Guest post: A cautionary tale from Anita Spencer of Bakewell Old House Museum

The latest in our series of guest posts comes from Anita Spencer, who explains why Bakewell Old House Museum have had to postpone their planned Museums at Night event.

A photo of young people singing inside a historic building

Singers performing in Bakewell Old House Museum (photo courtesy Clare Mosley)

Scene: a gloomy February day.

Cut to the beautiful, atmospheric but chilly Bakewell Old House Museum.

Zoom in on one slightly stressed manager, in the final throes of a Heritage Lottery funded project, surrounded by plasterers, electricians, telephones ringing, volunteer rota etc.

I was desperately thinking of a theme for 2010 Museum at Night. We’ve used poetry, storytelling and choirs before, but I now needed something relaxing, cheerful and heart / belly warming.

The award winning local microbrewery, Thornbridge, sponsors our museum leaflets this year. What goes with beer? Skittles, announced volunteer Jane Martin – and cheese, of course! Beer and Skittles, Cheese and Pickles: perfect – and along the way we managed to link in folk music as well!

A photo of a museum full of smiling visitors

Offering beer draws visitors into the museum (picture courtesy Clare Mosley)

Scene: late April, weather still chilly. Event posters are all around the market town of Bakewell, our website has been updated, the event registered on Culture24, and tickets are selling fast.

I made a point of collecting the ticket buyers’ details (name, phone number etc), in case I needed to cancel (not likely – I’ve worked too hard for this!)

Then, suddenly a niggling doubt arises – TEN license (Temporary Event Notice, costs £21 for a one off event). I have applied, in fact I posted it last week, just before the Bank Holiday. Because we’re selling scrummy, fruity beer and performing live music I need a licence from my local district council.  The forms and other info are also available on the DCMS Website –

Scene: a gloomy Friday afternoon in May. My TEN application was delayed in the Bank Holiday post and firmly rejected. A cautionary tale. You need to have your application in 10 working days before your event. I also needed to send a copy to Derbyshire Constabulary Divisional Licensing Manager.

Licensable activities include:

indoor or outdoor events

performance of a play or dance

an exhibition or film

performance of live music

playing of recorded music

sporting events

plus the retail sale of alcohol!

Not to be beaten, our event Folk, Beer and Skittles – Cheese and Pickles is now taking place on the 29th May. We’ve missed Museums at Night this time, but we’re still going ahead – thank goodness I’d taken everyone’s contact details and was able to update all the ticket buyers!

A photo of a woman standing outside a stone building

Anita Spencer

Anita is the madly enthusiastic manager of the beautiful and atmospheric Tudor Old House Museum in Bakewell, Derbyshire. She is very grateful to have over 100 talented volunteers of all ages, including wonderful Clare, their new “techie”.


Thanks for sharing that, Anita – we wish you and your team all the best for your rescheduled event.

Does anyone else have any cautionary tales or words of warning about planning or promoting events in museums, galleries or heritage sites? Please send me an email on – I’m keen to feature more guest blog posts about lessons learned from Museums at Night!

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