There is the chance to discover what life was like in Victorian Wiltshire at a  free family fun event being held at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre on Saturday, September 29.

The centre, which is run by Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council, will be recreating the time of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Florence Nightingale and Charles Dickens with a whole host of artefacts and entertainers.

Visitors will be able to enjoy the atmosphere of a Victorian travellers’ fair as they listen to the evocative sounds of the barrel organ, join in some traditional games, visit the fortune teller and join Dr Cuttlebung, inventor of the amazing patent cure all.

Victorians loved machines and toys based on optical illusions and there will be a selection of these to view at this event, including a camera obscura. Children can also make their own Victorian toy to take home.

Local performers will recreate popular drawing room entertainments and there will be a cabinet of curiosities displaying some of the most amazing objects from Wiltshire museums.

Also at the event will be a conservator to explain how documents were looked after in the past and how objects and documents are conserved today.

The Victorian pioneer of photography Fox Talbot will come back from the past to tell visitors about his invention alongside a display of Victorian photographs.

Children attending will also be able to don Victorian clothes to create their own portrait photograph.

Local artist Edwin Young also captured views of Victorian Wiltshire and visitors will be able to enjoy an exhibition of his paintings complemented by early photographs showing the scenes that he painted.

Victorian archaeologists also undertook pioneering work in Wiltshire and today's archaeology team will be on hand to explain what discoveries they made.

Letters from famous Victorians such as Florence Nightingale, Thomas Hardy, Hans Christian Anderson and Queen Victoria are amongst the seven miles of historic archives the centre holds – and will be shown at this event.

Also on display will be documents revealing the lives of servants, emigrants, paupers and prisoners alongside those of the wealthiest Victorians.

Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for libraries and heritage, Stuart Wheeler, said: “The history centre’s open days are always enormously popular and they attract around a thousand people each time.

“This open day event sounds like it will be an entertaining and fascinating glimpse into Victorian Wiltshire.”

The event at the history centre in Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, starts at 10am and finishes at 4pm.

More details can be found at