Introduction

Mrs Smith’s Cottage in Navenby is a rare time capsule into a bygone era. The Cottage was never designed to stay standing for so long and its largely unaltered state and long-term resident, the eponymous Mrs Smith, together provide a compelling attraction of how people used to live.

Due to structural issues with the Cottage, the museum was closed to visitors and work has been undertaken to reopen it. This has resulted in a successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid in 2016 to ‘Rescue Mrs Smith’s Cottage’.

This website provides information about key aspects of the project and how to get involved in the project. We are keen to engage with people who knew Mrs Smith so that we can relaunch the Cottage as a visitor attraction telling new stories.

Below is a brief history of the Cottage and Mrs Smith, information about the project, its partners and how you can become involved and find out more.


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Mrs Smith

Hilda Craven was born in Navenby in 28th October 1892. She was orphaned at an early age and brought up in Navenby by her adoptive mother Mary Barrand.

Hilda left school in May 1906, when she was just 13 ½ years old. Her first job was as a ‘day girl’ for Mr Dawson the butcher on the corner of Church Lane, Navenby.

In 1910, when the Methodist minister and his family left the village, she took the opportunity to widen her horizons and went with them to Snaith in Yorkshire. Show more “Mrs Smith”

Mrs Smith in 1927
Mrs Smith in 1927

In 1926 Hilda retuned to live in Navenby to care for her elderly mother. In later years Hilda found employment with the Holmes family in Navenby where she kept the books for their joinery and funeral business.

Hilda always called her cottage ‘Craven Cottage’. In 1922, Hilda bough the Cottage for the first time using money from a legacy. It cost her £75 plus legal fees. In 1926 she sold the house to her employer Tom Smith, for £95. In this year the new Methodist Church was built in Navenby and it is thought that she needed to raise money towards the new building. Interestingly in 1937 Hilda bought the Cottage for the second time, paying just £95. Hilda had now taken up permanent residence in Craven Cottage.

In 1956 Joseph Smith, a widower and Methodist lay preacher and Hilda married. Hilda was 64 years old and Joseph 73. For their honeymoon they spent a week near Matlock in Derbyshire.

Mrs SmithDuring the years of her marriage, a number of improvements were made to the Cottage, including redecoration and new furniture. Sadly, after four years Joseph died in 1960 leaving Hilda once again on her own. She kept busy in her garden and with involvement in village activities.

She lived in the Cottage until just after her 102 birthday when she became too frail to return after a fall. She died in May 1995 at the Holmleigh Retirement Home in Navenby.


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The Cottage

The Cottage is thought to date from the 1830’s, with the section nearest the road added about ten years later. There is a slight change in the colour and texture of the brickwork between the two phases, which is still noticeable from the front. The large window in The Room (on the right of the building) which protrudes into Mrs Smith’s bedroom, is thought to have been installed to let in as much light as possible. It is likely that this part of the Cottage was once used as a shop or workshop.


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The Project

Our project will bring Mrs Smith’s Cottage back into use as a popular heritage attraction. Minimal alterations to the Cottage since its construction in the 1830s means most original features remain intact. The museum was closed in 2012 when serious structural issues and deterioration of the building became apparent. Our project includes urgent repairs and conservation work, reinterpretation of the site, a new learning programme and range of events and activities; restoring the Cottage to its place at the heart of the local community and ensuring its vital contribution to the visitor economy, whilst providing an enjoyable, engaging visitor experience.

Show more “The Project”

Stage 1 – the development phase commenced in September 2016 and includes

  • Audience development plan
  • Learning Plan
  • Activity plan
  • Interpretation plan
  • Governance review
  • Business plan

These plans will involve wide consultation and we will be reaching out to the local community and asking for them to get involved.

Following on from the development stage we will have collated and analysed all of the input and will then be submitting our Stage 2 (delivery phase) Application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in Autumn 2017.  If we are successful we will then be able to deliver our project.

This will involve the following:

  • Essential structural repairs to the building.  Urgent repairs and conservation work to the Cottage including repairs to the roof.
  • Creation of an appropriate museum environment.
  • Developing resources to improve access to the site and collections.
  • Working with the University of Lincoln to conserve, interpret and reproduce the decorative scheme of the Cottage.
  • Reinterpretation of the Cottage, Garden and Visitor Centre.
  • Recruit, develop and support a team of new and existing volunteers.
  • An outreach programme including learning activities and reminiscence sessions.
  • Improve engagement with the Cottage through marketing, promotion and use of social media.

We are aiming to reopen the cottage in summer 2019.


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Partners

North Kesteven District CounilNorth Kesteven District Council: NKDC is the lead authority for this project which brings together the expertise from a range of internal services including property, visitor economy and planning. The local District Council ward members, as well as the Councils’ Executive Board, have been supportive of the project.


Heritage Lottery FundHeritage Lottery Fund: HLF are the main funder of this project and without the help from those who play the National Lottery we would not be able to receive the support and wealth of knowledge needed in the project.


Friends of Mrs Smith’s Cottage: From the inception of the Project the FoMSC have supported both the effort and the fund raising and made an early donation of funds. They continue to contribute to the conception of our new marketing programme and the restoration projects to bring the Cottage back to life.


Lincoln ConservationLincoln Conservation: The conservation arm of the University of Lincoln have provided advice and support and are assisting with the conservation and research of the decorative scheme of the Cottage.


North Kesteven SchoolNorth Kesteven School: Working on the project to collect and record memories from the community to create a film. This has given students the opportunity to gain real experiences to film, photograph and edit footage.


Navenby Church of England Primary SchoolNavenby Primary School: Working in partnership with us and our consultants on ways in which we can engage with the local community.


Navenby and Cliff Villages Business NetworkNavenby and Cliff Villages Business Network: They have been supportive of the project and we are working together to find ways to all work for the benefit of the community economically and socially.


Heritage Gardeners: We are working with Mrs Smith’s Cottage gardeners and garden historians to ensure that the heritage garden at the cottage remains an important feature and are looking at ways to involve the community in the garden by means of volunteer sessions, gardening advice and the historical importance of the garden.


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Want to know more?

There are various ways that you can keep up to date with the project and/or get involved.

Information about the project is available at:

  • The Mrs Smith’s Cottage noticeboard on the High Street in Navenby near the Coop.
  • The Project Office at 4 North Lane has a changing display

Both of these locations are used to promote information about the works to the Cottage and are changed and updated regularly.

In addition, drop in events are held at the Project Office periodically. Information about these will be publicised and we encourage you to come along.

Background about the Cottage when it was open and run by the Friends of Mrs Smith’s Cottage volunteer group can be found on their website at: www.mrssmithscottage.co.uk

In the News section you will be able to see articles that have appeared in the local media.

You can also become more actively involved by volunteering.


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Volunteer opportunities

Want to get involved in the project? We have a number of roles that we would like volunteers to fill.

We are currently seeking

Show more “Volunteer opportunities”

Artefact Entry

We are looking for one or more people, working together with the project team, to enter the artefact list that is currently on paper into an online register of artefacts.

The volunteer will be inputting data into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Training will be provided on what is required to input information from the card system we currently have. There will also be a need to enter new artefacts on to the system as they are discovered. We have a mentor available to offer advice as well as a place to undertake the work in Navenby.

This will be a mainly sedentary activity that requires accuracy. We are keen to hear from anyone who may want to do this activity, which we would need completed by September 2017.


Collection recording / Accession inputting

We are looking for one or more people, working together with the project team to enter artefact (mainly photographs and documents) details into a record card which will ultimately become part of the online register of artefacts.

We have discovered a collection of photographs and documents which have not been accessioned into the collection.  Training will be provided on how to enter these items into the collection.  We have a mentor available to offer advice as well as a place to work in Navenby.

This will be a mainly sedentary activity that requires accuracy.  It will be an interesting role for those interested in the cottage and its residents as these items have not been within the collection and therefore may require some research into who is in the photographs.  We are looking to complete this work by September 2017.


Photographer

We are looking for one of more people, working with the project team, to take regular images of Mrs Smith’s Cottage. This will help us to monitor progress of activity and provide the project with images that can be uploaded to the website, used in promotional material and also form the basis of a time-lapse film of the works.

We would seek to work with the individual to identify key locations where photographs could be taken. We will need to make sure that the same locations are used on all occasions. There may be opportunities to periodically enter the site and take pictures of the works both inside and outside, involving accessing the scaffolding.

This activity, although initially for the period to September 2017, is likely to extend beyond as we move into the second stage of the project. Support and guidance will be provided as necessary. This is a great opportunity to get into the heart of the project at key moments.


Blogger

We are looking for someone to work with the project team to help upload images and stories into the webpage. These could be those from other volunteers, such as the photographer, as well as identifying new and original content. Training and support will be provided with the Council Communications Team on hand if needed.

This activity, although initially for the period to September 2017, is likely to extend beyond as we move into the second stage of the project. Support and guidance will be provided as necessary. This is a great opportunity to get into the heart of the project at key moments.


Key Navenby locations project

We are looking for a volunteer to develop a project linking locations mentioned in the diaries with the High Street shops of the time to bring them in line with what they are today. Working with the diaries this will be looking at where Mrs Smith went shopping, locations mentioned in her diary and the people she interacted with.  Using this information we are looking to link up and create trails in Navenby of key locations. This information would also involve liaising with the Project Team as well as the Blogger and local residents/businesses.

This activity, although initially for the period to September 2017, is likely to extend beyond as we move into the second stage of the project. Support and guidance will be provided as necessary.


If you think one of these is for you we would love to hear from you. The roles are all voluntary with set end dates although when you do the work is up to you. In return we will provide training as required as well as a place to work in Navenby for certain tasks. And we will show you our commitment using the North Kesteven District Council Volunteer Handbook. You will be able to learn more about the project and gain new skills.

To become involved or find out more about any of these opportunities please contact the Project Officer on the number or email below.


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News

Latest news and updates on the restoration project


Tell us what you think Mrs Smith’s Cottage should be in the future, please take 2 minutes to fill in our online survey

Drop-in event for cottage restoration

You can find out more and give your views on the restoration of Mrs Smith’s Cottage at a special drop-in session.

Last year North Kesteven District Council was successful in securing money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the largest heritage funder in the UK, to help bring the Navenby tourist attraction, which has been closed to the public since 2013, back into use.

People wanting to know more details about the works taking place, and the plans for the coming months, can pop along to the drop-in session at NKDC’s Navenby office, in North Lane, from 10am to noon on Thursday, June 15. Show more “Drop-in event for cottage restoration”

Information will also be available for anyone wanting to get involved in future volunteering, and attendees will also be able to give their thoughts on what’s happening and share any memories of the cottage and Mrs Smith.

Tea and coffee will be available and those working on the project will be available to answer questions and gather research as part of their consultations.

An online survey is also available for anyone to fill in, with the results helping to shape the project going forward. It can be found online at: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2TNLGG5

For more information, please call 01522 811469 or email [email protected]

Drop-in event for cottage restoration

Another drop-in session is being held for anyone wanting to find out more information about the restoration of Mrs Smith’s Cottage.

Last year North Kesteven District Council was successful in securing money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the largest heritage funder in the UK, to help bring the Navenby tourist attraction, which has been closed to the public since 2013, back into use.

In recent weeks, scaffolding has gone up on site and the roof tiles have been removed so that a full examination of the building can take place.

Show more “Drop-in event for cottage restoration”

People wanting to know more details about this, and the plans for the coming months, can pop along to the drop-in session at NKDC’s Navenby office, in North Lane, from 10am to noon on Wednesday, April 19 2017.

Information will also be available for anyone wanting to get involved in future volunteering, and attendees will also be able to give their thoughts on what’s happening and share any memories of the cottage and Mrs Smith.

Tea and coffee will be available and those working on the project will be available to answer questions and gather research as part of their consultations.

For more information, please call 01522 811469 or email [email protected]

Work starts on cottage restoration

Mrs Smith's Cottage - Scaffolding

The first physical sign of work taking place to restore Mrs Smith’s Cottage can now be seen as scaffolding has been put up around the tourist attraction.

This will allow a full examination of the roof and its timbers to take place and enable a plan to be formulated to ensure that all repairs are undertaken, making the cottage, which has been closed to the public since 2013, structurally safe once again.

Show more “Work starts on cottage restoration”

Last year, North Kesteven District Council successfully secured money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the largest heritage funder in the UK, to help bring Mrs Smith’s Cottage back into use.

It is anticipated that the restoration, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will continue for the next three years, with a re-opening in 2019.

Councillor Mrs Marion Brighton OBE, Leader of NKDC, said: “This is an important milestone for the restoration project as only when the full structural survey has happened will we know the extent of works needed.

“Mrs Smith’s Cottage is part of our heritage as it clearly shows what life was like in an early Victorian, Lincolnshire cottage.”

Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “We’re delighted that money raised by National Lottery players can help restore this slice of early 20th century domestic life, and allow visitors and the local community a glimpse into how their predecessors lived.”

Anyone wanting to find out more about the restoration of Mrs Smith’s Cottage is invited to attend a drop-in session at NKDC’s Navenby office, in North Lane, from 10am to noon on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

It is free for anyone to pop along and find out about the project, look at information on what is happening, get involved in future volunteering, give their opinions and share any memories of the cottage and Mrs Smith.

Tea and coffee will be available and those working on the project will be available to answer questions and gathering research as part of their consultations.

For more information, please call 01522 811469 or email [email protected]

Events

Throughout the project we will be offering opportunities to get involved and help shape the future of the cottage.

Future events

Show more “Events”

Drop-in event for cottage restoration

Thursday 15 June 2017 – 10:00am to noon
People wanting to know more details about this, and the plans for the coming months, can pop along to the drop-in session at NKDC’s Navenby office, in North Lane


Tell us what you think Mrs Smith’s Cottage should be in the future, please take 2 minutes to fill in our online survey

Your ideas

A new project to rescue the cottage and develop its role within the community is underway. Consultation with local groups and individuals is a key element of this project. Initial feedback from volunteers and partners has enabled discussion of new ideas to develop. We are very keen to gain your ideas and opinions on what is possible. Show more “Your ideas”

What we know so far… How this might look in the future Cottage…
The Cottage will engage a broad range of people The Cottage is the start of a journey. A place where people are encouraged to reflect, question and act.

Displays and activities will reflect wider interests and backgrounds i.e. people’s stories of moving to Navenby and Navenby today.

The Cottage is a forum for discussion where contemporary and historic come together around universal themes. A place where people’s voices can be heard: where each visitor adds to the story and experience.

Visitors’ ideas, attitudes and responses are collected to form a contemporary archive which constantly colours and enriches the experience.

Community curation and a community archive website will allow people to have a voice in their history.

The Cottage will seek partners to work together on exploring and presenting the village’s stories.

The Cottage will have learning at its core. The Cottage will be run with the aim of supporting learners. A continual thread of project activity will see lessons passed on and new life breathed into the building and the stories it tells. Displays and activities will support increased school use of the collections.

The Cottage will continue to be run with the aim of supporting learners. A continual thread of project activity will see lessons passed on and new life breathed into the building and the stories it tells. Displays and activities will support increased school use of the collections.

We live our story. A place that can practically and emotionally support those that have or are experiencing isolation or disadvantage.

The Cottage will actively share skills and advertise opportunities for involvement and development. Partnerships with universities will see the Cottage used as a training ground.

The Cottage will act as a cultural hub for the village. The Cottage will provide an inspiration for diverse village projects and activity.

The Cottage will spread out into the village to tell wider stories of Mrs Smith’s Navenby.

A community panel influences the direction of the Cottage

The cottage will encourage a sense of place and identity The Cottage will inspire collaborative projects and activities which bring people together to explore their shared heritage and values.

Community projects will explore identity and uniqueness through art, film and drama.

The Cottage will act as a focus for tourism. Working with other local attractions, a rejuvenated Cottage could contribute to Navenby as a destination, bringing social and economic benefits.

The site makes links to local enterprises encouraging them to grow and flourish.

We take the message off-site. The wider public are more aware of our relevance through articles, blogs and vlogs in press, social media and action research.

Tell us what you think Mrs Smith’s Cottage should be in the future, please take 2 minutes to fill in our online survey