit for everyone. The shop will also be open from 12:00‒16:00 each day. Face masks must be worn in the house and shop and may be required in other parts of the site.

We are continually reviewing our opening plans as government guidelines change. Factors such as predicted visitor numbers, Covid-19 safety adaptation options/costs and the availability of volunteers and staff (due to shielding) all inform our decision-making process.

MP’s visit to Fishbourne Roman Palace

Nigel Huddleston MP, a minister in the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), is to visit the palace tomorrow (1st August). He will discuss with our CEO and the curator the current challenges facing the Society as a result of Covid-19. We are delighted with the supportive response from the DCMS. It demonstrates that our efforts to raise our profile nationally are having a real impact.

Celebrating 175 Campaign

Our ambitious fundraising campaign launched in June has got off to a great start with our first target of £30,000 now passed. A HUGE thank you goes to everyone who has donated. Our patron, the writer and historian Tom Holland, will be visiting our sites and collections in early August to learn first-hand about the Society and the rich diversity of our properties and artefacts. We are thrilled to have Tom’s support and will have further details of his visit in next week’s update.

Other fundraising and grants

The Society is actively applying for grants wherever possible. Understandably, since many heritage charities find themselves in the same difficult financial position because of lockdown, competition for funds is extremely high, so our success has been mixed. Thank you to those supporters who have alerted us to funding opportunities. This is a great help and we are following up all leads. We are also extremely grateful to the Friends of Michelham Priory who have made a generous Covid-19 recovery donation to the Priory.

Voluntary partnership working:

Under the government’s furlough scheme, employees can volunteer for other organisations whilst furloughed. This has enabled us to establish a new, vitally important network of support and expert advice with industry professionals in other organisations such as The Novium, Chichester, and Brighton Dome. We are grateful for the advice and practical help we have received, and this is filtering into our ways of working and future plans.

 Thank you!

Thank you to all our members, visitors, and supporters for your patience over the past months. We really do appreciate you sticking with us and your generous donations make such a difference. Times are tough, but so are we and we are determined to make it through this difficult year and come out stronger than ever for many years to come.

Next update: August 7th