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madhattersThe Dimbola Tea Room in Freshwater has this week won the Museum & Heritage Award for Excellence for best project on a limited budget fending off serious competition from The British Library and National Galleries of Scotland.

The Awards, held in London on Wednesday, were presented by BAFTA winning comedienne Sue Perkins. Dimbola Museum trustees Gail Middleton and Mary Clemmensen were on hand to pick up the award.

Speaking about the archivement, Gail said: “This is a very prestigious award and proof that Dimbola is made all the more magical by our amazing team of volunteers led by Shirley Harman. The work for this project was carried out by them and we can’t thank them enough.”

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The tea room makeover was part of a volunteer based initiative aimed at making the space more attractive to people of all ages whilst still retaining a strong connection to the museum and galleries. The budget was only £1,500 and so the team utilized reclaimed objects, donated china and up-cycled old linen.

The theme of Mad Hatter was chosen as Lewis Carroll was a visitor to Dimbola and there is clear evidence that some of his characters were based on the ‘Freshwater circle’ which included Julia Margaret Cameron.  This is explored in two exhibitions, The Wonderland of Alice, on show at the gallery over the summer.

There is no charge to visit the tea room which is open 7 days a week serving delicious home-made food and afternoon tea. They also serve a classic Victorian high-tea which requires 24 hour notice and costs just £15.00 for two people. The tea includes sandwiches, cakes and scones with cream and jam.

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