The Rural Life Living Museum tells the story of the countryside, its unique collection of re-located historic buildings allow visitors to explore inside, complemented by one of the largest collections of agricultural implements and objects from everyday life.
We take you on a journey of nostalgia and discovery suitable for all the family.
The museum produces and hosts a range of special events, from the annual Village Fete and Vintage Revival through to Weyfest. Our volunteers demonstrate craft skills, working machinery and bring to life some special characters through live interpretation on various days throughout the year.
The Old Kiln Light Railway regularly operates both steam and diesel locomotives on passenger rides during weekends and school holidays from February-October.
We are an open-air museum, set in over 10 acres of open space and woodland with an arboretum containing over 100 trees. There are places to shelter when it rains, a picnic area for lunch, and secluded benches to take a break. The Market Garden Café serves a variety of hot and cold food and there is always tea and cake to finish off a great day out!
Henry and Madge Jackson, the museum founders, were an inspirational couple. During WWII Henry had served with the Royal Marines characteristically volunteering for Special Service, which matched his determined and daring nature. Meanwhile Madge, who was a country girl, joined the Woman’s Land Army in the Pest Control Section. In 1948 they were married locally and shortly afterwards moved nearby to the primitive “Old Kiln”, a cottage now changed and modernised after much hard work. It can be seen adjacent to the museum grounds, near “Henry’s Yard”, the site of the original museum. Before that in about 1968 the couple unearthed a horse drawn plough in some woods at Waterlooville, Hampshire and with permission brought it home to use it as a garden ornament and so our story started.
Realising agricultural implements used by earlier generations were being lost and destroyed they visited farm sales and local auctions determined to save these historic artefacts. Other treasured possessions such as waggons, binders and hand tools were donated. From then on Henry and Madge became avid collectors. At this time Henry was Director at nearby Tilhill Tree Nurseries, which suited his life-long passion for trees. In 1953 Henry had planted the first tree on the site. The start of an arboretum, now a special feature of the museum.
The museum has one of the largest collections of agricultural and rural artefacts in the south east and aims to present the history of local farming and village life to all who visit. The museum is based in Farnham’s beautiful heathland which is an important and fitting backdrop to the site’s history.
Each year, the museum hosts a calendar of events, many of which rely on the participation of the local community whether it be local craftspeople, producers, makers and sellers and of course, the visitors who come to learn and explore.