I recently took a vacation to London, England. My parents live there, and so I try and visit once a year. Normally, these visits are short affairs where I stay in my home town of Ashford and catch up with family and old friends. This year was different, this year I took my husband and children with me. We had a blast. Each of us chose one thing we wanted to see while we were near London. And today I want to share my choice The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.
It is a few hours by train from London. If you want to go the easy way then travel by train from Waterloo Station to Chichester and then take a cab from there. Of course, we went the hard way. We took a train from Clapham Junction to Hazelmere from there we got a bus to Midhurst, a pretty medieval town, and then another bus to the museum. I was amazed at how well timed the public transport was. We didn’t wait long for any of the trains or buses and taking public transportation added to the adventure.
The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum consists of a large parcel of land where volunteers and workers at the museum have taken tumble down buildings from the southeast of England, restored them to their original condition, completed research concerning their history, and acquired historically relevant artifacts. It is a place where you can explore the everyday life of the medieval world.
This is simply one of the best museums I’ve ever been to and hardly anyone seems to know about it. For me it’s a living history of the medieval and Tudor period. To quote their website
“…traditional buildings in a rural landscape that tell the story of the men, women and children who lived and worked in them over a 600-year period.
You can explore the 50-acre site and visit some of our 50 exhibit buildings. Many of our exhibit houses are furnished to recreate historic domestic interiors.
We have a regular programme of domestic and craft demonstrations, including cooking in our Tudor kitchen.”
Each building has an information plaque explaining; where the build came from, the time of its construction, and any relevant history. There is also a photo showing the original condition of the structure before its restoration.
Their re-enactors are friendly and helpful. I was fortunate enough to talk to two of them and pick their brains about life in the early 14th century. They were amazingly knowledgeable and very kindly took the time to share their wisdom and research tips with me. As a history geek I was in heaven. We sampled food from the Tudor kitchen, walked through the buildings where you can touch and handle the furniture
This was an amazing day and the English countryside is exceptionally beautiful. The only hiccup was that our bus stop near the museum was out of commission due to construction, but Andy from The Old Forge B&B was nice enough to give us a ride to Midhurst, where we had a delicious cup of coffee before starting our journey back to London.
The Weald and Downland is a beautiful part of England and with its proximity to London is definitely worth a visit.