Weald and Downland Open Air Museum

A great day out! A report on our half term, family trip to Weald & Downland Open Air Museum in Singleton nr Chichester, West Sussex

With the weather forecast predicting some unseasonably sunny weather it seemed a great opportunity to trundle down to this venue in the heart of the Sussex countryside, not only does the weald down museum offer some outdoor space but it seemed to be the perfect combo of history, outdoors and some activities for kids too.

We arrived and got parked easily enough and then paid the entrance for a family ticket which cost us around £34. the kids got a “find the historical toilet” quiz which prompted the, no doubt planned, giggles and sniggers from our two small boys. A list of the activities taking place around the site for half term was also provided. The staff at the desk were friendly and made us feel welcome too.

Once inside there is an introductory barn with a scale model of the site and some other displays. This didn’t really help us plan what to do and wasn’t very clear really so we pretty much marched on through. Following a muddy broken path for about 100 yards you come out facing the market area where several buildings are located as a group and we began exploring these.

Not being much of a historian of architecture and not being the type to carefully examine what’s available in terms of maps and guide leaflets it was a bit confusing about what the purpose of the buildings was it just all felt a bit vague but it is very interesting and fun nevertheless. The kids particularly enjoyed all the upstairs and downstairs bits although they were a little dissapointed with the emptiness of some buildings and rooms “there’s nothing in this one” became a familiar cry.

From the “villagey” area we trekked off up the path to what one might call the “farmy” area where we found some chickens, a gaggle of geese, two cows and three shire horses. The boys loved the Tudor kitchen and were treated to a demonstration and taster of parsnip fritters! The hall with clay and craft activities was here although we didn’t do any of those.

After this we followed the trail up and round through the wood and investigated a couple more ancient buildings before heading back down to the main area for a well deserved lunch. It was a good lunch; the cafe was friendly and offered a good variety of tasty food with plenty for the little ones. We enjoyed our lunch outside in the grassy park by the pond.

After lunch we explored the “worky” area, the working mill and the blacksmith that the boys loved the most since making tools and weapons is one of things they do a lot in their minecraft game (basically online lego with zombies and sheep) and they are truly obsessed with that!

The final exhibits were bricks and leadworks etc which didn’t grab anyone’s attention much but I suppose they need to be exhibited somewhere and they didn’t upset any of us 🙂

After this we set off home via the nice museum shop and our 9yr old now sports a rather flashy Henry VIII’s ring which is at once encouraging for his interest in history whilst slightly disturbing from a bling bling jewellery perspective.

Overall we had a great day and this place is well worth a family day out. We were glad the weather was so good but there is a fair bit to do inside if it hadn’t been. We would have liked a better guide and signage to help us round the museum as we never quite knew why we were looking at things and what was of particular interest apart from clearly everything was of historical importance.

“I enjoyed it when we went to see the Tudor kitchen and they made us some food, I can’t remember the name but it was very yummy! I learned how people in Tudor times ate and lived, how blacksmiths make tools and how the houses looked and were made.” Santi, 9yrs old

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Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings
October 17, 2013


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