Letter: Without the Dowager Lady Normanby, there would be no Cook Museum

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May I add to your notice about the Dowager Lady Normanby whose life you recounted?

The Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Grape Lane was her brainchild.

Captain Cook Museum, Whitby

Captain Cook Museum, Whitby

Without her, there would be no museum!

Approached by the then owner of the building, Canon Morris, she first tried to interest other institutions, but failing that, determined to set up the museum herself.

Setting up a new museum from scratch is no small undertaking.

She made all the key decisions, and when necessary, found the right expertise.

She bought the building, restored it, set up the present structure of Trustees and Management Committee which has served us so well.

She found the paintings and artefacts to tell the story of Captain Cook, borrowed from major institutions, and could cut through complex bureaucratic procedures like a knife through butter.

She pursued her aims with determination and perseverance.

Above all, she wanted quality.

It was to be a museum and a real resource.

The public was respected, and the museum should not dumb down.

I think we have held true to her vision.

We would often sound her out, particularly on new acquisitions or visual changes to the museum.

On such occasions, after our explanation, she would pause, often for quite some moments, and then she would give her opinion, with absolute clarity.

To the end, it has been a relationship which I shall value for the rest of my life. The museum is a memorial to Captain Cook.

It is also a memorial to Grania, Lady Normanby

Sophie Forgan

Chairman of Trustees

Captain Cook

Memorial Museum