Family days out in the countryside: Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft
We’re well into picnic season this sunny July but have you ever wondered how your woollen blanket was made? Well, look no further than the sleepy English village of Ditchling, East Sussex, where you’ll find a very special museum celebrating the UK’s rich heritage off craftsmanship.
Britain is in fact the birthplace of the Arts & Crafts movement, which is why we're considered amongst the best in the world when it comes to creative industry. But what makes Ditchling such a hotbed for creativity?
It all began in the early 20th century with the creation of a local Guild, a collection of residents experimenting with ideas of self-sufficiency. Something that a lot of us dream of in this modern age (I'm still working on my herb garden!). Then came Edward Johnston, a famous calligrapher who invented the sans-serif typeface that was used throughout the London Underground system. More artists gathered and craftspeople were attracted to the area, and so a significant creative hub was born.
These days, the Museum holds an important collection of artefacts used by craftsmen and women who lived in the area. There’s a wonderful feeling of English nostalgia – inside, it’s like going back to a bygone era, one where communities created their own products, traded ideas, and passed on vital skills.
We were itching to have a go ourselves and were almost surprised by the children’s eagerness to learn the old crafts and traditional methods – not an iPad in sight here!
Our favourite activity was the spinning wheel, but we found lots of interesting things to try our hand at - from hand-printed books, woven garments, portrait drawings, and engraving.
Museums these days are just as much about taking part as they are viewing the exhibits, and we found Ditchling to be no exception. The café too was reasonably priced and the gift shop was kitted out with lots of interesting buys from talented artists and makers.
A recent study showed that 63% of us have visited a Museum to 'de-stress' and it struck us that this could be the perfect place to do just that. The time spent at the Museum gave us a sense of peace, a little piece of quietness that we all need sometimes, a chance to disconnect from our daily woes and worries. We would definitely go back!
The museum is a 5 minute taxi journey or a leisurely walk or cycle for Hassocks Train Station.