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Somerset Rural Life Museum, Glastonbury

#5 of 8 in Historic Sites in Glastonbury
History Museum · Hidden Gem · Historic Site
The Somerset Rural Life Museum is situated in Glastonbury, Somerset, UK. It is a museum of the social and agricultural history of Somerset, housed in buildings surrounding a 14th-century barn once belonging to Glastonbury Abbey.

It was used as a Tithe barn for the storage of arable produce, particularly wheat and rye, from the abbey's home farm of approximately 524 acres (2.12 km2). Threshing and winnowing would also have been carried out in the barn.

The barn which was built from local 'shelly' limestone, with thick timbers supporting the stone tiling of the roof. It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building, and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. In 2011 the 14 feet (4.3 m) high doors of the barn were replaced by local craftsmen using materials and traditional techniques and materials to a design based on The Bishop's Eye in Wells.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 the barn was given to the Duke of Somerset. By the early 20th century it was being used as a farm store by the Mapstone family. In 1974 they donated it to Somerset County Council and between 1976 and 1978 underwent restoration. It was also used as the location for the pistol duel in Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon", released in 1975.
The barn and courtyard contain displays of farm machinery from the Victorian or early 20th Century period. Other exhibits show local crafts, including willow coppicing, mud horse fishing on the flats of Bridgwater Bay, peat digging on the Somerset Levels, and the production of milk, cheese, and cider. In reconstructed rooms detailing domestic life in the nearby village of Butleigh, the story of one farm worker, John Hodges, is told from cradle to grave.

Outside, there is a beehive and rare breeds of poultry and sheep, in the cider apple orchard. Regular craft demonstrations and talks on farming are held, as are activities for children and families. There is a shop, tea room, car park and disabled access. The shop is run by the Friends of the Somerset Rural Life Museum.

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Somerset Rural Life Museum reviews

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175 reviews
  • Had a lovely little trip to here, lots of interesting things to see and fabulous fresh food .. staff was so polite and very helpful also a lovely little shop .. What a lovely afternoon... Big thanks.....  more »
  • An excellent informative visit with my 10 year old granddaughter. We had a welcoming reception and purchased a useful, well thought out questionnaire for her, (£1) 'Use your imagination' The on...  more »
  • This is a must see for any visitor and also for any local especially if, as I do you have an interest in the way we used to live. The exhibition space was fantastic for Matilda Temperley's opening night. The fire roaring outside was perfect and the space itself is a wonder. The refurbishment has been done to a very high standard and you can easily lose a couple of wonderful hours here. Back soon!!
  • Could do with better signing if it wasn't for my PHONE Sat nav we would have driven straight past it. It's worth going as u only pay once and go as many times as you can in a year. Parking is included

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