Chiltern Open Air Museum
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
More than 30 historic buildings are set within a mix of park and woodland countryside. The museum has just a few full-time staff and relies on over 200 volunteers to preserve and present their historic collections. The museum is regularly used as a location for filming, and was used in the popular BBC drama 'Downton Abbey'. It is also used as a venue for regular historical reenactments.
What to SeeThe short version of 'what to see' is 'a bit of everything', for the museum covers such a wide array of vernacular buildings, covering every aspect of life in the Chiltern region over the centuries.
One of the most interesting features is a working Chilterns Farm, where visitors can see traditional farming methods and equipment in use. The farm buildings are laid out to show how a traditional farm might have looked over the years from 1800-1950. Farm buildings include a threshing barn, brought from Chalfont St Peter, a cart shed and stable from Marsworth, a cattle byre from Borehamwood, and a granary from Rossway.
Other highlight buildings include the brick and stone Toll House from High Wycombe, and historic forge from Garsham, and an 18th century barn from Leagrave, converted into a pair of cottages in the 1770s. Recorded interviews with members of a family who lived in one of the cottages in the early 20th century have helped restore it to show how it would have looked in 1920. The cottages are joined by a central stair, allowing visitors to go up the stair in the 18th century and come down in the 1920s.
Then there is a 16th century barn from Northolt, Middlesex, used for storing hay. Try your hand at building a timber-framed building using a scale model inside the barn.
Prefab BuildingsAnother historic building is the late Victorian vicarage room from Thame. This prefabricated building was erected in the vicarage garden and used for lectures and church meetings.
Still on the subject of prefabricated buildings, look for the Nissen hut from Sewell, Berkshire. Originally used as a farm building, the hut has been fitted out as a WWII briefing room, and visitors can enjoy trying on RAF uniforms and gas masks. A later 'prefab' is a postwar bungalow erected on the Finch Lane Estate in Amersham. Intended as temporary accommodation to deal with a housing shortage after the end of the war, many of these 'temporary' bui;dings stayed in use for 3 decades. In the garden is an Anderson Shelter serving as a garde shed.
An Edwardian LooA popular building - for practical reasons - is the Edwardian public conveniences from a tramstop in Caversham, Berkshire. Built in 1906, it retains its original fittings, including wash-basins, wc bowl, and urinals. It also still fulfils its original puropse as a public toilet, and is stocked with carbolic soap to add an extra touch of authenticity.
One historic building is not moved from elsewhere; the Iron Age thatched roundhouse is a replica of a traditional circular Iron Age home, built using original tools and techniques.
Images are copyright as noted, republished with gratitude under a Creative Commons license
About Chiltern Open Air Museum
Address: Newland Park, Gorlands Lane, Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, England, HP8 4AB
Attraction Type: Museum
Location: Next to University College, off the M5
Website: Chiltern Open Air Museum
Phone: 01494 871 117
OS: TQ010 937
Photo Credit: Basher Eyre, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
John Milton's Cottage - 1.3 miles (Historic Building)
Jordans, Friends' Meeting House - 2.8 miles (Historic Church)
Chenies Manor House - 3 miles (Historic House)
Chenies, St Michael's Church - 3 miles (Historic Church)
Amersham Museum - 4 miles (Museum)
Penn, Holy Trinity Church - 5.8 miles (Historic Church)
Little Missenden, St John's Church - 6.4 miles (Historic Church)
Oxhey Chapel - 6.4 miles (Historic Church)
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