“ Address: Eastgate / Corner of High East St. & Salisbury St. / Dorchester / Dorset / DT1 1JU / Tel: +44 (0) 1305 266040 „
Teddy Bear Museum - Dorchester
We have just come back from our holiday to Weymouth and had a lovely time. We were able to fit in quite a variety of different things to work around the weather and so this is the first review of many which I will be writing over the next few weeks, all around Weymouth and the surrounding area. This particular review focuses upon one of the many museums in Dorchester which is about ten miles from Weymouth; The Teddy Bear Museum.
The Teddy Bear Museum can be found in Eastgate on the corner of High East Street and Salisbury Street in Dorchester, Dorset (DT1 1JU). Although the main route is reasonably easy to follow, it can become a little confusing especially when there are road works which occurred everywhere when we were there. The sign posts for the museum are also difficult to see from the road and parking is not always sign posted easily. The main road through Eastgate is High East Street so if you follow that you will pass the pedestrian South Street shopping area on your right. You are able to take one of the next three right turns, the third turn being the turn with the museum on the corner, though I suggest taking one of the other two as the third is extremely tight. When taking these two first roads, turn left at the first turning on to Durngate Street where you will find a small car park on your left. There are other car parks very near to this one though they are not sign posted well. This particular one is literally just around the corner from the museum which is quite handy. As with most car parks in destinations such as this, the car parking fee is quite high. We paid around £5.00 for about 4 hours. There was also some street parking on High Street Fordington which is right next to the museum and as far as I can tell, is free, though as the road was very narrow, I did not feel comfortable parking here.
The museum itself is on the main High East Street and is set in a small building at the side of the road. It is shared with the Terracotta Warriors museum which is on the ground floor with the Teddy Bear museum on the top floor up some steep steps. As far as I could see, there was no lift so is unsuitable for wheelchair users.
For what the museum is, the price is quite high, though it is lower than some of the other museums in the area. Set prices for this museum are as follows;
Adults £5.99 each
Seniors and students £4.99 each
Children £3.99 each
Children under three go FREE
A family ticket for two adults and two children costs £17.99
One price alone does not seem too much, though add it all up and it works out very expensive, and for what it is you will be very disappointed and a little annoyed as you will see below. We were offered a collective price for all the museums which include Teddy Bear museum, Terracotta Warriors, Dinosaur museum, Tutankhamun exhibition and Mummy Exhibition. The price of the Tutankhamun Exhibition alone was £7.99 per adult and the other museums/exhibitions fell in between these two prices. We paid £25.00 for two adults (£12.50 each) for entry to all the museums which did save us some money, though personally I still think it was too much. Some of the museums charge for three year olds which my daughter is, though as we paid for the collective ticket, she was free in all museums. All the museums are in the immediate area with no more than five minutes walk between them all.
With the important information out of the way, let me take you into the Teddy Bear Museum...
EDWARD BEAR'S HOUSE
Once you have paid your entry fee, you are given a small paper booklet to read while you are going around as well as a fun sheet. Both are aimed at children and allow the children to really take in what they are seeing. The booklet tells the story of Edward Bear and the Teddy Bear Museum, with the fun sheet holding questions for children to answer as well as spaces to draw their favourite teddy.
Once up the stairs, you are greeted by Edward bear, a large, very tall, bear, who is standing in the small living area with his grandson, Edward Bear Junior who is a child-like bear which my daughter took a real shine to, and also Beartricia who is sitting on the sofa. You are allowed to take photo's in this museum, and there are many seats which you are able to sit on to pose with the bears. My daughter was a little worried to begin with as some of the bears seem so real in her eyes, though once we had sat down with her, she loved posing with the teddies and wanted to take one home!
The living area goes in to another small area, all situated at the top of the stairs on the small landing. Here you will see another couple of bears, one asleep and the other playing a piano, though the size of the area is so small that everything here seems so squashed which is unfortunate as some of the scenery is worth looking at! One of mine and my husband's favourite parts was in this room, though, and had us laughing our socks off! Keeping with the theme of the other museums, you find a small teddy wrapped in bandages with a little story of how Grandad Bear was on one of the most famous expeditions in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and found a mummified teddy bear! My daughter found it funny that the teddy was wrapped up, though the joke in the story went above her head!
Once off of the small landing, there are four small rooms to explore. The first (as well as another small part of landing) holds cabinets of old teddies which date back to 1903 with the prices they sold at in later years. There is also a large collection of well known bears such as Rupert Bear and Winnie the Pooh to show how they have changed over the years. In this first room, you also have a small old fashioned writing desk where my daughter sat and drew her favourite teddy. Unfortunately, the colouring pencils were not sharpened, so she used the pencil she was given to fill in her fun sheet. There is also a little interactive part where you will see Sooty, Sweep and sue playing instruments, though you will need 20p to make it work! The next room is so tiny that the three of us could not comfortable go in together! This is basically a small kitchen area with three bears washing and cooking. The third, and possibly best room, is a large bedroom, though more could have certainly been made of it. There is old fashioned furniture such as the bed and rocking horse (which my daughter had fun riding!) with small teddies in the bed and some interesting star sign bears in a cabinet. The final room is not really a viewing room, though more of a shop presented as a room. All the teddies in this shop part are for sale, though the cheapest one I saw was priced at £45 with the most expensive one going for over a couple of hundred pound! Certainly not a shop for children with pocket money!
And that is it! Back down another set of stairs and you will find the exit! All in all, we probably spent no more that twenty minutes to half an hour in here and that is with the time spent waiting for my daughter to finish her drawing of her favourite bear.
As far as I could see, there are no toilets whatsoever in this tiny museum! This seems to be the norm for all the museums in the area! Closest toilets can be found in the shopping area where you will find cafe's and pubs!
The content of the museum was reasonably nice, with some funny moments to amuse adults and a couple of interactive moments to excite children, though the size of the museum was ridiculous! When you pay the money, you certainly expect it to be a lot larger than what it really is, and I found myself very disappointed. I am glad in some ways that we paid the collective museum price rather than a one off, though even with this cost, this museum was a complete let down. It is such a shame as the idea is a lovely one, though it is poorly constructed with not a lot of space to breathe! We were lucky in the fact that there was only four other people in the museum at the same time as us, though if a party of people had come in then I could see that it would be very claustrophobic.
Do I recommend this museum?
I wish I could say yes to this as it certainly had potential to be so much more, though due to the size of this against the cost, I would have to say no. It claims to be the best teddy bear museum in the South, which makes me wonder what the others are like!
Whilst on our recent holiday in Dorset we decided that rather than just sit around in the caravan, we would get out and see as much of what the county had to offer as possible. This meant that we spent half a day in Dorset's County town Dorchester. Whilst in Dorchester we decided to visit one of the town's many attractions and having read the leaflets opted for the Teddy Bear Museum.
The Teddy Bear museum is located to the east of Dorchester town centre in the Eastgate area of the town on the corner of High Street East and Salisbury Road. It is well signposted from the main shopping area of the town and using a number of black signs is very easy to find. The location is also shared by Dorchester's Terracotta Warriors museum with the Teddy Bear museum occupying the first floor and the Terracotta museum taking up the ground floor of an Edwardian style home.
With a good central location it means the museum is very easy to find, but the biggest problem is with parking. The nearest car park is probably a 5 - 10 minute walk back towards the town centre and means that to visit the museum you have to park in one of Dorchester's pay and display car parks and walk to the museum, which isn't ideal on a wet day.
It would be fair to say though that the parking issue was a pretty small complain in comparison to the cost of entry. It wouldn't have been so bad had the museum been a bit bigger but I personally found that £5.75 for an adult ticket was a little bit step. In fact our visit for 2 adults cost £11.50 and we were probably inside the museum for less than 20 minutes. It's not that the content isn't in the museum but the size of the museum isn't really reflected in the price.
Thankfully we don't have any kids yet as for children over 4 the cost of a ticket is £4 each. This makes a visit to the Teddy Bear Museum quite expensive when you add it all up. They do have a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children but even that costs £18 giving you a slight saving of £1.50. All in al whilst the museum is quite interesting I really didn't feel that it offered very good value for money.
The museum is open 363 days of the year with it only closing on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The rest of the year the hours are split into two different times with both opening at 10am but between November and March it closes at 4.30pm rather than 5pm.
With the museum occupying the top floor of a traditional period house it is made up of 7 different rooms that charter the history of the teddy bear from its early beginnings to the present day. The story is told through the eyes of a family of Teddy Bears. The house is owned by Mr Edward Bear and through the eyes of Edward and his family you can learn about all sorts of different Teddy bears from the very beginning to the better-known bears such as Paddington and Rupert The Bear.
I have to admit that whilst the museum was a lot smaller than I was expecting they had managed to fit a lot of exhibits into the room they had. The story of the bears really would make for an interesting trip out for children and the way the museum is laid out really works rather well. They cover the history in one of the rooms, which was pretty interesting, whilst another room was dedicated to collectables and another to famous bears from TV and books.
Whilst there was a high content within the museum it did seem to lack something in size. I felt that it would have perhaps been better had the museum extended over both floors of the house rather than being on the top floor only. This would have given them more space for the exhibits they already had and also have plenty of room to make the collection slightly bigger. They do boast one of the biggest and perhaps most varied collection in the South but I just couldn't help but feel that it could have been a lot better.
The family of life size bears are worth seeing and really add a nice variety to the museum but even this wasn't really enough to make the entrance fee seem like good value for money. As adults without kids we did find it quite interesting but I think to really take advantage of what this particular museum has to offer you do really need to be taking children with you.
I don't think it would be fair to say that I was disappointed really. I think it was more the fact that having paid a rather high entrance fee I was expecting something slightly bigger that would take a little longer to walk around. For us the story and the history was all very interesting but due to the size of the museum we were probably in and out in 25 minutes and left feeling £11.50 lighter from our wallets for the experience. It seemed a lot of money for what it was and I'm afraid that whilst I enjoyed the visit I cant help but return to that point.
The gift shop was pretty good, although as you can imagine it mainly sold teddy bears but the majority of them were cartoon characters or rare bears that you cant just buy anywhere. The museum was laid out in an interesting way and its something I think that children would really love. The story will really appeal to younger ones and it would make for part of a good morning out for a family.
Perhaps the most pertinent question though is whether I would recommend a visit. I think that's best summed up by my above comment. If you have kids who love their bears then yes, despite the price it is worth a visit but unless you are a Teddy enthusiast or particularly rich then I would perhaps suggest giving it a miss unless you can find sufficiently generous money off vouchers