Clarke Hall rescue package ‘not ideal’

St. Peter's J+I visit to Clarke Hall, Wakefield.'Learning how to set a table are, L to R) Mia Day, Bethany Jewitt, Callum Issot, Nathaniel Heaton, with Mistress Ann aka Louise Bragen.'w9548b940
St. Peter's J+I visit to Clarke Hall, Wakefield.'Learning how to set a table are, L to R) Mia Day, Bethany Jewitt, Callum Issot, Nathaniel Heaton, with Mistress Ann aka Louise Bragen.'w9548b940
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A GROUP which has campaigned to save a popular living history museum has welcomed a new rescue package.

But the Friends of Clarke Hall fear the grade-II listed mansion house may no longer be used to teach schoolchildren about 17th century life.

Wakefield Council said it is offering a “substantial” amount of cash to attract a partner organisation to run the hall.

It has been under threat of closure since March when the Wakefield Schools Forum announced it was cutting the museum’s main source of funding.

The friends group, backed by the Express, has run a national campaign to keep it open.

Janice Scanlon, publicity officer for the friends group, said: “We are delighted that Wakefield Council has decided not to sell Clarke Hall and instead are proposing a long-term lease to an interested party.

“The feeling among the Friends is that it is a positive move, as if the right organisation came forward, the hall would be secured for future generations.

“But we are disappointed that the education programme could be dumped.

“We believe the education side, which is unique as it forms part of the national curriculum, will definitely be going.”

But council service director for culture Lisa Dodd said: “Education and other general learning opportunities may form part of the new heritage offer although not necessarily in the current format provided.

“As yet it is unclear what format this will take and will only be known once proposals have been submitted by interested organisations.

“We are looking for an operator able to bring a clear vision, a sense of history and robust business acumen to build on the special nature of Clarke Hall and to turn it into a quality visitor attraction complementing Wakefield’s rich cultural and heritage offer.”

The hall is only taking school bookings until March.