The Weald and Downland Living Museum is a bit of a trek from Dorset, a few miles north of Chichester in the South Downs National Park. But it made a great stopping off point on a trip to Kent.
It’s an open air museum, where they have rescued old houses, cottages and other rural buildings from the Anglo Saxon up to the Edwardian and rebuilt them on site. The Weald and Downland Living Museum is a must for anyone interested in historic architecture, traditional building techniques and rural social history in general. You will be there for hours once you start looking at the details.
With so much to see it’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to writing this post. But due to a camera memory card malfunction many of the exterior pics weren’t saved and most of these pics have been retrieved from phone – they seem to concentrate on the interiors (and lots of beds for some reason).
While most are quite humble dwellings, the Tudor Farmstead (pictured above) is quite grand. It gets the prize for the best bed of all. Along with a grand hall with a painted hanging behind some quite splendid tableware, including a wonderful leather jug. This is a touchy feely museum, it’s great to be able to handle these (beautifully reproduced) objects.
Far more recent, and on the other end of the social scale is a tiny semi-detached Edwardian cottage. Its pair has been left stripped to the bare bones to see the construction (not very photogenic). Two up two down with just about enough space to squeeze in a family.
Of course this blog post wouldn’t be complete without some reference to textiles, and natural dyes in particular. They have a nice little display of natural, traditional and dyestuffs and textile fibres…..
…..plus some wonderful, beautifully made historic clothing (not a smock in sight).
And whilst we’re on the subject of textiles. Sitting in the corner of a room in the Tudor Farmstead there’s only a Great Wheel – one of the earliest forms of spinning wheel. (Something for the spinning nerds). They’ve had to remove the spindle for display, it being just the height of a child’s eye!