Cuckfield Museum has a fascinating array of new exhibitions, including cannonballs, dinosaurs, and protective magic.
The volunteer-run museum is always changing its main display, and has some favourite ever-presents.
Curator Phillipa Malins knows the ins and outs of each exhibition, and is on hand to inform visitors of the fascinating details.
The museum displays a fascinating collection of possessions which were found hidden under floorboards in the attic of a house on Church Street in 2002.
“The items relate to all different members of the family. There are children’s toys, each thing has a connection with a person,” Phillipa said.
“It was protection for the house, a form of protective magic, to confuse an unfriendly presence. They had superstitions. This was a poor part of the village in a countryside district, they went to church and did their prayers, but they still observed this other superstition.”
Shoes which had been worn, and toys which had been played with are part of the collection, as if a part of the owner’s soul had moved into the object.A favourite section for many visitors is the infamous dinosaur bones that Cuckfield is renowned for.
They have real and replica Iguanodon toe bones and rib bones.
Palaeontologist Gideon Mantell’s wife first discovered fossil teeth in Cuckfield in 1822, setting Mantell on a path which would lead him to be the first to discover many species of dinosaur.
The museum also has replicas and toys for children to handle.
“The dinosaur footprint we have gives you an idea of the size of it,” Phillipa said.
“There’s something here for everyone.”
In a section of agricultural items, a sheep bow sits, which was used to secure lambs for trimming.
“It’s a rough looking piece of equipment,” Phillipa said.
Next to it is a huge hay knife. They must have used the weight to chop into the stack to cut out wedges, it’s a carefully designed piece of equipment, they would have been immensely strong,” Phillipa explained.
The museum also displays cannonballs dating back to the civil war.
Sue Burgess, who is also a curator, said: “I don’t think people realise we have so much. This is about a third of what we have, we have proper archives of social history in Cuckfield. People come to look up their family history.”
The museum is at Queen’s Hall on High Street.