Extraordinary meeting called to discuss future of Huntingdon’s Cromwell Museum

Members of Lord John Robartes Regiment outside the Cromwell Museum, in Huntingdon.

Members of Lord John Robartes Regiment outside the Cromwell Museum, in Huntingdon. - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire County Council has opted against handing over the freehold of the Oliver Cromwell Museum to Huntingdon Town Council.

At a meeting of the general purposes committee held on Tuesday, councillors voted instead to grant a 999-year lease on the building, despite the town council pushing for the freehold.

The town council has called an extraordinary meeting in response to the decision, scheduled for Thursday – where the ramifications will be discussed.

Under the terms of the lease, it was decided that the town council will take over responsibility for the fabric of the building, while a new trust will operate it as a museum devoted to the life of Oliver Cromwell.

It was also decided that the county council would give £20,000 to Huntingdon Town Council as a contribution towards maintenance of the fabric of the building. According to county council figures, the cost of maintaining the building in 2014 was £2,582.

The museum dates back to the 12th century, is Grade II* listed and was the grammar school attended by Cromwell.

The county council’s decision to lease the building to the town council will, it county councillors say, sure up the future of the museum, which faced possible closure after the county voted to withdraw its funding as of April.

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But a petition signed by more than 4,000 residents forced a temporary reprieve for the building, and a trust has since been established to over see its running.

Councillor Steve Count, chairman of the general purposes committee, said: “There was much debate between councillors with the whole of the committee determined to secure the museum for future generations.

“The committee, on balance, voted that a 999-year leasehold be offered as this gave better legal protection to the museum staying a museum for nearly the next millennia. This is a vitally important museum that tells the story of a man who had a major national and local impact and we want to ensure it continues.”