Days Out | Bassetlaw Museum

Image of an outdoor art exhibit at Bassetlaw Museum. The exhibit shows a street light inspired piece of art made from recycled junk and scrap metal. To the left of the image is a title that reads 'Days Out, Bassetlaw Museum, Retford, DN22 6LD'

I live in an ex mining town in the district of Bassetlaw- I've lived here all my life and I grew up thinking it was boring, bland and there was nothing to do. I couldn't have been more wrong. Bassetlaw is a district steeped in rich history, from the cave drawings nestled deep in Cresswell Crags to Robin Hood's rumoured residence, Sherwood Forest and The Major Oak. It's the district that birthed the Pilgrim Fathers and is home to The Harley Gallery and the untouched Mr Straw's House. There's walks galore at Clumber Park, Rufford Abbey and Idle Valley and action packed attractions like Sundown Adventureland and Yorkshire Wildlife Park are on the outskirts. I've lived in the centre of a hive of activity for many years and really didn't appreciate it. 

Bassetlaw Museum is located in the market town of Retford. The town itself has a thriving town centre and active market place with plenty of shops, restaurants and activities. Bassetlaw Museum is a bit of a hidden gem. As I said, I've lived twenty minutes away from this place all my life but didn't visit until last year. I genuinely can't believe I've never been on a school trip here! It's such a fantastic resource right on the doorstep. 

The front of Amcott House, home of Bassetlaw Museum. The image shows a tall listed building made of red brick with large leaded windows that are painted white.There is a decorative archway framing a large heavy wooden black door. There are steps up to the door. Alongside the steps are some stones that have been painted throughout lockdown and placed there by the public.

The Museum is set within the grounds of Amcott House. The main house hosts two floors of local exhibits focusing on local historical life and local artists. Outside the main house is an outbuilding that has been lovingly converted into the Rural Heritage Centre and another annex has been converted into The Pilgrim Gallery. 

A main house exhibit- The Victorian Schoolroom. The image shows a room within the museum that has been laid out to resemble a Victorian schoolroom. There are individual wooden desks laid out in evenly spaced rows. The lids are lifted on the desks and inside are slates used for writing. The lid of the desk contains plaques with historical information about classrooms in Victorian England. At the front of the room is a teachers lectern and a Victorian fireplace.

Inside the house the exhibits lean more toward the traditional displays in glass cases with the odd interactive element. My favourite main house exhibit has to be the Victorian school room. My mum enjoyed browsing the old fashioned shop front and vintage product packaging and the traditional dolls house was a hit with Iris.

Inside the Rural Heritage Centre at Bassetlaw Museum. The image shows a wall display featuring a wide variety of metal tools, instruments and machinery used within the farming industry including sheep shearers and pig skin removers. There is also a wooden sign reading 'Stanley Moss, Quality and Service'

The annex exhibits are more modern and include more interactive elements. There are various buttons to press throughout the Rural Heritage Centre that produce sounds related to the farming industry and within the Pilgrims Gallery exhibit there are many interactive elements such as quizzes to determine whether you'd live or die if you were a pilgrim father, costumes and accessories to dress up in and interactive maps to discover more about the local area. You can even hear a tale or two told by the Pilgrim Father, William Brewster. It's a small exhibit but it's packed with information. 

Inside the Pilgrim Fathers Exhibit at Bassetlaw Museum

The front of the museum is unassuming- if you weren't looking for it you wouldn't necessarily know it was a museum and as the heavy front door is nearly always closed it doesn't always look very inviting, especially if you've never been before but I wholeheartedly encourage you to go inside because once you're in the staff are warm and welcoming and so knowledgeable. To the rear of the museum is a large lawned area with a vintage telephone box and small children's play house. There is artwork created by local artists and a collection of stones painted throughout lockdown.

The Lawns at Bassetlaw Museum. Image shows a large turfed area of bright green grass, lots of well established trees in the distance and brightly coloured flower beds in the foreground.There is a white marquee and an extremely large sand pit being used as an artificial beach.

The grounds are currently host to a replica Wetu constructed as part of a cultural exchange with the Wampanoag Nation. It has seating inside and a pretend fire alongside information on how it would have been built and used as well as the impact the Pilgrim Fathers arrival had on the Wampanoag people.

The Wetu at Bassetlaw Museum. Close up image of the walls and entrance of the Wetu shelter in the grounds of Bassetlaw Museum.

Throughout the school holidays the museum welcomes children of all ages to join in various activities. We've done a Lego Day, Junk Modelling and even met some Alpacas. The museum offers a great half term programme and last summer there was even a makeshift beach! All the activities we've done have been free and only required pre-booking during the time Covid restrictions were at their peak. 

Image of three alpacas, one brown and two white inside a metal fenced area within the gardens of Bassetlaw museum. In the background is the traditional Wetu shelter.

The activities are held in an arts and crafts area that features a long table with lots of child size chairs. There is a quieter section at the opposite end of the room that has a large carpeted area and drawers full of books, puzzles and colouring for children to do. It's a lovely room that feels really welcoming and friendly. The museum definitely feels more community centred than the typical 'stuffy' museum stereotype. 

A close up image of a child painting a plastic straw with blue paint. The paint is in a plastic cup. On the table is a patterned table cloth, a red tape dispenser and a collection of cardboard boxes and product packaging to be used for junk modelling.

Covid 19 Safety at Bassetlaw Museum

In terms of Covid protocol there is an abundance of sanitizer available throughout the museum and masks are encouraged. Though the museum is reasonably small there is space for social distancing and we've found most visitors are sensible.

Parking at Bassetlaw Museum

The museum does not have any allocated parking although there is disabled street parking directly outside though that tends to be very busy. There are several affordable car parks in Retford that are a few minutes walk to the museum. Retford bus station is just around the corner and although the train station is a little out the centre of town it is still only about 15 minutes walking time to the museum.

Accessibility at Bassetlaw Museum

There is disabled access to the side of the museum, wheelchair users are able to enter via the gardens rather than via the front door and there is a power assisted door and ramp to gain entry to the main house. Sadly the main house is a listed building and so a lift cannot be installed meaning only the ground floor of the main house is accessible. The Pilgrim Gallery and the Rural Heritage Centre are all on the ground floor and fully accessible. The gardens are flat. There is a disabled toilet that is easily accessed via the gardens.

Facilities at Bassetlaw Museum

There are toilets and baby change facilities within the main house and there is also a small reception area that has a small variety of museum merchandise available to purchase. The museum does not have any facilities to provide food or drink. I personally feel like a barista run coffee van in the grounds would do exceptionally well but I understand the museums apprehension to do that as during the busy period of Easter I noticed at least 3 costa cups that had been left on the exhibits (something I will never understand, why be so disrespectful towards somewhere that's providing you with free facilities!). Food and drink is available nearby, wetherspoons is just next door and the fantastic Kings Coffee Shop is located just around the corner. You are welcome to bring picnics to be eaten in the gardens.

In conclusion Bassetlaw Museum is a fantastic local resource, as a museum, an educational resource and a community hub. It's a wonderful place to visit during half term and I fully recommend it to school age children when studying the Pilgrim Fathers. If you're visiting the Sherwood Forest/ Bassetlaw area then it's well worth adding this little gem to your itinerary 

 Thanks For Reading 

Blog writers signature 'Katrina'
Please see my sidebar for information on where this post maybe linked.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for supporting me on my journey to raise awareness about mothers on the autistic spectrum. We do exist, we just need people to know we do!

Popular Posts