Museum History
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 Date   Origin   Summary 
2011/3Magazine / Spring 2011Re-thatching Catherington treadwheel house / Visitors were able to watch the thatcher at work repairing the roof the treadwheel house from Catherington.
2011/3Magazine / Spring 2011Being a Trustee - testing but rewarding / Eddie Burch has completed five years as a trustee and explains that it is a very testing but rewarding experience. He was required to produce a CV for scrutiny and make a presentation concerning his motivation and qualification to take on trusteeship. His role became clear and was precise: a supporting and watching brief for education provision for children and adults, and also for Health and Safety.

The schools and adult education teams, well staffed and strong, seem to meet their objectives successfully. Regarding Health and Safety he is of the view that risk assessment should enable activities and projects to take place safely, not prevent or curtail them.
2011/3Magazine / Spring 2011The museum's new website / The museum launched its new-look website just before Christmas. The museum staff are now able to make changes to the website from their desks, and the site introduces on-line shopping for the first time. The museum is indebted to trustee Jeff Houlton, who created and professionally mainted the museum's original site for many years.

The site is still very much a work-in-progress, and new information is being added all the time. The website address is www.wealddown.co.uk.
2011/3Magazine / Spring 2011Weather hits visitor numbers in 2010 / 2010 has been, in some ways, a difficult year for the museum. The year part of the season suffered from prolonged cold weather and snow. The weather improved after Easter and so did the visitor numbers, but we then had a very wet August. The autumm then improved with a good Autumn Countryside Event and Christmas Market. Then for the second time in the same year we suffered from heavy snow and ice in December. For several days we were unable to open as the whole site was covered in sheet ice. This was frustrating and disappointing as it was over the period when the Sussex Christmas is staged. Difficulties arose for informing people of the closure via local radio and the website as the website crashed on Boxing Day and was unavailable until late morning. Overall the visitor numbers for 2010 were 143,692.
2011/3Magazine / Spring 2011News in Brief / The Schools Services Department has just appointed, as Schools Services Assistant, Kathryn Creed, an archaeologist specialising the Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods. The new year started with re-booking school visits postponed by the snow and ice. The schools team, with the help of volunteers, are developing some new workshops which will be launched at the annual Teachers' Preview day in February when teachers are invited to visit the museum on a Saturday with the families to explore the possibilities for school visits.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011Forty years of collecting / The collection includes a broadcast sowing machine, a gin trap, sack lifter, smock, felling axe, seed drill, notice boards, timber crane, team bells, living van, pitsaw box, mallet, hop press, horse shoe "spare", cattle wagon, bench drill, spiritual midden, Sussex foot plough, strawberry wagon and grave markers.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011Keeping up appearances at Whittaker's Cottages / Whittaker's Cottages, a pair of cottages originally built in the 19th century, has undergone several patch repairs to the ashlar plasterwork on the front - which imitates stonemasonry used in grander buildings - since the structure was re-erected at the museum. Earlier this year it was clear that the time had come for major maintenance. Initially the museum considered taking the top coat off, stabilising the substrate with lime-wash and adding a final coat. But large fragile areas were discovered, which would be further weakened by removal of the top coate. It was decided to replace the whole elevation. The stud work was de-nailed ready for re-application, but the lower sectaion had suffered rot. So, under carpenter Joe Thompson's supervision, battens were placed to provide a fixing for the laths.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011News / Site improvements: Over the last six months a number of improvements and general maintenance tasks have been carried out. These have included the painting of Longport farmhouse and the Toll House, the erection of a new picket fence around the Toll house, various fencing and walling repairs around the site, an extended pig pen behind Pendean farmhouse, new car park signage and the re-plastering of the front of Whittaker's Cottages.
Using the Armstrong Library: Much recent hard work in the museum's Armstrong Library in the upper hall from Crawley has led to this very important aspect of the museum's work becoming much more user friendly.
Local food and cookery: The museums Food and Farming Fair is one of the first events of the year. More than 80 stands offered a wonderful choice of produce.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011In brief / New caterers for the museum's caf
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011Interpreting Poplar Cottage / Poplar Cottage, originally from Washington in West Sussex, is thought to have been built between 1630 and 1650. Since opening the exhibit in 2000 only the outer ground floor room has been fully furnished. It was decided that a more rubust interpretation could be achieved by focusing it around the (fictional) life of a rural craftsman whose craft activities took place within the home. Shoemaking seemed a good choice; most villages had a least one shoemaker.A considerable amount can be learnt about the activities of shoemakers from probate inventories. A range of replica shoemaker's tools are being made and a pair of replica shoes was commissioned from a specialist historic shoemaker, together with a part made up pair and a closing block.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011Four Hundred schools represented on museum school visits / The last school year (September 2010 to July 2011) saw nearly 18,000 children from nearly 400 different schools visiting the museum. Around 5% of these are designated as Special Educational Needs schools whose students benefit hugely from the multi-sensory experiences offered at the museum.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011Danae Tankard / Danae first came to the museum in 2005 as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership associate on a partnership project with the University of Reading. On 1st January 2011 Danae was appointed as the museum's historian, working three days a week. She leads the furnishing projects on exhibit houses and contributes to the museum's training and adult learning programmes, carries out additional research on exhibit buildings and writes for publications. Her own research focuses on the social, domestic and economic lives of the rural poor in 17th-century Sussex. Danae is also employed part time as a senior lecturer in history at the University of Chichester.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011Museum named a Grand Prix heritage laureate by the European Commission - and wins a Europa Nostra award for its historic building conservation training programme / The museum has won a coveted European Union Prize for the Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award for its historic building conservation training programme and was also named a Grand Prix laureat, one of only six out of 27 winners awarded in recognition of outstanding heritage achievements. One of only two winners from the UK, the award was made in the education, training and awareness-raising category. The prize was collected at a ceremony in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw by the museum's Head of Learning, Diana Rowsell, from world-renowned tenor Placido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra, and Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. Diana said "We are very proud of the practical role the museum plays in sharing knowledge and using our historic buildings and collections to enhance the learning pro \\
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011How textiles help interpret the museum's exhibits / A major element for our forebears was the need for textiles, whether to clothe themselves or furnish their dwellings. The museum's Needlework Group was established in June 2006 with the financial backing of the Friends of the Museum and the support of consultants Barbara Painter and Ruth Goodman. The aim was to explore the rich heritage of historical clothing, needlework and handicrafts as part of our domestic interpretation, producing historically accurate clothing to be worn by staff and volunteer interpreters.
The group meets once a month but members who are also house stewards can often be seen carrying on with their work in the houses at other times.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011Museum rescues derelict dairy / Towards the end of summer 2010 the museum was approached with the offer of a small ornamental dairy in a somewhat distressed but still relative complete state. Located in the village of Great Bookham in Surrey, to the west of Leatherhead, it formed part of the Eastwick Park Estate which was, during the early 19th century, occupied by the Bazalgette family, renowed for developing Victorian London's sewer system.
The dairy was constructed in 1806 to serve the mansion house, and consists of two separate, octagonal, brick-built buildings, one slightly larger than the other, connected by an open, covered walkway. The larger was the dairy and the smaller a scalding house.
The dairy will be re-erected on the museum site ina position yet to be finalised, once funds become available.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011Monument fellowship leads to new knowledge resources on the museum's work / Former Museum Director, Richard Harris, and Master Carpenter, Roger Champion, have been working together to produce knowledge resources on the repair and re-erection of the museum's historic buildings. The project is the result of an award to Richard of a Monument Fellowship, which enables retired collections specialists to share their unrecorded collections knowledge with colleagues, their successors and the wider community. The information will be recorded on CDs and DVDs to enable it to be shared as part of the museum's formal adult learning, as well as seminars with museum staff and volunteers. At the end of the project it is hoped to invite other British open air museums to review it and assess its implications for the development of a common standard of documentation.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011In Brief - Refurnishing the toll house / Over the last few months a gradual transformation has been taking place in the Toll House. Originally built around 1810, we have refurnished it as it might have been around 1815, the year the Napoleonic War ended and four years after the start of the Regency (1811-1820). The building has been repaired and repainted on the outside, a new fence erected and the toll gate itself repaired and given a new coat of paint. The interior has been furnished with replica and original furniture and artefacts from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Carlotta Holt, the museum's Gardener, has replanted the garden to reflect the earlier date of the interpretation. The toll house will be stewarded as often as possible and will be well worth a visit.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011From the Chairman / Much seems to have happened since I wrote this column for the spring issue of the magazine. Not a bad start to our second 40-year period or post-Ruby era!
We believe that in the coming decades interest in our cultural heritage will continue to grow and relating that to our landscape and built environment is where this museum can excel, through its specialist knowledge and collections, allied to a wonderful site.
I would like to welcome Diana Zeuner as our newest Vice President. Diana will be remembered by many from her time at the museum when her husband, Chris, was our Director from 1974 until his death in 2001. Diana has remained a loyal support and is the editor of the magazine.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011Farming update / The hop garden in front of Bayleaf has had a much smaller yeald than usual due to the very dry spring and wet and windy summer. Many of the poles blew over in the storm in September. However a sufficient quantity was harvested to send to Ballards Brewery at Rogate, where they are used to make a green hop beer. The museum hopes, in the future, to produce our own beer.
The arable strips in the paddock above Bayleaf has worked well this year, despite a seeminly constant attack from pheasants, rabbits, deer and badgers. Without the protection of some electric fencing nothing would have survived.
The museum is most grateful to Jonathan fulford and Bartholomews Agri Food of Chichester who have supplied us with a wildflower seed mix which has been scattered along the headlands around the site.
2011/10Magazine / Autumn 2011Filming early ploughing / The museum's sussex cattle have been worked on chair harrowing, carting and ploughing by Chris Baldwin, supported by volunteers. The cows, Gwynne, Graceful, Rose and Ruby, are thought currently to be the only working team in the country. They were filmed by Lion TV during the summer and will ba making a guest appearance on the Antiques Roadshow in april on BBC TV next year.
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