I was born and brought up in Derbyshire, where my parents instilled a love of history in me from an early age by buying me a plastic dinosaur and some metal knights, then taking me on regular visits to museums, castles and stately homes. This passion for the past carried on through school, and led to me completing a BA (Hons) in History at the University of York. I then completed a PGCE in Secondary History teaching at the University of Exeter, before teaching for three years in a secondary school in Staffordshire. I also did some adult education, teaching evening classes in this period.
I left teaching and went freelance making historic costume, organising events and doing costumed interpretation for a short time, before moving to Peterborough in 2001. A few weeks later I got a job working at Peterborough Museum and the rest, as they say, is history! Whilst working at the Museum I completed the MA course in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester.
Until November 2015 I was working as Events and Programmes Manager for Vivacity, the charitable trust that manages many of Peterborough’s cultural and leisure sites. I worked across Museums, Libraries and Archives, managing temporary exhibitions, special events, guided walks and walks – primarily for three heritage sites. Peterborough Museum, Flag Fen Archaeology Park and Longthorpe Tower. I was also the lead officer on Peterborough’s annual Heritage Festival; two weeks of lectures, exhibitions, walks, activities (including a Heritage Pub Quiz!) across the city, with a major event weekend in the middle which attract some 35,000 visitors to Peterborough each year, for what is the UK’s only city centre based living history festival. Many people know me from doing guided walks and tours of Peterborough, including highly popular Ghost Walks, which I started in 2001.
I was very privileged to be given the annual Mayor of Peterborough’s award for services to the city in 2009, for ‘dedication in bringing heritage to life for the people of Peterborough’.
In November 2015 I changed job and became Director of Operations at Peterborough Cathedral, working at this stunning medieval building in the heart of the city, helping develop its programme of events and 2018’s programme of celebrations for its 900th anniversary. This role also included work on the Cathedral’s new visitor centre and bringing into fruition the new ‘Becket Tea Rooms’ within the precincts.
Since February 2018 I have moved back into museums, becoming Curator of the Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon. This holds the best collection of objects relating to the life and times of Oliver Cromwell on public display in the world. The collection comprises portraits, clothing, miniatures, arms and armour, historical documents written by or about Cromwell, and one of his death masks. The Museum is located in the former Huntingdon Grammar School building, which was where Oliver Cromwell went to school. I manage this museum and am responsible for the care of its internationally important collections.
I am in demand as a guest speaker for groups, clubs and societies, having a repertoire of over 50 different talks – see the talks page for a list! I’ve spoken to conferences and groups nationally on matters historical, educational and paranormal, and have guest lectured on undergraduate courses on heritage management, event organisation and various historical subjects. I’ve also appeared on various television broadcasts and can be regularly heard on BBC local radio on a Thursday afternoon as part of Jeremy Sallis’s show on Radio Cambridgeshire as part of the ‘History Boys’ talking about local history subjects.
I generally enjoy the job I do – if people enjoy themselves and have learnt something as a result of any knowledge and enthusiasm I’ve managed to impart, then I’ve been successful. People keep asking me back, so I must be doing something right!
In my spare time I like travelling in the UK and beyond, visiting different cities and (unsurprisingly) historic places. I read lots, have a sizeable library at home and enjoy cooking. I’m a big ‘Doctor Who’ fan (don’t panic, I don’t own a Dalek or anything… Yet…), and love cinema on the big screen. I walk pretty much everywhere (well, within reason) as it’s good exercise and I love the fresh air; given the chance I try to go hill walking on one of our national trails each year. I also, as a further ‘busman’s holiday’ dabble in historical re-enactment, as I have done since university. I also like writing – hence this blog and the books – at some point I may get around to doing a PhD.
Just to make clear – as always with these things – that any views posted on here by me are mine alone and not representative of anyone else, employers or otherwise!
Please do drop me a mail or message me on Twitter @stuartorme, or say hello if you see me in Peterborough as everyone seems to do!