Tuesday, February 02, 2010


The Richard Jefferies Museum at Coate will be re-opening its doors to the public on Wednesday 10 February after a five-month closure during which time Swindon Borough Council has carried out structural repairs to the old house.

The Museum was once the birthplace and home of Richard Jefferies (1848-1887), Victorian author and nature writer. He lived there for most of his life and moved not long after he married the girl next door - Jessie Baden from Day House Farm.

Jefferies' writing was inspired by his own experiences of living on a small dairy farm, next to Coate Water, and by the landscape that he loved so much between the farm and the North Wessex Downs. He wrote over twenty books and hundreds of essays in his short life. Although he is best known for his nature writing, he also wrote two children's adventure stories based around his home, a science-fiction book that has influenced many later writers, novels based on local Victorian farm-life and politics and an autobiographical book that expressed his mystical beliefs. All of his books are still in print and many of them are available to buy at the Museum. The Richard Jefferies Society has published nine books by and about the writer in the last eighteen months alone. The Museum is on three floors: the attic is recreated as Jefferies' described it and was used to store apples and cheese and as his study. The exhibits include family memorabilia and hundreds of photographs and information about places and people associated with Jefferies along with a short film on the subject.

The Literary Society has provided the majority of the many exhibits on display at the Museum and volunteers open the place to the public on the second Wednesday of the month from 10am to 4pm throughout the year and between May to the end of September on the first, third and fourth Sundays between 2-5pm. Special arrangements can be made for group bookings on other days.

Parking space is limited at the Museum that opens onto the busy dual-carriageway road next to the Sun Inn at Coate but it is only a short walk from Coate Water. Entrance is free. You will be given a warm welcome by the enthusiastic group of volunteers who are extremely proud of Swindon's greatest cultural asset - a writer who has been described as a genius by literary critics and was voted as Britain's best-loved nature writer in a poll in 2005.

For more information, contact Jean Saunders (Honorary Secretary of the Richard Jefferies Society) on 01793 783040 or go to http://richardjefferiessociety.co.uk (there are links to various photos of the Museum and some of the exhibits).