The day after Boxing Day we had ear marked for getting out of the house and having a family day out. Somewhere both Mr HH and I wanted to go (and thought the small person would enjoy too) is but a bus journey from our home so despite my awful cold and the gloomy weather, off we set for a day out (or in?) here...
It is free to visit this museum, what a bargain, and even the cloakroom was free so it's a cheap day out (except for the very expensive cafe and the temptations of the shop!) The main hall is an impressive sight, especially if you look upwards...
The boys were quite enthralled with all the tanks, subs and planes on display here where as by the end of the day, I wished I'd spent my time elsewhere as there was sooooo much to see here, you really have to use your time wisely and cherry pick the displays that really interest you if you're to fit it all in in a day.
This museum is surprisingly really good for children as there are a lot of interactive displays. The Munchkin very much enjoyed pretending he was inside a real submarine.
We paid extra to go into the current special exhibition, considering that the Ministry of Food was something in which we were likely to be interested.
There was a very eye-catching display on "dig for victory".
Wonderful examples of handicrafts were on display throughout the museum.
The Land Girls are a subject I find enduringly interesting.
Of course, there was a lot of information about rationing. Now I know why the vintage dresses are all so tiny - they had little to eat in those days!
There was a mock-up of a typical grocery shop.
The Munchkin was more interested in the sweet shop!
Razzing to the basement floor, there was a very good exhibition entitled "Break Out" all about the very first days of the war. This dress caught my eye, worn by a bride who married hurriedly before her sweetheart was sent to war and had no time for the big white dress.
The Munchkin found more things to amuse himself. There were fantastic film reels playing in here, as well as period tunes and great poster art.
The exhibition of the Home Front was similarly very interesting (difficult to photograph as everything was behind glass and it was very dim). I was most interested to read about the clothes rationing and see examples of CC41 clothing.
I was also very pleased to see this example of embroidery, just like the one I bought from the charity shop in Bridport, way back.
However, my favourite bit of the museum was the section for children. The first part of the exhibition was devoted to evacuees. There were fantastic examples of children's clothing and toys and what really makes this museum come alive are all the recollections of people who actually lived through the war. You can both read these in display books and listen to them on the telephones!
Many of the displays come with notes which tell you to whom the exhibits belonged and the story of their evacuation. The little girl who wore and owned these items below came from Germany, the little wooden hangers with the dolls clothes were hand painted and bore written inscriptions and the little Siamese cat hand puppet was so cute. The dress was hand knitted and bore beautiful embroidery to the bodice. All the items were in wonderful condition, too which is amazing when you consider what they have come through.
This suitcase showed you what a typical young male evacuee might have packed - very little! The Munchkin was comforted to see there was a bar of chocolate!
This young evacuee's gas mask case had been decorated with a teddy bear.
Finally, the piece de resistance! Within the museum is a complete reconstruction of a typical two-storey house, based on that in Wickham Gardens in Kent (if any of you remember the fantastic tv programme, The 1940's House, this was the house which featured in the programme).
You enter on the first floor where there are three bedrooms.
This is the bedroom of an older teenage girl.
This twin bedroom would be for younger children.
Not forgetting the wonderful bathroom with the cabinet cleverly built into the wall.
Downstairs, the front room was decorated ready for Christmas. It struck me how many things there were in there to do: sewing, reading, listening to the radio, board games, rocking horse. No telly, no computer games!
I was very taken with this lampshade.
The kitchen was very interesting too and made me realise how lucky we are today with all our time saving appliances.
I most liked the gorgeous curtain fabric!
Outside were yet more displays all related to life during the war. The Munchkin found that about school quite thought provoking.
The toys were even more interesting, of course!
Meanwhile, I had found the "make do and mend" section where I was right at home.
Ladies certainly had their work cut out back then.
Very capable they were, too.
Golly, I am quite exhausted just reading back through this, remembering what a lot there was to take in, we didn't leave until the doors were shutting and we still did not see everything. I thoroughly recommend a visit to the museum if you find yourself in London and have an interest in this sort of thing. Although most of my photos relate to the Second World War (because that is my main area of interest), the museum is in fact about all wars and there are exhibits going back to the First World War right up to the Gulf War. There is also a brilliant display on the Secret Services which as Mr HH and I have been glued to DVDs of Spooks recently, we found most interesting! I know we hope to visit again once we get the chance.