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The Kings Head pub

Shared from our main Gressenhall blog – more beer and brewing inspiration!

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

One of the pubs featured in the ‘Beers and Brewing : Norfolk’s Rural pubs’ exhibition is the Kings Head in Shipdham.

The museum holds a collection of items from this pub. There had been a pub in the village since 1858. It was run by Frederick Chilvers from the 1960s to 1990s. His son donated some items from the pub to the museum. The pub is now closed and the building is now run as the Kings Café, which opened in 2012.

The items above all feature in the exhibition. Do you remember Smith’s crisps or beer sold in shillings? Beer was served in hand painted glass jars with a handle. Stoneware jars carried beer supplied by local breweries.

This book of tokens and bottle caps are also on display in the exhibition. The bottle caps were used while Emma Baker was landlady. Were these used when you bought a bottle of beer? With the…

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Calling all community groups – create a beer mat for Collaborate!

Would your community group like to get involved with Collaborate? Book a session to explore our travelling temporary exhibition and then create your own beer mat for display at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.

Beer mats are wonderful miniature pieces of art. Whether they are used for marketing, advertising, questioning or political purposes beer mats get used, ripped up, torn and soggy. We even play games with them.

During our inspiration day we looked at a range of beer mats and thought about what our local pub means to us. We then drew, designed and decorated beer mats together. We were not all comfortable artists but once we got stuck in it was fun! Cutting, sticking, drawing we created our own unique designs. The nice thing about this activity is that there are no wrong answers. Expressions can be literal, abstract or even doodled.


If this is something you would like to try with your group please do get in touch! We can bring parts of the temporary exhibition to you and then give you a chance to create your own beer mat for display in the gallery in October.

Email to book a session.

Collecting found objects

Jane has been inspired by our temporary exhibition to create a woven wall hanging. She explains more below:

“I have begun to collect found objects to make a trial mix-media woven wall hanging for the Beer and Brewing exhibition in October.

Bottle tops from Felicia's collection. She hopes to integrate these into her woven hanging.

Bottle tops from Felicia’s collection. She hopes to integrate these into her woven hanging.

This weekend I have visited one of our local Green Hop growing micro breweries at Salle near Reepham. The All Day Brewing CompanyThe farmer Simon Barker, was very interested in the exhibition at Gressenhall and was happy to allow me to have some green hop vines, complete with  green hops, in August to make my natural Woven Art.

Natural green hop vines from the All Day Brewing Company

Natural green hop vines from the All Day Brewing Company

Many thanks for the Collaborate Inspiration Day, I enjoyed meeting so many creative people.”

Thanks for your update Jane – it is great to see work starting to take shape!

Exploring the temporary exhibition

During our Inspiration Day we gave plenty of time to explore the 2018 Beer and Brewing exhibition – plenty to think about and inspire here.

The temporary bar is one place where we are inviting participants to display their work in October – we have already had offers of innovative beer mats, bar stools made of beer cans and a miniature bar – what would you install in this fascinating space?


Twister, twizzler, Norfolk Wheel. In this blog post we explore this mysterious, traditional pub game.

A circular wooden board with an arrow would be placed on the ceiling of a pub. They were usually put in this location so that people cannot cheat. Everyone can see the game. It is a simpler version of the game of roulette. Roulette was played in rich people’s homes, clubs and casinos and twister was played in pubs. The rules of the game are a bit fuzzy. Essentially bets were placed on where the arrow would land once it was spun. Bets could have been placed on a round of drinks or a sack of potatoes, winning points or downing a pint as a forfeit.

These two twister boards are both in the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse museum collection and are currently on display as part of the ‘Beers and Brewing: Norfolk’s Rural Pubs’ exhibition. The one on the left is smaller, and less decorated but still has its’ arrow. It came from The Kings Head pub in Shipdham. The one on the right is much brighter, with the design painted in yellow and white. It came from the Red Lion Pub in Banham. Both of these boards are only marked with numbers 1 – 12. The Alby Horseshoes Inn in Erpingham still has a wheel on their ceiling which is also marked with club, spade, heart and diamond as well as a wine glass, barrel of beer and a matchbox.


Many twister boards were removed from pubs in the 1970s due to a change in gambling laws. It is rare to find a twister in a pub today but we believe that there are wheels remaining in these Norfolk pubs (tell us if we’re wrong or if there are more!)

Wheel of Fortune, Alpington
The Feathers, Aylsham
Alby Horseshoes Inn, Erpingham
The Three Horseshoes, Warham


For more information about twister and other traditional pub games take a look at the ‘Played at the Pub’ book by Arthur Taylor, this article and blog post.

What’s in a name?

Thank you to everyone who came to our Inspiration Day on Friday 23rd March. We had a fabulous time exploring the theme of Beer and Brewing. It was lovely to meet so many people open to stepping out of their comfort zone and trying something new.

Exploring Beer and Brewing, our 2018 temporary exhibition

We began the day by exploring pub names and getting to know each other. We each had half of a pub name and had to try and find our matching half.

What’s in a name? Traditional and creative pub names

We then talked about traditional pub names – could we mix them up creatively? We ended up with some interesting combinations – what’s in a name? Do traditional pub names continue to reflect what happens in modern pubs?

Launching beer and brewing for 2018

We are very excited to launch our Collaborate theme for 2018 – beer and brewing.

For the first time we are going out of the museum too. Watch out for Collaborate with Gressenhall in a pub or community group near you! Please contact us if you would like to get involved in Beer and Brewing on tour.

Collaborate with Gressenhall – Inspiration Day flyer for Beer and Brewing

Like making? Are you creative?

Poems, paintings, pottery? Textiles, sculpture, art? Beer, photos, a mess?

Whatever you like to make come and join us to be inspired by our Beer and Brewing exhibition.

Local pubs are changing – come and find out how at our FREE Inspiration Day.

Take part in beer tasting, pub storytelling, explore our objects and images and hear about community projects to revive and restore Norfolk locals.

Leave with plenty to think about – and be inspired to make something to display at Gressenhall.

To book this free morning of creativity (including lunch and beer tasting!) click the link below:


Collaborate Installation

This morning we installed the final Collaborate pieces created by our Collaborators.


Our Collaborators have been inspired by many different strands of the Rural Lives theme – the portraits, what it means to live in a rural area, J.A. Mortram’s contemporary photos and the historic photos in the Rural Lives exhibition.

Thankyou very much to all of the contributors for creating their wonderful pieces – from poetry to paintings, sculptures to stitched works. We hope that you will come and see their work within the Rural Lives exhibition in the Collections Gallery at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, on display until Sunday 29th October 2017.

Guardian of the Soil and the Caretaker of Rural Traditions


Hannah Jackson was greatly inspired by meeting the Rural Lives exhibition photographer J A Mortram at the Collaborate Inspiration Day.

A comment that he made relating to his own personal situation remained with me after the day. He asked “who cares for the carers?”. I wanted to acknowledge the work of this invisible sector of our society, who have to persevere to a greater extent when also rurally isolated.


This textile doll is the Guardian of the Soil and the Caretaker of Rural Traditions, envisaged as a Scarecrow or – more appropriately – a Mawkin. The figure is modelled on a 90-year old neighbour ‘UP’. ‘UP’ is a full time carer for his housebound wife, who spends his days recording his memories of a Norfolk life in a series of articles that he shares with anyone who shows an interest.

Self-taught herbalist, engineer, gardener, mardler, tinker, morse expert, radio-ham enthusiast and photographer, he is fascinated by the life that enters into his small part of the world. As a carer, he increasingly finds he is isolated, on the margins of society, just as the Mawkin stands alone keeping a watch over the fields.

Hannah’s doll will be on display within the Collaborate with Gressenhall installation within the Rural Lives exhibition between Friday 20th to Sunday 29th October.