Category Archives: museum news


Following a £2.4 million redevelopment, Somerset Rural Life Museum re-opened earlier this year with a fresh new look and a line-up of wonderful events offering real-life experiences inspired by rural traditions.

The autumn programme has been announced and includes seasonal celebrations, workshops, courses, talks and exhibitions. The programme offers visitors a chance to discover more about Somerset’s heritage including its landscape, food and farming and rural crafts.

Visitor Services Manager Robin Savill said: “In addition to being a much-loved museum we are now offering new hands-on heritage experiences. The former farm, with its orchard and farm yard, offers a unique and historic venue in which to learn more about the county’s heritage. Alongside our special autumn events we also have regular family fun days and Toddler Explorer sessions.”

Autumn has always been an important time for rural communities and An Autumn Celebration carries on the tradition of celebrating harvest time. On 7 and 8 October the Museum grounds will be filled with all things autumnal, from apple pressing and giant pumpkins to rural crafts and folklore.

The Museum will hold its Living History Day on 5 November when the former dairy farm will be alive with the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of ancient skills and crafts. From woodworking and weaving to cookery and corn dollies, a visit will be like stepping into the past.

From 23 September to 11 November the wonderful foureteenth-century Abbey Barn will host an installation produced in partnership with Somerset Art Works and Craftspace. Gather-ing is a contemporary art exhibition exploring the use of ancient barns to gather and collect people, animals and crops.

Kate Lynch’s stunning FARM exhibition also continues until 3 December, featuring more than 40 paintings and drawings made on local farms. To complement the exhibition, Kate will be at the Museum on 28 September to give a talk about her documentary art projects.

On 25 October painter James Lynch is giving a talk and demonstration in using the ancient medium of egg tempera. James has spent many years mastering this technique and his much-admired landscape painting at the Museum is a stunning example of this work.

Blighty Bushcraft will be at the museum on 24 September to lead a Foraging Course around the Glastonbury countryside. The morning expedition will explore the local hedgerows to discover what nature’s larder has to offer. Blighty Bushcraft returns on 22 October for a ‘Slab and Stick’ Stool-Making Course.

Normal admission applies to seasonal days and exhibitions with charges and booking required for workshops, courses and talks. For full details please visit

Somerset Rural Life Museum is part of The South West Heritage Trust, an independent charity that protects and celebrates our rich heritage.


Minehead Museum celebrated the official opening of its new exhibition space on 31 July 2017.  Provision of a greater display area has enabled museum to incorporate further material including a second Hobby Horse head, a scale model of the Regal Theatre in the 1950s and further shipping models which have been added to this year’s ‘Maritime Minehead’ display. Also on display for the first time are a seventeenth-century clock on loan from the Town Council and the uniform of the former Town Crier. Display frames on subjects as diverse as the painter Turner, the Beatles and writer Arthur C. Clarke are also on show.

Curator and trustee, Julian Luke, welcomed guests and outlined the development of the museum from a pop-up display for two weeks in 2013 to its opening in part of the Beach Hotel in March 2014. Julian paid tribute to the strong support the project has received from the YMCA-owned Beach Hotel and noted that the opportunity to expand was further evidence of the value of this partnership. He also thanked the Tourist Information Centre for agreeing to relocate part of their display area to enable the expansion.

The museum has attracted over 17,000 visitors since it opened. The new display space will increase the visibility of the museum and widen the range of material on show. Important for the display of an interpretation of local history and customs, the museum also provides an all-weather attraction for tourists and locals alike. A successful museum is helping with the regeneration of the seafront.

PHOTO: The photograph shows Chairman of the Trustees, Joe Passmore, cutting the ribbon to open the new room. Other trustees Alan Smithers and Caroline Giddens were on hand to answer questions as over 50 guests viewed the exhibits. The museum, a registered charity, is staffed and managed entirely by volunteers and is always looking for more helpers in all aspects of running the museum. Janet Styles, the museum’s volunteer co-ordinator, would welcome offers of help as the museum looks forward to a busy summer and a further refit in the coming winter ahead of next year’s featured display, ‘Minehead on the Move’.

Anyone interested can email or call Janet on 01643 822907.

The museum opening times:
Until 31 October: Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 4pm,  Sundays 11am – 4pm. Closed Mondays apart from Bank Holidays, when the museum is open 10am–4 pm. It is closed in the winter.

The Museum is located opposite the West Somerset Railway Station, Minehead in the Beach Hotel Complex.  Entry is FREE.


The planning application for a new extension at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon has been approved by North Devon Council.

The council’s planning committee approved the application for the new design on Wednesday 8 March. Following public consultation earlier this year, the original design was revised so that the new extension and existing building complement each other better.

The extension will provide a bigger and brighter entrance to welcome visitors, as well as increasing the floor space, offering the opportunity for more displays and exhibitions, including a new twentieth-century social history gallery. With a new education room, improvements to the shop and tea room and increased storage space, it will help the museum be more sustainable going into the future.

Executive member, Councillor Brian Moores, said: “We are very happy that the new design has been approved by the planning committee. It is a very exciting time for the museum as the new extension will bring big improvements to the facilities on offer. We hope that the displays and exhibitions, which will be part of the new extension, will attract even more visitors, both from the local area and tourists. Alison Mills, our museum manager, is doing a great job on our behalf to drive this project forward. To find out more, come down to the museum and speak to Alison or any of her staff and volunteers.”

Local ward member for Barnstaple central, Councillor Adam Bradford, said: “I am extremely excited about this important development which will bring more space in the museum for education and encourage our young people to a take greater interest in history. The plans are innovative and my thanks to Alison and her team for their continuing hard work. This is a great project for us to get behind, whether as individuals or businesses.”

Copies of all the approved drawings and plans are online at under planning application number 62191.