Weald and Downland Living Museum.
The Weald and Downland Living Museum, nestled on the South Downs in West Sussex, is a great day out! There is an awful lot to see and do if old buildings and old ways of life are your bag. They certainly are mine! Our visit coincided with one of the historic life weekend specials that they put on throughout the year. They do lots of different talks and demonstrations in the various buildings around the museum. This one was on textiles as my other half is particularly interested in being a design and technology teacher specialising in fabrics. In another life, many years she was also a trained Tailor working in the film industry.
There are some lovely old buildings here outlining the history of the people who lived and worked in the south-east of England over the past 1000 years. There are more than 50 buildings at the museum, including workers cottages, farmhouses, barns, shops, a smithy, working Watermill and a church.
Most of the buildings on our visit were open to look around. On-site there are really old buildings like an Anglo-Saxon Hall House and a mediaeval building to some relatively new stuff! And, when I say new I mean comparatively new, 200 years ago!
Also along with the houses are their gardens too. Many of the gardens had herbs in from the time. The herbs we use for culinary purposes as well as medicinal remedies. The gardens are laid out In as accurate a way as possible and as faithful to history as possible.
Above are teasels, that were used for carding wool before the industrial revolution.
If cooking is your thing they have a Tudor kitchen which prepares food from the 1540s including handmade butter and cheese and some quite strange dishes, compared to a diet today. Also, we saw some great demonstrations while we were there.
Tam, my other half was particularly taken with the demonstration by Jez who was making linen from flax. It was a very interesting process using all the old tools. It makes you realise how hard our ancestors had to work just to stay alive.
Also, as you would expect livestock plays a part in any historic recreation of south-east England. There are some heavy horses, Sussex oxen, Southdown Sheep, Chickens and even Geese on site. In some senses they got it made! Indeed, it is a secure environment and extremely free-range! The chickens were just wandering around, so always keep your dog on a lead.
Above is an old schoolroom and chalked on the board are the immortal words ” Children should be seen and not heard”!
The Site at the Weald and Downland Living Museum
A pair of decent shoes would be a good idea as the museum is on the South Downs and has chalk flint paths. And being the downs it means there are slight hills to walk up, but nothing too strenuous. Also, it is wheelchair and mobility scooter accessible as much as can be. The site itself is certainly dog-friendly and they make a special point of making dogs welcome. The only place you couldn’t take your dog was the mill which had signs up saying so. Reason why they still grind their own flour at the mill, so for food hygiene reasons I can completely understand this.
We visited on 1 September and the only negative comment we heard was from a teenager. And I quote “This is the last day of my summer holiday and you bought me here!”
Ha! We had a good old chuckle about that. And to be fair, although I think there is definitely something to interest younger ones, it just depends on your youngsters! But for anybody else who’s even vaguely interested in history this place is brilliant! I really love looking at old buildings and how they were built.
A lot of these buildings did not start on the site but were lovingly taken apart in their old locations, bought the museum and erected piece by piece back to their former glory. There was even one building we noticed had label still on the beams from where they took it apart. I imagine that if you are into jigsaws, it would be an ideal job. After all, what is reassembling a building but a 3-D jigsaw!
Of course, there is a cafe serving food onsite as you would expect. The views overlooking the millpond make it a great place to grab a cup of tea.
My one concern
My only real concern was the price. I found it to be a little steep. Standard admission is £14 for an adult or £15.50 with gift aid donation children 5 to 17 years £6.50 and adults over 65 are £12 or £13.50 with gift aid donation. They have rates for families which were put in a picture below.
Check out the website for full opening hours and details but essentially it’s only the Christmas week it’s closed for.
How to get to the Weald and Downland Living Museum
Click on the Google Map for directions
Weald & Downland Living Museum
Singleton, Chichester, PO18 0EU
I enjoyed the place immensely and although the entrance fee may be thought to be a little steep, £15 for a day’s entertainment is not too bad at all!
More from my great days out in Sussex List
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