Case Study: Wye Heritage

11th May, 2022

To see all the Rebuilding Heritage Case Studies, click here.


The ancient village of Wye, situated in Kent’s North Downs, is steeped in history – settled both by Romans and Saxon Kings, and later a major religious centre after the Norman Conquest. It is home to Wye College – founded in the Middle Ages by Cardinal John Kemp.

Wye Heritage was founded in 2009 by a group of villagers passionate about their local history. Their mission was to preserve and protect the heritage of Wye village and Wye College, pulling together historical archives and local interest groups. From the very start the Wye Historical Society and the Wye College Agricola Club (representing college staff and students) have been closely involved in the evolution of the charity.

Wye Heritage is a volunteer-led organisation, initially a Member’s Association which transitioned into a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (C.I.O.) in 2021. It operates from the Wye Heritage Centre, currently housed in the medieval Latin School building (constructed 1447), which sits at the centre of the village of Wye in Kent.





“We needed support as we emerged from a bruising period of opposition to the Developer’s and our plans, as well as the pandemic.”


At the time of their application to Rebuilding Heritage, the trustees of Wye Heritage had just emerged from a period of uncertainty, having reached a promising agreement regarding a long lease for a new Heritage Centre, but had been unable to proceed due to planning issues.

This had stalled Wye Heritage’s plans to reopen their space. It had been their intention to allow their members and visitors, as well as researchers and the general community, access to their archives and resources, but this had not been possible while closed.

Added to this, their volunteer team had become less available to support Wye Heritage’s work. The charity came to Rebuilding Heritage seeking help in communicating with members, private donors, and local champions. They had previously been unaware of heritage sector support, so it was a new departure for them to take up the training and support on offer through the programme.

Support Received

Rebuilding Heritage offered support following two successful applications, providing for the founding trustee:

 Round 4 – March 2021

 Round 6 – July 2021

Wye Heritage accessed:

121 Support: Communications Strategy (Media Trust), Fundraising (Chartered Institute of Fundraising)

Group training: Leadership (Clore Leadership), Organisational Storytelling (Media Trust)

Other: Rebuilding Heritage Webinars

Other: Follow up discussions with Wellbeing trainer.

Learning Outcomes & New Directions

Part of the work in redeveloping Wye Heritage’s communication strategy was to identify different champions in the charity’s contact list (members, college alumni and people from their community) to drive recognition of their work. Early activity in this regard led to the recruitment of some key volunteers to help in the archive.

They also needed to alert audiences to the fact that they were reopening after lockdown, having resolved the hiatus brought about by negotiations and a public enquiry.

Other actions included clear messaging on the website related to the funding required to fit out the ‘New Centre’.

In their Leadership coaching group sessions, Wye Heritage found value in peer-to-peer learning and benefitted from making connections with other leaders.

The focus of Wye Heritage’s fundraising support was on how to reignite contact with the college alumni and membership following a period of reduced contact. Private giving was suggested as a priority, with a particular focus on major donors and reaching out to the alumni. As well as drafting a plan of which trusts and foundations they might approach, they also worked to create a budget for each element of the new Centre’s fit-out, including its decoration and retail offer.

This case study was adapted from those included in the Rebuilding Heritage External Evaluation by Antrobus & Armitage.

Wye Heritage –

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