The Rural Life Centre is a museum of village life founded by Madge and Henry Jackson in 1973. Since that time it has grown to occupy ten acres of field and woodland and the collection of around 40,000 artefacts is now housed in purpose built and reconstructed historic rural buildings.The displays reflect the dramatic changes in country living during the years between 1800 and 1960. Many aspects of this life are shown
in individual settings including:
Farming through the seasons
Local hop growing
Tools associated with the country crafts
The social history of village life - home,
school, church, shop, inn and sport
The museum's main season is from April to October and includes a wide and varied programme of special events.
Other collections housed at the Rural Life Centre include the Pohorely collection of carpentry tools, horticultural equipment from the Gibbs family, Anne Mallinson's Selborne village collection and the horse-drawn transport reserve collection from the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading.
On Sundays and bank holidays, the Old Kiln Light Railway is in action providing steam and diesel hauled rides for visitors.
Realistic settings within the museum show all aspects of village life from a typical country home, through all the typical crafts and trades to reconstructed buildings including a chapel, cricket pavilion and village hall.
Blacksmith, wheelwright, butcher, baker, pub and post office are all represented. Other exhibits show the tools of farmyard, garden, field and forest.
Here also, you will find the nursery, the tailor's, shepherding, the schoolroom, hop growing, the vet's and carpenter's among a host of others.
Craftsmen demonstrate their skills here regularly too. Often a blacksmith can be found in the forge and a wood turner at his lathe.
An extensive annual programme of special events provides something to suit most interests. Foremost among these is Rustic Sunday, our celebration of country life held on the last Sunday in July each year.
Groups, including schools, are most welcome and special demonstrations can be provided if pre-booked. A special education pack is available on request.
The museum is also available for hire, as a whole or in part, as a venue for events from weddings or rallies to corporate days.
Children love to play in our reconstructed village playground and there is ample room for family picnics around the ten acre site.
A cafe provides refreshments throughout the day and a well stocked gift shop offers pocket money items through to specialist books. Almost all the site has good disabled access including the arboretum of over 100 tree species from around the world.
For more details of other special events at the Rural Life Centre, visit the web site at www.rural-life.org.uk or call 01252 795571.
For a more detailed map and directions from major trunk roads click on the map below.