A BRIGHT and exciting new future is being shaped for Avoncroft Museum of Buildings – in the crucible of a blacksmith’s forge.
Powering it is a series of events and courses which its hard-working team hope will take it to the heart of local residents from its Stoke Heath base.
Even before the sails on the centre’s famous windmill begin to turn once more to produce genuine stoneground flour – due to start up in February – visitors can step back in time and learn some of the ancient skills and crafts that not only built the town, but the country too.
“We are launching a number of courses, ranging from blacksmithing and nail making, all historic skills associated with Bromsgrove and carried out in our 19th Century forge and chain shop, to events like Tudor and Victorian cookery courses, again carried out in authentic locations,” said the museum’s Chris Everall.
There will also be courses on heritage crafts, identifying wildflowers in the museum’s meadows and orchards and crafting a ‘kissing bough’ the forerunner of mistletoe at Christmas.
Underpinning it all is a £346,000 grant over three years from Arts Council England, a shot in the arm to re-establish the small independent museum as one of the key attractions not just in Midlands but in the UK as a whole.
“We are offering people the experience of learning traditional skills in a traditional manner in a traditional setting,” said Chris, “and research shows that if you learn a new skill in the company of other people it’s good for your brain too – so it’s all about wellbeing.”
For the museum the initiative represents very much a re-birth and an opportunity to play an even greater role within its wider community.
Opened in 1967, its core collection boasts 30 historic buildings from medieval halls to threshing barns, a Victorian prison block to the newest addition, the Nailer’s Cottage – where people can actually learn the art of making nails.
“The museum covers our rural / industrial heritage and within our 18 acres we have orchards and meadows, so there is an awful lot going on here,” said Chris.
To reflect this Avoncroft, instead of closing in October, is staying open in the run-up to Christmas with attractions including Tudor, Victorian and Sixties traditional festive decorating on Thursday nights in December plus there will also be a course on making a traditional Christmas pudding.
“The idea is to make a hassle-free Christmas pud, you learn all about the ingredients, make the pudding, but we do all the cooking,” said Chris.
In fact Avoncroft Museum has a packed programme of courses, many of which would make ideal Christmas gifts.
For more details visit http://www.avoncroft.org.uk/ or call 01527 831363 / 831886.