About the Museum
The local history museum is based within the Town Council house, a former Doctor’s home and surgery adjacent to the Royal Military canal, and accessed via the local library.
Its collection is set out in cases or left open to handle along with detailed information boards. These take visitors through the history of Hythe from Roman times and then as a Cinque Port, with maps, furniture, costume, military equipment (linked to the Small Arms School of Musketry in Hythe for over 100 years before it was moved to Warminster), commercial, civic and social objects. Each one provides for different age groups enabling them to find inspiration, learning and enjoyment from the collection resulting in frequent re-visits and numerous related questions.
Hythe Museum is open during Library hours.
Please note: Museum visits are separate to any use of the Library.
We look forward to coming along and hope you enjoy looking at our new displays.
For those collecting Wheels of Time e-badges, the code is hidden among the exhibits for you to find.
What To See
Around every corner, there’s a surprise. Wander through the museum, and you’ll see everything from ancient weaponry, gorgeous art and even an original copy of the Hythe Town seal dating back to the days of Edward III in 1337.
Have you ever walked up Church Hill and admired the flowers? Have you watched people gasp at the beauty of the town as they look back down toward the sea? We have some charming paintings and images of Hythe that show precisely why so many of our visitors never want to go home.
What did the famous Hythe ranges look like in the old days of empire in the late 19th century? We have displays of swords, muskets, rifles and other weapons from the period (all safely disabled, you’ll be pleased to know), Martello towers and an in-depth study of the influence of the Small Arms School Corps.
It’s all about Hythe
The common seal of Hythe from the time of Edward III around 1337
We’re overflowing with great exhibits – literally! We have far more local history artefacts than we have room for, and that’s a big reason why we’re aiming to expand. Come and see what we have to offer and tell us what you think by leaving a comment on this page. We’re looking forward to seeing you.
Following restrictions over Christmas 2020 (the first time since 1647) Hythe museum’s store room has been turned inside out to try and find Christmas related items to put on display.
As a result we now have several Christmas fun hunts for you in the first museum room – why not pay a visit and have some enjoyment seeing if you can find all the items listed below:
Find Santa’s hat, a small red Christmas tree and an empty red stocking.
One for counting!
Two silver baubles, three red baubles, five gold fir cones, six clip on robins, and a mix of twelve blue, as well as twelve gold baubles.
A book of Christmas recipes, a First Day cover with Christmas stamps for 1982, a Dickens Christmas Carol book and a Jingle Bells 78 rpm record.
Over by Christmas
One of the most popular sayings once World War 1 began was, “Over by Christmas” – how wrong they were! Anyone taking a look in the museum World War 1 display case should be able to quickly pick out four items related to Christmas time over the years spent in conflict.
Firstly there is the brass Princess Mary Christmas gift box which contained a number of gifts distributed to the armed forces on Christmas Day 1914. Next there are three Christmas cards – a general one from the Royal Family, the second an embroidered post card for the mother of someone serving in the army and the final one from 1917 in cartoon form.
Although each item will still be on display after Christmas – why not come and take a look at our World War 1 display case and see what else is there.
Wheels of Time
Hythe museum is part of the Wheels of Time network of over thirty museums throughout Kent. Each participating venue has a unique badge, available to collect from 1st April 2020.
Get your hands on all the badges, exclusively found at each participating museum or heritage site.
Collect Roamin’ Rex’s Badges to gain bronze, silver and even gold Awards.
Wheels of Time 2021
Please see the link below for a children’s activity, where they can earn badges from the Wheels of Time.
“If you visit the Museum claim your e-badge by finding the special Wheels of Time badge code hidden on the seat of a chair in one of the displays. Happy hunting!”
Hang on to your Hat in Hythe!
Hang on to your Hat in Hythe!
Hats may generally be a thing of the past, but over the years they have represented an office or occupation held, or organisations to which people belonged. Hats could even show someone’s status or reflect changes in fashion.
In the museum, we have a collection of hats – a few too many to put them all on display – but each one showing a different aspect of life in the past. Trying to decide upon what headwear to exhibit was not easy, although it was eventually decided to show an assortment of civic hats, a bowler hat and a lady’s fashion hat worn in the 1930s, a police helmet, a collapsible opera hat and a fireman’s helmet. Alongside these, we sourced a Scout and a Guide beret, a Scout ‘lemon squeezer’ and a cub cap. Quite a variety!
The museum store has headwear ranging from an air raid warden and soldier helmet to a headscarf, a flat cap and a sailor’s hat. When groups of youngsters visit, we use them along with pretend Roman, Viking and knight helmets to help bring history to life. Many children love a dressing-up box, especially if they find a hat to wear – perhaps there’s even a hat or helmet from the past you’d wear if you had a chance!
When it comes to changing the display we’d love to include a sou’wester from someone who served on the Hythe lifeboat, a postman’s cap, RHDR engine driver’s hat or the headwear once worn by those who worked for East Kent Road Car Company.
If anyone has a hat that could be loaned or donated for our next display, please let us know. Plans are already afoot to find somewhere to try and exhibit uniforms that have been worn in Hythe in the past – three possibilities already lined up are a Drayman’s overcoat from the Brewery, a uniform from Hythe Town Band and a heavy wool coat and beret belonging to member of the Hythe WVS.
The author E B White is probably best known for writing stories such as ‘Stuart Little’ or ‘Charlotte’s Web’, yet in one of his letters he wrote, ‘Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day’.
Even if you don’t wear a hat or wind up your clock in the evening, why not do something different and set your alarm to visit the museum tomorrow and take a look at our collection of hats?
Skating on Thin Ice
At the museum we have a newspaper cutting about a 15 year old boy, Edgar Munds. The date was December 3rd 1890, and with ice on the canal, Edgar and a group of boys went skating. Although his brother had warned him not to skate near Scanlon’s bridge where the ice was thin, he decided to ignore the advice and fell through the ice and drowned. Dr Randall Davis – a much respected individual, and founder of the Hythe Museum – who was skating nearby had the sad duty of pronouncing him dead when he was retrieved from the water.
Alongside this newspaper clip, the museum has a medal for bravery and a certificate (signed by Baden Powell). These were awarded to Eric Giles, a young Hythe scout, some 24 years later, for rescuing a child from drowning in the Canal on 2nd December 1914.
Perhaps when Eric carried out his brave act, he had the Scout motto “Be prepared” in mind, which, expanded by Baden Powell in 1908 reads: ‘Be Prepared by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.’ Scouting for Boys “Camp Fire Yarn.—No. 4. Scout Law.” (Part I)
The Museum has a small collection of items from the period of World War One, but with so many the life story behind the items has not travelled with them – they are, in effect, ‘lost property’.
Many of you will have seen the excellent presentation of Ann Roper in 2018 listing short biographies of those who fell in the First World War and November 11th – Remembrance Day – provides us all with the opportunity to be silent and remember the service and sacrifice so many individuals over the years up to the present day.
One such individual was WEE Bass, son of Walter and Georgina Bass : His father originally came to Hythe to train at the Small Arms School where he met and married Georgina. WEE Bass was born in 1895 and by the late 1890s the family had moved for Walter to serve in Ireland, where Georgina sadly died. Given the subsequent call to then serve in the Boer War, Walter decided to send WEE Bass back to Hythe to live with his grandparents, Edward and Susan who were proprietors of the Sportsman Inn.
Years later, in August 1914, Walter Edgar Edward Bass (a ‘cricket professional’) signed up to serve in the Royal Garrison Artillery. Unfortunately, although he was awarded the Military Medal , aged just 23, he was killed in action in April 1917.
Back home, many bereaved families received a “Widow’s Penny” as well as “returned items” which had belonged to the fallen. Thus, when the war was over, WEE’s father Walter, was sent his ‘notebook, letters, photographs, a penknife, cap badge, a nickel plated heart, purse, discs, rings and a linen bag’ along with a ‘British War Medal’. In this particular case though, although the Museum holds some items, what was written in the notebook or in letters that were penned, or images that were captured in the photographs, are all lost and will probably remain so.
That said, the Museum is an excellent place where it is possible to keep local memories like this alive – and we do have a few, Those of you who also have such letters, notes or photographs own a precious and special glimpse back in time and it is important not to let them be lost.
Do you have any such items from War years? Why not loan or donate them to the Museum where others can also share and “remember them” into the future? That way they won’t remain “Lost Property”.
By the time I retired from education one frustrating aspect of the job was the requirement to triangulate evidence before it would be accepted by the powers that be. Years later I find myself trying to do the same with two items from the Museum.
Recently, a pair of medals from the Crimean War (1854 to 1855) were located in the storeroom. The medals were awarded to Corporal Thomas Swain of the 17th Leicestershire Regiment and one of the medals carries the ‘Sevastopol’ band. A note with the medals states that Thomas lost his left leg in the Crimea and after discharge was employed on the Sandling Estate.
World War 1 Cabinet
In the Museum World War 1 cabinet we have a very small Toc H lapel badge – why not see if you can find it?
In 1915, in the town of Poperinge, Belgium, The Reverend Tubby Clayton rented a building he names ‘Talbot House’ (or ‘Toc H’) for troops to come and use for respite when they were not fighting at the Front at nearby Ypres.
Just over ten years after the War was over, Lord Wakefield of Hythe bought Talbot House in Poperinge for the Toc H organisation. This act eventually led to the official twinning of Poperinge with us here in Hythe.
For years Toc H meetings have closed with the phrase, “At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them”, something we are very likely to hear repeated across the nation this coming Remembrance Day.
'Granty Swain' Negative
On another shelf in the Museum is a ‘tin type negative’ which, when developed, shows an agricultural labourer standing by a wagon – he has a wooden left leg. On the box holding the negative is the name ‘Granty Swain’. It just has to be one and the same person – surely. A note in the box states that the man in the photograph died in 1911 and was accorded a Military funeral at Saltwood.
So with two pieces of evidence, can we find a third to set the record beyond doubt?
Perhaps on walks around the area someone can work out whereabouts the photograph was taken, or, on a visit to any local graveyard, find out if Thomas Swaine is buried there and what is inscribed on the grave. Enjoy the triangulation challenge!