Collection Highlights

Set in 10 acres, our living museum has over 30 buildings and approximately 40,000 artefacts.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Stanton Shelter

Stanton shelters are air-raid shelters manufactured by the Stanton Ironworks in Derbyshire. They are typically made up of segments of reinforced concrete which enabled them to built to any length. The Stanton shelter at the museum is quite small but they could hold up to fifty people. Unlike the Anderson shelter which could easily be dismantled, the Stanton shelter is much more permanent structure and were often used as garden sheds after the war.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Frimley Green Cycle Workshop

The Frimley Green Cycle Workshop is a prime example of how family businesses adapted to social and technological change over the last century. The shop originally began as a blacksmith shop, as bicycles became popular, the family extended their business to include the sale and repair of bicycles. The business later expanded to include a garage and was the first business in the area to sell petrol.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

The Granary

The 18th century Granary was used to store threshed grain and was rescued from Borelli’s Yard in Farnham in 1985. Granaries were built on staddle stones to prevent mice getting in. The front of the Granary has actually been reconstructed using mathematical tiles, also known as poor man’s bricks. These were a tile used instead of bricks to avoid the brick ta, which was introduced by King George III to help fund the war in the American colonies.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Shepherds Hut

The Shepherds Hut is a Taskers Shepherds Hut from Andover. It was used by shepherds in the fields when they were looking after the lambs when they were born, the hut is equipped with a wood stove to keep the young lambs nice and warm as well as other essential equipment such as hooks and shepherds crooks.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Eashing Chapel

In 1857, a group of Eashing residents became alienated with the Congregational church so they built a prefabricated church on land belonging to the owner of the Eashing paper mill. Services were held in the Church until 1870 when Eashing Chapel became reunited with the Congregational Church. The Chapel was relocated to the other side of the river in approximately 1950 by ‘rolling it across Eashing Bridge’, or so the story goes, where it had a varied history with references being found to it being used as a library, a timber store and even a chicken coop.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Children’s Playground

The Children’s Playground is a 1950s playground from Hollowdene Recreation Ground in nearby Frensham. 

Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Lindford Village Hall

Lindford Village Hall was originally built in the 1930s, it was a portable ex barrack block based in Bordon. In 1965 Lindford Methodist Church bought the building, transported it to Lindford and used it as a village hall. When they decided to build a new village hall, the old barrack block was offered to the museum and was brought to the Rural Life Museum where it still serves as a ‘Village Hall’.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Arcon MK V Prefab

At the end of the Second World War, servicemen returned to a severe housing shortage. The Government’s short-term solution was the construction of pre-fabricated homes. The ‘prefabs’ could be erected with families ready to move in within a day. At the time prefabs were the height of luxury with big windows, a fitted kitchen, an indoor toilet and even central heating. They continued to be used as family homes for much longer than the 10 years that they were originally designed to last. Because of the perceived luxury of the prefabs, many families were reluctant to give them up.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Smudgers

Smudgers was originally located at Box Hill as a storage facility for camping equipment. After World War I many people were not able to go on holiday so camps were set up in various locations around the capital. Box Hill was such a location, people would travel by bus with their camping gear but rather than have to bring their camping equipment all the way up the hill. The owner decided to build a hut to store the equipment. He then realised that people might actually like to stay in the hut so transformed it into a holiday chalet, thought to be one of the first of its kind.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Anderson Shelter

Anderson Shelters were designed by William Paterson and Oscar Carl (Karl) Kerrison to accommodate up to six people. It is made from galvanised metal, sand bags and the roof is covered with earth and is meant to be partially buried. Many shelters were planted with vegetables and flowers which led to competitions of the best planted shelter. Prior to being acquired by the museum, the shelter was used as a garden tool shed.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Laundry

Aldershot is a military town located a few miles from the museum. When the Army arrived, no plans had yet been made to build laundries. Being responsible to ensure their platoons had clean uniforms, the Sergeants went round to the local householders and asked if they would like to take on some extra washing to earn a bit of money. The laundry is one of the last of the small laundries that were set up in people’s back gardens to take in the Army’s washing before the establishment of large commercial laundries.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Woodyard

The Woodyard is a typical 1950s style working sawmill. When trees in the museum grounds need to be felled the wood gets milled in the Woodyard to be used in various buildings and other projects. Highlights in the Woodyard include Henry’s old rack bench and several vintage tractors.

Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Arboretum

Henry started planting different species of trees in the 1950s, they now form part of our Arboretum containing over 100 species from around the world including a Californian Redwood, a Horse Chestnut whose parent was the sole survivor of the battlefield of Verdun, a 200 year old English Oak and the very unusual Snake Bark Maple with its striped bark.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Tweedsmuir

Tweedsmuir Camp was built in 1941 by the Royal Canadian Engineers in the outskirts of Thursley. In 1945, the Allies placed Poland under Soviet rule. Many soldiers in the Polish Allied Forces under British Command refused to stand down so the government invited them to settle in Britain in declassified bases. In 1947, Tweedsmuir Camp became the living quarters for the Polish Resettlement Corps and was designated as a family camp.

Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Pavilion

The Cricket Pavilion was originally a thatched building built in 1883 at the Holloway Hill recreation ground in Godalming. The way in which the building was able to be dated is by the discovery of one of the original builders’ graffiti when dismantling the building. The building carried a lot of weight because of the scorers’ loft which has only ever been accessible by ladder.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Schoolroom

The Schoolroom was built around 1900  in the Bourne and is typical of a sectional corrugated iron building of the time. It is likely to have been bought from a catalogue, delivered by train and then erected on the school grounds and a lean-to extension was later added. The Schoolroom was in use for many years until it was damaged in the 1987 hurricane when the building actually twisted with the force of the wind on it. Interestingly, Henry, the founder of the museum, attended Bourne School when he was young.

Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Tilford Building

In the Tilford Building it is possible to find many different shops that would have traditionally been found in a village. We have a butcher’s, a bakery, a cobbler’s shop to make and repair shoes, a haberdashery, a wheelwright shop and many agricultural vehicles. Ever popular is the egg dispensing machine and of course local inventor Sir John Henry Knight’s catapult.

Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Plough Gallery

Originally horse drawn but later tractor drawn, ploughs are used to prepare the soil for planting. Designs vary for different types of soil leading to regional variations. It is possible to see early wooden ploughs as well as more modern metal ploughs from different regions within the southeast in the Plough Gallery. It is also possible to find the first item in the collection here, this is the plough that the founders of the museum acquired as an old farm implement to use in their garden as an ornament.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Frensham Building

The Frensham Building houses several collections relating to agriculture including a threshing machine, stationary engines, Forestry equipment such as the timber nib and a couple of manual fire engines.

Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Bourne Building

Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Brickcarving and Hand Tool Building

A display of the art of brick carving and an exhibit of hand tools used in a variety of industries through the ages.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Madge’s Waggon Shed

Madge’s Waggon Shed was built by one of the volunteers based on a waggon shed design with a hop kiln end to it. In Madge’s Waggon Shed it is possible to see artefacts related to growing hops. 

Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Henry’s Yard

This is the site of the original museum from which the Rural Life Living Museum grew. You will find here the Wealden iron furnace, the blacksmiths forge, domestic interiors room from both the Victorian age and the 1930s and a brewing exhibition.
Rural Life Living Museum - Exhibits

Churt Building

Contains a shepherding exhibition and a wood turners workshop which you can see in action on special weekends. Further into the building you can watch a video showing the history of the museum.

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