Trent Park Museum project boosted by lottery grant

Charity awarded cash to help ‘bring Trent Park to life’ prior to museum’s opening, reports James Cracknell

One of the 'Secret Listeners' who were stationed at Trent Park House during the war
One of the ‘Secret Listeners’ who were stationed at Trent Park House during the war (credit Trent Park Museum Trust)

The charity set up to establish and run a new museum at Trent Park House has been awarded a £225,000 grant by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The grant will enable Trent Park Museum Trust to “bring Trent Park to life” while the restoration project at the historic house remains ongoing, with the money being used to help develop a digital museum and new website.

The trust will be showcasing stories about the people who lived and worked at Trent Park. Working with local schools, the charity will also be developing a learning programme and educational resources.

Trent Park House is described by Historic England as being “of national and international significance on a level with Bletchley Park” because of the pivotal role it played in the Second World War, when it was transformed into a prisoner-of-war camp for high-ranking German and Italian officers and wired with bugging devices to help extract crucial information from them.

Jason Charalambous, a former Cockfosters councillor, founded Trent Park Museum Trust in 2016 and has been leading the project to reopen the historic house as a museum, in conjunction with housing developer Berkeley Homes which now owns it.

“We are thrilled to be awarded this grant,” Jason told the Dispatch of the National Lottery Heritage Fund award announced last week. “It will help us bring Trent Park Museum to life even while building work continues on site.

“We are very grateful to National Lottery Heritage Fund and we are keen to build long-lasting partnerships with people locally.”

Last year the trust ran a survey to help gather views from local residents and organisations on what they wanted to see in the new museum. The museum is expected to open its doors within two years.

The digital museum project that National Lottery Heritage Fund is now funding will generate awareness and provide access to the house’s hidden histories, specifically those of the ‘Secret Listeners’ who bugged prisoners’ conversations during the war. Some of the house’s most compelling history has lain hidden for decades, and as material becomes declassified, important information is only now being revealed.

Pilot workshops will be delivered for local schoolchildren while archival research is carried out into individual Secret Listeners, recording the oral histories of families and friends and others linked to the house. A website featuring the findings, interviews and schools learning resources will also be established.

As well two separate grants from National Lottery Heritage Fund, funding for Trent Park Museum has also been provided by charities including Rothschild Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation, The Pilgrim Trust and Monument Trust, among others.

For more information about Trent Park Museum Trust:
Visit
trentparkhouse.org.uk