Golden Future Campaign

Update to Campaign Due to Covid-19

Since the start of the pandemic, our needs have changed, we NOW need all the help and support we can get to make up the loss in 90% of our income as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Your support means so much to us during this difficult time and any donations are gratefully received.

For the Museum, 2020 is a very special year, a historic moment to be celebrated in this unprecedented year. On 5 September 2020, the Weald & Downland Living Museum turns 50. A half century of architectural and building history, telling the untold stories of the rural past in the South East of England.

The Museum opened its doors to the public on 5 September 1970, when Dr Roy Armstrong’s passion became a reality, to preserve, educate and celebrate the history of rural England and the way of life for generations of ordinary people.

To this day, the Weald & Downland Living Museum remains true to Dr Armstrong’s vision – it shares the history of the ‘Weald and Downland’ region and the untold stories of the rural past with hundreds and thousands of visitors each year.

Whether they are 5 or 95 – there is something for everyone!

Dr Roy Armstrong

50 years ago one man, Dr Roy Armstrong, had a passion: to preserve and celebrate the history of rural England and the ordinary people who lived it. And so it came to be that on 5 September 1970, the Weald & Downland Living Museum was born; an open air museum that brings history to life.

We have been a spiritual home and source of imagination to many since we opened to the public 50 years ago, and we continue to give people of all ages a chance to witness a past that is truly alive.

Our Golden Future

As we enter our 50th anniversary year we are looking to our next 50 years with the launch of The Golden Future Campaign.

The campaign will propel us into our 2nd half century. It will enrich the visitor experience, improve visitor facilities and underpin the protection of the buildings and artefacts in our care. It is a milestone moment for the Museum and we invite you to be part of it.

The Golden Future Campaign.

Be part of something historic.

The Golden Future Campaign


Golden Future Campaign: Access

Making the Museum an Experience for Everyone

The Museum sits in 40 acres of rolling countryside. With woodlands, rural pathways and a mix of cobbles, earth and gravel, it can be difficult for visitors to navigate. We have ambitious plans to improve access for all. We will start by upgrading our car park to give wheelchair and pushchair users a smoother ride.

Inside the Museum we will improve pathways, re-surfacing, underpinning and levelling where necessary, taking care to be sensitive to the Museum’s historic setting. Additionally, we will upgrade visitor bathrooms for greater comfort and disabled access.

But this is by no means the extent to our ambitions. In addition to improving physical access we will develop new resources that support visitors with additional needs and we will further open up access to our artefacts collection.

Finally, we will improve access for schools with a dedicated schools’ bursary. Schools are increasingly struggling to fund field trips amid financial pressures. However, the benefits of learning outside the classroom are well documented.

It can re-motivate children who do not thrive in a classroom environment and is known to improve standards back inside the classroom, raising attainment, reducing truancy and improving discipline. Our schools’ bursary will allow us to finance trips and workshops for schools who would struggle to self-fund a visit. It will enable a greater number and diversity of school children to enjoy, and benefit, from all the Museum has to offer.

Our aim is to make the Museum and our collections accessible for all.

Support the Campaign.

Be part of something historic.

Titchfield Market Hall

Golden Future Campaign: Titchfield Market Hall

Restoring the Heart of the Museum

Standing at the heart of the Museum’s market square, dating from c.1620 is Titchfield Market Hall, iconic and recognisable to many. It is typical of a seventeenth century market hall; an upstairs council chamber, and an open trading arcade at street level, complete with offenders ‘lock up’.

Once common across the UK, market halls were largely demolished in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Titchfield Market Hall itself was subject to a demolition order but was saved and brought to the Museum in 1971. Since then, water ingress, time and environmental impacts have taken their toll and now its timber frame is in need of significant conservation.

At nearly 400 years old, achieving the extensive work Titchfield Market Hall needs will be painstaking work. The project will begin with in-depth research to provide information of the Hall’s history and its original structure. A team of trained crafts professionals will then dismantle the building tile by tile, timber by timber and brick by brick for careful conservation.

Upon completion, Titchfield Market Hall will once more take its position at the heart of our market square, resplendent and secure to stand for another 400 years.

Help us restore Titchfield Market Hall and protect it for the next 400 years.

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Golden Future Campaign: Endowment

Underpinning the Museum’s Future

An endowment is a capital sum that is invested, grown and in turn releases an annual financial grant back to the charity for which it has been created. The larger the endowment, the greater the grant can be and the greater financial security it offers.

We have a unique opportunity to grow our modest Endowment with matched funding from the Heritage Fund. All donations we raise towards the Endowment will be matched, pound for pound by the Heritage Fund. We are one of only fifteen charities nationwide who have been given this opportunity.

The Endowment creates a truly lasting legacy for the Museum and provides the financial resilience we need to educate and inspire future generations. Donations are not spent. They are invested in perpetuity and generate funds for the Museum forevermore.

The funds are directed wherever the need is greatest, be that specialist conservation work for one of our rescued buildings, new equipment for our growing family of livestock or new research into the social history of our collection.

Help us double our money and build our future legacy.

Support the Campaign.

Be part of something historic.

The 50 Fund

Golden Future Campaign: 50 Fund

Bringing Rural History to Life

A core purpose of the Museum is to conserve our collection of historic buildings and bring them to life with live demonstrations.

At the mercy of mother nature, the conservation needs of our buildings, coupled with finding the resources to bring over 50 of them to life, year-round, is a significant challenge.

Many of our buildings have complex care needs, made as they are from timber frames, thatch, daub, lime plaster, brick and stone. They require regular maintenance and sensitive, skilled repair.

Our interpretation team bring to life significant areas of the Museum aided by a team of passionate and dedicated volunteers. Through this team, visitors can experience a Victorian school lesson, how a bakehouse of the 1920s worked, the importance of a village blacksmith to their community and how a Tudor farmstead functioned. But we want to do more.

We are a Living Museum and with greater means we will be able to increase our interpretation team. With an increased team we can bring more buildings to life more frequently, adding to the visitor experience.

The 50 Fund will provide the financial means to do this. It will allow us to respond confidently to our conservation needs and more fully tell the story of rural life.

Help us bring rural history to life.

Support the Campaign.

Be part of something historic.


Hugh Bonneville

Hugh Bonneville (picture supplied by PR)
Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee, TV, Film and Theatre actor and West Sussex local. Currently starring as Robert, Earl of Grantham, in the ITV’s Downton Abbey now a major motion picture.

“This wonderfully vibrant museum of architecture shows how life and work has adapted and changed down the centuries. Placing buildings from different eras side by side it transports us through time, bringing our shared history to life, inviting us to explore our past and ignite our imagination for the future.

With its wide ranging calendar of live events relating to conservation and preservation, as well as demonstrations of traditional crafts, such as wool-making, wood turning, flour making, blacksmith techniques and many more, the museum experience really does offer something for everyone.

I am delighted to support the Weald & Downland Living Museum in celebrating all that this innovative institution has achieved over the past 50 years, to ensure it can continue its inspiring work for the next generation and beyond.”

Dr Jonathan Foyle

Dr Jonathan Foyle
Architectural Historian, broadcaster and heritage advocate, current presenter of BBC2’s ‘Climbing Great Buildings’.

“Descriptions of history seldom convey a visceral experience. That’s the glory of the historic environment.

However, while millions visit the grand set-pieces of cathedrals, palaces and castles, the everyday sort of houses that sustained our ancestors have been lost, or evolved beyond recognition through countless comforts and mod cons.

The Weald & Downland Living Museum allows you to step back in time, to smell and feel and touch the past they knew.”

Ruth Goodman

Ruth Goodman
Social and domestic historian, host of several television series including Victorian Farm and Victorian Farm Christmas as well as presenting a variety of films for The One Show and Coast.

“I love the Weald & Downland Living Museum for so many reasons. I love the peace and quiet, the way it sits in the historic landscape and gently celebrates the traditional forms of land management. The coppiced woodland ringing with the sounds of the axe and redolent with charcoal burners smoke welcome me like a homecoming. The horses, oxen and adventurous hens make me smile.

The gardens meanwhile are an inspiration, always interesting and different as well as beautiful. They are full of lessons from the past with techniques, varieties and materials that perhaps can lead us into a less polluting future. I see them as hopeful spaces infused with intelligent care.

As for the buildings that form the core of the museum’s message, I adore their ordinariness. The homes and workplaces connect me with a living continuous tradition of family life. They remind me how very much we all live in and around similar buildings, adapted over and over again to more modern patterns but still carrying echoes of older ways. They help me to both feel a connection with the past, but also see the distance travelled, rather like a map unrolling backwards showing all the pathways, highways and byways, that connect this with that, making sense of our present cultural landscape.

And of course I love being able to do things. The active taking part, experimenting with history, the hands on sort of historical experience that is so well supported and explored at the Weald & Downland Living Museum. It is a rare place indeed that encourages people to get so stuck in and of course it therefore attracts a special breed of people as visitors, course attendees, volunteers and staff whose knowledge, enthusiasm and energy are a delight.”

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful and supportive museum and campaign ambassadors. The time and passion they have contributed towards the Weald & Downland Living Museum and their commitment to the Golden Future Campaign is of great value as we look towards the future.

Support the Campaign.

Be part of something historic.

Ways to Support

The Museum could not and would not exist without the generosity of others. The Golden Future Campaign is a milestone moment for the Museum and we invite everyone to take part.

There are many ways to get involved:

Become a Major Donor

Support the campaign at the highest possible level with a significant donation. Speak to the fundraising team about your gift and where you would like it directed.

Leave a Gift in Your Will

Create a legacy with a gift that will live on in perpetuity – speak to our friendly team to find out more about legacy’s and how they can benefit future generations.

Corporate Sponsorship

We have many corporate opportunities from sponsorship of our Big Weekender events to supporting our schools’ bursary as part of a corporate social responsibility programme.

Double Your Gift

See if your company have a matched funding programme to double any gift you give.

Take on a Challenge

Run a marathon, host a coffee morning, whatever you would like! We would be delighted to help you in any way we can to take on a challenge to raise money for the Campaign.

Support While You Shop!

Keep your eyes peeled for special merchandise to commemorate our 50th birthday that will also donate to the Campaign.

‘Gift Aid’ It

Make sure to gift aid any donation you make. If you are a UK tax payer and elect to gift aid your donation, we can claim an additional 25% from the UK Government at no extra cost to you.

Spread the Word

Share, like and retweet about the Campaign – referrals can make a massive difference to helping us generate awareness and reach new people.

Small Business Owner?

Do you own or work for a small business that could help raise funds for the Weald & Downland Living Museum? We can provide you with a donations box to help you on your way.

Donate Now

Instant support and extremely valuable. Any gift, large or small, will make a difference.

Support the Campaign.

Be part of something historic.

Donate now

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