Museum History
(3704 Records)

 Date   Origin   Summary 
2009/10Magazine / Autumn 2009Benefiting from knowledge transfer / The Museum established a link with Reading University in 2005, agreeing to run two Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) projects, one in history and the other in computing. These will gather information for the Access Project designed to prove the quality of our historical resources and find new ways to communicate them to the public.

KTP is a government scheme which helps businesses gain access to expertise in universities, colleges and research organisations. The first KTP associate was Dr Danae Tankard, who researched the social and economic background to the Museum's main exhibits. She worked through a well-planned progamme of research for the 30 months of her project and produced research reports on 10 houses on the site.

The other KTP associate was James Schoolar, who was appointed in 2007. Much of his time was spent investigating possible IT applications, implementing experimental versions of them and monitoring visitor reactions. He focused on the Museum' \\
2009/10Magazine / Autumn 2009Bedales School and the Weald and Downland Museum / The school and the museum have had a long association. A barn, then located at Sotherington, was offered to Bedales School by the Earl of Selborne, and was dismantled and re-built by Bedalians, under the guidance of John Rogers. The Barn was re-opened in 1983 and has remained the hub of Bedales Outdoor Work to this day. Bedalians have now not only removed and rebuilt another 18th-century barn, but have recently created from scratch two oak-framed buildings of their own. The school has had a school farm since its foundation in 1899 and today it is stocked with Jacob's sheep, ducks and chickens. Many country skills are learned in one of the barns.
2009/10Magazine / Autumn 2009Museum Renaissance / Although the Museum is operated by an independent charitable trust, it has close contact with a wider national museum and heritage world, and takes advantage of opportunities this offers to further its work.

Recently many of these opportunites have been embodied in the "Renaissance in the Regions" programme, which aims to enhance museum provision and standards in the English regions. "Renaissance" has drawn mixed reaction from museums. Some have found it highly effective but museums like the Weald and Downland have found it less useful, although there have been some minor funding opportunities.

A review of "Renaissance", which has been highly critical of its operation, has come up with some changes for the future and there would be opportunities for challenge funding, open to all museums, but no doubt with some strings attached!
2009/10Magazine / Autumn 2009"And that will never be" / Suzi Hopkins, the writer of this year's theatrical event, produced a piece of site-specific theatre suitable for all ages. The Company - a Sussex-based theatre company - arrived at the Museum at the end of July to rehears prior to the performances and workshops. As the play progressed across the Museum, in and out of some of our historic buildings and through the woods, the audience were equally enthralled by the performance and the experience of being at the Museum "out of hours". The story ended in the Market Square with a song and last drink before the audience made their way home.

Over the following week The Company performed at the Museum during the day and evening for general visitors and pre-booked audience. In addition, the Museum had invited four different groups of young people to attend specially-devised drama workshops and performances over four days.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Obituaries - Al Preddy / All became a volunteer at the museum 20 years ago, working on Thursdays and undertaking many duties. Since the opening of Longport as the Museum's entrance facility, he has mostly worked in the shop but also distributed publicity leaflets and posters to pubs and other public places in the Lavant/Singleton/East Dean area. He also volunteered for the local British Legion, Talking News for the Blind and Chichester Lions Club. As well he provided transport for a local doctor's surgery and was a cricket scorer at Arundel.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Obituaries - Neil McGregor-Wood / Neil McGregor-Wood was a trustee at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum for 20 years. He died at the age of 81 on 5th January following a severe stroke. He had also served as Museum vice chairman from 1992 until 2006.
He and his wife moved to Chichester in 1986, and then to Arundel. He was very active in four dramatic groups, and a describer at Chichester Festival Theatre for the visually impaired.
Neil's early years were spent in North London. He went to Trinity College, Cambridge, after his National Service, and graduted in law in 1950. He qualified as a barrister in 1953. Before his retirement he was an active local politician, chairman of the board of governors of a Surrey school. After retirement he became active with Chichester schools, New Park Centre and the Cathedral Council and Deanery Synod.
Neil will be remembered most for his wit, warmth and active mind, which was poignantly commemorated by his family in Chichester Cathedral.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Bread and Potatoes - local children discrober the source of their food / Children from Barton's Infant School, Bognor, visited the museum in October as part of the Year of Food and Farming. This visit was aimed at helping chldren, through learning experiences, to discover more about the countryside. As part of their experience the Year 1 children harvested potoatoes with the Museum's stable team and Shire horses. Children from St Anthony's School, Chichester, also harvested potatoes, and made a second visit in November to make bread, working in the Tudor Kitchen. They also saw the flour production in the Lurgashall Mill.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Pendean - A Yeoman's House from West Lavington, West Sussex / The farm called Pendean was situated about one mile south of Midhurst in the parish of Woolavinton (now West Lavington). It is a timber-framed house of the three-cell lobby entry type with an internal axial chimney stack and back to back fireplaces. Dendrochronology dates that its timbers were felled in 1609 suggesting that the house was built at around that date. It has been reconstructed at the musuem as it would have been at the time of construction including the rear (south) outshut.
Pendean was clearly a yeoman's house as the evidence of occupation suggests. Yeomen were broadly "middle class", below the ranks of "gentry" but above the ranks of "husbandmen" and "labourers". Their living was primarily from the land and typically employed non-family labour. Their houses were usually larger and better furnished than those of husbandmen and were more likely to hold parish offices such as overseers of the poor or churchwardens. Literacy was gen \\
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Collections update / Potato sorter and sack lifter: These were acquired from Aldwick Farm, Bognor. The potato sorter has been stripped, conserved and repainted by the Collections Team volunteers and will be demonstrated to visitors during the autumn. The sack lifter has also been dismantled, thoroughly cleaned, repainted and oiled, restoring it to full working order in order that it can be displayed and demonstrated.
Hay sweep: This interesting example of a wooden hay sweep is different to other examples in the collection. A few repairs are required to the wooden tines but, when comlete, will provide a contrast to other hay sweeps on display in the new Vehicle and Implement Gallery.
Hop press: A wooden-framed hop press has been donated to the museum. It originally came from an oast house at High Halden, Kent, and has been restored and preserved by the donor. Manufactured by Garrett & Co of Maidstone, it is an excellent wooden example to contrast with the ornate cast iron press acquire from Bapton five y \\
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Obituaries - Miss Samways / Miss Samways was a retired teacher who volunteerd at the Museum in its very early days. In addition to stewarding the houses, she worked in the Museum library with the librarian, the late Marjorie Hallam.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008New Home for Vehicles and Implements / Vehicles and implements from the Museums collection will have a new home by Christmas. The funding is supported by DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund. The building is an open-sided structure, 130 feet (39m) long supported on re-used telegraph poles. The roof is covered by sedum grass, resulting in a minimal visual impact on views of the site during winter, and redering the building invisible in summer.
The lean-to behind the joiner's shop from Witley has been completed. This will be used to house the Gypsy Wagon, Reynolds van and cattle wagon. The hay barn from Ockley is to be re-erected to house three components of the "threshing train" - the drum, elevator and living van.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Working the Museum's Woodland / While I was working as part of a Manpower Services commision scheme cataloguing books and slides in the Museum's library during the 1980s, Chris Zeuner, the Museum's Director, asked if I could help the site staff with coppicing. Despite my ignorance of the process and ineptitude with the tools, my enthusiasm for "playing in the woods" began.

Within the Museum boundaries are about seven hectares of woodland. The character of these woodlands was determined over 100 years earlier by the owners of West Dean Estate. A plantation of beech and European larch was established for eventual use as timber and firewood. By the time the trees were ready for use there was no market for the produce, the plantation became derelict and the decision was taken to fell the remainder of the trees. The beech and larch were replaced mainly by ash, hornbeam, sycamore and hazel. An aerial photograph of the late 1940s shows the central section was already being managed as coppice.

Coppicing inv \\
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Thinking Ahead / A new Forward Plan for the Museum for 2008-2013 is to be written this spring. The previous plan covered the period 2003-2007. Ideas for the new Plan will be discussed widely and new trustee, Paul Rigg, will help and guide it.
The plan will map broad strategies for the next five years, along with a three-year rolling business plan with the annual budgets. The final draft of the plan will be discussed by the Executive Board on 31st March and at the Museum Community Forum on 1st April. The final document will be ready for adoption by the trustees at the annual meeting in May.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Landscape Conservation Management Plan in final stages / The Museum has joined forces with the Edward James Foundation to commision a Landscape Conservation Management Plan for West Dean Park (see October 2007 Museum Magazine). Nicholas Pearson Associates has been carrying out research and writing the plan. The final draft will be presented to the steering group on 6th March.
Fascinating insights have been revealed into the development of the park, including the tight tree belts in the early 19th century, the development in the middle of the 19th century of a "Reptonesque" landscape and then, with the arrival of William James, the park was developed almost entirely for shooting.
Edward James gave the park a new life as a popular cultural legacy, and the Museum has continued this by becoming Englands leading open air museum of traditional buildings.
The concept of the plan is that history informs significance and that problems and capacity of the landscape can lead to a plan of action. West Dean's manag \\
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008New Paths at the Museum / New paths have been created, firstly to make it easier for people with limited mobility and secondly to follow more closely the ancient features in the landscape. The last stretch was completed in January. These new paths will be of benefit to everyone, not only those with limited mobility.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008News in brief / The Annual Meeting of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust is to be held on the day of the Rare Breeds Show at the Museum on 20th July 2008. It is hoped that after the meeting many of the members will visit the Rare Breeds Show.

Conferences and exhibitions: The International Guild of Knot Tyers will meet on 10/11 May when members will stage displays for visitors, including netting, wooden scaffolding and tree surgery. From 25th May to 5th June the Lewes-based company, BBM Sustainable Design will display its exhibition "Translating Landcape into Architecture". The British Artist Blacksmiths Association is holding its internation annual meeting on 1st to 3rd August with over 70 blacksmiths working on a specially-commissioned piece. Visitors can have a go at smithing at the number of activities around the site. In September the fourth meeting of the "Lifelong Learning in Open Air Museums European Conference" will be held, with delegates from most northern European countries expected. The focus w \\
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008People - Welcome to new stff and volunteers / Carlotta Holt has joined the staff as gardener, following the retirement of Bob Holman. She is new to historic gardens but has learned a great deal from Bob Holman in the first few months. In her two days a week at the Museum she leads a volunteer team. She is also part of the interpretation team which reflects the importance the Museum attaches to communication with the public.

Paul Rigg, formerly Chief Executive of West Sussex County Council, has been appointed as a Museum Trustee. We are very pleased the someone with such a wealth of experience is willing to join us.

Richard Wilde has taken over the honorary treasurership of the Friends from Maurice Pollock. He was trained as an accountant and worked in a number of fields before oving to management consultancy. A keen sailor, he represented the UK in many world and European championships, mainly in the Olympic Finn class. Richard's first challenge as a volunteer at the Museum was working with the Tues \\
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Long-straw experiements in the Museum's fields / The Museum will be experimenting this year with ways of improving the quality of its long-straw crop, enhancing its lasting nature as thatch. Different varieties have been sown and experiments will be carried out throughout its growth and harvest. The current four small fields and a fifth experimental field are being used to grow several different varieties of long straw. Conventional and new methods will be tried out. In late March the National Society of Master Thatchers will hold its annual meeting in Arundel. They will visit the Museum to see demonstrations of modern materials used to give fire protection to thatch. When each mock-up is burnt to demonstrate its effectiveness the Fire Service will be on hand in case things get out of hand.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Grow your own clothes / One of the Focus days this year is called Grow Your Own Clothes. Demonstrations will show the production of clothing from wool and linen. Two years ago a crop of flax was grown, and after "retting", fibre has been produced and spun into linen yarn. It is hoped to produce enough yarn to pilot a weaving project. Eventually the aim is to make an item of clothing from the Museum's own yarn from its own crop.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008A Gift with a difference / Over the last 35 years the Museum has established itself as England's leading museum of historic buildings and traditional rural life. During the development of the rich aspects of our rural heritage the Museum has been able actively promote the continuance of ancient crafts, trades and manufactures, through the adult education courses run each year. National concerns regarding the loss of heritage skills and those able to teach them has resulted in the Museum being ideally placed to keep such skills alive for future generations.

The dedicated School Services Department delivers a programme which meets the varied requirements of the national curriculum, and welcomed nearly 24,000 school children during 2007.

As an independent museum and charity we have no outside government funding and rely on visitor income, occasional sponsorship and grants, plus our Friends group. However legacies are very important for building up funds to support future development.

A good example \\
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