Somerset Rural Life Museum, Glastonbury
The Somerset Rural Life Museum is located on the outskirts of Glastonbury, not far from the famous abbey ruins, and was established in the 1970s to tell the story of rural life in the county. The museum is based at what was one of the principal dairy farms in the area and includes the magnificent 14th-century Abbey Barn, one of only four surviving barns which belonged to Glastonbury Abbey.
The museum tells the story of Victorian domestic life, the farming year and local crafts and industries. The grounds contain a traditional cider apple orchard which is home to rare breeds of sheep and chickens.
The museum is benefitting from major refurbishment (the last one took place in the 1970s) and is being supported by Somerset County Council which has raised almost £2.3 million for the project, which will include:
- Maintaining the Abbey Barn largely in its present state, but make it more accessible and suitable for activities and events
- Creating a dedicated indoor learning and activities space
- Creating more exhibition space in the farmhouse by opening up areas on the ground and first floors
- Installing a lift that will give access to the first floor of the farmhouse and to the cowsheds and courtyard
- Refresh the museum displays
- Install insulation and heating in the cowsheds to improve the care of collections and make them more comfortable for visitors
- Improve access to the orchard
- Create a new visitor welcome area, shop, café and toilets
As part of the main build programme, the builders have also been carrying out landscaping work onsite. This includes installing a new pathway around the Abbey Barn that will allow visitors to get up close to the building to admire the wonderful stonework.
There will also be landscaping works taking place outside the front of the Farmhouse in order to provide level access to the front door.
Progress is also being made on the Cowsheds. These have now been re-roofed and a toilet block has been added to the end of the new Community Learning Space.
The roof and floor levels in the Cheese Store, which will be one of the new galleries at the museum, have been raised and the next steps will be to paint the window frames and lay the floorboards.
Whilst the project is ongoing, the museum will be closed to the public. The redevelopment project is likely to take two years.