Gressenhall Museum Gressenhall
Museum of Norfolk Life. Gressenhall Museum of Norfolk Life is grateful to past generations of Norfolk people who have left us thousands of objects to help tell their stories.
The Collections Gallery – Once the men’s dormitory, this Gressenhall Museum gallery contains over 2,000 objects which help reveal more about rural life in Norfolk. All of these items were owned, used or made by people in Norfolk. They tell us about how the people of Norfolk lived their lives during the last two hundred years. There is also a temporary exhibition space, which changes every year. Look out for the workhouse clock mechanism which powered the courtyard clock. Jeremiah Rust was a clock repairer from Dereham. It was his job to keep all the workhouse clocks working. In 1841 he was sacked because he could not get the clocks to ‘work with regularity’. We still have issues with the workhouse clock today! The First Farmers Gallery – The First Farmers Gallery explores the early history of farming. There are displays of artefacts of bone, antler, flint, stone and bronze used by Norfolk’s early farmers from around 6000 years ago. 1950s Room – A recreation of a mid-20th century home. Take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about the time when the BBC’s Light Programme crackled out Mrs Dales’ Diary from bakelite wireless radios. Engineering Galleries – A selection of stationary steam and diesel engines once used to power many aspects of life, from washing clothes to bringing in the harvest. Rural Life Gallery – From fire engines, to tricycles, carts and bullock wagons, explore how people and products were moved around Norfolk. Look out for the 1908 circus showman’s caravan and a coach from Raveningham Hall which used to take guests to Haddiscoe railway station. Women’s Land Army Gallery – The Land Girls and Lumber Jills gallery tells the story of the Women’s Land Army and Timber Corp and the real life stories of land army girls in Norfolk. It’s an enduring tribute to the forgotten heroines of the British Home Front during two world wars. The museum has a long association with the Women’s Land Army, and held reunions from the 1980s.
At Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse you can stand in the evocative workhouse settings, face to face with projections of staff and inmates, and listen to first hand stories, often tragic, sometimes inspirational, from the people who once walked these whitewashed corridors. Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse is based in a former workhouse and our new galleries explore what life was like for those who lived and worked here. The building is the perfect backdrop to discover rare surviving relics from Gressenhall’s nationally important workhouse collections – the largest workhouse collection in the country. To find out even more about life in the workhouse, download our free app for your smartphone, or borrow one of our free handheld information tablets.
The Workhouse – You will experience a combination of projections, archives and fascinating collections that help tell the real stories of the workhouse staff and inmates. These displays focus on true stories from the building’s past, many of which only came to light during the research phase of the recent re-development project, Voices from the Workhouse. Stories like those of Harriet Kettle and Christopher High; often tragic, sometimes inspirational. Stories that breathe life into the historic archives giving you a vivid insight into what life was like in Victorian Britain. Was the workhouse a tough institution or a safety net for those during difficult times? Find out what life was like under the regime of the workhouse clock, what food was served and the different classes of inmates. Explore what work inmates had to do and visit the refractory cell. Known as ‘the dungeon’, inmates were sent here if they broke the rules. Gressenhall was originally opened in 1777 as a ‘House of Industry’. Discover how the building developed as a Union Workhouse and throughout the 20th century. Read more…
Gressenhall’s farm was once used to grow produce for the inmates at the workhouse. Today we use the farm to demonstrate traditional farming techniques to visitors. Take a peek into the farmhouse and see how farming families used to live. The kitchen has an old-style range cooker and on event days is filled with the aromas of traditional farmhouse cooking. In the St Nicholas’ Barn are displays of farming implements from the last 200 years. You can also peek into the lives of the wild birds and animals who live at Gressenhall with our nature watch cameras. Explore the farm with our circular walks. Explore what’s growing in the fields or take a stroll down to the river. Keep the whole family entertained with a free stamper trail available from the museum shop. Suffolk Punches – The Suffolk Punch is one of the oldest breeds of working horse recorded in the UK
Gardens and Grounds. Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse is set in 50 acres of unspoilt Norfolk countryside. The grounds include a lovely river valley, water meadows, woodlands and country trails. With its enchanting gardens, historic orchard and enthralling horticultural collections, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse is a beautiful venue for garden enthusiasts. Our organic gardens have been created and cared for by our dedicated volunteer gardeners. All of the gardens are beautiful spaces where visitors are invited to sit and contemplate and there is something to suit every taste. Cherry Tree Cottage garden – Cherry Tree Cottage Garden is a traditional garden with vegetable patch and herb garden, compost heap, privy, scarecrow and cinder paths. They have been selected to ensure historical accuracy. They reveal just how a rural family of the 1930s would have helped to supplement a low agricultural wage – a small herb patch providing flavour for the monotonous diet of vegetables and stews. Read more…
Gressenhall Museum Woodland Adventure Playground. Gressenhall Museum’s fantastic woodland playground is a world of tree houses, walkways and adventure suitable for all ages. Explore the view from the top of the Owl’s Lookout, or whizz down the slides of the Rabbit Run. Balance along the thin walkway through the air of Woodpecker Drive, and tunnel through the Badger‘s Sett and Fox Hole. Race your friends to the top of the climbing pyramid and fly through the air on the zip wire. For younger visitors, there’s a special area designed for those under 5s.
We hope to see you soon at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum of Norfolk Life.
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