I spotted Avoncroft Museum featuring on a couple of other blogs, and immediately thought how much I’d like to visit. I hated history at school, but seeing it in real life really makes history more interesting (and easier to take it in). We were offered the chance to visit and couldn’t wait to check it out.
I have to admit, I’d not really twigged exactly what the museum is. It’s a collection of historical buildings (and telephone boxes), but I’d not grasped the fact that they were real buildings and not just recreated. Dozily, I think I’d imagined it would be more like a film ‘set’ with the buildings set out and built in place. But each building is authentic, having been moved from its original location.
So there are buildings moved from farms, windmills, wood framed buildings and more.
We arrived in time for opening, so the car park was pretty empty when we arrived (on our exit, it had filled up, but there was still space even though it was still the summer holidays. I think the debatable weather had something to do with it).
Being the summer holidays, there were additional activities put on for children. On the Friday we were there, there were old fashioned games set out in some of the buildings and outside. Unfortunately the clouds and rain came down while we were there, so it was a little wet dodging the rain in parts, so we didn’t get to play any of the outdoor games.
N wasn’t keen when we first arrived. He moaned like anything about being there, but the children’s playground is near the beginning of the site so we headed there first to put him in a better mood. A snack, and a quick investigation of the easier obstacles, and he was in the right frame of mind to explore the museum’s buildings. The playground doesn’t have swings or a slide, so it’s really better for older kids – probably 5+, as much of it was a little hard for N to cope with. He did have a go at some of it though.
We also checked out the sensory garden, although it wasn’t quite as exciting as I’d thought it might be.
But it’s the buildings you go there for, and they certainly don’t disappoint.
As well as farm buildings like the Granary, threshing barn, and stables, there’s workshops like the forge, and houses. When we were there, the BBC were trying to film for a tv show about the wooden framed town house, but not having much success with the weather…and us who kept catching them up and them then following us around. I’m definitely going to watch out for that show to see how they cut us out!
We loved the windmill. We arrived at it while the skies were blue, and headed inside to find out more about how it worked and what types of flours were produced. The views were lovely, until the grey clouds and rain came.
N was too young to be taken up to the top of the windmill, but the other couple there at the same time were taken upstairs. The windmill turns one Sunday a month if the wind is strong enough, but sometimes on bank holidays it can also be seen in action.
We headed back off in the rain back to the main buildings before taking cover for a while. The rain did give N to ask some questions about posters and displays up in some of the buildings. In particular we talked a while about the Land Girls and what they did. Anything with a link to farming is interesting to him.
N still isn’t a fan of model people in museums, although he will now go into a room with them in. But at Avoncroft Museum, they’re real people, dressed up, doing traditional crafts or cooking, and able to tell you about the building they’re based in. We spent some time in the Toll House, where the lady was cooking on the fire while telling us about the house and what she was doing. N enjoyed playing with the old wooden toys and writing on the chalkboard while we waited for yet more rain to pass.
We headed round to check out the last few historical buildings: a cell block (N wasn’t keen on that), an entertainers wagon, brick works and more. There really is a great variety of buildings.
One of N’s favourites was the 1950s prefab building, where he did actually listen to what the lady there was saying. He was interested in what the tv and radio looked like, and got quite vocal about the state of the bathroom and the fitted kitchen.
He also liked the Anderson shelter. Actually, not really the shelter but more the sound machine he could wind up and listen to.
The miniature train wasn’t running on the day were were there, but that didn’t stop N gazing longingly at the track. I think that would have made his day.
We did have a nosy around the phone box section. We don’t watch Doctor Who but it was still exciting to see the Tardis boxes, as well as the more traditional red, and every other type of British phone box.
You could call each other between some of the boxes, and go into the signal box to find out more about how the exchange works from people working in there. N refused to go in one box without me so I didn’t get to make any calls, but there were older children there having a blast calling each other between 3 boxes.
Finally on our day at Avoncroft Museum, we had to get some lunch from the Edwardian tea rooms. They’re a real step back in time with a decent enough choice of sandwiches and light meals. There were children’s options of wraps or sandwiches, including within a meal deal. It was a really good deal because N’s sandwich was the same size as mine! Of course, cake was essential, and the lemon curd sponge was delicious.
We didn’t do the children’s trail, but there is a free question based activity sheet they can do. It’s really for school age children. But there’s still plenty for younger children to find out about and explore.
It’s definitely a place we’d go back to. I found it really interesting but I think there’s still plenty more to find out about and explore. There’s lots of space for children to run round in, and it’s something a bit different to many other museums.
What building would you be interested to see?
Disclosure: We received an annual pass to Avoncroft Museum, so we could visit and review. All words and opinions are my own.