Learning a little about World War 1 at Chiltern Open Air Museum

Chiltern Open Air Museum has always been one of our favourite places to visit. We used to go quite regularly but hadn’t been this year. I’d been cautious about visiting at the start of the season due to lambing as I was pregnant with Thomas and then we just didn’t have the heart to go for a while after Jessica died.


A sunny autumn afternoon was the perfect day though to revisit it. There was a WW1 themed event taking place that weekend which sounded interesting. I knew it probably wouldn’t interest Sophie, but she would still enjoy spending the afternoon at the museum.


Sophie outside the Henton Mission Room at Chiltern Open Air Museum - "Learning a little about World War 1 at Chiltern Open Air Museum"


There was a poppy trail around the museum with poppies placed in various buildings. Sophie has her favourite places to visit in the museum though and we’ve not had much success with following trails in the past so we decided to give this a miss. The sensory trail does tend to attract Sophie’s attention though. She loves spotting the symbols on fences and buildings and taking a moment to describe what she can see, hear, smell or feel.


Sophie at one of the sensory trail points, looking at chickens


As I’d suspected, Sophie wasn’t very interested in the WW1-themed areas set up near Leagrave Cottage. She was quite happy to pose for a photo by the replica WW1 single seater pusher biplane though!


Sophie standing next to a WW1 plane


Our first point of call as usual was the Amersham prefab. The toys in the back bedroom have always been a favourite with my girls. I knew this would be the hardest place to revisit. Jessica loved those toys so much, especially the bagatelle board. It made me feel quite sad to watch Sophie playing it without her big sister there.


Sophie playing bagatelle in the Amersham prefab


Our next stop was the newly constructed WW1 Nissen hut. Sophie marched through the hut, stopping only to glance briefly at a WW1 nurse’s outfit laid out on a table.


“Jessica would love that,” she said.


Sophie outside the WW1 Nissen hut


“Jessica would have loved this” was a recurring phrase throughout our visit from both Sophie and myself. Memories met us everywhere we went. I could picture the girls running together on the village green, jumping in puddles on the path to the tea rooms, playing with toys in the Amersham prefab and the Thame Vicarage Room. Sophie was quite disappointed this time though that she couldn’t play with the toys in the Thame Vicarage Room as it was set up to show a film of the Home Front in Bucks.


Sophie standing next to some scarecrows in the allotment area


Sophie outside the Thame Vicarage Room


The Henton Mission Room was set up as a mini hospital building with a chaplain and a VAD nurse present. I didn’t realise the man was the chaplain at first due to the officer’s uniform – the dog collar wasn’t immediately obvious. It was interesting to chat with him and I learned a little about the role of chaplains in the war – how they tended to the injured and dying in No Man’s Land, provided support to those in hospital and helped to boost morale amongst the troops. They would also provide practical support – for instance, chaplains often helped soldiers write letters home.


Sophie with the VAD nurse in the Henton Mission Room


I would have liked to have chatted to the VAD nurse as well, but Sophie was keen to head to the playground. Another place where memories of Jessica were particularly vivid. The rope swing was always a favourite with the girls. We could never push it high enough to satisfy Jessica. Sophie doesn’t like to go quite so high though! As I pushed her on the swing, we chatted about our happy memories of all those previous days out.


Sophie running across a rope bridge in the playground at Chiltern Open Air Museum


Sophie swinging on the rope swing


It was lovely to hear Sophie talking about her memories of days out with her big sister. As much as we missed Jessica, the day was mostly one of smiles rather than sadness. Jessica would indeed have loved it.


Sophie outside the High Wycombe Toll House


Visiting Chiltern Open Air Museum – what you need to know:

Museum address:

Chiltern Open Air Museum
Newland Park
Gorelands Lane
Chalfont St Giles

Opening times:

The museum is open daily, 10am – 5pm, from late March – late October.

For more information, visit the museum website here.


Country Kids linky

20 thoughts on “Learning a little about World War 1 at Chiltern Open Air Museum

  1. The Chiltern museum looks brilliant, it’s somewhere I’d love to visit. it must have been very difficult for you and Sophie to see all Jessica’s favourite things. I’m glad you both managed to make it a day of happy memories rather than sadness.

    1. I knew going back would be hard but it is also nice to be able to make happy memories with Sophie as well x

  2. This sounds really lovely and especially on a nice dry day. I can see this being one that will continue to be of interest as Sophie grows up and Thomas takes an interest too. For now I’m sure the playground was the highlight. Another first to get through without Jessica, they must all be so hard but I’m sure she was watching over you making sure you stopped at her favourite places too. #CountryKids

    1. It was a lovely day and I loved how Sophie enjoyed revisiting the memories even if it was bittersweet too.

  3. So many memories but fabulous to work them through with Sophie whilst having fun on the swings, what a great way to process emotions. It sounds like a great day out with lots to choose for entertaining the little ones as well as interesting history for you too. Lovely to see you out and about in Jessica’s footsteps even though sometimes it must have been hard #CountryKids

    1. It is hard sometimes going back to places we all loved but those memories are such happy ones and it was lovely that Sophie talked so much about Jessica too.

  4. My husband loves all things to do with WW1 and WW11 but has not quite instilled his enthusiasm on us girls! it does look like and interesting place though. I can’t imagine how hard it must be revisiting places without Jessica, but at least you are able to make new happy memories. #countrykids

  5. Looks lovely and sending hugs. My husband died earlier in the year and I’m trying to keep busy and take the kids out as before, so I know how hard it is. Sending hugs xx #CountryKids

    1. Thank you Cheryl. I can imagine that it is also very hard for you to make those new memories without your husband. Sending hugs back your way too x

  6. This looks like a really interesting place to visit – I think my son would love it. And although bittersweet, I am glad you were able to share some happy memories. xx

    1. It is an interesting place to visit and it was lovely to hear Sophie revisiting happy memories too.

  7. This looks like a great place to visit. It must’ve been so bittersweet to remember Jessica while still enjoying Sophie’s smiles. Love the look of the playground #countrykids

    1. Thank you Pamela. It was a bittersweet day out but lovely to hear Sophie talking so much about her sister.

    1. I find history fascinating too. Maybe one day Sophie will be interested. It is hard sometimes to go on these days out as much as I want to make the new memories for Sophie. We’re gradually revisiting favourites although there are some places that I’m still not ready to go back to.

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