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

Banner with computer-generated view of the Assize Court and text - Bringing the Assize Court back to life! Thanks to National Lottery players, we have been awarded initial funding to develop our plans for the building.

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

Wiltshire Museum has received initial support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for an ambitious and exciting project ‘Assizes for Devizes: Unlocking Wiltshire’s Stories’.  Made possible by National Lottery players, 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.

Development funding of £300,748 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help Wiltshire Museum, working closely with the Devizes Assize Court Trust, to 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 three- or 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 to include a multi-use community and event space, a designated learning area and innovative new museum galleries.  The project will also include an exciting programme of local activities, events and volunteer opportunities.

During the two-year development phase we will be holding community days, including ‘pop-up’ exhibitions to seek the views of local people on plans as they progress.  These ideas will be developed with Purcell, our appointed architects, along with adjoining owners, Wiltshire Council and Devizes Town Council.

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.”

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.

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.

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 £46billion 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.

A brief introduction.

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.

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