Regular readers will know I don’t take my kids out for the day much. I’m a nervous driver and it’s not easy to find activities that are suitable for a 9 year old girl and a 14 year old boy. But we can’t hang round in the local area all the time, so when Avoncroft Museum invited us to look round, I thought we’d give it a go.
I must admit I’d never heard of the museum before, despite being only around 35 miles from home. It’s not somewhere our kids ever go to on school trips, although the schools do venture further into the Midlands for their visits.
Avoncroft is based in Bromsgrove (in Worcestershire and not far from Birmingham). It’s a collection of old buildings – stretching back 700 years – which have all been rescued from ‘extinction’. From old farm houses to a windmill, these historic buildings were all derelict and neglected or facing demolition and would have been lost forever, had they not been painstakingly removed and reconstructed by Avoncroft Museum.
On a cold, damp day, with the boys still away on Scout camp, my daughter and I set off for Avoncroft. As I don’t have sat-nav and don’t know the area, I was very pleased that it was well signposted from Junction 5 of the M5. We had no problems finding it at all.
Possibly my favourite bit of the museum was the National Telephone Kiosk collection, which covered every shape and size of telephone box you would remember – and plenty you wouldn’t, including Police call boxes and special RAC boxes. You could even make calls between the boxes.
Some of the buildings had actors playing parts – we met a lady making a rag rug in the tollhouse and a lady putting her apron on ready to do some cooking in the 1950s prefab. The rag rug lady talked about the history of the building and how families lived at the time, while the 1950s lady stayed completely in character! In every building, my daughter said something like: ‘I’m glad we were born now!’ But certainly the furniture and decor in the prefab didn’t look very different from what some elderly people still have in their houses now.
My daughter was very interested in the Anderson shelter. I explained to her about the air raid sirens, so it was perfect that there was a device outside the shelter on which she could listen to the sounds of the sirens and bombers.
The Medieval town house was very spacious (a lot more spacious than the prefab and the tollhouse!) and it was interesting to hear from a volunteer about how the mission church had been constructed from flatpack materials (and we all thought Ikea was bad enough!).
Going inside the windmill was a real highlight. My daughter had no idea what windmills were used for, so was interested to hear about the grains and how the flour was made. Even with the museum fairly quiet, there were hold-ups on the steps as people wanted to take photos of family members going into the windmill.
Avoncroft Museum holds events throughout the year and special children’s activities during the school holidays (although my daughter declined to take part in the pond dipping). There is currently a trail of information connecting the various buildings with World War I, which should make interesting reading for older children and adults alike.
There were plenty of picnic tables, which my daughter and I made good use of (in the rain), but when I saw how beautiful the Edwardian Tea Room was, I couldn’t help wondering if we’d made a huge mistake by bringing our own food!
For the two of us, Avoncroft Museum made a pleasant morning out and we saw everything in the space of a couple of hours. With more children, a trip to the tearoom and the playground, plus taking part in holiday activities, we would have most likely stayed for longer.
Only a 45 minute drive from Gloucestershire, it is somewhere I would recommend to other families and would visit again myself.
We were given a year’s family membership of Avoncroft Museum for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own.