Saturday, 15 July 2017

Weald & Downland Living Museum

In my June Roundup, I promised a post about my trip to the Weald and Downland Living Museum, and here it is!

This post will mostly be photos; I worked hard to whittle it down to just 10 from the 200 I took!

Dad and I went to the museum on Father's Day, as they were hosting a wood fair. The day was utterly roasting hot, which made it a glorious day for taking photos, but not so much for being outside...
...which meant the coolness of inside these historical buildings was very pleasant!

To call this place a 'museum' is actually a bit of an understatement. This 40 acre site is home to more than 50 historical buildings that have been painstakingly taken apart and rebuilt at the museum. Altogether the buildings showcase a 950 year history of rural life in Britain. They also have a pretty nifty, brand spanking new visitor centre, including a shop and cafe, which I believe opened this year!

I last went to this museum when I was in primary school (which was quite a long time ago now!). It was wet and miserable and we couldn't find one of the houses on our worksheet, and my child's brain didn't really appreciate the history that was around me.

So it was great to have a chance to look around again and see everything afresh, along with the buildings that I don't remember from last time!

What's really nice about the museum is the attention to detail when it comes to these buildings. They are furnished and accessorised in keeping with how they would have been at the time of their use, which really brings the buildings to life, and helps to demonstrate how the different rooms would have been used.

The buildings are also full of information--I spied folders tucked here and there that gave details on the buildings, but there were also lots of staff about who were ready to chat and inform visitors about whichever building they were in.
There were also a number of people demonstrating traditional crafts and pasttimes-- charcoal burning, weaving, and maypole to name but a few!

(And of course, what display would be complete without a slightly creepy mannequin? This one must have creeped out generations of kids!)

Another element to the visit is that, through the way the buildings are kitted out inside, it's possible to see how people have changed over the years--from the earthenware pots and dirt floors in the Anglo-Saxon Hall House (a reconstruction based on archaeological evidence), to the 1860s Whittaker's Cottages (above) which the museum has furnished in the style of the late 19th Century.

Of course, the museum also houses public buildings, including the 'tin tabernacle' (a church, above), a 15th/16th Century market hall, and a school building, to name but a few!

Whether you're an 'information gatherer' type person who reads everything, or a 'visual' type (like me) who wanders around staring at everything, Weald & Downland Living Museum is definitely one to take a trip to. It's a fascinating fascinating, and owing to how spread out everything is, the museum doesn't seem too busy even when it is!

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