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Chiltern Open Air Museum

Chiltern Open Air Museum: A Journey Through Time

The Chiltern Open Air Museum is an outdoor museum in Buckinghamshire, England. It tells the stories of people from the Chilterns, how they lived, dressed and went about their everyday lives.

The Chiltern Open Air Museum was founded in 1976 by a group of volunteers from the Chiltern Society. The founder of the museum was John Willson, who was inspired by a visit to the Weald & Downland Museum in Sussex. Willson believed that there was a need for a similar museum in the Chilterns, to preserve the region’s vernacular architecture.

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The museum’s first site was at Wigginton, but it moved to its current location in Chalfont St. Giles in 1981. The current site is 45 acres (180,000 m2) and includes woodland, parkland, and a working farm. The museum has over 30 rescued and reconstructed historic buildings, dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries.

The museum has over 37 rescued and reconstructed historic buildings, a working farm, an adventure playground, and woodland to explore.

Chiltern Open Air Museum
Iron Age roundhouse
  • It is 25 feet (7.6 m) in diameter.
  • It has a thatched roof that is made of straw.
  • It is furnished with replica Iron Age artifacts, such as pottery, tools, and weapons.
  • It is located in the museum’s “Ancient Village” section, along with other reconstructed buildings from the Iron Age, Roman, and Saxon periods.
Chiltern Open Air Museum
Leagrave Cottages

The 18th century Leagrave barn Cottages are a pair of cottages that were originally built as a barn in Leagrave, Bedfordshire, England, in the early 18th century. The barn was converted into cottages in the 1770s, and it was donated to the Chiltern Open Air Museum in 2002.

The cottages are furnished with period furniture, and they give visitors a glimpse of what life was like for laborers in the 18th century. The cottages are also used for educational workshops and events, such as “How to Make a Thatched Roof” and “The History of Cottages in England.”

The Leagrave barn Cottages are a valuable piece of history, as they represent the way that people lived in the 18th century. The cottages are also a reminder of the importance of agriculture to the local economy.

Chiltern Open Air Museum
High Wycombe Furniture Factory

The High Wycombe Furniture Factory of 1887 is a restored factory that is now part of the Chiltern Open Air Museum. The factory was built in 1887 by James Elliot and Son, and it was used to assemble Windsor chairs. The factory closed in 1974, and it was later moved to the museum.

The factory is a two-story building with a brick exterior. The ground floor of the factory is where the chairs were assembled. The chairs were made from wood that was turned on a pole lathe. The upper floor of the factory was used for storage.

The factory is a valuable piece of history, as it represents the importance of the furniture industry in High Wycombe.

Chiltern Open Air Museum
Glory Mill 1830

Glory Mill is a rescued and reconstructed paper mill that is now part of the Chiltern Open Air Museum. The mill was built in 1830 in Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire, England. It was used to make paper for printing and writing. The mill closed in 1999, and it was later moved to the museum.

The mill is a two-story building with a brick exterior. The ground floor of the mill is where the paper was made. The paper was made from rags that were shredded and then mixed with water. The mixture was then poured onto a screen, and the water was drained away. The remaining paper was then dried.

The upper floor of the mill was used for storage. The mill also had a waterwheel that powered the machinery.


The museum is a registered charity and is run by a team of volunteers. It is open to the public from April to October, and admission is free for children under 5 years old.

The museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including living history events, traditional events, evening theatre performances, and night-time openings.

Some of the upcoming events in 2023 include:

  • Roman Gladiators (April 23-24): Meet Roman gladiators and learn about their lives and training. Roman Gladiators event at Chiltern Open Air Museum
  • Ragged Victorians (May 21-22): Step back in time to Victorian England and meet people from all walks of life. Ragged Victorians event at Chiltern Open Air Museum
  • WW1 Living History (June 10-11): Learn about the First World War and meet people who lived through it. WW1 Living History event at Chiltern Open Air Museum
  • Bushcraft (July 15-16): Learn about bushcraft skills such as firelighting, shelter building, and tracking. Bushcraft event at Chiltern Open Air Museum
  • Classic Vehicle Show (August 26-27): See a collection of classic vehicles from the past. Classic Vehicle Show event at Chiltern Open Air Museum
  • Traditional Harvest (September 16-17): Learn about the traditional harvest festival and see how crops were harvested in the past. Traditional Harvest event at Chiltern Open Air Museum
  • Enchanted Museum (May 20-21): Visit the museum at night and enjoy a magical evening of storytelling, music, and theatre. Enchanted Museum event at Chiltern Open Air Museum
  • Halloween Spectacular : This is currenlty cancelled due to land ownwers request.

The Chiltern Open Air Museum is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the Chilterns. It is also a fun and educational place to visit for families.

For more information about the museum and its events, please visit the website: https://coam.org.uk

[images and video by WatfordMedia.co.uk]