Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
Over 35 historic buildings rescued from demolition have been carefully dismantled and reconstructed in this fascinating site. Among the many buildings on display is a medieval farmstead, complete with furniture and livestock, a watermill, and a Tudor market hall. There are numerous hands-on exhibits of building materials and techniques.
Our visit: I'd been aware of the Weald and Downland Museum for years, but it wasn't until my wife made a fuss about visiting it that I made the trek, family in tow. Wow! It truly is a remarkable collection of historic buildings. The reconstructed houses, halls, farms, cottages, shops, sheds, and other buildings are spread out over a very large area, joined by easy paths leading through shady, wooded copses of trees.

What really stands out for me is the excellent signposting, showing at a glance where each building came from, what it was used for, when it was built, when it was disassembled and rebuilt on the museum site, and what the major characteristics of the building style are. And what a mix of buildings! There's everything here, from a late medieval cottage, complete with traditional garden, to an early 20th century shop, a rough-and-ready village church, and so many styles of houses.

Some of the larger properties have volunteer stewards on site to answer questions, and there are copious information boards on many of the buildings detailing the known history of the property. This truly is a remarkable resource if you have any interest in historic buildings.

Even our 10-year-old daughter, who I feared might be quickly bored, really enjoyed exploring the different types of buildings. We stayed for 4 hours and could easily have stayed for longer if we'd arrived earlier in the day. The Weald and Downland Museum is fabulous historic resource - its like walking through a time capsule! Highly recommended.