Weald & Downland Living Museum

The Weald & Downland Living Museum at Singleton, 12 km north of Chichester, is a Skansen-style museums extending over 16 ha with a collection of more than 50 traditional buildings from the varied landscapes of south-east England. It opened in 1967 and is managed by a charitable trust. Its establishment owed much to Roy Armstrong (1902-93), a historian who taught in the adult education department of the University of Southampton and was well acquainted with open air museums in Scandinavia and elsewhere in northern Europe. He believed that an open air museum ‘should be a collection of homes, where it is possible to come close to the people who lived in them, to learn their way of life, their tastes and their work’. A site for a museum was offered in 1964 on the West Dean estate close to the West Dean adult education college. The development of the museum owed much to Christopher Zeuner (1945-2001), the London-born son of German refugee parents, who became director in 1974.

Buildings at the museum include a smith of 1850 from Southwater, a tread wheel from Cathington, a seventeenth-century watermill, a nineteenth-century wind pump, a small brickworks, a weather-boarded turnpike tollhouse of 1807 and an assemblage of timber-framed urban buildings. Wood harvested on he site has been used for charcoal burning, and the manufacture of cleft laths used in conservation work on important buildings including Hampton Court Palace. The museum has a well-stocked library and a large collection of artefacts. It regularly organises courses in traditional rural trades and crafts.

Weald & Downland Living Museum
Open Air Theatre Road
PO18 0EU Singleton
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1243 - 811363