artefact store


Artefact collection

The Museum holds a very strong and comprehensive range of artefacts – currently estimated at some 15,000 pieces – which cover a diverse range of subject matter, namely:

  • building parts and trades tools
  • agriculture and land management
  • transport and vehicles
  • plus many other rural trades and crafts

Most museums have such collecting remits, which help give a meaningful form to their collections. As well as these (which are subject related), we also have geographic limits from where we collect: Kent, East/West Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.

In the same manner as our buildings collection, the artefacts have been awarded Designated status by ACE (Arts Council England), which recognises collections of regional and national importance in non-National, registered museums.

Initially referred to as the ‘supporting’ collections’, the Museum’s artefacts have been of significant importance for many years, and so stand alone in their own right covering the following subject areas:

Building Parts, Methods & Materials

Including: Brick & Tile Making, Building Components, Well Fittings, Builders & Decorators.

Building Trade Tools & Equipment

Including: Carpentry, Grindstones, Plumbing, Stonemasonry, Thatching


Including: Hand Implements, Barn Machinery, Field Machinery, Animal Husbandry, Cutting Hooks, Dairying, Equine, Hops, Shepherding.

Land Management

Including: Drainage, Gardening & Smallholding, Wood Processing.

Transport & Wheeled Vehicles

Including: Carts, Wagons, Handcarts & Trolleys, Living Vans.

Rural Trades & Crafts

Including: Blacksmithing, Cider & Brewing, Coopering, Gamekeeping & Trapping, Leatherworking, Millwrighting, Tinsmithing, Wheelwrighting, Woodland Crafts.

Domestic & Lifestyle

Including: Ceramics, Custom & Belief, Domestic, Furniture, Illumination, Models, Pictures & Photographs, Retail, Weights & Measures.

These collections are accessible to visitors in a number of ways:

  • Many items are displayed in buildings on our site.
  • We have a smaller, parallel collection of ‘use’ or ‘display’ items, which include domestic, furniture and furnishings and also duplicate items from our main core collections. Such items are used around the Museum for dressing our buildings, demonstrations or handling, and are one of our main sources for outreach, where we lend pieces out in response to requests.
  • A daily guided tour at 1.30pm takes visitors into our open access stores in the basement of the Downland Gridshell. This affords a good, general overview of around 80% of the Museum’s artefacts.
  • Visitors may have a particular interest in a part of the collection and may wish to study such items in more detail; in order to meet these needs greater access to the collections is made possible via an appointments programme. Please contact the Curator to arrange a visit.We try to facilitate such requests to borrow items wherever possible, as this is one of the key services which we aim to provide with our now, well ordered collections.

A comprehensive database of our collection artefacts is currently under construction and will soon be available via this website. It will offer a good starting point to any search.

Collecting policy

All the Museum’s collections, including the artefacts, are governed by the Museum’s Acquisitions and Disposals Policy. This provides a framework around which future acquisitions should take place. It places boundaries upon what we collect and where we collect from; without this the collections could spiral out of control and lose much of their meaning.

Further information about the artefacts collections, requests for appointments to study items further, or indeed to borrow pieces should be made to the curator:

Julian Bell, Curator, Weald & Downland Living Museum, Town Lane, Singleton, West Sussex, PO18 0EU.

Tel: 01243 811035

e-mail: [email protected]


The archive is a large collection of notes, reports, photographs, maps and other material relating to vernacular architecture including the buildings re-erected at the Museum.


We hold a comprehensive reference library relating to vernacular architecture, building conservation and rural crafts and skills is one of the leading archives in the country on these subjects. The library catalogue is available online at