diamond geezer

 Monday, January 31, 2011

High on the list of London museums you've probably never visited is Church Farmhouse Museum in Hendon. You'd better hurry, because if Barnet Council get their way it may not be open much longer.

Church Farmhouse MuseumYou wouldn't know the museum was there, even from just round the corner. There are no signs whatsoever pointing towards the place, which is a first clue that the council don't care much for their heritage. Only when you turn into ye olde Church End, beyond medieval St Mary's and the Greyhound inn, does the museum's existence become apparent. Look for the 16th century brick farmhouse at the top of Greyhound Hill, set back behind a hedge in its own leafy garden. Maybe try the maze before you head inside - it's round the back beside the pond with the wishing well. And you'll know the front door's unlocked if the toy badger in the window is clutching a card saying "OPEN" in his claws. Admit it, you've fallen for the place's charms already. [photo] [photo] [photo] [photo]

The building celebrated its 350th birthday last year, so the interior's crooked and timber-y like an old farmhouse should be. There's a kitchen with an open fireplace, a dining room with fine oak panelling and a scullery with a cold stone floor. The kitchen's decked out as it would have been circa 1820 when the house was owned by Mark Lemon, the first editor of Punch. There are no magazines lying around as in a dentist's waiting room, don't worry, but there are plenty of period utensils laid out beside the bread oven. As a nod to the more recent past, there's also a glass cabinet containing some very 1970s kitchen implements, such as a Stork margarine sponge-bakers cookbook and a plastic Multi-Mouligrater. Kids of today must be baffled, but this felt like home to me.

And upstairs even more so. The museum specialises in toys, with two gender-biased rooms devoted to them. The boys' room contained the very essence of my childhood, or so it seemed. A box of Lott's Tudor Blocks (made in Watford, price 2/6), which my grandmother always used to get out to keep me and my brother busy. A plastic Thunderbird 5 - we had one of those, until we gave it away. And a display case laid out with tiny wooden houses and miniature farmyard figures, all identical to those which kept the two of us busy through many a 1970s afternoon. We'd construct these layouts across the bedroom floor, running Matchbox cars and plastic trains through the middle, and leave everything there for the best part of a week for my mum to tiptoe around. I think all the bits of our pretend 'village' are still in a box in my dad's loft... it's good to know they're potential museum fodder. It was also reassuring to see the museum's collection being enjoyed by a new generation of local children. An impromptu puppet show broke out in the girls' room, much to the delight of the children's mother, and even the Lott's Blocks kept one four-year-old as occupied as they once had me.

Harry Beck exhibition, Church Farmhouse MuseumNextdoor, in two upper rooms, is the reason you'll probably want to visit soon. The museum is hosting a special exhibition devoted to Harry Beck, designer of the world-famous tube map, who was born down the road in Finchley. It's not so much "This Is Your Life" as a series of displays tracing the map's development from the early 20th century to the present day. Lots and lots of paper maps from a local, private collection are arranged neatly in glass cases, alongside larger posters and a variety of tube ephemera. There are leftovers from the never-quite-built section of the nearby Northern line (destination Bushey Heath) and probably some other stuff too. Unfortunately I can't be sure because on Saturday the exhibition wasn't quite ready so hadn't opened yet. All I could do was peer through the open doorway at a table covered with backing paper, scissors and sticky tape, wishing I'd turned up 24 hours later then scheduled. It opened yesterday, honest, although the museum's website is a bit behind the times and waited until today to announce full details.

Harry Beck and the London Tube Map was due to run until May, but will probably now be the last exhibition the museum ever hosts. Barnet Council have budget cuts to make, and their eyes are very much on Church Farmhouse Museum. It costs £130,000 a year to run but attracts only 8000 visitors, which isn't seen as cost-effective by Brian Coleman and his slashing councillors. They argue that scarce funds needs to go to frontline services rather than optional heritage, and will be proposing closure at an Executive meeting on February 14th. Unless some Big Society miracle takes place soon, Church Farmhouse is expected to close at the end of March with the building taken over by commercial interests. No risk of a residential future, I'm told, because the farmhouse is Grade 2 listed and has an internal preservation order. But expect the collection to be split up, the premises vacated, and years of careful conservation reversed.

Most of Barnet's residents probably don't care - they never visit the museum anyway so won't notice it's gone. They'd rather have lower taxes and more money to spend on DVDs and Sky subscriptions, because that's what culture means to them nowadays. But two thousand borough residents care enough to have attended a rally yesterday at the artsdepot, protesting against the senselessness of Barnet's Easyjet-level cuts. Over a thousand people have also added their names to a petition attempting to save the museum from closure, which is here if you'd like to add your name too. It's a damned shame when the public purse can no longer support cultural facilities that can't support themselves, but I guess that's the way our political landscape is heading. We're entering an era of one-way heritage vandalism, and this delightful old cottage is one of the first into the firing line.

Having missed the Harry Beck exhibition by a day, I'll definitely be back to visit Church Farmhouse Museum again. I'm hoping that'll be in April, but I fear it'll have to be March. Do come along soon, and make your voice heard before it's too late.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Wed 19th - Sun 23rd October
Bloomsbury Festival
It's free to visit the Foundling Museum this weekend.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards