Site view with award logos

Awards & Accolades

The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum was launched in 1967 by a small group of enthusiasts led by the Museum’s founder, the late Dr. J.R. Armstrong MBE. It opened to the public on 5 September 1970. Since its inception, the Museum has won a host of awards and accolades for its work and Designated Collection, which you can find listed below. The Museum changed its name to the Weald & Downland Living Museum in January 2017.


Sandford Award for Education
Heritage Education Trust

The Sandford Award is an independently judged, quality assured assessment of education programmes at heritage sites, museums, archives and collections across the British Isles.

Building Crafts Award
Sussex Heritage Trust

The Museum’s Gateway Project (visitor centre) was awarded the Building Crafts Award by the
Sussex Heritage Trust, with awards given to suppliers John Grant, Kingsley Roofing, Ben Law & Justin Owen, Woodsmen, for its timber shake roof.



Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Our fantastic team of volunteers was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service on 2 June 2016.

Our volunteers, who work in the community to stimulate public interest in historical crafts and rural buildings, have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK!

Queen's Award for Voluntary Service logo








Balfour of Burleigh Tercentenary Prize

Roger Champion, Museum Master Carpenter turned volunteer (post-retirement), was awarded a Balfour of Burleigh tercentenary prize for exceptional achievement in crafts.

Roger Champion and Richard Pailthorpe - Balfour of Burleigh tercentenary prize 2015







Sussex Visitor Attraction of the Year 
Celebration of Sussex Life Awards

Sussex Life 2015






Sussex Heritage Person of the Year
Sussex Heritage Trust

Awarded to Richard Pailthorpe, Museum Director

Richard P - Sussex Heritage Trust Award - July 2015 - 1








Sussex Heritage Person of the Year
Sussex Heritage Trust

Roger Champion, Museum Master Carpenter turned volunteer (post-retirement), was awarded Sussex Heritage Person of the Year by Sussex Heritage Trust.


Europa Nostra Award

The Museum received a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award for Historic Building Conservation Training Programme, plus Grand Prix Laureate in recognition of outstanding heritage achievements.


Learning Outside the Classroom

Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge awarded.


Sandford Award for Education
Heritage Education Trust


Designated Outstanding Collection

Government designation was awarded to our entire collection. This is awarded to pre-eminent collections of national (and sometimes international) importance.

Interpret Britain Award

Awarded for formal educational provision.

Honorary Masters Degree

Chris Zeuner, Museum Director, was awarded honorary MA from University of Southampton.


Sandford Award for Education
Heritage Education Trust

Sandford Award for Education
West Sussex Countryside Studies


Doctorate of Letters
University of Sussex

Museum Founder, Roy Armstrong, was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Sussex.


OBE awarded to Museum Director

Museum Director, Chris Zeuner, was made an OBE.

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Times/Shell Community Museum Award

Voted for by the public and presented by the Duchess of York, this hugely sought after award reflected the Museum’s enormous support from the local community.


National Heritage Museum of the Year Award

We were one of the first independent museums to receive this award, which is now known as the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year).



MBE awarded to Museum Founder

Museum founder, Roy Armstrong was made an MBE.






Awards presented to the Museum for its iconic Downland Gridshell Building


  • Runner-up for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2002
  • RIBA Architecture Award 2002
  • British Construction Industries Small Projects Award 2002
  • Wood Awards: Winner in structural category and Gold Award overall (Carpenters Company) 2003