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. 

Discovering the David Parr House

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’.

Conserving the House

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 will be our house guides on the tours. The house opens to the public for guided tours in 2019.

Funding: An Exciting Next Step

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 will enable an endowment to be raised to secure the long-term future of the David Parr House. £500,000 is being raised, which will be match-funded, pound for pound, by the Heritage Lottery Fund until 2022, creating an endowment fund to support a curator for the house. 

The Trustees

Harriet Loffler has been the Curator of New Hall Art Collection at Murray Edwards College since May 2018. She was formerly the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, where she led on contemporary exhibition and public programming and partnership projects, as well as the development of the modern and contemporary art collection. She has worked at Frieze Art Fair in London and MoMA in New York. Harriet has an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art.

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.

David Wherrett is a Trustee of the national charity Paintings in Hospitals and a member of Cambridge Ahead, a business and academic group dedicated to the successful growth of Cambridge and the region. He is also a board member of Cambridge University Hospitals. He is a passionate collector of art and supporter of decorative arts and heritage.

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.

The Team

The team, with the support of the trustees, are currently delivering two major Heritage Lottery Fund projects in order to open the David Parr House to the public and to sustain it for future generations.

Rachel French (Fundraiser) Building on a successful career in management consultancy, Rachel now leads fundraising teams in museums and heritage organisations, bringing innovative business skills and entrepreneurship to help make culture sustainable.

Shelley Lockwood (Audiences and Volunteer Manager) 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.

Charlotte Woodley (Collections and Creative Manager) is an artist, art historian, researcher and curator who has lived in and around Cambridge most of her life. An experienced Collections Manager she has a passion for bringing order and creativity to museum and heritage collections.

Jane Phillimore (Former Project Manager and Steering Group Member) Jane Phillimore interviewed Elsie Palmer in 2009 together with Tamsin.  She sat on the initial steering group and with her experience as a journalist, author and project manager she wrote, in collaboration with the Charity, the two successful Heritage Lottery Fund Grants after which she project managed the capital works that took place on the house between 2017/18.

Our Vision

The David Parr House’s vision, as a new and independent charity, is to preserve, share and sustain the house for future generations to enjoy.


  • 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.

Our Objectives

  • 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.