Founded in 1970, the award-winning Weald & Downland Living Museum is a unique outdoor attraction that offers visitors a first-hand glimpse into rural living over the centuries.
Set over 40 acres in the South Downs National Park, the museum is home to a collection of 50 historic buildings dating from 950AD to the 19th century. Re-erected from their original sites in southeast England, they include homes and farmsteads as well as a working mill, bakehouse, forge and dairy. There are also six historic gardens and a wide range of traditional trades and crafts to discover, in addition to an extensive learning programme.
Since inception, the museum has strived to conserve the collection, with the aim of teaching future generations how to keep heritage crafts and rural traditions alive.
This year they are hosting a variety of interpretation weekends to showcase different aspects of rural working life, bringing the past into the present so visitors can learn from our ancestors.
On the 6th-7th April, they will be hosting their ‘Get Thrifty’ weekend. From make do and mend, to upcycling and swapping, visitors can find out how people in the past reduced waste, saved money and turned unwanted items into something useful.
For those interested in gardening and botanicals, on 22nd-23rd June the museum will celebrate the power of plants and flowers. Over this weekend, visitors can discover the history behind the use of plants and herbs in our diets and around our homes, from health and wellbeing to language and colours.
On the 3rd-4th August, there will be an immersive experience as the Black Knight Historical Group help to bring Medieval history to life. Join is as they bless the First Fruits of Harvest with a traditional medieval fayre around the museum’s Market Square.
Going into Autumn on the 14th-15th September, the Museum will host its popular Made by Hand: Heritage Crafts and Skills Weekend. With many heritage crafts at risk of being lost forever, visitors can explore crafts and skills from the past and learn about how these can be conserved for our future. Throughout the weekend there will be demonstrations from the museum’s craft experts as well as visiting members of the Heritage Craft Association, who will showcase crafts from the Red List of Historic Endangered Crafts.
On the 12th-13th October, there will be a new Hedgerows and Harvest Weekend. Hedgerows are a crucial factor in the existence of many plants and animals, and over the weekend there will be opportunities to learn about the diversity of the plants and insects that rely on them to survive.
The year will end with the museum’s annual Tree Dressing celebration in December, where visitors can take part in a special lantern procession around the site, finishing with singing and dancing at the Aspen Trees which are decorated with lanterns.
As well as a fascinating programme of interpretation weekends, the museum will also host fun and educational family activities during the school holidays. Whether 5 or 95, there is so much to explore and learn at the museum.