Major step towards revitalising Devizes Assize Court as the new home of Wiltshire Museum!

Wiltshire Museum has been awarded development funding of £300,748 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund for an ambitious and exciting project: ‘Assizes for Devizes: Unlocking Wiltshire’s Stories’. The project aims to revitalise the derelict Devizes Assize Court into a vibrant community hub and iconic new home for Wiltshire Museum and its world class collection.

Working closely with the Devizes Assize Court Trust, the museum will progress plans for the project before applying for a full National Lottery grant in 2025. If successful, work would start on the Assize Court building in four years’ time, with a target opening date of 2030.

‘Assizes for Devizes’ aims to create a cultural and community destination at the heart of Wiltshire, supporting tourism and the regeneration of the local area. Essential conservation works to the Assize Court will enable the revitalisation of the building. In March 2024 our appointed architects Purcell drafted plans for the ground and first floor of the Assize Court building, as well as the outdoor space. These exciting new plans include inspiring and interactive galleries, indoor and outdoor learning, community and event spaces, and a café and gift shop. Wheelchair ramps, lifts and disabled toilets will make the museum an accessible space for all visitors.

During the two-year development phase we will be working with community groups across Wiltshire to ensure that the needs of our community remain at the heart of our plans for the future. We want to find out what they'd like to see at the new museum as well as run fun, creative projects that explore the story of Wiltshire and Devizes. There will be plenty of chances to add your thoughts to the project with surveys, advisory and focus groups, open days and a touring ‘Ideas Station’ exhibition. 

These ideas will be developed with Purcell, along with adjoining owners, Wiltshire Council and Devizes Town Council and our supportive team of heritage and industry professionals.

We want you to be a part of the Devizes Assize Court’s story! Click here to find out more about the project:


The Wiltshire Museum has been engaging visitors since 1874 in its current buildings on Long Street, Devizes and is home to Designated collections, including stunning treasures from the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site landscape.

The Devizes Assize Court was built in 1835 and has been derelict since the 1980s.  It has been on Historic England ‘Heritage At Risk register’ since the scheme’s inception in 1988.

A key part of the work over the next two years will be to raise the significant additional funding required to complete the project through applications to trusts and foundations and in securing philanthropic support.

Martin Nye, Chair of Wiltshire Museum, said “We are delighted that the Heritage Fund have supported our project to restore this wonderful building and give a home that is fit for purpose for the award-winning Wiltshire Museum. We are all excited by the opportunity to connect the Assize Court building to the rest of Devizes, and to create a vibrant destination for the very wide range of visitors who come from far and wide to see our marvellous collections.”

Peter Troughton, Chair of the Devizes Assize Court Trust, said “This fantastic news is a vital and hugely encouraging step on the long journey to giving a new life to this important building. The financial help that the project has received to date has been invaluable, enabling us to get to where we are today. Our thanks to Historic England, Devizes Town Council, a number of charitable trusts and individuals who have made this possible.”

Stuart McLeod, Director of England - London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said “We believe that investing in heritage means investing in the community it belongs to. It has the power to make our communities better places to live, bring a sense of pride and boost the local economy. We’re pleased to support Wilshire Museum with their Assizes for Devizes project. It will not only see a Grade II* listed building brought back to life but also create a space for the community and a new home for the Wiltshire Museum. We look forward to working with the team to progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.”

Notes for Editors

  • Wiltshire Museum is home to the best Bronze Age archaeology collection in Britain and our mission statement is ‘Inspiring people to explore the archaeology, history and environment of Wiltshire’.  The collections are Designated by Government as being of National Significance.  Wiltshire Museum is an independent charity, with some revenue funding from Wiltshire Council and Devizes Town Council.  The Museum is run by the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society (WANHS), a registered charity founded in 1853.
  • The Devizes Assize Court Trust is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation set up in 2018 to restore the historic and much-loved building before it is too late. It purchased the building in 2018 and, working closely together, the Museum and DACT have developed the Assizes for Devizes project to rescue the historic building and transform the Wiltshire Museum.
  • The Development Stage is also supported by funding from Devizes Town Council, Dulverton Trust, Pilgrim Trust, Swire Charitable Trust, Trust for Devizes, Wiltshire Council - Devizes Area Board.


About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

*National Lottery Heritage Fund grant applications over £250,000 are assessed in two rounds. £300,748 has initially been granted support by The National Lottery Heritage Fund allowing it to progress with its plans. Detailed proposals are then considered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £4,697,171.

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £46 billion for projects and more than 670,000 grants have been awarded across the UK - the equivalent of more than 240 lottery grants in every UK postcode district. More than £30 million raised each week goes to good causes across the UK.

Consultant Opportunities

Click here to see current consultancy opportunities linked to the project.

Briefing on the NLHF Development Award.
Nicola Trowell and David Dawson give a 25 minute briefing and answer questions.

Find out more about the stories of the building from our Voices from the Assize Court pages.

Project Team

National Lottery Heritage Fund logo

This project is made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery Players, we are able to develop the Assizes for Devizes Project.

Copyright: Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society