|Sunday at Beamish museum
||[Feb. 28th, 2016|10:24 pm]
There've been several days in the last week when the sun shone brightly, and we couldn't just go out for the day, either because we were waiting for scaffolders to turn up or because durham_rambler had a meeting to go to. So this morning, once the weather had got a little flurry of almost-snow out of its system, we bought ourselves annual tickets online, and headed off to Beamish.
Since we were last there, St Helen's Church has been completed and opened. We've watchd it grow from a heap of rubble (albeit rubble with each piece carefully numbered) to an empty shell, and now to a Georgian church - that is, a building whose earliest parts are medieval, but whose interior is as it would have been in the 1820s, light and airy with whitewashed walls and box pews (each inscribed with the name of a local family). The pews themselves are genuinely of the period, acquired from a church (in Shropshire, I think) who heard a radio programme about the restoration, and were themselves trying to get rid of some box pews. Other details, not entirely: I noticed that what looked at first glance like a typically eighteenth century memorial on the wall was actually dedicated to Frank Atkinson, the museum's founder who died in 2014. Presumably the gravestones with which it is planned to surround the church - and their absence certainly leaves it looking incomplete - will be similarly pastiche.
There is also a plan to construct a coaching inn - the Three Tuns - in this Georgian corner of the site, so that visitors can stay overnight within the museum. There's a promise that this will be completely authentic, which I don't for a minute believe. However far they push the authenticity in other respects, the plumbing will surely be modern.
The other 'new' thing - new since our last visit to that area, if not to the museum as a whole - is that the home farm is now a 1940s farm, appealing to the interest in wartime, with land girls and an air raid shelter. It was towards the end of our visit when we reached this point, and I never found out how much difference this made to the actual farming. We spent most of our time at the farm sitting by the fire talking to the "farmer" about rehoming ex-battery hens.
And we didn't visit the pit village at all - but our tickets are good for a year, so that'll be next time.