Hidden treasures, held for years in the archives of Gilbert White & The Oates Collections in Selborne, will become accessible to the public for the first time following a grant of £1.687 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the redevelopment of the museum.
This award will be matched by almost £1 million raised by the museum from other sources.
Dr Rosemary Irwin, chairman of trustees at Gilbert White’s House & The Oates Collections, said: “This is a great moment for us – the culmination of years of planning and hard work. At long last visitors will be able to see some of the wonderful treasures we hold.”
Among the treasures to be made available to the public for the first time is one of the few surviving original copies of “Aurora Australis”, the first book to be written, printed, illustrated and bound in Antarctica. It was produced by a team working under Ernest Shackleton, leader of the 1907-09 Nimrod Expedition.
This new grant will also allow the museum to restore buildings built by the Rev Gilbert White, including his stable yard and brew-house, and to open up the whole site, including its library, to the public after more than 200 years.
The stable yard will become a new and attractive entrance to the museum, and will offer a wide range of new facilities for residents of the village of Selborne and for visitors, including a new shop and café, and new displays and exhibits. The project is currently seeking planning consent, and will be completed in the spring of 2018.
Importantly, the project will enable the Museum to achieve long term financial sustainability, while preserving the estate in its original form. The memory of Gilbert White, and his world-renowned contributions to the literature of natural history, and to the village of Selborne, will be preserved by making the Museum sustainable in the long-term.
For further details of the grant and plans for Gilbert White’s House, visit www.gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk