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Weald & Downland Open Air Museum.
A very special place to wander amongst a fascinating collection of nearly 50 historic buildings, with period gardens, together with farm animals, woodland walks and lake.
REVIEWED IN DOGFRIENDLY MAGAZINE SEE BELOW.
Dogfriendly Magazine Review
Read our comprehensive review of this listing printed in our bi-monthly magazine.
OUT AND ABOUT AT THE WEALD & DOWNLAND OPEN AIR MUSEUM
By James and Stanley
I have to confess that I have been to the Weald and Down museum many times before. This is because it must be one of the most interesting museums I have found. However, I hadn’t take Stanley and all the family before so this was a different sort of visit and I was hoping it to be as dog friendly as promised!
Set on a beautiful landscape within the South Downs, near Chichester this is a lovely part of the world to visit. The signage as you drive in tells you the museum is dog friendly so that gets the first thumbs up in doggy confidence.
Once past the car park you just need to walk through the outdoor reception point before you begin your journey into the past.
The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum was launched in 1967 by a small group of enthusiasts led by the Museum’s founder, the late Dr. J.R. Armstrong MBE. It first opened to the public on 5 September 1970. Its aim was to establish a centre that could rescue examples of domestic and functional buildings from the South East of England, and thereby to generate an increased public awareness and interest in the built environment. However, this aim doesn’t give credit to the incredible ambience of the past that the buildings bring together within this lovely setting.
Once within the grounds it really is up to you the route you take. The buildings are from various periods and a variety of uses clustered together to give a sense of their relationship.
Your initial path takes you through the Stable area and various cattle and farm buildings, before then taking you onward to the rural houses that may have been occupied by their workers and landowners such as the Poplar Cottage (mid 17th century) and Pendean Farmhouse (1609). Going inside the buildings really is the delight of the museum - viewing the homes of people from many ages ago and seing how they would have lived together within the basic accommodation and limited furnishings.
The richer would have of course faired better, but still a far cry from the luxuries we enjoy today. You were the lucky one to lie on the delights of a straw bed… Stanley could join us in walking through the buildings and wasn’t disturbed by their oaky smells, or the ghostly sense of the past.
The more recent dwellings feature fireplaces and hearth, but older buildings reveal just simply space for an open fire and vent in the ceiling for the smoke. The walls certainly wouldn’t have been worth painting! Walking on from the rural area you pass the Victorian buildings including the Victorian school and Whittaker’s cottage (see right for more details).
Then it’s down to the market square which feels like the centre and hub of the estate. Here you will find the Titchfield Market Hall imposing within the middle of other buildings that make up the square including the Medieval shop from Horsham, a plumber’s workshop and a small church. While the buildings come from a collection of various ages, they bind together to build a brilliant picture of the past. Again dogs are allowed throughout the buildings as long as keeping on a lead and are able to make it up some of the small steps.
Once, visiting the market square it was time for lunch and there are plenty of benches located around to have a picnic or if you prefer the café is situated on a new development over the lake – which again is dog friendly throughout.
Further exploration can be made towards the lower part of the museum acres, to visit the various craft and industry buildings including the watermill and carpenter’s shop. Or if yourself and your dog feel like more of an amble, head to the forest area passing an Anglo-Saxon Hall house. Carry on up over the small hill and on the way down visit the working woodyard and more medieval houses.
We finished our trip with a visit to the smart and clean new café and Stanley watched the ducks on the lake. Somewhat perturbed he wasn’t getting any of the feed the kids had bought from the shop. After, we made a final building visit to a tiny toll house with an extra-ordinary array of potential fees depending on your “load” and whether your wheel breadth is “four or six inches” when crossing.
I will always be a big fan of the Weald and Downland Museum, as it brings history and its people to life in a wonderful setting. But as a dog friendly place to visit it is really excellent, while dogs should be kept on a lead at all times there’s plenty of walking in the open and very little restrictions for them in the buildings.
Covid 19 restrictions are in place which mean you have to wait for other to exit before you step inside the buildings, but in reality this provides you with more of an individual chance to look at the building features and relics… You do need to book your tickets for entry in advance. I would recommend a visit to anyone finding themselves around the Hampshire/Chichester region and are looking for a good day out.
Dog Walk Nearby
If you want to find a walk close by to let your dog off the lead the Levin Down nature reserve is just down the road from Weald and Download museum.
PLEASE BOOK TICKETS IN ADVANCE DUE TO COVID 19 PROCEDURES
Singleton, Chichester PO18 0EU
Dogs on leads at all time please.
Adults £15.50 Children £7.50 Senior Citizens £13.50
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