Weald & Downland Blog

Treasure at the heart of the Museum: The Armstrong Library

We look back over the development of one of the Museum’s most important heritage assets – the library – and consider its value for lovers of historic buildings. From the earliest beginnings in the 1960s a principal objective for the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum (as it was then called) was to create a... (read more)

A Museum’s work is never done – caring for our buildings

With 53 historic buildings re-erected across the Museum, their vital care and maintenance takes constant effort – time, money and organisation. These rescued and very special structures, which are Designated in the UK’s national scheme for pre-eminent museum collections, are the focus of our current Endowment Appeal to ensure they are safeguarded for the future.... (read more)

Ubiquitous fruit

Gardening volunteer, Roger Brown, takes a look at Bayleaf farmstead orchard and the Museum’s heritage fruit trees. ‘A is for Apple’, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’, ‘Apple of mine eye’, are just some of the sayings and myths that surround this ubiquitous fruit. Apples have accompanied mankind since prehistoric times. The first... (read more)

Bread and butter – coming soon!

Our two newly re-erected 18th/19th century buildings from Surrey – the bakehouse from Newdigate and the dairy from Eastwick Park – have been attracting much attention from visitors this year. Their intriguing shapes and contrasting roofs draw your eye as you arrive on the Museum site from the visitor centre – what were they for?... (read more)

The Conservation of the wagon shed from Pallingham Quay

This building’s story runs across four centuries. Joe Thompson, Museum Carpenter-in-Residence, led the project to remove the building from the site of our new visitor centre in 2015. He will also perform its conservation and will oversee its re-erection near May Day barn and stable, where it will form part of a new late 18th... (read more)

Scything

“It is very satisfying to swing your scythe smoothly through a good stand of grass and then to look back at your work and see a neatly mown area.” Vic, museum volunteer. The Museum team is keen to promote historic skills and crafts, and we regularly demonstrate those that would have been carried out by... (read more)

50 years ago… 1968 was a busy year for the Museum

In 1968 the Museum was not yet open to the public but its collection was building rapidly By the end of 1968 the Museum had been formally established as a charitable trust. Edward James’ generous offer of the site on West Dean Estate on a peppercorn rent of £1 had been accepted and outline planning... (read more)

An Anniversary-Packed 2018!

2018 sees many anniversaries at the Museum – from the arrival of our first exhibit building in 1968 to the establishment of our endowment fund. 1968 (50 years ago): Arrival of first building on site – the timbers of Winkhurst farm (later revealed to be a Tudor kitchen) Sites & Buildings Committee established to agree... (read more)

Learn a new skill: Timber framing from scratch workshops

If you like discovering how timber frame buildings were made you will love our timber framing from scratch workshops, as they take you from the raw timber to the “reared-up” carcass of a structure.             Learning from the past is at the heart of the Museum’s course programme. In terms... (read more)

May Day Farm Barn Update: January 2018

Report by Joe Thompson, Museum Carpenter-in-Residence. Reconstruction of our new exhibit, May Day Farm barn, is underway and the carcass of the barn has now been successfully raised with the structural timbers in place.  Originally built in the late 18th to early 19th centuries this three bay threshing barn (span 16’ and length 34’) with... (read more)