This week we had a day out at the Avoncroft Museum near Bromsgrove. This is my third visit (although one of them was for a wedding) and I still don’t feel as though I have managed to take in much! We have bought membership, though, so it’s somewhere I think I shall be spending a lot of time as it’s a perfect place to take children. I’ve never been anywhere else like it: it’s made up of a variety of buildings from all over the country which have been rescued and rebuilt, when they would otherwise have been demolished. Consequently, it feels as though most periods of history have been covered, and there appears to be a great deal of research behind the scenes about the structures involved, their construction, their socio-historic importance, and their particular histories. It certainly seems to be a museum where there really is something for everyone: from history and methods of brick-making, to the National Telephone Kiosk collection, which is weirdly fascinating. The twenty-five buildings range from a medieval merchant’s house to Victorian chimneys, 1950s prefabs, a windmill and the roof of a 14th-century hall. There’s a wildflower meadow, and period gardens, and it’s in 19 acres so there’s plenty of walking to be done! Some of the exhibits offer information that is perhaps too much for me (I find it difficult to drum up much enthusiasm for the bricks, although I know someone whose favourite exhibit is the bricks!) but others I could return to over and over. The prefabs are particularly appealing to me, because they look as if the residents have just got up and walked out; similarly the Toll House. You can also admire the construction of some buildings which might otherwise be invisible, and I would imagine it’s a great teaching and learning resource for that reason. It’s unusual for a museum to cover such a wide range, and the exhibits do feel very disparate, but because of the research behind them they begin to seem like a coherent group the more I see of them. I’m particularly pleased to discover that one of Avoncroft’s new projects is an Airing Court Shelter from a lunatic asylum, since I am currently working on nineteenth-century asylums.
I must also comment on the excellent high tea we had in the Edwardian tea rooms – it was worth the trip just for that! And there’s a secondhand bookshop, too – really, it’s my ideal day out!