Our holiday wasn’t only about eating cake and watching the clouds. We did squeeze in a couple of excursions, to Acton Scott historic working farm, to Blists Hill Victorian Town, and to Fordall Farm, all of which I’ve wanted to visit for a long time.
Acton Scott Historical Farm
The Acton Scott estate played host to the BBC tv series Victorian Farm, which I adored. I love learning about the everyday lives of people in other times and places. That’s what interests me about history, not wars and kings, but how did people wash? How did they prepare their food, make their clothes, celebrate? Apparently you can rent the actual cottage they filmed the series in, although sadly it was both booked and well out of the price range for just two of us. Another time perhaps…
The farm demonstrates all kinds of historical farming techniques, and we saw heavy horses, butter making, hay ricks, and a giant cider press.
I’m always inspired by visiting places like this to get making things myself, so look out for more patchwork and (slightly shoddy) attempts at wicker baskets from me soon…
Blists Hill is on an altogether more epic scale, being an entire town (well, a small village at least) with a pharmacy, printing shop, bakery, drapers’ shop and all manner of other shops and establishments.
You can even change your money to pounds, shillings and pence at a Victorian bank and use it to buy things from the shops, although we didn’t as we were still recovering from having to remortgage the house to pay the entrance fee.
There were a couple of houses set out as they would have been for different classes of people, with women knitting and doing daily chores in them as we looked round.
I do so love peeking into other people’s everyday lives.
Again, I came away inspired to do more growing, more baking, more sewing – and with a great appreciation for modern dentistry and working practices…
We popped into Fordall Farm on the way home for a cup of tea. I read about it when I was at university, as a pioneering example of organic farming. I forgot all about it until recently, when I picked up a copy of The Fight for Fordall Farm in a charity shop, and learned how it had become Britain’s first community-owned farm.
There was a wedding on while we were there, so we didn’t stray too far, but we did walk through the vegetable gardens and on a trail around some of the fields. An inspiring place, and an inspiring story, particularly the young people who put their time and energy into bringing it into community ownership.
I enjoyed our holiday excursions, and, as usual, visiting other places made me want to visit more places at home too. I can see the autumn filling up with days out already…
I love all the living museums and lived near Blists Hill for a while, I guess the entrance is high as there are lots of salaries for the “actors” involved in the experience. Also been to Beamish and the Black country museum aNd my son loved to visit when he was a child he was not into places like theme parks and rides so we visited these museums instead.
I love Blists Hill. It is expensive, but if you buy the passport the other museums are good as well- my kids loved Enginuity especially (so did my husband!) I do like the fact you can go back as many times as you like in the year too. We’ve been a couple of times this year which makes it better value for money.
I didn’t say much about Acton Scott in my comment because you said you were writing a post, but although I enjoyed it I felt they could have made more of it. The re-enactors were a bit weak when we visited too. I volunteered at Mary Arden’s House for a while and the Head Maid would have been furious if we’d slipped in and out of character like they did! I thought Blists Hill were much better.
I have the same view of history. I did the world wars for O level and got very bored, but I love any domestic history. Have you read How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman? It’s about all those things you said you liked to know- I found it fascinating.