Tea’s up as museum gets close to nature

This Is Wiltshire: Hilda Sheehan pours a cup of tea for Joanna Portlock. Picture: DAVE COX Hilda Sheehan pours a cup of tea for Joanna Portlock. Picture: DAVE COX

YOUNG and old enjoyed a cream tea in the unexpected Saturday afternoon sunshine as the Richard Jefferies Museum held a special Grandparents Tea Party.

The new tea room is the latest attraction at the home of the Victorian nature writer, and families flocked to enjoy tea and cake from vintage tea sets and music of yesteryear on an old gramophone.

Hilda Sheehan, education officer at the museum, said she was pleased the day was so successful.

She said: “We had a good number of families who came along and had a cream tea and enjoyed the gardens and the museum.

“Children got a free book of one of the Richard Jefferies stories. The Cunning Spider is a fable of Richard Jefferies and when I read it a few years ago I thought it would be a great children’s story because it’s about a really horrible spider and a really jealous toad, so I adapted it into a comic book form.

“He also wrote it at the house, and there’s a storybook walk so children can go around and look at where the spider and the toad lived.”

The Richard Jefferies Museum Trust decided to open a tea room to attract more visitors to the house.

Hilda said: “Not a lot of people know anything about Richard Jefferies or where he lived, and we want more people to find out.

“And everybody likes tea, and we thought having a tea room just might encourage more people along, since they can wander around the museum and the gardens or have a cup of tea or a cream tea. It’s also open on Mondays so people can drop in after school and the children can play in the gardens.”

The tearoom is part of a new set of activities at the site, which also includes poetry writing, musical Mondays, after-school play dates, and various other events.

Trustee Mike Pringle said: “Those people who know about Jefferies, know how inspiring his love of nature is and that is what the place is all about. What we want is for more people to discover this well-hidden Swindon treasure and enjoy it for themselves. We hope that more events and facilities like a tearoom will make a big difference.”

The museum and tearoom are open every Sunday from 2pm to 5pm, and 10am to 5pm on Mondays.

Visit richardjefferiessociety.co.uk/RJmuseum.html or email email info@richardjefferies.org

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