“We are delighted that the Heritage Centre is such a great success and we are determined to sustain it. Running cost are up to £2,000 per year, including the broadband connection and £1,000 rent to the Council. Grants are not available for these purposes. In addition we have a role in maintaining the unadopted historical landmarks in the village.
We hope to raise part of the required funds by the sale of copies of our records and our publications as well as by an annual fundraising Hog Roast. However, we know that this will not cover our needs and therefore we are delighted to join the Church, in this new fundraising enterprise.”
Opened on 23rd April 2008 by Anne Widdecombe, MP for Maidstone, the Heritage Centre was the result of 10 years hard work by the Marden History Group in collecting, transcribing and cataloguing village memorabilia and historical archives. As the collection grew the need for a safe place for this material became more and more pressing – a damp caravan in the garden of the Chairman of the History Group was just not adequate. After many false starts eventually a permanent home in the heart of the village was found when the Library offered space. The History Group got to work setting up their collection and a research centre to be proud of, with the aid of grants from various bodies.
Since opening, the Heritage Centre has gone from strength to strength. Staffed by volunteers, it attracts visitors from near and far, many researching their family history. It is also a focus of interest for local people with the result that the collection is growing ever more rapidly and now comprises of an impressive archive: parish records of all types (marriages, baptisms, burials), Poor Law records, censuses, wills, photographs, documents, maps and artefacts. This collection has been transcribed and/ or catalogued by members of the History Group and is available on the electronic Marden History Group Archives.
In addition, the Heritage Centre volunteers stage regular exhibitions of historical interest in the Centre or at other venues and events in and around the village. We also organise activities for the local school and other groups to promote interest in and understanding of our heritage.
Marden’s Heritage Centre is the first of its kind in Kent and is being watched carefully not only by Kent Libraries & Archives but also by other nearby villages. The challenge to make ours a Centre of excellence continues…