Hugh Bonneville opens £6m facilites at Weald & Downland Living Museum

Visitors to the Weald & Downland Living Museum will enjoy an even greater tour through human history after new £6m facilities opened.

Tuesday, 23rd May 2017, 11:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:11 am
The new buildings which include galleries, a visitor shop and waterside restaurant. Weald and Downland Visitor Centre by ABIR. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2017

Actor Hugh Bonneville joined the celebrations at the unique museum in Singleton on Thursday to help unveil The Gateway Project.

Three impressive new wooden buildings set around the millpond house fully interactive and wifi enabled galleries, a visitor shop, waterside restaurant and community space.

Chief executive Martin Purslow said: “It has been at least eight years of effort and planning to get to this stage.

Actor Hugh Bonneville joined the celebrations

“We are incredibly grateful for the £4m donation from the Heritage Lottery Fund and around 200 very generous donations.

“We are especially delighted with the new galleries where there are lots of buttons to press and all sorts of things to engage families, it’s so important that kids understand their cultural heritage.

“We now have over 50 buildings at our museum and together with over 500 volunteers and 46 staff, this will allow us to continue to breath life into the historic buildings we have.”

More than 200 guests enjoyed the opening ceremony featuring reenactments of 15th century tradesmen and a host of volunteers showcasing ancient crafts alongside traditional music.

More than 500 volunteers bring the museum to life

The new buildings are clad in locally sourced materials, including a roof made of 60,000 hand-crafted sweet chestnut shakes and echo friendly materials.

Since opening in 1970, the museum has build up a collection buildings spanning nearly 1,000 years of history which have been saved from demolition and painstakingly rebuilt across the 40-acre site.

Mr Purslow revealed that a thatched dairy and an 18th century bakery were among the buildings soon to open.

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