city adventurers

Discovering an unusual museum in Southport

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Lawnmowers – a very British obsession?

Did you know the lawnmower was invented in Gloucester by Edwin Beard Budding in 1830? He was deemed a madman for making such a contraption and had to test his machine at night so no one would see him.

But Budding was not mad at all and his machine revolutionised gardening.

Britain began making the best lawnmowers in the world. Sadly it seems this great piece of British engineering is less cutting edge and more heritage now on the world stage.

Talking of heritage, Britain does have the world’s only lawnmower Museum.

The British Lawnmower Museum

the British Lawnmower Museum - photo by Juliamaud
The British Lawnmower Museum – photo by Juliamaud

Where would you expect to find such a place? Gloucester, as it was home to Edwin Beard Budding? Kent, maybe, as its the Garden of  England? No, it’s actually based in Southport on Merseyside.

106-114 Shakespeare Street, a short distance from Southport town centre,  is where you will find this  museum of garden machinery, not just lawnmowers.

Brian Radam, an ex-racing champion, started the museum, which sees more than 5,000 people visit every year. It was Brian’s dream to showcase vintage lawnmowers. His museum specialises in antique garden machinery and supplys parts, archive conservation of manuscript materials and values machines from all over the world.

It houses housing over 200 restored exhibits. These include machines and equipment owned by the rich and famous. You may have seen Lee Mack talking about his contribution to the collection on TV.

Lawnmowers owned by Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Brian May and Paul O’Grady are in there too. This museum is a unique tribute to the garden machine industry over the last 200 years.

Visit The British Lawnmower Museumhttp://www.lawnmowerworld.co.uk/

Brian May's mower - photo by Juliamaud

Brian May’s mower – photo by Juliamaud

Paul O'Grady's pink push mower - photo by Juliamaud
Paul O’Grady’s pink push mower – photo by Juliamaud

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Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill House

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It’s often said that you never visit what’s on your doorstep. Sometimes because the attractions become so familiar that you just expect them to always be there. And sometimes it’s because you don’t know they exist. Or maybe you do know they exist, as you’ve heard their name, but you have no idea what’s there and why you should visit.

If one of those places you’ve heard of but never visited is Strawberry Hill House you should definitely make the effort to go. It’s only a short walk from Strawberry Hill station after catching a train from London Waterloo.

Strawberry Hill House

This is an impressive Gothic revival house in Twickenham, that was created by Horace Walpole in the 18th century. It is Britain’s finest example of Georgian Gothic revival architecture and inspired the first gothic novel  – The Castle of Otranto.

The house was bought in 1747 by Horace Walpole, son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister. He transformed it into a “little Gothic castle” between 1749 and 1790, providing a purpose built home for his growing collection of paintings, ceramics, coins and artefacts.

Inside the building the rooms lead you from mysterious dark space to light, open spaces. You’ll even find yourself venturing through passages into hidden rooms.

Why visit now?

Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill is an exhibition running until 24th February. It showcases many of the artefacts that used to fill the house, many of them to be placed into original locations for this time period.

Horace Walpole’s collection was one of the most important of the 18th century. He designed the interiors of his home to showcase his collection. Unfortunately the collection was sold in 1842. Spread over 24 days, the sale was an important society event, with special steamers laid on to take prospective buyers and tourists down the Thames from the centre of London.

The Lost Treasure exhibition brings back the treasures that have been dispersed for over 170 years and allows visitors to see the house as Walpole conceived it.  Many of the pieces will be shown in their original positions.

Strawberry Hill Treasure Hunt

No, this isn’t a hunt you can go on yourself. Instead this is a series of blogs describing how the treasures that were sold were traced so they could be included in the exhibition.

Extract from STRAWBERRY HILL TREASURE HUNT, In partnership with Boodle Hatfield, solicitors blog

“Ever wondered what it takes to unearth long lost artworks? What kind of detective work is required to retrace treasured antiques and objets d’art scattered two hundred years ago? This is the fate that befell the celebrated collection of antiquarian and man of letters, Horace Walpole, once displayed in his home, Strawberry Hill House. Centuries on, this series first will follow art historian and provenance researcher, Silvia Davoli, in her hunt for the lost treasures of Strawberry Hill and her bid to restore Walpole’s collections to his legendary gothic rooms.”

Strawberry Hill House & Garden, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham TW1 4ST

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Science Gallery London

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Science Gallery London is a cultural destination designed to connect art, science and health in one space. This new “museum” is at the Guy’s campus of King’s College London at London Bridge and is free to enter. As well as the exhibitions, there is a shop and a cafe.

We stumbled across it as we were leaving London Bridge station so dropped in to see what it contained.

It is not a conventional museum, but rather a collection of exhibitions, events, performances, workshops, debates and festivals. The gallery does not have a permanent collection but offers themed seasons, focusing on issues of global significance. The first season tackles addiction and recovery.

The goal is to attract over 300,000 visitors a year, especially 15 to 25 year olds.

Professor Ed Byrne, President & Principal of King’s College London, is quoted as saying: “Science Gallery London will open new ways into King’s, inviting our local communities and visitors from around the world to come into the university to connect with, explore and contribute to the generation of new knowledge”.

 

Extract from the international.sciencegallery.com

The launch season HOOKED: WHEN WANT BECOMES NEED explores the complex world of addiction and recovery. From gambling to gaming and smartphones to social media, HOOKED will question what makes us vulnerable to addiction and examine underlying factors and routes to recovery. The exhibition invites visitors to explore the latest research and thinking on the subject as well as question their own ideas about the scientific and cultural aspects of this much-debated topic.

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Visiting The Globe Theatre

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All the World’s a Stage

The Globe stage - photo by Juliamaud
The Globe stage – photo by Juliamaud

Shakespeare’s Globe is a faithful reconstruction of the open-air playhouse designed in 1599 and a unique international resource dedicated to the exploration of Shakespeare’s work and the playhouse for which he wrote.”

The centre of the theatre, and standing space in front of the stage, is open to the sky. The auditorium also has seats arranged across three levels around the side. These are covered with a thatched roof. This is the only thatched roof in London.

Whilst thatched roofs remain popular in English villages, they have been seen as dangerous in cities following the Great Fire of London. ‘The ordinance of 1212 (London’s  first building regulation) banned the use of thatch to stop any further incidents of rapid fire spread from one building to another.

The Globe is London's only open air theatre with  a thatched roof - photo by Juliamaud
The Globe is London’s only open air theatre with a thatched roof – photo by Juliamaud

Tours of the Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre tours run every day, except 24 & 25 December. For the Globe Theatre performance season (mid-April to mid-October) the tours finish at midday to allow for the matinee performances.

Tours include the inside and outside of the building.

the Globe Theatre photo by Juliamaud

A visit to the Globe Exhibition

There is an accompanying exhibition with details about London’s history, displays of costume and props used for plays, and demonstrations of printing.

You can listen to recording of Shakespeare read by famous actors from the past and even have a go at recording a brief snippet yourself.

Globe Theatre banner - photo by Juliamaud
Globe Theatre banner – photo by Juliamaud

 

 

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Eyam

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Eyam by Matt Hartley

Matt Hartley’s new play Eyamdirected by Adele Thomas, opened in The Globe from  Saturday 15 September to 13th October 2018.

It tells the story of what happened when the plague arrived in the Derbyshire village of Eyam in 1665. The community faced a moral dilemma. They had to decide whether to flee and risk spreading the deadly disease, or stay in the village and protect others from the risk, but face the potential of their own slow and painful death. Could they put neighbourhood feuds aside and pull together as a community?

The full cast includes: Annette Badland, Zora Bishop, Adrian Bower, Priyanga Burford, John Paul Connolly, Sam Crane, Becci Gemmell, Will Keen, Norah Lopez-Holden, Luke MacGregor, Jordan Metcalfe, Oliver Ryan, Sirine Saba, Howard Ward and Rose Wardlaw.

 

Display in Eyam Museum
Display in Eyam Museum

A true story

In 1665, the plague infiltrated a small Derbyshire village via a tailor’s cloth brought back from London. The citizens had to decide if they should flee and save themselves or  quarantine the village to stop the Black Death spreading. The villagers decided to stay and three quarters of them died. The church in Eyam has a record of 273 individuals who were victims of the plague.

A real village

Eyam plague cottage - photo by Juliamaud
Eyam plague cottage – photo by Juliamaud

The idea of wanting to visit a plague village might seem a morbid one.

And, to be fair, we had not set out to visit it but stumbled upon the place during a drive through the peak district. Sign posted as an area of historical interest, Eyam is a beautiful little village in the English countryside.

It is now a tourist attraction with a charming little museum, delightful tea rooms and a treasure trail of plaques running through it. The plaques help you to trace the steps of the villagers back in the time of the notorious bubonic plague outbreak that devastated so many of the local families.

Eyam Hall is also located in the village. It is Jacobean-style manor house and is a grade II listed building. Formerly managed by The National Trust, Eyam Hall and Craft Centre are owned and managed by the Wright family. The Hall is open to the public on selected days and available for private functions such as weddings.

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Frietmuseum

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Want to discover the history of the potato and fries?

 

Then you need to visit the Frietmuseum in Bruges!

 

This museum is devoted to the history of potatoes and the production of Belgian fries. It describes itself as “the first and only museum dedicated to potato fries”. 

Potatoes at the Frietmuseum -photo by Juliamaud
Potatoes at the Frietmuseum -photo by Juliamaud

Potatoes originated in Peru more than 10,000 years ago. The ground floor of the museum leads you  through the history of the potato.  Then it’s up to the first floor, to discover the history of the fries. End your tour with a trip to the basement where the medieval cellars house a cafe serving chips.

Yes, there are Chocolate Museums and Beer Museums, but this is something unusual to do while in Bruges.

And if you still want chocolate after you’ve enjoyed your chips, there is even a chocolate shop next door that serves delicious hot chocolate made with real chocolate……

Enjoy!

Frietmuseum and Choco-Jungle - photo by Juliamaud
Frietmuseum and Choco-Jungle – photo by Juliamaud

 

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Fossil hunting at Kimmeridge Bay.

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The Jurassic Coast

The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the English coast that stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset.

Kimmeridge Bay on the Jurassic Coast by Juliamaud
Kimmeridge Bay on the Jurassic Coast by Juliamaud

 

Group on Kimmeridge Bay by Juliamaud
Group on Kimmeridge Bay by Juliamaud

You may not have heard of Kimmeridge in Dorset. I know I hadn’t until  a group of us went there in search of fossils.

Kimmeridge is a small coastal village that enjoys international recognition due to the fossils that commonly occur throughout the Kimmeridge Clay. In particular there are shells of ammonites and bivalves, as well as the skeletal remains of marine reptiles and (occassionally) the bones of dinosaurs and pterosaurs.

The Etches Collection

After a wall along the bay, looking for fossils, our group visited the nearby Etches Collection. This state of the art museum was created by famous fossil hunter and expert Steve Etches MBE.

Steve Etches with Catherine Skeggs
Steve Etches with Catherine Skeggs

Steve spent years combing the coast for ammonites and dinosaur bones. He collected so many that a £5m, world-class museum had to be built to house them all.

The Etches Collection: Museum of Jurassic Marine Life opened in 2016. It is a new purpose built museum  about a mile from the beach. It contains a magnificent collection of around 2,500 specimens. The permanent home for the collection is managed by a  trust, that was created to hold the finds for the nation. Local landowner, the Smedmore Estate, donated the site for the museum and the Lottery Heritage Fund gave £2.5m to the project, which was matched by private donations.

Visiting Kimmeridge Bay and The Etches Collection

The bay is reached by way of a narrow toll road a short distance from the village. Plenty of parking is available at the cliff-top. Fossil hunting is permitted at Kimmeridge Bay, but the use of hammers is not.

The Etches Collection is in the village of Kimmeridge, eight miles south of Wareham in Dorset. Kimmeridge is sign posted from the A351 at Wareham.  As you turn into the village, the museum building is on the right hand side.

The Etches Collection by Juliamaud

The Etches Collection

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