The Bedworth Society has operated a Heritage Centre within a section of Bedworth’s historic and beautiful Almshouses since 2000. The Centre hosts a wide range of events and exhibitions every year, attracting many regular visitors from the local community, as well as people from around the world.
The entrance to the Centre is on All Saints Square. This prime town centre location is next to the pedestrianised shopping area and the peaceful landscaped gardens belonging to the Almshouses.
Bedworth Heritage Centre is open on market days, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10.30m to 1.00pm .
Special visits for schools, clubs and societies can be arranged on request, in addition to normal opening times.
The building housing the Heritage Centre is known as The Parsonage and was traditionally the home of the parish church’s curate.
The entrance to The Parsonage has always been directly off Market Place (now All Saints Square). Unusually the house was entered through the cellar underneath the curate’s living accommodation. During the 1960 / 70s, both The Parsonage and its cellar fell into disuse and quickly became dilapidated.
Fortunately, in 1981, The Parsonage was saved from demolition by the Bedworth Society, although the cellar remained in a sad state of disrepair.
However, In January 1999, the Trustees of the Almshouses offered the Bedworth Society the cellar of the Parsonage, for conversion into a Heritage Centre. The Society accepted and a local architect prepared restoration plans. The cellar was renovated and made suitable for its new life as a Heritage Centre thanks to generous support by the Nicholas Chamberlaine Trust.
The Parsonage was officially opened on 4th February 2000, by The Mayor of Nuneaton and Bedworth, Councillor Mary Beaumont assisted by the Town Cryer, Paul Gough.
Planning and launching what became known as The Parsonage Project brought the work of the Bedworth Society to the attention of the public. Since then the Heritage Centre has enable the Society to share information, records and objects of interest on many aspects of Bedworth, past, present and future.
The Parsonage has three rooms open to visitors.
The Nicholas Chamberlaine Room, tells the story of Bedworth’s major benefactor, his life, times and legacy. It features permanent display boards, a life size figurine of Nicholas Chamberlaine and models of two Almshouses residents. Known affectionately as Abe ‘N Ada they are dressed in the traditional Almshouse uniforms, which were worn until the early 1950s.
The Main Display Room, formally the kitchen of the Parsonage, features exhibitions which are changed three or four times a year. Each exhibition is designed to tell stories about different aspects of the history and life and times of Bedworth or the surrounding area.
The third room is a multimedia room, offering touch screen interactive presentations.
The Nurse’s House
Due to the success of the Parsonage Project, in 2011 the Trustees of the Almshouses offered the Bedworth Society use of the ground floor of the nearby Nurse’s House as additional exhibition space. Once again this required extensive work. However it was completed and in February 2012 The Nurse’s House was opened by Councillor Tom Wilson, becoming part of the Heritage Centre.
The Nurse’s House contains two exhibition rooms, one of which re-creates the interior of a silk weaver’s cottage, complete with original cast iron range and two looms.
Both The Parsonage and the Nurse’s House are Grade II listed and form part of the magnificent Nicholas Chamberlaine Almshouses complex built in 1840.
About the Heritage Centre
The Heritage Centre hosts wide ranging exhibitions and community events. As well as local visitors the Centre attracts people from across the UK and the globe. We have enjoyed visits by people from over 30 countries, many of whom have family originating in Bedworth or the surrounding areas.
Our permanent exhibition brings to life the many stories of Nicholas Chamberlaine and his charity.
The exhibition in the remaining space changes around three times a year. Subject have included:
- Bedworth in Bloom: The Miners Welfare Park in Bedworth was voted the best park in Britain in 2000 and is a source of local pride.
- Our Boys: telling the stories of the some of the many men and boys from Bedworth who were caught up in the horrors of the First World War.
- Black Diamonds: a look at coal mining in Bedworth, a source of prosperity for the town but a very dangerous trade for many men of its community.
- Mine’s a Pint: a virtual crawl through the many pubs of Bedworth.
- Ribbon weaving and hatting in Bedworth: once thought dead, this fascinating trade still thrives in the form of Toye Kenning & Spencer who among many things produce the ribbon medals for awards such as OBE’s.
- The Canals, Bedworth’s water highway: essential for trade, including transporting the coal that for many years helped form the bedrock of the town’s prosperity.
- The Central Schools: the tale of Bedworth’s exceptional schooling opportunities and Nicholas Chamberlaine, the benefactor who made it possible.
Other exhibitions have covered subjects such as:
- Bedworth’s famous men and women.
- Important eventsin Bedworth’s history.
- The area's cultural, industrial and agricultural past.
- The area's natural landscape.
- There is no charge for admittance to the Heritage Centre. However donations are always welcome as this is the Centre’s only form funding.
The Heritage Centre is run by a team of volunteers. They organise the exhibitions and events and work as stewards when the Centre is open to the public. If you would be interested in getting involved please contact us.
All buses travelling to and from the outlying parts of Bedworth and those serving Coventry, Nuneaton, Hinckley and Leicester stop within 10-50 yards of the Heritage Centre.
Bedworth is close to junction 3 of the M6 motorway and the railway station is within 5 minutes walk of the town centre.
For those visiting the area by canal, moorings are available on the Coventry Canal, which is a 15 to 20 minutes walk from the town centre.
For details of our current exhibition see Current Exhibition.