I think it’s quite difficult to feel human sometimes because of the way we live now. It’s nearly impossible to go through a few hours without scrolling on your phone or zoning out in front of the TV. Look, you’re reading a blog right now (please don’t stop) probably on your phone (how’s my mobile site – user friendly?) I think sometimes it’s necessary to go somewhere that sets itself apart from your every day life. Lucky for you, dear reader, I have the very place.
The Weald and Downland Living Museum is tucked in the countryside seven miles north of Chichester in West Sussex. The views from the drive up the hills alone are enough to turn your day around. This is somewhere you can feel the time of day passing and feel the seasons on the turn.
The living museum is home to fifty historic buildings for you to explore. Among them are an 18th century school room, a Tudor kitchen and a working mill. Buildings have been saved from all over the UK, dismantled and labeled, stored (sometimes for years) and then reassembled in original condition on site using the most authentic building methods. If architecture is your thing, visit the Gridshell – a remarkable timber frames building completed in 2002 and the feature of one of my architecture lectures where they insisted it was in Kent…
Some days, volunteers wander around in medieval costume demonstrating traditional pastimes. Over my years of visiting I’ve seen cooking, weaving, spinning, rag rug making, blacksmith-ing (not a word?) wood turning, coppicing, and most recently natural dyeing. I left with a little seed in my pocket that I could use as a mordant in my own natural dyeing experiments – the volunteers are completely lovely. There are shire horses, chickens, cows, sheep and pigs.
This place is food for the soul.
On events days there are stalls filled with things to eat and buy, Morris dancers, may poles, live music, children’s activities and demonstrations – a hustle and bustle of historic enthusiasm and joy. However, if you need quiet and calm, a normal day at the museum will provide the softness and sustenance to bring you back to life.
A recent injection of lottery funding is being used to create a new visitor’s centre and cafe (with a balcony over the lake!) They plan to open these at Easter – the perfect time to visit.