Thursday 16 April 2020
The richness of the Chilterns heritage and culture is celebrated by the many visitor attractions and museums dotted around the landscape. From zoos and farm parks to caves, model villages, railways, and windmills, it is part of what makes the Chilterns so special. These attractions are currently closed to reduce the spread of Covid-19, yet the need for entertainment, art and culture is now more important than ever, offering respite during these anxious times. Luckily our resourceful Chilterns attractions have been busy finding ways to reach you at home, through virtual tours and exhibition, films, web cams and online audio guides. Here is a selection of what’s on offer:
Missing the Zoo? We’re bringing it to you! ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is the UK’s biggest zoo and safari park located at Whipsnade, near Dunstable. It is owned by the Zoological Society of London, a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. They have set up a Virtual Zoo page to provide you with all the latest updates from their staff and animals with some great footage. Watch Elizabeth the elephant taking a dip, baby rhino playing ball and the penguin choir in action. The informative zoo keeper videos will explain the animal antics and help you identify your black footed penguins from your rock hoppers. There are also videos of new born lambs, piglets and other new arrivals at Odds Park Farm and reindeer and wallabies at Green Dragon Eco-Farm near Thame.
The River and Rowing Museum is a family friendly museum on the River Thames in Henley. The Museum has nearly 20,000 objects in its collection including photographs, posters, trophies and medals. Many of the collections have been digitised and can now be viewed online. You can browse some of our larger groups of objects or take one of our highlight tours, eg Art inspired by Henley-on-Thames.
Tring Together are bringing all the action of the Tring Spring Fayre (25 April to 16 May) to the safety of your homes with their fun-packed programme of virtual activities, resources and live events for all the family. From online wine tastings, barista tutorials to quizzes, yoga, Pilates, worship, stress relief and kid’s activities they have it all covered! Download their Spring Fayre brochure to get started!
The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre provides ideas and inspiration for indoor activities to distract and entertain you! Enjoy story time with Stanley Tucci, star of the upcoming feature film, reading a ‘Note about Witches’, learn to draw Willy Wonka and an Oompa-Loompa with Quentin Blake, get experimental, learning how to make a volcano at home (without upsetting your neighbours!) or try one of the quicksy quizzes. SEE HERE
There are a number of ways to enjoy the architecture, interiors and collections at Waddesdon, the Rothschild House & Gardens in Buckinghamshire. Check out their digital content including some stunning art exhibitions and sumptuous interiors not normally open to the public.
Marie Cavanagh is a glass artist at Fired Works and normally runs workshops from her studio in Chalfont st Peter. She has now introduced a ‘Make at home’ glass art workshop. She will send you a kit containing everything you need to make 3 glass decorations at home. Once you have completed your workshop, package everything back up, return it to Marie and she’ll fire your creations in the kiln and send back to you.
Tring Natural History Museum was built in 1889 to house the incredible private collections of Walter Rothschild, a keen zoologist, eccentric and determined character. When he died, the building and collections were gifted to the nation, and became part of the Natural History Museum based in London. There is lots of on-line content to help you discover the museums from film to craft tutorials. Discover the search for life on other planets to the challenges facing Earth today.
Amersham Museum is located in the Tudor hall house in Old Amersham High Street. This fabulous museum tells the story of local events, places and people, with exhibits and information covering an intriguing range of topics from Amersham's religious martyrs to Dinky Toys. There is lots of fascinating on-line content, you can listen to stories from the 1930s or experience life in a Tudor home in 1580. The Metro land exhibition features some fabulous images and voice clips from local people who were part of the exhibition.
You can take a good look (and get a birds eye view!) of some of our best loved visitor attractions and Chilterns craftspeople at work. Hopefully it will inspire you to find out more, or to plan a visit once things have re-opened after the Coronavirus.
David Willis is a teacher of Bushcraft and Wilderness Living Skills in the Chilterns. He can usually be found in the Chilterns woods, baking bread and rustling up tasty meals over a campfire, whittling spoons, foraging for edibles, walking in the woods and soaking up everything nature has to offer. CLICK HERE for a short video of David sharing his passion for the Chilterns and all things Bushcraft! If you have been inspired and want to have a go yourself, then once we are safely out of lockdown, David will resume his series of day-courses allowing you to learn a new skill and be creative while enjoying a beautiful woodland setting. You can watch other Chilterns craftspeople at work here, including a besom broom makers, potter and saddle-fitter.
The abundant beech woodlands made the Chilterns a centre of the furniture making industry in the 19th century and it was once a thriving industrial hub for straw plaiting, lace and hat making and pottery. The creativity and craftsmanship remains and you can discover some of our Chilterns artists and makers on-line. Jane White is a ceramics artist specialising in pit firing. Take a look at her master class video and discover the beauty of pit firing.
The Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway is part of the old Great Western branch line from Princes Risborough to Watlington. The railway operates standard gauge steam and diesel hauled services on a 7 mile round trip from the station in Chinnor – a replica of the original which stood on the site. The route follows the line of the Icknield Way, giving lovely Chiltern views. See #TwitterDieselGala and Watch the video here.
Bekonscot Model Village in Beaconsfield is the first model village in the world and has been entertaining generations of families. They have created a virtual tour to share the wonder of the miniature with you!
The National Paralympic Heritage Centre near Aylesbury is widely acknowledged to be the birthplace of the Paralympics. You can hear the fascinating story of Dr Guttmann who took charge of the Spinal Injuries Unit in 1943. Rehabilitation through sport was his method of treating patients with paraplegia and so out of this competitions were held which eventually led to the Paralympic Games. You can take a 20 minute virtual tour of the Heritage Centre, which highlights the objects relating to the history of the Paralympic Movement, Paralympic Games timeline, Evolution of the wheelchair and Ceremonies of the Games. And there are lots of on-line exhibitions too.
The Chiltern Open Air Museum houses a collection of over 30 reconstructed historic buildings that were the homes or workplaces of ordinary people from within the Chilterns. It includes an Iron Age roundhouse, 1940s prefab, blacksmith’s forge, Victorian toll house, tin chapel, WW1 and WW2 Nissen huts, earthen cottage and a working historic farm. The museum team have created 17 free downloadable resources based on the Museum’s learning programme and collection of historic buildings. Each resource includes a range of activities and research projects from learning the Runic Futhork Alphabet and using it to write secret messages, making an Anglo Saxon brooch, designing wall paper, finding the melting point of chocolate. It provides a good virtual tour of the Museum as well as some great educational content.
For more virtual attractions, experiences and digital content in the area see here