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.
Let’s take a look back at some of the key events from the 1970’s:
- The Museum opens to the public after an industrious period in the 1960s for founder Dr Roy Armstrong and his supporters who are already rescuing threatened historic buildings from the weald and downland region of south east England.
- Bayleaf farmhouse, a significant late medieval Wealden hall house saved from the Bough Beech Reservoir site, is conserved and re-erected on its new site at the Museum. By the end of the decade the Museum has saved almost 30 buildings (and numerous building sections and rural life artefacts).
- By 1973 annual visitor admissions have already reached over 111,000.
- In 1975 the Museum wins the coveted National Heritage Museum of the Year Award: the prize is collected in London by the Museum’s Director, Chris Zeuner.
On the anniversary weekend of the opening of the Museum, we spent the weekend focusing on the buildings at the heart of the Museum collection – their construction methods, building forms, and conservation. This weekend also paid tribute to Roger Champion (1937-2021), Museum Master Carpenter.