Great News for The Devizes Assize Court Trust and Wiltshire Museum

Things are finally looking up for that great redundant building on Devizes’ Northgate Street, the Assize Court. You know you’ve passed it gloomily for decades, recognising its potential and hoping one day it’ll be put to good use….

Twisted in red tape, the charitable Devizes Assize Court Trust bought the building from Kamarran Mahmoud in 2018, a London merchant who gave it no attention, yet resisted Devizes Town Council’s resubmission to convert it to homes and a community centre in 2015; yeah, I dunno what all that was about neither, pal. The Trust now strive to raise £13 million to restore and refit it, for conversion into a new home for Wiltshire Museum.

The Trust are delighted to announce this week, The National Lottery Heritage Fund have accepted their ‘Expression of Interest,’ and they are now able to submit an application for funding. This means that the project is now on the first rung of the ladder.

I believe we’re lucky enough already in Devizes, to be home to the county’s museum, imagine the impact of it being in the Assize Court, the expansion potential and possible modernisation. I mean, I know right, it’s a pretty great museum as it is, but imagine buses of school children, all in pac-a-macs and carrying lunchboxes, from all over the country, pulling up there, visitors from afar, actually, like, coming to Devizes, spending money here, not just driving through looking glumly through the windows at us; in’t museums brilliant, yay!

Excuse my Paul Whitehouse-esque over-excitedness, the Trust have twelve months to submit the first-round application, and if successful, then we’re looking at two years of development phase, before a second bid. If it comes up roses, substantial funding to enable work on the building to start, the Trust hope by 2025 or 2026; I’ll be a museum piece myself by then, save my family on care costs, just stick me in glass cabinet!

Meanwhile, Wiltshire Museum continues to operate out of Long Street, with a new exhibit exploring how Thomas Hardy’s writing merged his present with the past, within this ancient landscape. Plus, an ever-growing event calendar full of walks, talks, courses and children’s activities, such as the Young Curators Club for ages 8-13.

The Trust need help developing these plans for the Devizes Assize Court, seeking new trustees who can bring diverse voices and experiences to their board. Deadline for applications is 20th June 2022.


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