Museum’s ‘Victorian Life Swap’

Back in July we reported how Ruddington’s Framework Knitters’ Museum had reopened with a more personal and ‘socially distanced’ visitor experience – having been shut for four months due to first COVID-19 ‘lockdown’.

With full Coronavirus restrictions sadly now back on, once again the doors are firmly closed to the public until at least December 2nd. However, with spare time on their hands once more, staff at the popular village visitor attraction began to wonder what life must have been like without many of the things we take for granted. How different would life be without radio, television, Netflix, wi-fi, computers and smartphones… not to mention indoor toilet facilities and simple things like an electric kettle?!

To try to find out – and to provide a bit of light relief for everyone in the process – Museum Manager Jim Grevatte and his family have decided to step back in time by moving into the museum’s 19th century Manager’s Cottage. They will live and work there as a ‘Victorian family’ over this weekend, the 21st and 22nd November.

Jim says: “With our ambitious redevelopment project, ‘A Right Good Yarn’, now underway, one of our main tasks is to reconstruct the knitters’ cottages and understand just what their lives were like. And what better way to find out than to live how they lived in the very same building? It’ll certainly help us give our visitors a unique insight into the social history of our museum site when we reopen after lockdown.”

Cooking facilities in the cottage. No one has made a meal on the range in over 100 years!

To help them gain the most from this experience, local schools have come up with questions they’d like answering about how life has changed over the last 150 years. All villagers are invited to join them ‘virtually’ to keep track of what they discover by following the Museum’s social media pages on Facebook and Instagram – where the Grevatte family will be posting their insights and photos of life in the cottage (“…the only time we’ll be using our smartphones!”).

If and when ‘lockdown’ restrictions are lifted in early December, it’s hoped it will then be possible for the Framework Knitters’ Museum to offer us our own ‘Victorian Christmas’ experience – making simple knitted presents and wrapping gifts, whilst enjoying crumpets toasted on the range. They say these bookings would be exclusive to one family/support bubble at a time to enable social distancing, and staff and volunteers will continue to follow all the latest rules and restrictions around COVID-19.

However, as the museum had to close even under Tier 3 restrictions on October 30th, these festive plans will depend upon whether Ruddington remains under these stricter local restrictions, even after this latest national ‘lockdown’ ends.

Looking ahead: How the new museum entrance via Gunn Cottage will look after the redevelopment

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