The Rural Life Centre, Tilford, will come alive with the sights and sounds of a bygone age the weekend of 1-2 June. 'Days Gone By', organised by the Central Southern Vintage Agricultural Club, features vintage cars, tractors, lorries, stationary engines, steam engines and assorted machinery from years ago.
A family favourite on the weekend will be the tractor trailer rides to nearby Pierrepont Farm (included in the price of admission to the museum) where a guided tour will demonstrate traditional, wildlife-friendly farm methods and a modern milking parlour.
Two free rides on the Old Kiln Light Railway are also included in admission along with demonstrations in the wood yard and access to all the museum's restored village buildings, wagons and rural artefacts. There is a playground and children will be delighted to be able to see up close the museum's lambs, born mid-May.
Refreshments are available all day at the café or bring along a picnic.
Further information and a video of last year's event are on the Rural Life Centre website www.rural-life.org.uk. The museum is located on Reeds Road, Tilford, Surrey, GU10 2DL Tel: 01252 795571.
If you know your RTs from your RFs and your Bristol FS from your Routemasters, be sure to take the family and your camera along to the Rural Life Centre on Sunday 26 May to enjoy a day on the buses!
This biennial rally of vintage public transport has become so popular that it will be an annual event at the museum from now on.
The sights, sounds and smells of yesteryear will evoke nostalgia in older visitors, while the younger generation will marvel that these old buses and coaches have been so beautifully restored and maintained by their enthusiast owners. Dont miss the chance to ride on one round the roads of Tilford.
From 19 May to 21 July the museum will also be hosting an exhibition of British native livestock, many of which are now rare breeds.
For further details of the museum visit their website at www.rural-life.org.uk or telephone 01252 795571. The Rural Life Centre, GU10 2DL, is on Reeds Road, mid-way between Tilford and Frensham, three miles south of Farnham town centre.
It's the perfect combination - one of Britain's top folk singers performing at one of the south's leading countryside attractions.
John Kirkpatrick will be presenting The Victorian Farmer's Year in Song at the Rural Life Centre, Tilford, near Farnham on Saturday, June 29th.
Following his appearances on the hugely popular BBC TV series The Victorian Farm, John will use traditional songs to take us through a year in the countryside, reflecting the highs and lows of each season and giving an authentic voice to the old way of life.
Although agricultural working conditions in the later 19th century were as bad as any in the country, the songs that have been handed down from this time embody hope and optimism, and a great delight in the process of nature. They were songs designed to keep the spirits high and buoyant, rather than dwell on the gloomier side of life - a life that most of us today would find quite impossible.
So here we have The Victorian Farmer's Year in Song, featuring songs about farmers, and songs sung by farmers; songs about work on the farm, and songs to make that work easier; songs celebrating particular days in the country calendar, and songs celebrating the daily miracle of life, death and renewal.
The world we are shown here is not a romantic pastoral idyll viewed through rose-tinted spectacles this is a world full of sweat and muck, a world with dirt under its fingernails.
John Kirkpatrick won the Musician of the Year accolade at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2010, and has appeared with many groups, including the Albion Band and Steeleye Span, during his long and illustrious career. He is also a member of the much acclaimed Brass Monkey outfit.
The Rural Life Centre, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary, can be found in Reeds Road, Tilford, postcode GU10 2DL. The Victorian Farmer's Year in Song concert on Saturday, June 29th begins at 7.30pm, and tickets, priced at £10 each, are available on 01252 795571. Ploughman's suppers at £5 each will be available on the evening if pre-booked. A licensed bar will also be available. The event takes place during the venue's Romany Days weekend. For more details, visit www.rural-life.org.uk.
|Looking pretty in the snow - our gypsy waggon.|
With the weather steadily improving, people's thoughts are starting to turn to seek local places to go for days out. One place that is proving increasingly popular over the years is the Rural Life Centre at Tilford, near Farnham. Although traditionally thought of as an open-air museum of country life, in fact most of its displays are located within buildings.
At the museum the large staff of volunteers has been busy over the winter months ensuring that 2013's visitors will have some different exhibits and events to see. The 1920s holiday home 'Smudgers' is now complete, the Wealden Iron Furnace reconstruction looks set to produce its first 'pig iron' this year and the 1960s children's playground has been completely overhauled.
The diary of events, now available from the museum's website at www.rural-life.org.uk, looks positively overflowing with activities to attract all ages and tastes. Joining the regular favourites this year are some new titles.
A Polish Day in May builds on the successful opening of the Tweedsmuir Camp exhibition opened by the Polish consul in 2012. During the day visitors will be able to watch Polish dancing, learn about the history of the large emigré community that settled here after the second world war and sample traditional cuisine.
The popular biennial Bus & Coach Rally returns with many classic vehicles and last year's Romany Day returns but this year takes place over a whole weekend giving visitors a better chance to learn about the heritage of the Surrey Gypsy community. As part of the latter event, John Kirkpatrick, of the BBC's historic farm series, will be presenting an evening concert of "The Victorian Farmer in Song".
Exhibitions throughout the year include "On Hungry Hill", the story of the community of gravel diggers at Hale that were responsible for much of the building of Aldershot Garrison, and "Farm Animals of Yesteryear". Another exhibition, still in the planning stage, will recall the history of the museum itself which celebrates its 40th birthday this year. That anniversary is also set to be celebrated during the "Harvest Home" event in September.
All in all, we're sure you will agree, that there is much to see and do at this local museum which begins its main season on March 6th. It will then be open each week from Wednesday to Sunday complete with a popular café (under new management this year) which is worth a visit in its own right.
For further details of the museum visit their website at www.rural-life.org.uk or give them a ring on 01252 795571. To find them type the postcode GU10 2DL into your sat-nav and you'll find the Rural Life Centre on Reeds Road, mid-way between Tilford and Frensham, just three miles south of Farnham town centre.
|Wies and Zen Rogalski outside their childhood home|
The fact that the Nazi invasion of Poland was the catalyst for the Second World War is well known. But how many people realise that, thanks to Poles escaping to this country with an Enigma machine, Bletchley Park codebreakers were able to crack the secure German cyphers and shorten the war. Poles also fought bravely as part of the RAF in the Battle of Britain and were among the highest scoring aces of that aerial conflict. So what happened to these refugees after the war?
From 26 August Tilford's museum of country life, the Rural Life Centre, will help answer that question. Thanks to a Heritage Lottery grant a new and unique exhibition has been created which commemorates the settlement of the Polish wartime community in Surrey.
Visitors will be able to learn about the displaced Polish Allied Forces and their families who were reluctant to return Poland under a communist regime in 1945. There will be opportunities to explore the political, social and cultural implications of these historic events. The exhibition will offer experiences and activities for a wide range of groups from schools to familes.
The refugees' story will be told through the history of Tweedsmuir Camp which stood near Thursley village. It was a disused army base which housed Polish families until the early 1960s, the residents becoming very much a part of the local community, attending schools and working in factories and on farms in the surrounding villages.
The exhibition is the brainchild of brothers Wies and Zen Rogalski, who spent their childhood in its wooden barracks, and is entitled Tam Mieszkalismy or We lived there. On Sunday August 26 they will welcome the Polish Consul, recently arrived from Washington DC, and possibly the country's newly appointed Ambassador to formally open the replica Tweedsmuir Barracks.
The day will also include Polish dancers and music plus a chance to sample national dishes. Activities will be running all day from 10am with the ceremonies taking place in the afternoon. The Rural Life Centre is just off the A287 three miles south of Farnham midway between Tilford and Frensham and is open from 10am to 5pm from Wednesday to Sunday each week and on bank holidays. More details can be found at www.rural-life.org.uk or by calling 01252 795571.
Wies and Zen Rogalski with Hania Raubo on the step of 39 Tweedsmuir Camp where the Rogalskis lived.
A new, permanent exhibition at the Rural Life Centre recalling the postwar lives of Polish displaced persons in Tweedsmuir Camp, Thursley, has been given Lottery funding, Penny Kitchen reports.
Imagine a childhood spent as a displaced person and housed in a former military camp. Grim? Not as Zen Rogalski remembers it. Until the age of nine, he and his six year old brother Wies, spent "an idyllic childhood" in Tweedsmuir Military Camp at Thursley, where Poles and their dependents displaced by the War, were housed between 1947 and 1960.
"One memory is of throwing fallen roofing shingles around like Frisbees," Zen recalls, mindful of what 'Health & Safety' would have to say about such childish pranks today.
Now grown up with families of their own, the Rogalskis have spent a good part of their adult lives, not to mention a lot of their own money, researching the Polish residency at Tweedsmuir. This work involves documenting the residents's stories of how they came to be there and what happened to them after they left.
Their website www.tweedsmuirmilitarycamp.co.uk has been much praised and now they have received Heritage Lottery funding of £50,000 for a permanent exhibition to be built at the Rural Life Centre in nearby Tilford.
The accredited country life museum hosts a number of living history events each year including a Village at War weekend each May, with re-enactments of both Canadian and American troops who were stationed in the area.
Tweedsmuir Camp was built as a depot by Royal Canadian Engineers and it is thought that many thousands of Canadian troops arriving in this country passed through on their way to battles in occupied Europe. After the war the camp was used as temporary accommodation for personnel of the Polish Resettlement Corps, demobilised Polish service men and women, and their dependents. It was here that the Rogalskis lived from 1948 to 1957.
Zen and Wies, together with their parents, eventually left the camp to settle in Clapham, London. However the brothers have never stopped in their quest to find out all the stories behind this early chapter in their lives and lives of the other Polish people in Britain. "We have been trying to find our roots, trying to unravel a tortured history that has impinged on our lives and made us what we are today," says Zen.
After the horrors of war, their parents, who had met and married in Surrey, regarded Tweedsmuir as a haven. The camp residents who had come from the rural and agricultural areas of Poland were soon keeping cows, geese and chickens, and growing vegetables on the site to supplement their diet. Men from the camp were employed in local industries, such as the Dennis engineering factory in Guildford and Nutbourne Brickworks in Hambledon, whilst many of the women worked at Secretts Farm in Milford.
For children like Zen and his brother it seemed a perfect childhood and now in memory of those who lived in the camp they and project volunteers want to bring the story of these years and these people to a wider audience. "The Rural Life Centre is a perfect place for our exhibition, which will be housed in a timber building similar to the barracks in which we lived," says Zen. "Ours is a social history of a small group of people intertwined with this area of Surrey."
Zen and Wies are in the process of compiling and collating personal stories for the new exhibition. This is no easy task as the Polish families who lived in the camp were widely dispersed by 1960. They are gathering photos and memorabilia, the originals of which will be archived and preserved for posterity at the Surrey History Centre for future researchers.
Getting Lottery funding has enabled them to realise their dream. "We're doing this for our parents, our children and grandchildren and for all the people who were in the camp," Zen says. "Although some of our findings are now on the website, they are only the tip of the iceberg."
"It is our hope that the exhibition will give the local community a valuable insight into part of the cultural heritage of Surrey which is in danger of being lost," adds Wies.
The exhibition will be particularly interesting to local, Polish and Canadian visitors who want to discover more about this unique heritage. English and Polish institutions in the UK have been approached with a view to touring the exhibition and the brothers have also just learned that the Polish Ambassador has agreed to attend the official opening at the Rural Life Centre in 2012.
Corpus Christi procession in the camp. Beyond is the brick guardhouse built by the Royal Canadian Engineers in 1943.