Monday, 31 August 2009

Is anyone there?

So, August is all but over and for all the Cookies it was a month full of sun and sea and holidays. Lovely stuff, exactly what we all needed. Early on we visited the Weald and Downland Open Air museum near Chichester, a glorious expanse of green fields with very old houses rebuilt in sympathetic surroundings. You can wander into a medieval market place, take a spin around a maypole, sit in a Victorian schoolhouse and poke around railway workers' tiny cottages.

And if you still have the energy you may be lucky enough to stumble upon someone running an Iron Age cookery course, building fires and making string from stinging nettle stems.

One of the highlights for me was the gorgeous gardens recreated outside many of the cottages - herbs culinary and medicinal, vegetable plots, chickens, and designs that wouldn't look out of place in lifestyle magazines these days.

I visited this museum many, MANY years ago on a primary school trip, and my clearest memory is of this structure jutting out from a very old building:

Can you guess what it is? Apparently it's the one thing most adults remember from their childhood trips to the museum, which might give you a clue ...


Well, if you go inside the 15th century farmhouse, past the richly adorned dining hall and up the stairs to the main bedroom, you'll find a cunning little doorway concealing a garderobe - in other words a bench with a hole in that sticks out over the edge of the house and acts as a primitive toilet. Well, primitive by our standards but we're assured it was the height of sophistication at the time!

Is it wrong to be amused that the privy expert quoted in Wikipedia is called Dr Bottomley?


  1. I'm still here!

    That sounds like the most amazing museum. I'm always terribly keen on historic working gardens: vegetable plots, greenhouses, chicken yards, and the like.

    And I'm sure that particular room would have been the most memorable bit for me, too (even now)!

    K x

  2. Hahahaha! I totally get it. The first house I remember living in as a wee girl had previously been owned by a Mr. Bottomley. Caused my siblings and I many hours of amusement.

    Lovely to hear from you Missus D.C.

  3. Yes, still here! And you've had a month of sun...heck, I live in the wrong part of the country, obviously, because I haven't had a month of sun. Two days, maybe.

    I remember the museum from way back too....and remember that very same little jutty out bit!

  4. I'm here too! Love the sound of the museum and I can see why you remembered that particular bit!

  5. What a great place...and you always have such great tales to tell--thanks for taking us there! Glad you all had such a lovely summer! :o) ((HUGS))

  6. We used to go there when we were children and I have a classic photo of my brother grinning down through said hole! Glad you had a fab summer.

  7. Hi Dotty yes we are here too, just getting ready for school at the end of the week. The Weald and Downland Museum is brilliant, we haven't been in a while but its lovely. Love the giggle too. Jane x

  8. What a lovely place! I remember my late MIL mentioning a garderobe once and I had no idea what it was -- til now ;-).

  9. Love the toilet bit very eco friendly!! Was it over the veg patch?

  10. Well now I shan't forget the titbit about the primative lavvy - how quaint!

    I'm here - I wasn't but I am now. So glad you had a lovely August, it whizzed by super fast though, didn't it?

    Back to school this week! x

  11. Yoo hoo, we're here too. That museum looks very much up my street - the 'styling' of that little room wouldn't be out of place on the pages of CL would it?

    I've never visited this museum but the 'garderobe' sounds like a highlight to me! Is a 'chiffarobe' something different?

  12. Seems every time I visit, I learn something new. Amazing.

  13. Surely Dr Bottomley must be a pseudonym, otherwise that is a rather coincidental career choice!

    I remember seeing garderobes at Chepstow Castle and thinking they were very daunting places to go to the loo!


  14. Just a thimbleful.....
    Sounds like a great day out, I like the garderobes in castles that jut out over the moat - now that must have really been something....!

  15. Glad you're back! The museum sounds wonderful. That toilet part is too funny. :)

  16. Ha! I knew you'd say it was a loo! I thought they were only like that in castles though!

  17. No - I don't think it's wrong to chuckle :) I'd love wandering around somewhere like that. I always find myself wondering what the people would have been like and what that garderobe would have been like to use in the winter ..... brhhhh! Put roses in your cheeks :)

  18. Not wrong at all! Made me laugh and laugh!

    It looks like a lovely place to visit!

    And it's really good to have you back!

    Lucy x

  19. Ha!

    My daughter rides horses at B_ Farm.

  20. I'm here, too -- finally! Poor Dr. Bottomley...and wasn't it a Mr. Crapper who invented the flushing toilet? Haha!

    So glad you're back!


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