Weald & Downland Blog

The Bagpipe in English Rural Communities

You may have seen Jez Smith, one of our Site Interpreters, playing the bagpipes on Mothering Sunday last week. With International Bagpipe Day this Thursday 10th March, we’ve taken a look back at the history of the instrument. Today, in the British Isles, we think of the bagpipe as an instrument associated strongly with the... (read more)

Raising the Sole Street frame: the process

Ahead of the re-erection of our medieval house from Sole Street on June 18-19, we took a behind the scenes look this week at the essential work to the timbers, performed by Museum Carpenter in Residence, Joe Thompson, and his team. Joe and his two building conservation trainees, Richard Toogood and Claire Vidler, have been painstakingly surveying and... (read more)

Brewing in Tindalls Cottage

This week we have a guest blog written by Sam Williams, a pewtersmith, who has been working with Marc Meltonville and another expert food historian from Historic Royal Palaces, on a personal project to trial brewing recipes from the 1700s. The Museum’s Tindalls Cottage exhibit was, of course, a perfect place for this activity and... (read more)

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)