Friday, 19 May 2017

A milestone for a family favourite

Hugh Bonneville and I have something in common - that is a real interest and fondness for the Weald and Downland Living Museum.

I only discovered this on Thursday evening as he opened the museum’s amazing Visitor Centre.

Of course many of you feel the same passion about this Living Open Air Museum, as it has grown and developed over the decades.

The new visitor centre is another important milestone in its history.

It was four years ago when I, together with other Council members, was invited to the museum to learn about their plans for a visitor centre which provided not only an additional offer on those rather soggy summer days but would further enhance the learning and education they can offer there as well.

We were impressed by their innovative and ambitious plans. It was a multimillion project and at the time they were bidding for Heritage Lottery Funding. As part of that funding process the support of local councils is important. The educational case and tourist offer which would boost the local rural economy was very strong so we gave our support, provided £100,000 through West Sussex County Council Kickstart funding as well as a project support officer to support them through this project.

This is just one example how and when West Sussex County Council can help. Going round the Visitor Centre I felt so proud to have played a small part to bring this plan to reality.

Like so many people over the years my family has enjoyed days out at the Weald and Downland Museum – now my grandchild visits with me when she stays and it is one of her favourites.

It is a perfect way to explore the past, the buildings, their purpose how we interacted with nature, livestock and the environment to live. From that we see how we have evolved over the centuries and how some things stay the same, it also highlights the importance of nature in our lives too. The visitor centre brings all of this to life under one roof and reminds us too of old customs and practices such as putting a shoe in the chimney for good luck! Not something our Fire and Rescue Service would approve nowadays!

We are on the third year of promoting the Great Outdoors – this centre is yet another pearl in the string of pearls that the great outdoors in West Sussex has to offer. Well worth a visit.

For more on the museum visit the website.

Best wishes,

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