Our new archaeology gallery opened in Brighton Museum last month, helping young and old learn more about Brighton’s prehistory and earliest inhabitants. A key figure behind the gallery is Elaine Evans, whose name greets visitors above the door to the gallery. In this post, we profile Elaine and discover what motivated her to support our work.
Elaine was originally born in Middlesex but moved to Hove when she was 11. She started the East Sussex School of English, a summer school for teenagers in Hove, in 1972 and ran it for 27 happy years. She has been interested in the arts, history and languages since childhood. She received the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2014 for services to the arts in East Sussex.
Elaine is a committee member of Hove Civic Society, supports the Actually Gay Men’s Chorus and sits on the Brighton & Hove Commemorative Plaques Panel. She is a member of the Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society and was a founding member of the Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation patrons’ scheme in 2009. Over the years Elaine has written articles on local history and archaeology and interviewed historians, academics and architects to capture and share their stories and expertise. Elaine is the British Patron of Vilamuseu, an award-winning museum in Villajoyosa, near Alicante, Spain.
She said, “For many years history and archaeology have fascinated me. One marvellous day I spotted a Stone Age flint blade by chance in my back garden in Hove. It had been brought to the surface by worms. I was the first person to hold it since it was dropped by a hunter-gatherer thousands of years ago: the blade was still sharp. I love my precious flint!”
Elaine wrote several stories as a child. One, when she was 9, was about three children who found a treasure hoard. ‘Thanks to you,” said their father, “the collection is being sent to the museum.’
“Who would have guessed that many years later I myself would be so closely involved with Brighton Museum?
“My late husband Steve and I used to enjoy visiting historic houses and sites such as stone circles and Roman villas. We helped out on an archaeological dig in the 80s in a car park in Dorchester – Steve found a Roman tunic fastening and two coins.
“I’ve been involved with Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society for years and helped collect signatures for their petition to the council asking for a new gallery. When we got the go-ahead, the sad thing was that there was no money available from the council. I was leaving a sum to the museum in my will, but decided it would be much better to give it to them now for the new gallery.
“I’m not wealthy but I wanted to do what I could for a project which will bring so much interest and education to so many people. It’s wonderful that the museum will bring history alive to visitors young and old.”
Caroline Sutton, Press Officer