The English Lakes brought to life through real objects
Curiously tucked-away around the back of the magnificent and imposing Abbot Hall Art Gallery in the slightly less magnificent and imposing old stable block is one of the regions finest little museums.
This is a marvellously presented ethnographical collection that attempts to tell the tale of life in the region in times long since gone. It is centred on a detailed recreation of a typical Edwardian street scene, where you can browse the displayed wares of a pharmacy, tailors, photographers, and toyshops gathered from the museum’s extensive collection of Edwardian and Victorian everyday curiosities.
This centrepiece is augmented by a number of recreated interiors from a local 17th-century farmhouse, including a bedroom, a parlour, and a fully-equipped kitchen that brings the museums collection to life within a truly authentic setting and allows you to vicariously step back in time.
Other features include numerous workshops, many of which are operational with regular craft displays that show you the workmanship that would have gone in to creating the museums collection of works from the arts and crafts movement that attempted to revert the Victorian move towards mass production by promoting more traditional values.
Finally, no visit could be complete without a visit to the reconstructed study of local author Arthur Ransome the creator of long-term children’s favourite "Swallows and Amazons," a traditional boys-own adventure story set upon the waters of the lakes. Here you can see his desk, typewriter, and original manuscripts, while younger children can get a feel for the story in Captain Flint's Locker.
This pleasant little museum is an excellent diversion for all ages and provides a very good introduction to life on the lakes for anyone heading on into the Lake District National Park.
March 10, 2005
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