Museum History
(3704 Records)

 Date   Origin   Summary 
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Wood, the Museum and me / Historic timber structures have interested me since my early teaching days. The great medieval barns fascinated me, but when I came to choosing a research subject I decided to look at the hidden carpentry of buildings from 17th century onwards. At this point it was simply an interest in the history of engineering with no particuarl interest in conservation. On a visit to America, to study colonial buildings and explore possible connections with English carpentry, I met with Lee Nelson of the National Park Service and my curiosity in conservation was aroused.

In my courses at the Museum I try to teach that what non-engineers need is the ability to understand the options open to them in the repair of structures, and to be able to discuss these in a sensible way with the engineers that they employ.

Teaching at the Weald and Downland Museum involves the interesting challenge of coming to terms with both the needs of the students and those of the material.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Focus Days / A programme of four "Focus Days" will highlight aspects of the Museum's work. Each will have a theme, engaging with visitors through demonstrations, presentations and hands-on activities. The first was held on 6th January in Bayleaf, demonstrating Tudor celebrations surrounding Twelfth Night. The theme on 13th April will be Grown your Own Clothes. The Winkhurst Tudor Kitchen will be the venue for 14th September, focusing on Tudor baking and brewing. The Christmas season will start with "Stir-up Sunday" in Whittaker's Cottages - a traditional Christmas pudding and cake bake.
Future "Focus Days" are being planned, covering a number of themes including food and farming, lifelong learning, the Museum's artefact collection, architecture, environmental work and historical research.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Royal Gold Medal for Downland Gridshell architect / The Architect of the Museum's award-winning Downland Gridshell building, Ted Cullinan, has been awarded the 2008 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture, a gift of the Queen made by the Royal Institute of British Architects. He continues his relationship with the Museum through feasibility studies for the proposed new Access Project.
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008News in brief / The Toplots Heritage Auction on eBay has been a great success. In 2007 a total of
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Cutting your Cloth - Historic Clothing Project / The Historic Clothing Project was launched in 2007. The project is generously supported by the Friends of the Museum, aiming to produce historically accurate clothing by learning, sharing and demonstrating traditional needlework and domestic handicraft skills such as knitting, weaving and embroidery.
The members of the group or volunteers and staff from the interpretation scheme, all with a huge range of skills and interests. The group meets every month and each session is led by project supervisors Ruth Goodman and Barbara Painter.
During 2007 Tudor clothing was produced for use in Bayleaf farmhouse and Winkhurst kitchen. Female Victorian clothing has been made for whittaker's cottages and the school from West Wittering. In 2008 female clothing will be made for Pendean farmhouse and a start made on male Tudor clothing.
The process of the making of the clothes is fundamental to the project and the group is learning about the history and techniques. The m \\
2008/3Magazine / Spring 2008Farm livestock at the Museum / Pigs: Tamworth pigs have been kept at the Museum for nearly 20 years. They are popular with visitors and, to improve visitor access, a new viewing area is to be established for the Pendean pigsty.

Sheep: The flock of Southdown sheep was transferred to the ownership of Stephen Humphreys last year. Stephen keeps a renowned flock of Soughdowns at his farm in East Dean. A small flock of about 30 will be grazed at the Museum, with spring lambs expected around Easter time.

Cattle: Two pairs of Sussex cows are being trained by the Farm Manager. Gwynne and Graceful are two years old and already competent to do light cultivation work. Rose and Ruby are only 12 months old and still in the early stages of training. Each pair is exercised almost every day around the Museum site.
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008Focusing on the Museums working woodyard / The new Woodyard exhibit is to be the focus of everal special week-long demonstrations, demonstrating all the woodyard operations, crafts and artefacts in an interesting way for visitors. The centrepiece is the hand-operated timber crane which was manufactured by John smith of Keighley about 1900 and restored in 2005-6 by the collections team. An historic racksaw was added, made c1910 by W Graham of Perth, and a working sawpit. In 2007 the open-fronted shed from Coldwaltham was dismantled and re-erected in the woodyard to provide a flexible workshop and display area. The woodyard will not be a static display but a fully functioning yard where staff and volunteers can demonstrate traditional wood-related skills. So far one Woodyard Week has been held, in July/August. Neville, the Shire horse transported the logs to the Woodyard on the Museum's timber carriage. At the yard the timber crane was used to unload the timber and stack it ready for conversion. During the \\
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008Blacksmith's summer extravaganza / The British Artists Blacksmiths Association AGM was held at the Museum in August. Over 120 blacksmiths attended, with delegates from USA, Canada, Australia and Europe. It was agreed that the organisation will support the Museum by making severn three-themed way markers for woodland trails.
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008Wheat straw experiments provide new information / The harvest of this years five acres of wheat straw for thatching was successful, and the quality of the straw seems good. The crop was closely observed as it grew and various controlled experiements have been carried out to investigate possible ways of improving length and strength still further.
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008How they interpret history at Colonial Williamsburg, USA / Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia between 1699 and 1780 and, together with Jamestown and Yorktown, forms part of the Historic Triangle, "the birthplace of American democracy". The 301-acre Historic Area has 88 original 18th century buildings plus a large number of other houses, hsops and public outbuildings reconstructed on their original foundations. A large number of constumed first and third person interpreters are employed. The former requires the interpreter to wear historic clothing and take on the personality and actions, including speech, of someone at a particular historic period. The latter involves the interpreter wearing costume and undertaking appropriate activity but interacting with visitors using modern language and approach.
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008Winter events / On 15th and 16th November a Christmas market will be held for which the reduced admission will be
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008Honorary Membership / At the Friends AGM in april honorary membership was conferred on Bob Holman, who recently retired as the Museum's gardener. Bob spent 20 years developing and tending the Museum's period gardens, based around the historic house exhibits. Bob brought a great depth of knowledge of garden history, the countryside and plants to the gardens, which range in date from late medieval to 19th century.
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008Collections update / Dorset Wagon: Although the wagon originates from well outside the Museum's collecting area and would normally be declined, its excellent provenance and intersting link to the museum persuaded us to accept the offer. It had been in Mr Oliver, the donor's family, since it was commissioned in 1848 by his great great grandfather, Job Rose, a miller from fiddlefored in Dorset. It remained with the family during several moves, finally arriving in Send, near Guildford. Jim Oliver, who farmed in Send, was a trustee of the Museum from 1986 and also chaired the Sites and Buildings Committee. Each county or area had distinctive agricultural vehicles whose differences in shape and construction represent strong regional traditions. The Dorset wagon will help our visitors to understand how wagons designed for similar purposes can be quite different in construction and appearance.

Hearse: A late-19th century hearse from Jeremy Exley, Chair of Northiam Parish Council, has been accepted, meeting ou \\
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008Museum plans 19th century exhibit to complete farmstead trio / Within the Museum's five-year plan are plans for two more farmsteads which will complement the 16th century Bayleaf steading. One dates from the 17th century and will be based near Pendean farmhouse and the other a 19th century "Georgian" farmstead. The latter is thought desirable to illustrate developments following the Agricultural Revolution.

Plans for exhibit development include three major strands. Gonville Cottage, now identified as a shepherd's cottage with a sheep yeard, will become an exhibit focusnig on the interpretation of sheep and shepherding in the South Downs in 1851. Tindalls cottage and the church from South Wonston will be the next buildings to be re-erected.

The Museum will also continue to develop facilities in modern buildings including improved workshop and store provision on site, especially in the top car park, and a new house on site for a member of staff to ensure security and to replace Gonville Cottage now th \\
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008Historic Clothing Project moves to next phase / The four-year Historic Clothing Project continues, producing historically accurate replica clothing, made by the Museum's busy needlework group. An exhibition of the work so far was held in April, and an accompanying booklet, "Cutting Your Cloth". It is aimed at building up a comprehensive stock of replica historic clothing covering a range of periods, to clothe those working in the Museum's historic buildings, thus enhancing their interpretation. So far the 34-strong group has concentrated on Tudor and Victorian women's clothing, including outer and under garments, footwear and accessories. The next phase will include working clothing for Tudor men and Stuart women, while continuing to build on the existing stock.
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008The House from Walderton, West Sussex / The house from Walderton, in the parish of Stoughton, West Sussex, is externally a 17th century building with walls of flint and brick. Beneath its 17th century exterior is a medieval timber-framed building which itself is a replacement of part of an earlier building which was discovered during archaeological investigation of the site.

Analysis of the surviving timber shows that the medival building comprised an open hall at the west end, and a ground floor room with a first floor chamber above at the east end. Beyond the west end of thehall there must have been an earlier structure which could have been in line with or at right angles to the surviving building.

The 17th century refurbishment amounted almost to a complete rebuild. The accommodation created was in two halves, separated by the new chimney stack and the remains of the earlier cross frame. The eastern half provided two heated living rooms, one downstairs and one upstairs. The western half provided \\
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008New home for horse-drawn vehicles / The Vehicle and Implement Gallery was completed this year with a grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport/Wolfson Gallery Improvement Fund. Three of the vehicles housed in the Gallery are a Sussex dung cart from Warnham Court Farm near Horsham, a flatbed cart from Furnace Farm, Colemans Hatch, Est Sussex and a cattle transporter built in 1911 by S Horder and Sons of Loxwood.
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008Gonville Cottage to become a museum exhibit / Gonville Cottage is the Museum's best-kept secret - right in the middle of the site but largely invisible behind trees and hedges. Museum Director, Chris Zeuner, lived there in the early 1970s and since then has been occupied by people working for the Museum.

It became vacant in May this year and it was decided that it should become an exhibit. Built in circa 1847 it is an excellent example of a very common type of house, with a central entrance and staircase between two living rooms in the main range, and a rear outshot, and fills a major gap in the story told by our collections.

Danae Tankard, the Museum's history associate, discovered that in 1851 it ws occupied by a shepherd named Richard Burns who had won a number of prizes at the West Sussex Agricultural Association between 1840 and 1851. The mid-19th century tithe maps also show that it was associated with a range of farm buildings in what is now its garden - a U-shaped range of narrow sheds formi \\
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008New hop display will show quality artefacts / The Museum has been slowly accumlating hop-related artefacts since 1975. A rare cast-iron hop press from Bepton was acquired in 2002, and a wooden example was acquired in 2007. As the Gridshell Artefact Store had no room to expand another location on site was sought. The open-fronted shed from Charlwood provided a solution, and the wagons which had been housed there were placed in store, leaving just the hop wagon behind. This has been recently conserved and repaired by the Conservation Team, and by the start of 2009 season a comprehensive collection of hop-related items will be on display in the shed.

The Farm Manager, Chris Baldwin, has set up a small hop garden based on historic growing techniques and the display was designed to complement his activities. A very productive relationship has been formed with the owner of one of the last hop farms in the area, which is on the south-facing slopes of the Hogs Back, in Surrey. Two visits have been made to the \\
2008/11Magazine / Autumn 2008Day trips 2008 / In May Friends' members visited the British Museum and were given a guided tour of several galleries. The afternoon was spent at the O2 stadium visiting the Tutankhamun exhibition. A visit to East Grinstead was arranged for June where the members were guided around the town with its medieval high street buildings and later driving through Ashdown Forest accompanied by a knowledgeable commentary. The afternoon saw a visit to Saint Hill Manor, an 18th-century sandstone house one the residence of the Maharajah of Jaipur. July saw the visit to Dorset National Trust property, Kingston Lacy, where the house and gardens were a delight.

During the Autumn two more trips were held, one to Dover Castle and one which was called "Tickets Please", visiting the new St Pancras Station and the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden.
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