The Chiltern Open Air Museum in Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire, was founded in 1976, with the aim of rescuing threatened buildings and re-erecting them, preserving a variety of structures of historical or vernacular interest which are typical of the surrounding region. The buildings are set in forty-five acres of natural parkland, meadow and woodland, giving you a day out where you can walk, let the kids run about and enjoy the peace of the countryside.
All the buildings, along with gypsy caravans and working toilets are open for visitors to walk in and look around. While some interiors are for display only many can be touched and used – one building is a Victorian school room where there are old-fashioned toys including hoops and sticks, dominoes and cup and balls which you can play with.
The centre also houses an exhibition from The Hawk and Owl Trust – in another rescued barn – from which you could see wild birds (there are no captive birds in the exhibit) and a small farm with goats and sheep.
There is small children’s play area, café and baby changing facilities. Most of it is wheelchair and pushchair friendly with pathways, although there are some exhibits which are in wooded areas or have steps up to them.
The centre holds regular special events, especially in the school holidays. When we visited there were children’s craft activities taking place, and in the Iron Age House there was a story telling session, both of which went down very well with the children. Other events include historical pageants, craft fairs and concerts.
Chiltern Open Air Museum opens at the end of March each year and closes at the end of October except for some special events at Christmas. For more information visit www.coam.org.uk.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.
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