Category Archives: Events

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Things to do in Buckinghamshire

Things to do in Buckinghamshire

If you’re looking for things to do in Buckinghamshire this summer, then head on over to Chiltern Open Air Museum in Chalfont St Giles. The Museum is no ordinary museum – there are no objects in glass cases here. Instead, it is a museum of buildings set in the beautiful outdoors…

Our 45 acre site has over 30 rescued historic buildings and a working Victorian farm with livestock. None of the buildings were originally built here, they were moved from their original locations and reconstructed on the Museum site when they were in danger of being demolished. The buildings are all either the homes or workplaces of ordinary people who lived in the Buckinghamshire or Chilterns area. All of the buildings are filled with artefacts or old objects, so you can find out about how people lived and worked in the past.

The site is set within the rolling hills of the Chilterns and is a mixture of parkland, woodland and arable fields great for a days out exploring.

Over the summer months there are lots of special events and things to do at the Museum. Every weekend there is a special event including historical re-enactments, costumed characters or demonstrations of traditional crafts. The summer events programme includes; Ragged Victorians (costumed characters), Rural Life (traditional skill and craft demonstrations), English Civil War (historical re-enactment), Iron Age Life (historical re-enactment) and on August bank holiday Sunday and Monday – Medieval Warbow (historical re-enactment).
See our full event program.

From 22nd – 25th August 2018, Neighbourhood Cinema are taking over the Museum’s event field with their outdoor cinema. You can book tickets to see La La Land, Gladiator, Back to the Future or Grease. Bring your picnic blanket or camping chair and enjoy the outdoor cinema in the beautiful setting of the Museum. There will be a BBQ and bar for food and refreshments.

Especially for families, we will be running our famous Terrific Tuesdays throughout the summer. These are themed family activity days and this years themes range from cherry harvest, wartime and poo (yes, you read correctly!). Terrific Tuesday run every Tuesday from 31st July – 28th August 2018. All Terrific Tuesday activities are included in the standard admission price.

For art and traditional craft lovers we are introducing Creative Thursdays. These will run every Thursday from 26th July – 30th August. On these days we will have traditional craftspeople and artists demonstrating along with a number of creative activities that you can join in with. On each of these days there is the option to take part in Arts Award Discover and earn a special Arts Award certificate.

For adults, we run a variety of workshops and experience days. You can try your hand at blacksmithing, willow sculpture, watercolour painting and sketching, historic cooking, jewellery making or straw plaiting. Workshops can all be booked via the Museum’s online shop.

The Museum has a tea room serving hot drinks, sandwiches, paninis, soups, jacket potatoes, ice creams, cold drinks and cakes.

Chiltern Open Air Museum is an independent museum and registered charity. There are many ways that you can help to support us, such as buying an Annual Pass, joining the Museum’s volunteers, or giving a donation or legacy.

Download our pdf of Summer events


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Easter Traditions

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My daughter and I love Easter time.  Alex because she gets time off school and me because I love chocolate eggs!

As it is nearly upon us, we were talking about Easter the other day and that set me thinking about what Easter actually is and how its traditions came about?

Easter is a very important time for Christians as it celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Because Jesus died during the Jewish festival of Passover, the early Christians attached Easter to Passover.

I always get confused as to when Easter actually is as the date varies from year to year.  Apparently this is because the date for Passover is based on a lunar (phases of the moon) calendar, so Easter Day can be as early as 22nd March or as late as 25th April.  That’s because Easter Day is the Sunday following the first full moon after the first day of Spring.  Easter Day is always a Sunday as this is the day when Jesus rose from the dead, giving new life to the world,

Where did the name Easter come from?  Well some people believe it comes from the ancient pagan festival of Ostara which celebrated the coming of Spring and new life after the dark of winter.  This festival, which coincided with the time Jesus died and was resurrected, was taken over by the early Christians to celebrate the new life that Jesus gave the world when he rose from the dead.

The run up to Easter is called Lent which represents the 40 days and nights when Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert.  As Jesus did not eat or drink during this time, some people give up a favourite food or drink for Lent.  That is why people eat Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday as traditionally it was a way of using up all the fattening ingredients in the house before fasting for Lent.  Clever!  The name Shrove comes from an old English word shriven which means to confess and receive forgiveness for ones sins.  The first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday which comes from the tradition of putting a small cross of ash on peoples forehead at Ash Wednesday church services to remind them that they rely on God for forgiveness from their sins.  Easter officially ends 49 days after Easter Day with Pentecost or Whitsun, when Christians remember that God sent his Holy Spirit to help them.

What about the eggs, I hear you say?!  Since pagan times, eggs and chickens have symbolised fertility and new life.  The early Christians took over this meaning to help them remember the new life Jesus brought after he rose from the dead.

As we all know, Easter Eggs are brought by the Easter bunny!  During pagan times, hares and rabbits were a symbol of new life as they have such big litters.  The story of the Easter Bunny really took off in the 19th century and over time has evolved into the Easter Bunny bringing chocolate and toys as well as eggs.

Finally, when tucking into my Easter Day lunch, I’ve often wondered why we eat lamb at Easter?  One reason is that many years ago people believed the devil could take the form of any animal except the lamb.  Others believe that Jesus would have eaten lamb at the last supper.

I hope that you will spend some time at the Museum over the Easter holidays as there is lots going on.  I’m off now to buy some chocolate eggs!

By Gill Whitehead
Museum Volunteer

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Culture, Crafts and Communities

culture event at COAM

Culture, Crafts and Communities

Visit Chiltern Open Air Museum on 1 April for our By Donation day and discover how our historic buildings evoke memories for different communities living in the Chilterns.

Anna Pool from the Learning Team writes about how all communities find resonance in our wonderful collection of historic buildings from the Chilterns.

Do you ever go abroad and feel like you are at home in the surroundings? It’s funny how certain environments, buildings or objects resonate with our own personal histories and often visitors to COAM experience this. Perhaps it is because we all share a common experience of everyday life as human beings, despite our age, country of origin, mother tongue, religion or any other factors which can be seen diversive.

Certainly when I first took my Mum on a tour around the Museum I was fascinated by how many memories it brought back for her, particularly the 1940s Prefab. We spent a lot of time in there while my Mum relayed many memories of visits to her Aunt’s Prefab home in the 1950s; of washing clothes in a copper boiler just like the one in the kitchen; of listening to the wireless and of course photographs of my mother, as a baby, being pushed in a pram just like the one in the back bedroom. Sometimes it can be a particular object in a building that holds a personal memory. For me it is the highchair in the prefab’s sitting room which evokes special memories for me, as my Mum had kept a similar one which she used for my brother and I back in the 1970s, and I later used with my eldest child who is now 16. Every time I see it I am transported back in time!

It’s not just visitors from Britain that recognise the economic design of our Prefab. While showing a visitor round recently, I was surprised to hear that she had seen many Prefabs still being used as family homes in rural Russia.

Just next to our Prefab is a Nissen Hut, a military type of building of which there are some examples still around in this area. I have been lucky enough to hear many of our visitors recall memories of their own experiences of these unique buildings.

A similar Nissen Hut was used as a synagogue by the Jewish community in Haversham, near Wolverton, Buckinghamshire during WW2 until it was closed in 1947. The South Bucks Jewish community will be joining us on our opening day at COAM and will be holding their Shabbat service between 10 am – 11 am. Visitors are more than welcome to join the service and I hope to hear one or two stories from the group later in the day!

culture round house

While running education workshops I often hear both adults and children describe how they have seen or done something very similar in their home countries. The Iron Age Roundhouse seems to be a magical place of memories where visitors describe how their grandmother in India still grinds grain using a rotary quern and bakes her bread in a clay oven just like the one they see in the roundhouse. Others have walked towards the building declaring that they are ‘back in Africa’ where round homes are still built using wattle and dorb with a thatched roof.

Even during ‘wash day’ workshops I have talked with visitors from Poland and Czechoslovakia who used to help their mother wash their clothes using a wash tub and wash board; and then there is the unmistakable smell of carbolic soap which can transport any of us over a particular age, right back to our childhood!

I am sure that as you are reading this you are thinking of a building or an object that you may have seen from our collection that has special meaning for you. Please do come along on Saturday 1st April, to see some of the stories and memories we have collected from local community groups who will be joining us to support this spectacular event. And if you have not yet visited COAM then I invite you to come along to our opening event and find out which building evokes the most memories for you! To mark the opening of the Museum for the 2017 season the 1st April will also be a ‘by donation day’ for this day only we are waiving standard admission prices and allowing visitors entry to the Museum by paying a donation only.

Look out for the West Indian Story teller performing during the day at 12 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm, as well as craft demonstrations with opportunities to join in from 11 am – 4 pm including traditional weaving, Iron Age cooking, basketry and traditional thatching demonstrations in our Medieval barn.

We look forward to welcoming you to our multi- cultural day of sharing stories on 1 April, the first day of our new 2017 season.

This special multi-cultural event is kindly funded by Arts Council England.

 

 

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Summer Nights to Brighten the Winter Gloom

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Taking a look back at our 2016 wedding season there are some amazing photographs of how wonderful our site looks when it’s alive at night.

In the darkness and gloom of winter looking back at our summer season is a good reminder of how magical evenings can be….when the darkness doesn’t descend at 4.30pm.

 

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In addition to our weddings we run several events that allow you to roam the Museum in the evening. Our Enchanted Museum Event is one of them, and we will be running this very special event again on the 13th May 2017. The event has a magical theme and gives visitors the chance to explore the Museum in the evening until 8.30pm.

 

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The unique and different ways that the Museum’s buildings can be used and decorated is fantastic, and the addition of tents, tipis and marquees offers lots of ways to personalise the space.

I’m very excited to be joining the amazing team at COAM as their new Events and Hospitality Team Leader. It’s been a pleasure to look though all these wonderful photographs of the site and I am very much look forward to making all the events and weddings this year as successful as they have been.

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Should you have any enquires about weddings, we are currently taking bookings for 2018 onwards. We are always delighted to host such a special occasion.

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Caroline Melia
Events and Hospitality Team Leader

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40 Artefacts for 40 Years: Artefact 1 – RAF Cap

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This July the Museum will be celebrating 40 years since it was founded in 1976.

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