Weald and Downland Open Air Museum


Thursday and another day spent blowing away the cobwebs. The question was where to go,  where could we get some fresh air but without risking getting soaked. The answer was The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton.

Just a short twenty-mile drive from home, the museum is set in the heart of the South Downs and is encompassed by the South Downs National Park. It is home to around 50 historic buildings that were previously facing destruction. Those buildings were carefully dismantled and have been rebuilt here. All of the buildings, spanning the period c.1300 to c.1910, originate from the Weald and Downland of the counties of Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. The museum is set against an ever-changing backdrop of the Sussex downs.

A small portion of the Sussex countryside

Brilliant scenery, interesting historical buildings with animals mixed in. What better way to get fresh air and exercise.

On entering the site and paying a quite modest entry fee you pass through the Hambrook Barn. The barn has an interesting audio / visual display, with many photos of past and present artisans, some of whom may have worked in some of the buildings in the museum

Barn from Hambrook, Sussex

Passing through the barn you are presented with a high level view over The Market place and down to the pond which has a wind powered water pump. The pump was relocated from Pevensey in Sussex.

The Market Place

Wind Pump

As you stroll down to the pond area you pass the old Tollhouse which was originally from Beeding in Sussex.

Tollhouse

Sat below the pond is the mill that the water drives. The mill is in operation and you can go inside and view the workings as well as purchase fresh ground flour and other goodies. We came away with a number of packets of local biscuits. Yuuumy !!!

Watermill

Pond

Further round the site there is a working Smithy. The building originates from Southwater which by the way is where some of my family have lived in past times. My grandfather used to work the horses on farmlands around Sussex and who knows he may have visited this building or may have had his horses fitted with shoes from this forge and anvil.

Outside the smithy there is a vertical sculpture. The photo below is a close  up of just a part.

Detail From Sculpture near the “Smithy”

Although the buildings are the main reason for the museum one cannot avoid nature. The museum setting means that you are surrounded by beautiful trees, open fields and water.

Naked Tree

Lower Mill Pond

Around the grounds there are various animals most of which are traditional breeds including  Shire horses, Sussex cattle, South Down sheep, Tamworth pigs, geese and Light Sussex chickens. The shire horse can be seen  working around the site.

A plump / pregnant sheep

One of the shire horses pulling a cart

It is estimated that you need around three hours to take in all the museum has to offer. That is presumably if you don’t just sit on one of the many benches to absorb the sunshine, the beautiful scenery and the peace and tranquility.

Well for the most part anyway. Our little piece of tranquility was punctuated by a very yappy French Poodle and a large family group who could only communicate by shouting and screaming at each other.

Despite the minor negative moments we had a brilliant time and sadly we had to make our way home.

The road home.

For more information take a look at The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum website. Better still go and visit. You will not be disappointed.

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