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Chiltern Open Air Museum

This immersive 'living' museum has over 30 historic buildings from the Chilterns area, a working farm, and a packed schedule of events.

Weekend Escapes

Sprawling across some rather picturesque countryside, the Chiltern Open Air Museum (COAM, because it’s too long to write again) is an open air museum (could you guess?) of over 30 rebuilt historic buildings – genuine old structures that were taken apart and moved to the current site. The selection includes a cottage from Haddenham, a toll house from High Wycombe, multiple barns, and a church from near Chinnor, among many others, all done up with detailed authenticity. Stepping into each one is like a delightful bit of time travel.

Though pleasing to anyone even mildly interested in history, COAM is a particularly fun day out if you’ve got kids in tow. Indoor museums can feel a little stuffy and quiet, but here kids can meander off the main track, burn off some energy, learn a little and play a lot. It’s incredibly relaxed: all the buildings are interesting and ‘doable’, and the whole site is walkable at your own pace. Little ones will happily spend a good three hours just wandering from building to building, chatting to people dressed in period costume. It’s rather charming seeing the volunteers explain how to spin wool and weave baskets, etc.

COAM also has an entire working farm (all rare barnyard breeds), an adventure playground, and various gardens including a dig for victory allotment and orchard. And though slightly off the beaten track, make sure you don’t miss the Iron Age fort – it’s not actually original, given that no complete ones still exist, but very cool.

The museum also has an impressively active schedule, aiming to have something different on each weekend and Tuesday over holiday periods. Think amazing re-enactment festivals, music performances, family activities, and more. We especially like the sound of the upcoming Evening of Opera (26 June) and Medieval Jousting (20-21 Aug), but check the website for the latest info.

Newland Park, Gorelands Lane, Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire HP8 4AB
01494 871117

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