“ Address: Cunningham Place / North Church Street / Bakewell DE45 1DD / Derbyshire „
Whilst on holiday in the peak District we visited the town of Bakewell. It was here we picked up a leaflet of the museum in the town, 'The old House museum'. The price of admission was my first draw as having two young boys three and a half and under I don't like to spend too much money on a museum because they might not get long there before they start playing up. The second was it did say in the leaflet it was children friendly with some toys and dressing up to do in one of their rooms.
The initial problem with this lovely museum is there is only disabled parking up near the museum so you have to make the trek up the hill. It was a very hot day when we decided to go and had parked in the town centre. Having the double pushchair was hard work my fiancé had the fun job of pushing it up the steep hill and steep it was. This is the only negative I have about the museum but once you get up there you forget about the struggle of a walk up to it. I maybe am being a little weak, I had only done just walked the thirteen mile Tissington Trail the day before so was probably feeling the effects of that!
On arriving inside the museum you instantly feel welcomed by the staff. A lovely elder gentleman approached us and explained to us some useful points about the museum and things that may be of interest to our young son's. They were quite happy to look after our pushchair by the front desk and I instantly felt happy to leave it there. I felt the staff went out of their way to make you feel comfortable.
The Rat Trail:
Once settled the gentleman explained a rat trail they had for children who visited the museum. He did say our eldest son may be a bit young for it but after he explained we felt we could adapt it for him. You are given a clip board and a pen with a work sheet attached to it. There are thirteen soft rats (the soft rats you can get from Ikea which my son happens to have three off!) hidden in the museum and the children have to find them. There are one in every room and one in the courtyard. The work sheet has a clue to find them and then a box to tick when you have found it. As it happens my son didn't need the clue he was very good and finding it in each room himself. At one point he was so excited he found the rat he went back to the main desk to tell the gentleman who was rather amused by my son's excitement. I loved this touch from the museum and so did my son it kept him busy and he was a very happy boy. Once you have found the rat there is an interesting fact about rats and the house.
What the museum has to offer:
The old house looks beautiful from the outside and is as good inside too. The floors are a little uneven but you are warned beforehand. We didn't find this a problem although it did make my twenty two month old son a little unsteady on his feet. The museum is over two floors and has ten rooms full of history which range from Tudor to Victorian to modern day. It is full of wonderful everyday history too with fireplaces to admire and things you used in the house like irons and carpet sweepers to the wash day. That is something we really have to be grateful for I couldn't have coped with having wash days like that.
Throughout the museum there is plenty of reading to do and exploring. There are many glass cases preserving pieces of history. Downstairs there is a Tudor parlour set up as it would have been and a Victorian kitchen. I wasn't too sure if my eldest son was a bit young to go to a museum but he proved me wrong. He love looking at all the old items especially the big stove in the main first room you enter through. He was keen to know more and was asking lots of questions some even me and my fiancé couldn't answer. But the staff where around and a lady very happily explained how things worked to my son. Upstairs there is a small school room, a bed chamber, the gallery and a Garderobe chamber which I didn't know Garderobe was the word for a Tudor toilet, you learnt something every day. There is a large display of elegant costumes and textiles behind a glass cabinet keeping the very delicate material from harm. As it is in Bakewell the museum does contain some of the history around Bakewell.
I especially liked the school room which had glass cabinets around the room with vintage toys in. I have always loved looking at vintage toys and wish toys now a days could take a leaf from them. I really loved the children's dolls houses especially the play butchers. The detail on these items was immense. There is something about vintage games compared to today plastic toys. My son liked looking at what children used to play with and thought it was very funny when he saw some dominos as he has some too.
Moving into the gallery there is more fun for children it is here they get to touch things and have a go with some toys. There is a rail with dressing up clothes on. They are obviously not actual vintage clothes but clothes made to look vintage. My boys were not keen on the idea of dressing up but my fiancé was happy to do so much to mine and the staff's amusement. There are pencil and paper to do some drawing and some modern made old fashioned games to play. But the thing that not only attracted my sons but me too was the doll's house. The children are encouraged to play with it and there is a little bit of information of where the doll's house came from and how it ended up at the museum. I was in my element as it has always been my childhood dream to have a dolls house but unfortunately I never did.
Moving away from my childhood dream this house has been lovingly restored to what it is today. I like the fact there are photos around the museum showing how they restored it and what some of the rooms looked liked before. I found this very interesting as they are preserving history something we should all be doing.
Throughout the visit it was nice to see the staff didn't just sit behind the front desk they were always about. The actively moved around and were very happy to explain anything to you if you asked. The lady happily showed my son and explained the process of butter churning. Even thought the staff were present you didn't feel they were watching you or butting in on you enjoying the visit.
Moving outside there is a quite small courtyard something you would expect with the house in those days. Again they have thought about the children leaving some hula hoops and skipping ropes outside for them to play with. There also a toilet which doubles as a disabled toilet and has a drop down baby changing unit. It was very nice and clean. In the building outside there was also a tea and coffee machine and at only thirty pence a hot drink you couldn't resist could you! There is a raised terrace you access from the courtyard which takes you along the back of the house high up allowing you to see the exterior of wobbly, sloping windows and the roof. The gentleman at the beginning urged us to take a look at this and we are glad we did it makes you appreciate the house more.
The exit is back through the house and into the main room with the front desk. Here there is a small gift area; it really wouldn't be a museum without one would it. They were selling little things for children like your token pencil or pad with their name on it. But there were also some interesting adult books about the history of the surrounding area.
Our visit was during the summer holidays and it was a little sad to see so few people in it. This museum is a little gem and the care these people put into it is so apparent. It is hidden out of the way from the town centre but it is worth the short but steep walk up to. I would especially recommend it if you have children. It is a typical house museum and I have seen many similar old items in museums before but there something about the people who worked there and the care and effort they had put into it to make it children friendly that made me love it. I would happily return again.
Children under 5: Free
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