Tag Archives: museum

Two weeks and counting …

10 Feb

Two weeks today sees the start of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012 at Olympia, London, billed as “the biggest family history event in the world”.

Everything is in place for my three days family history extravaganza, all that I need now is for the snow to clear off and I am all set.

Looking through the list of exhibitors I noticed a rather surprising, but welcome, addition to the usual list of names. The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum from Singleton, West Sussex will have a stand in the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show.

The description from the list of exhibitors gives a good idea of what the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum is all about, “Over 45 rescued buildings rebuilt in a beautiful setting in the South Downs National Park, bringing to life homes, farms and workplaces of the South-east over the past 500 years.

Although there isn’t really a direct connection with family history (except there is in my case), it is a perfect fit for those wishing to learn more about the rural lives of their ancestors. Most rural crafts and occupations are represented at the Weald and Downland in one way or another, especially when you factor in the special events that are held throughout the year.

On top of that you can also take courses at the museum, from working with heavy horses to hedgelaying. As is to be expected from the once heavily wooded counties of Southern England there is a particular emphasis on the use of timber, from charcoal burning to construction techniques.

The museum is a superb place to explore, as I have done on several occasions, and not just because it is set in the Singleton in the South Downs, home to many of my ancestors. If you are at WDYTYA Live then make sure you stop by and find out what they have to offer.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wandering: High Weald Landscape Trail – Bolney to Cuckfield

22 Oct

The High Weald Landscape Trail is a 90 mile route that runs from Horsham in West Sussex to Rye in East Sussex. The High Weald is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and according to the High Weald AONB website its key features are “its rolling hills, scattered farmsteads, small woodlands, irregular-shaped fields, open heaths and ancient routeways”.

It has been a long time since I walked a section of the HWLT, it was back at the end of April when my friend Chris and I started on the first section of this route, but finally we were back today to continue the walk.

Bolney is not the easiest of places to get to by public transport, for me it involved a bus ride, a train ride and another rather bumpy bus ride. Today’s walk got off to an inauspicious start at side of the old London to Brighton road, but we soon passed under the current London to Brighton road and into woodland, although we never really did get away from the noise of the traffic.

In a large proportion of today’s walk was in woodland and to be honest it wasn’t particularly inspiring. Perhaps if we had been a week earlier then there would have been more leaves on the trees it would have been more appealing, but as it was the walk soon became a little tedious. There path was varied, sometimes along the side of the wood, sometimes through the middle of a wood, sometimes along a road surrounded by woodland but there were few sections where we were actually out in the open.

Things did improve once we got nearer Cuckfield. The landscape did begin to open up a little bit and we were able to see the South Downs in the distance, admittedly it was only the outline of the South Downs, as it was still a bit hazy in the distance.

Without doubt the best part of walk was the village of Cuckfield itself. Of course I am biased because there are family connections with the parish, and it gives its name to the Civil Registration District in which so many of the births, marriages and deaths in my family tree occurred. I don’t think I have ever spent much time in Cuckfield (and we didn’t really spend that long today), but I have passed through on occasion and I now know that I will undoubtedly have to return in the future.

We found time to visit the church (which was open and had a display of “church treasures”) and the churchyard, then after a quick wander around the streets we popped into Cuckfield Museum. I knew Cuckfield had a museum but hadn’t realised what a treasure trove it was, along with the expected displays on aspects of local history they also have a small resource centre for family and local history. I resisted the urge to take a folder of the shelf and pull up a chair.

I need to get myself better organised for my next visit, well actually not my next visit because that will be to continue the walk but the time after that, so that I can spend some quality time immersed in some family history research.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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Wordless Wednesday: Pendean Farmhouse from Midhurst, Sussex

14 Sep

Pendean Farmhouse from Midhurst, Sussex now at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, Singleton, West Sussex.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Wordless Wednesday: Carpenter’s shop

7 Sep

Carpenter’s shop at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, Singleton, West Sussex.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Pillar boxes weren’t just painted red

3 Jun

Along with the red telephone box, one of the most iconic images of England is the red post box, or more correctly the pillar box (but then I am not an expert on these things).

Post box

Whilst red is the traditional colour (like the one above at Sayers Common, West Sussex) they do come in a range of shapes, sizes and colours. Whilst I am not an expert, they do interest me, especially when I think what might have passed through the little rectangular slot over the years.

The British Postal Museum and Archive blog today included a fascinating post by Assistant Curator Julian Stray which describes the restoration process of an unusual blue pillar box, which was designed specifically for posting airmail in the 1930s.

It is really fascinating to watch the restoration process through a series of photos, through to the photo of the finished article on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London. The post describes the amount of thought and effort that went into restoring and conserving this pillar box, from matching the paint colour to locating the correct collection plate (displaying the collection times) to go on the front of the box.

It is a truly wonderful example of the hard work and consideration that goes on behind the scenes in museums around the country and around the globe. I really must try and get to the next open day at the British Postal Museum Store.

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