There’s something amazing about being able to walk in the footsteps of an iconic author and see the things that inspired them. For anyone who has read and loved a Roald Dahl book, the Roald Dahl Museum and the surrounding village of Great Missenden is a fascinating place to visit. There are three interactive galleries where you can learn more about the author’s life, books and be inspired to get creative. You can even look inside Roald Dahl’s writing hut and sit in a replica of his writing chair.
We were recently invited to attend the Buzzyhumming Summer Tea Party at the Roald Dahl Museum. We enjoyed a few snacks on our arrival at the Museum. The girls had fun playing with a variety of toys, puppets and musical instruments which are used in the Chiddlers’ Hour toddler session at the museum.
While the girls were having fun with the toys, hubby and I enjoyed a fascinating glimpse into the archives of the museum. We got to see one of the early drafts of Mr Fox (before he became fantastic) complete with Roald’s drawings showing his ideas for the illustrations and layout. In this early draft, the fox family dug tunnels under the village High Street and stole from the shops and supermarket and the farmers were nameless.
The girls enjoyed trying a pair of prosthetic ears that David Walliams wore to dress up as the BFG as part of the Dahlicious Dress Up Day fundraising campaign back in 2012. We also got a close-up look at the BFG’s sandals. These were actually a pair of size 12 Norwegian sandals belonging to Roald Dahl who was a bit of a big friendly giant himself at 197.5cm tall.
One of the things I love about the museum is how well it caters to a variety of ages. Last time we visited, we went with my nieces who were 9 and 11 at the time. They loved finding out more about Roald Dahl and trying out some of the creative activities in the Story Centre. They also enjoyed being able to sit in a replica of Roald Dahl’s writing chair.
For the little ones though, who have yet to discover the delights of a Roald Dahl book, there is still plenty of fun to be had. There are dressing up areas in the galleries and a craft area in George’s Crafty Kitchen.
The craft area is probably Jessica’s favourite part of the museum. She was only three last time we came here but she still remembered it. As soon as we arrived at the museum, she asked if we could go to the ‘making room’. There are craft items laid out on the tables to help encourage children to get creative and various activity sheets relating to various stories. You can also vote for your favourite book here too.
The Boy gallery covers the early part of Roald Dahl’s life and his school days. During his time at Repton School, Roald Dahl regularly sampled and reviewed Cadbury’s chocolates, giving each one a mark and comments. This experience later helped to inspire Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. One of his traditions later on was to hand around chocolates after dinner each day. We were lucky enough on our visit to be treated to a chocolate from the very box that Roald Dahl used to pass them around. Naturally the chocolates on offer were Cadburys ones!
In the Solo gallery, there is a height chart where you can measure yourself and see how tall you are in relation to various Roald Dahl characters and the author himself. Hubby is tall, but not quite as tall as Roald Dahl. He was the same height as Farmer Bean from Fantastic Mr Fox though. Sophie was as tall as Farmer Bunce from the same book. I couldn’t quite complete the trio of farmers as Farmer Boggis was a couple of inches taller than me. Mrs Silver from Esio Trot was my closest match height-wise. Jessica measured up to the same height as the Silkworm in James and the Giant Peach.
The highlight of the museum is Roald Dahl’s writing hut. It is still set up exactly as he left it for the last time. Each morning, he would head out to his writing hut to write for two hours. After lunch, he would then write for another two hours before stopping for the day. You can see his collection of quirky mementoes and the chair where he sat to write his stories.
While hubby and the girls stayed at the museum for a storytelling session, I headed out for a guided walk around the village.
On admission to the museum, visitors are given a wristband which allows them to come and go throughout the day. The museum is set in the heart of Great Missenden. This is the village where Roald Dahl lived for the last few decades of his life and which helped inspire some of his most famous stories. As you walk along the High Street, you can see the house where he imagined Sophie being plucked from her bed by The BFG, the filling station pumps that became the home of Danny, the Champion of the World and the library where Matilda read all the books. There are guided village and countryside walks from the museum every Tuesday. You can also pick up maps from the museum to explore the surrounding area yourself.
The village and the surrounding countryside are beautiful. Roald Dahl’s grave is a short walk from the museum near the beautiful parish church. BFG sandals in the grass show the way to the grave where the author rests. A nearby bench is engraved with the names of his children and this quote from The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me:
“We have tears in our eyes as we wave our goodbyes,
We so loved being with you, we three.
So do please now and then, come and see us again,
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me.”
On our return to the museum, we enjoyed ‘Bruce Bogtrotter’ chocolate cake, sandwiches and scones. We also enjoyed chatting to the other bloggers who attended the event. It was lovely to meet Emily from Mini Travellers, Katie from Mum of 2.5, Kelly from Mammy, Wife and I and their families.
Jessica had clearly been inspired by our afternoon. As soon as she’d finished her cake and sandwiches, she was busy writing away in her ‘Story Ideas’ book. Perhaps I have a future author on my hands!
A Buzzyhumming Summer
There are various events and activities taking place at the Roald Dahl Museum during the summer holidays. The Buzzyhummer Summer events include craft sessions to make “chocolate cattypiddlers” “clay frumpkins” and Paw Plates. There are also storytelling walks and Science-y Seeds workshops where you can plant a bean to take home. On Tuesdays over the summer, there are Gloriumptious Guided Trails around the village and you can discover Dahl’s Archives on Thursdays. More information about the Buzzyhumming Summer and other events can be found on the Roald Dahl Museum website.
Visiting the Roald Dahl Museum – what you need to know:
Tuesday to Friday: 10am – 5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11am – 5pm
The museum is closed most Mondays.
Ticket prices: (as at July 2017)
Adults – £6.60
Children (5-18) and concessions – £4.40
Children under 5 – free
Family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children) – £21
The museum is a short walk from Great Missenden railway station. If you are driving, there is a pay-and-display car park about 500yds from the museum. You can also pay for parking here using your mobile phone.
We were invited to the Buzzyhumming Summer party including complimentary entrance to the Museum. All thoughts and opinions are my own.