Museum History
(3830 Records)

 Yr/Mo   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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
2008/3Magazine / 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 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 \\
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 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 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 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 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 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 \\
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