Weald & Downland Blog

Fifty years ago our Museum began in earnest

Fifty years ago the inaugural meeting of the Committee for the Promotion of an Open Air Museum for the Weald and Downland was held at the University of Sussex. The 1966 event formalised the Museum’s foundation – last year we marked 50th anniversary of the birth of Roy Armstrong’s idea for a museum of the... (read more)

A fascinating read at the Museum Library

Ever wonder how people would hear about the latest in country machinery and innovations back in the 1930s? Well, one way was by some wonderfully illustrated advertisements. Here are just a few examples from a 1938 issue of ‘The Countryman’ magazine, that can be seen at the Museum’s library. Although the above adverts can only be... (read more)

How we used to live – a 1980s school project about the Museum

Our thanks to Sinead Thompson for sharing her 1980s school project with us! Based on the Museum, this is a wonderful snapshot of how she saw our exhibit buildings on her visit. We hope you enjoy seeing her wonderful work.              ... (read more)

A day in the life of a volunteer: Blacksmith

This third instalment chronicling the stories of volunteers here at the Museum, takes a look at a day in the life of Ian Campbell, one of our fantastic Museum blacksmiths. When the Museum resumes usual opening times from 29 February 2016, you can find Ian stoking the fire and hammering away every Thursday in our Victorian Smithy... (read more)

Trades and Crafts at the Museum: Leadwork

The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum is home to many exhibits, depicting the historic homes and working lives of people in the South East from Anglo-Saxon to Edwardian times. We also have a regular programme of domestic and craft demonstrations, including cooking in our Tudor kitchen; milling flour in our watermill; blacksmithing in our Victorian smithy;... (read more)

Mummer’s the word

Over the Christmas celebrations here at the Museum, we welcomed several mummers groups to perform their traditional Christmas plays for our visitors. Before Christmas we had the Prize Old Mummers, and for our ‘Museum at Christmas’ event we welcomed Farnborough Mummers and the Wealden Mummers – all of whom entertained our visitors with their own versions... (read more)

Deck the Halls

The traditional greenery decorations are almost finished and will be on view in some of our houses from 26 December.  In the medieval house from North Cray, and in Bayleaf farmhouse there are enormous ‘kissing boughs’ hanging from the rafters, created from holly and ivy. In Tudor times the saying was that a larger amount of... (read more)

The Museum at Christmas: Celebrations Through the Ages

From Tudor to Victorian times, a historic festive treat awaits visitors to the Museum from Boxing Day to Monday 28th December when the Museum’s traditionally decorated houses will reflect the spirit of Christmas through the ages. The 15th century Bayleaf farmhouse Bayleaf farmhouse will play host to traditional greenery decorations and a table laid with a... (read more)

Roger Champion awarded tercentenary prize

Roger Champion, our Master Carpenter turned volunteer post-retirement, has been awarded a Balfour of Burleigh tercentenary prize for exceptional achievement in crafts. Naturally we’re all very proud of him. Roger (Master Carpenter at the Museum 1968-2003) famously learned about the embryonic Museum project from a publicity leaflet that caught his eye in a litter bin at... (read more)

Tree Dressing at the Museum

The Museum’s Tree Dressing event (6 December 2015) takes place as part of National Tree Week, which falls during the first week of December each year. The afternoon and evening will see song, dance and (of course) the dressing of our two Aspen trees with masses of beautifully decorated lanterns. But what is tree dressing?... (read more)