Tuesday 27 September 2016

Chiltern Open Air Museum

Several years ago, we went to an open air museum. The children haven't forgotten this and still talk about that day. Recently, I realised that there is another open air museum, a little closer: the Chiltern Open Air Museum. This is in Buckinghamshire, close to the M25.

This year, our history is about the period 1600 to 1850. Once I had looked at the website, I knew there would be plenty of social history from this time but the other reasons that I wanted to visit were around being outside in the autumn and enjoying the sort of museum where children can run and handle items. The Museum didn't disappoint.

The first old building that we saw was this old public convenience.

It was actually in working order although high cisterns and difficult, old fashioned locks weren't popular!

The Museum has buildings which have been moved from the surrounding area, often in a poor state of repair. They have restored and rebuilt them. The collection is fairly eclectic but has been grouped in a village type structure with a Nissen hut,


and 1920s garage close together while a mission hall

sits beside a cottage, just across the way from a farm house
near the village green. 

A bit further from the centre was the farm
and Iron Age house.

There was plenty to do: toys to play with in the prefab, First World War uniform to wear in the Nissen hut, wooden scythes to use in the barn
and  a wagon wheel to assemble in the cart house.
There was a themed playground with a shepherds hut climbing structure and Anderson shelter for play.

We could go into houses and see the living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and even the privies. This is in the toll house.

A brilliant child, friendly place. There were a few school visits but the place didn't feel too busy. We couldn't go into the Iron Age house due to a group activity but otherwise, the school activities didn't hinder us. 

Recommended for a historical day out.

With thanks to Younger Daughter for the use of some of the photos.

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  1. I love these kinds of places! I love standing in the kitchen and just *feeling* how the mum would have felt, preparing for dinner that evening...or whatever! Same in the living rooms, bedrooms etc....they really do give a great experience of how life would have been :)
    Anne x

    1. Thank you, Anne. I well remember standing in the Weald and Downland Museum in a farmhouse and imagining what it would have been like to have a meeting there before the Act of Toleration. These are our favourite type of museum.