The Huguenot Museum is set to hold a special event in the afternoon of Monday 13th July in celebration of the opening of the UK’s first museum of Huguenot history back in May. The museum, which has undertaken a £1.5million development project, is based in Rochester, Kent.
The Huguenots were French Protestants who fled to non-Catholic parts of Europe to escape persecution from the monarchy, who perceived the religious group to be a threat to monarchic authority. The South-East of England became home to one of many settlements founded by Huguenot refugees in England; as well as London where they represented 7% of the population during the 1700s.
The presence of Huguenot refugees has left a lasting legacy in the history of Britain. This includes a number of specialised craftsmanship skills such as silk weaving, silversmithing and furniture-making. Huguenot culture has also influenced approaches to banking, the church and the army. Their imprint on British cultural practices is further seen in their influence on English language as the term refugee was adopted into in reference to the French term ‘réfugié’.
The history of Huguenot refugees is an excellent example of successful migration, integration and acceptance by two cultures. It shows the ability we have as humans to empathise with another’s suffering, to show unbound benevolence to other groups and most importantly, to welcome them into another society.
The unique museum collection comes mainly from the French hospital, La Providence, which has been based in Rochester since the early 1960s after originally being founded in London in 1718 to provide accommodation and assistance to Huguenot refugees and their descendants.
The three-galleried museum occupies two floors above a 1920s building a mere stones throw away from Rochester Cathedral, along the high street and tells the tale of the Huguenots from their persecution in France as well as the establishment of their communities in England. There are a number of historical artefacts and books on Huguenot families that have been carefully preserved and are available for visitors to look through offering a detailed look into the Huguenot refugee experience in England. Part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this museum seeks to create an interactive and vibrant learning space for its visitors. Alongside the archived material; school sessions, film screenings and craft workshops are also held at the museum.
The Huguenot Museum is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10.00am to 5.00pm and on Bank Holiday Mondays. Admission is £4 for adults and £3 for concessions.
For more information on the launch event or on tickets contact the Huguenot Museum by:
Phone: +(44)1634 789347
Address: 95 High Street, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1LX, England