David Parr House CIO is a registered charity, set up in 2014 in order to save 186 Gwydir Street and open it to the public.
From the moment that Tamsin first saw the house in 2009 she knew she had discovered something special, but how could such a house be saved?
The only way seemed to be for her and her husband Mike to purchase the house and set up a charity in 2014, the aim being to conserve the house and open it up to the public. The project also needed many experienced people to work out how to open such a small and fragile interior. As Tamsin was told early on, ‘you have all the issues of a stately home but on a much smaller scale and that does not make it any easier’.
The next step was to conserve and restore the interior. With water pouring in through the roof every time it rained it became clear that the work needed to be carried out as soon as possible.
In 2017, with the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funders, the house underwent a full program of conservation and restoration work.
Windows were secured, drains fixed, pointing re-limed and walls re-plastered. Internally, the walls and their decoration were conserved and, in certain areas, the pattern was reconstructed. Five thousand items were packed up and then unwrapped, catalogued, cleaned and repacked before being carefully put back into the house. An archaeological dig took place in the back garden, a Museum on a Bike was designed and handling boxes were built. Over fifty volunteers helped with the project and many of these volunteers have stayed with us and trained as house guides on the tours.
In 2019 the Charity was awarded a grant from The Pilgrim Trust to support a Curatorial post – The Pilgrim Trust Curator. They recognised that we had a funding gap of 3 years whilst raising money for the Endowment to support such a post from the end of 2022. This kindness has allowed us to continue to support, build on, benefit from and enrich the enthusiasm that the public has shown towards the project.
In 2017 the charity was awarded a second set of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The David Parr House was one of only eleven organisations in the country to be awarded this investment which enabled an endowment to be raised to secure the long-term future of the David Parr House. £500,000 was raised, and was match-funded, pound for pound, by the Heritage Lottery Fund, creating an endowment fund to support the future of the house.
Susan Miller is originally from Edinburgh. Susan has worked in Cambridge museums for over 15 years and has a keen interest in the city’s heritage and social history. In addition to her work as a freelance heritage evaluation consultant, she currently works with the University of Cambridge Museums where she is responsible for the development of the Museums’ family and community programming.
Mike Muller is Chief Technology Officer and a founder of ARM Holdings plc, one of Cambridge’s largest employers. He is also a non-executive director of Intelligent Energy, which specialises in the development of modular, low-carbon fuel cell systems and a Trustee of the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge.
Mike Nicholson has been a Trustee of the David Parr House since 2015. He is currently the Development Director for Selwyn College, Cambridge. Formerly Development Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum 2001-14, he helped facilitate an ambitious expansion and £7m capital refurbishment programme. While at the Soane, he also instigated a successful membership scheme allowing individuals to engage with and support different museum activities and projects. Prior to the Soane, Mike worked in similar roles at the Royal Geographical Society and the Design Museum.
Martin Pierce has lived with his family for the last 10 years just the other side of Mill Road from the David Parr House. He is an enthusiastic advocate for the distinctive character of the Mill Road area – to which the David Parr House has now added another dimension – and is the Treasurer of the Mill Road Winter Fair Association. After a career in financial services in London and around the UK he was appointed Bursar of Selwyn College in 2019, which as a keen cyclist makes for a much more pleasant journey to work, and he became a Trustee in 2021.
Lynne Strover came south from Lancashire in the early seventies. After a varying career encompassing, Cranks Restaurant in Marshall Street London W1, Youth Hostel Warden in Saffron Walden and Addenbrookes’ Hospital in Cambridge where she worked as a State Registered nurse before marrying and playing second fiddle to her antique dealer husband. Lynne has always shown a capacity to adapt her skills and as circumstances changed, left on her own with two young children, she converted part of her home into an art gallery and learned on her feet about the British Contemporary Art Market. She began to curate a series of exhibitions throughout the year and over its twenty seven year existence the gallery established a reputation as one of the leading British Contemporary Galleries outside of London showing work of established painters, potters and sculptors whilst promoting those less well known. Recently Lynne decided to sell the gallery and spend more time on her own creativity and less time supporting others with theirs. She now lives in a small cottage in the heart of Cambridge with a silversmithing workshop at the end of the yard, where she creates her jewellery.
Tamsin Wimhurst (Chair) first saw the house in 2009 whilst curating an exhibition entitled ‘A Space of Our Own’ for the Museum of Cambridge. Since then she has worked with the Parr and Leach families to conserve the house for future generations to enjoy. Tamsin entered the heritage industry through museum education and has a deep passion for making history accessible to all. During her career she has developed and managed many creative and innovative events, exhibitions and community projects. She is also a Trustee of AccessArt.
Becca Woodburn spent 14 years as an audit professional with Ernst and Young before setting up her own practice providing accounting services to local businesses in the high tech and biotech arena. She became a Trustee in 2018.
Annabelle Campbell (Director) Annabelle joined the David Parr House in July 2022 as Director, bringing a wealth of experience in curating, collections management, research, and cultural leadership.
After training and working as a textile designer, Annabelle then developed a career in museums working with collections, exhibitions and public programmes. Her area of specialism is in contemporary craft practice and its intersection with visual arts, performance, material culture and design. Prior to joining David Parr House, she was Associate Curator for Crafts Council, Head of Exhibitions & Collections at Crafts Council, and has held curatorial posts with Museum of the Home (formerly Geffrye Museum), British Museum, Museum of Reading, she has lectured and taught widely including Kingston University, and the collaborative MA with Design Museum, Royal College of Art and external examiner for Plymouth University, and is sits on the Board of ArtLink & Gallery 87 in Hull, and a Mentor for Museums Association Associate programme, and has previously been a Trustee for NN Contemporary in Northampton.
Helen Entwistle (House and Volunteer Manager) Helen has joined us from the Fitzwilliam Museum to look after the day-to-day running of the house and coordinating the work of the volunteer team. She has lived in Cambridge since her student days and has worked as a primary school teacher, a store manager, and an amanuensis for disabled students in the University. Helen is excited to be facilitating the wonderful work of our volunteers.
Shelley Lockwood (Researcher and Archives) is an historian by training and has lived in Cambridge for over 30 years. She feels equally at home in ‘town’ or ‘gown’ having studied, taught and worked at Queens’ and Christ’s Colleges at the University of Cambridge, and in community education as an oral historian, researcher, volunteer co-ordinator and family support worker. For the the next 12 months (May 2020 – May 2021) she will be working on pulling together and organising the Leach archives for the organisation, together with writing a short book on the F R Leach firm. Shelley sat on the initial steering group before the Charity was set up to save the house. During the Life and Art in a Workers House Heritage Lottery Funded project, 2016 – 2019, Shelley was the ‘Audience and Volunteer Manager’ who nurtured and led our wonderful team of volunteers, together with creating many wonderful community links, events and resources.
Holly O’Brien (Digital and Events Content Producer) Holly is a digital producer and curator. Prior to joining the David Parr House team, Holly worked in digital communications for Wysing Arts Centre and Cavendish Arts Science in Cambridge. She is an experienced curator producing independent projects across Glasgow and Leeds, curating projects for Tramway, The Hunterian Museum and Gallery and Strange Field. In 2021, Holly graduated with a distinction in Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) from Glasgow School of Art.
- To preserve the house and its hidden history.
- To discover, research and interpret the themes that arise from the house, its occupants and material culture in diverse ways.
- To be innovative and thoughtful in developing ideas appropriate to the house and its legacy.
- To open up the story of the house to as wide an audience as possible.
- To engage the community in interpreting the historic themes that emerge from the house to ones that are relevant to them in the 21st century.
- To inspire interest, creativity and excellence in the beauty of making.
- To create ways to sustain the house in the long term.
- To raise the necessary finances to achieve the above, and ensure the house remains a place that is open to the public.
- To advance the education of the public on the subject of the life and works of David Parr, craftsman, artist and painter.
- To advance, in such ways as the charity Trustees see fit, the arts, culture and heritage as reflected in the David Parr House.
- Such other charitable purposes as the charity Trustees in their absolute discretion shall see fit.
The David Parr House CIO is very grateful in particular for the continued support that Elsie Palmer’s family gives to the project.
We would also like to thank the many volunteers, professionals, donors and organisations that generously give their time and expertise to make the charity’s aims a reality.