The current exhibition at Bloxham Village Museum, Now and Then, is a fascinating insight in to the social history of the town, where modern, everyday items are displayed next to their ancient predecessors.

But perhaps the most significant exhibit this year is the museum building itself, which has recently undergone a major refurbishment.

Gone is the old grey concrete floor, which has been replaced with stunning natural stone tiles. The building has been completely rewired and new spotlights provide a welcoming, contemporary atmosphere.

To top it off, the museum has just acquired 15 display cases from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, creating a much larger viewing area and completely transforming the collection.

Registrar Peter Barwell is delighted with the end result. "People can't believe the difference," he said. "We have had so many kind comments from visitors, it is very encouraging. Before, children might have come with their parents and spent just two minutes in here. Now when they come in, we give them a quiz and they spend 20 minutes or so looking at all the artefacts and answering questions."

The museum's makeover is partly thanks to a lottery grant, which paid for the new floor, and also a grant from the South East Museum, Library and Archive Council, which paid for the re-wiring and lighting. Mr Barwell said, "The floor desperately needed to be raised to prevent flood damage. After heavy rain, we would often be left with a puddle on the floor, which visitors literally had to jump over! It wasn't ideal."

Mr Barwell admits that the acquisition of the display cases from the Ashmolean Museum is due to some gentle persuasion and occasional pestering on his part.

Last year, when the Ashmolean secured Heritage Lottery Funding of £15m for a massive redevelopment project, it was decided to offer the redundant display cases to local Oxfordshire museums.

Mr Barwell said: "It was too good an opportunity to miss I kept phoning them to ask for 15 cabinets, but I didn't really expect to get them all. It was an extremely generous contribution."

Bloxham Village Museum is located in the 17th century Court House, owned by the ancient village charity Bloxham Feoffees.

The museum was founded in 1981 by retired school mistress and self-made historian Yvonne Huntriss. Mr Barwell took over after retiring from the printing business in 2000.

He said: "All I have done is build on the tremendous work that Yvonne started. She worked incredibly hard to get this museum up and running and all I want to do is follow in those footsteps to give the people of Bloxham a museum to be proud of."

Bloxham Village Museum, The Court House, Church Street, Bloxham (next to Bloxham Parish Church). Admission is 50p for adults, 10p for children. Throughout July, the museum is open every Sunday and Wednesday from 2.30pm to 5.30pm. Clubs and organisations are welcome to visit outside these hours by appointment.

Contact Peter Barwell on 01295 721256 or email