The museum starts with the Cruck House, a house that was moved from 5 miles away, stone-by-stone. The house has its name after the method in which the house was made. A cruck beam is obtained by splitting a curved tree trunk in half and the symmetrical crucks are joined to form a framework of both the walls and roof of a building. An Elizabethan coin was found in the fireplace and it is believed it was placed there for good luck.
This is an old toll board with the toll fees for using the turnpike road. It dates back to 1830s. It survived because it was on display at a pub. If you are wondering, it was 6 pence to pass with an Horse, Ass, Mule or other Beast or Cattle if they were pulling a cart and only 2 pence by foot. The fees vary according to the size of the carts, but it doesn’t matter which “Beasts” one might have.
The Herriot Surgery Set. The veterinary surgery on display is part of the set used by the BBC for making “All creatures Great&Small”. The museum acquired the set when filming was complete, so they can recreate the look at a 1940s veterinary surgery.
The highlight of this exhibit is the Fenwick’s Shop. I had no idea the founder of Fenwick, the well-known department store chain, was born in Richmond. He started by working in his father’s shop and the museum recreated the original shop.
John James Fenwick was born in 1846 above his father’s shop at 83 Frenchgate, Richmond. He was the fifth child in a family of eleven. After leaving the school, one of his jobs was to make up the stock of ‘farthing dips’- small candles which the poorer people used. When he was 14 his mother died and they moved to Middlesbrough. He worked in a draper’s shop and after that he started an apprenticeship in Stockton. At 22 he started working at Moses & Brown’s, a drapers in Newcastle, then to Charles Bragg & Co. silk mercers where he became manager. In 1882, at the age of 36, John James opened a draper’s shop in Northumberland Street and founded the present-day chain.
He died in 1905 and his sons continued the business. Today Fenwick’s is still a family firm, with large stores in London and throughout England.
At the first floor there is the Wenham Gallery, where exhibits range from Roman times to present day.
Silk postcards and handkerchiefs were bought by soldiers as souvenirs from the Western Front, during the WWI. Those were embroidered by local French and Belgian women. It was an industry that appeared as a result of the war. It’s amazing that such beauty was born out of war.
It is a lovely small museum with plenty on interesting exhibits on display. I enjoyed the visit.