The mummified squirrel and the sword in the pond

  • Squirrel was found in wall of Ifield Mill in the 1970s
  • Sword found in Millpond dates from the time of the Napoleonic Wars
  • Mill open to public from April 19

Every good museum is home to a mummy.

The Museum of Cairo has Rameses the Great, the British Museum has Cleopatra of Thebes – and Crawley Museum has a squirrel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA SUS-150327-120519001

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA SUS-150327-120519001

He doesn’t have an impressive name like the other two and he never ruled any ancient lands but, in life, he was by far the cutest.

As for the name, he was found in the wall of Ifield Mill in the 1970s, so let’s call him Tufty after the road safety squirrel of that era.

Tufty is one of several unusual artefacts which will be making their way to Crawley Museum’s new home, hopefully by the end of next year.

Another piece which brings to mind fantastic tales of days gone by is a sword which was found in Ifield Mill Pond.

PENTAX Image SUS-150327-120543001

PENTAX Image SUS-150327-120543001

It’s no Excalibur and it’s highly unlikely anyone was loitering in the depths of the Mill Pond to catch it when it was thrown in but it’s a fascinating piece nonetheless.

It is believed to date from the time of the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815).

While museum curator, Helen Poole, speaks with enthusiasm about all the artefacts, she has a clear favourite - a bronze sword which was found in Langley Green in 1952.

The sword, which was fished out of Polesfleet Stream, dates from around 500BC.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA SUS-150327-120555001

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA SUS-150327-120555001

This, coupled with the existance of a Bronze Age trackway and burial mounds at Pease Pottage - and another mound which is believed to exist near the Mill Pond itself - shows just how long people have been living here.

‘New town’ indeed!

There are some important days ahead for the sword.

Helen said: “There’s an expert from Brighton University called Jamie Kaminski - Dr Jamie Kaminski - who is doing some research on this because there was a great tradition in Bronze Age times that, for some reason that we don’t understand, presumably to do with religion, they threw their favourite objects into the river.

SUS-150327-120436001

SUS-150327-120436001

“This one seems to have gone in intact and the only bit that’s missing is the wooden handle, which would have rotted in the stream.

“Jamie’s coming along and he’s going to write us up in a big article and we’re also going to get it X-rayed.”

As for the museum itself, the appointment of an architect, contractor and conservation specialists have dragged the never-ending saga of its move to The Tree one step closer to completion.

Helen said there were also some exciting new designs in the pipeline.

The work should start in July and will take around 15 months to complete - meaning Christmas 2016 could prove particularly memorable for all.

Looking back to Tufty, he was found when Ted Henbery and his team took on the massive project of getting the Mill back to full working order after it had been allowed to stand derelict for years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA SUS-150327-120453001

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA SUS-150327-120453001

The mill is now open to the public and, even though renovation work is still ongoing at Ifield Mill Pond, people will be welcome to visit it from Sunday April 19 between 2.30pm and 5pm.

Other dates for the 2015 season are: May 10 (National Mills Day), June 21, July 19, August 16 and September 20.

Crawley Museum, in Goffs Park House, Old Horsham Road (behinid the Goffs Manor pub) is open on Wednesdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays from 2-4pm.