For those unfamiliar with the concept it's exactly what it sounds like: a village made from models, although the word village may be a little misleading. Bekonscot Model Village may have started out as a teeny tiny village in somebody's back garden in 1929 but it has grown and expanded in the intervening decades, much like a real town.
Bekonscot eschews the modern world, with everything having a distinctly 1930s feel to it. Everything from the rows of shops along the high streets you'll loom over to the dozens of miniature steam trains that shoot around on their network of tracks, ferrying little people about on their daily (imaginary) business, is modelled on a world that has been lost to history.
Those high streets you see double up as pathways for us giants. Kids will enjoy wading around such a wonderfully realised environment while adults will be kept happy with amusing touches such as pun-tastic shop names (Ivan Huven the baker, U.R.A. Peach the greengrocer, and Evan Leigh Soles the shoe shop to name a few) and the row of knotted blankets dangling from the upper window of the town jail.
Bekonscot is so much more than just a scaled down high street. It boasts a pier, a windmill, a coal mine, an airport, a maze, a horse racing track, a funfair, a canal, a zoo, two castles and plenty more. There are dozens of wonderfully crafted little models hidden away in the site's two acres. If you look hard enough you can even spot Noddy out for a drive in his car!
My personal highlight of Bekonscot has always been the train system. Seeing the hand painted residents in their various poses is all well and good but there's nothing like seeing a steam engine clattering around the back of a row of houses or across a bridge to really bring a place to life.
Something else that gives Bekonscot a magical sense of being lived in is the different look of each of its small towns. Towards the beginning of your journey you'll pass through Bekonscot Town, a market district, and by the time you end your visit you'll have passed through the port of Southpool, the quaint town of Splashyng, and the slate grey mining village of Epwood.
With such a rich history and variety of models it's no wonder that Bekonscot has proven to be an inspiration for many. It is believed to have given Mary Norton the idea for The Borrowers and was the setting for the short story The Enchanted Village by Enid Blyton. Novelist Will Self has set a short story there too, and used snapshots of the creations for his book covers. Bekonscot has also inspired many similar model villages across the globe, though it remains the original and best.
Halfway around the pathway you'll find a café and grass area to sit and enjoy some food (picnics are welcome), with a play area nearby to let the kids run off steam. should you want to take home a souvenir, there's a shop on the way out where you can buy a variety of knickknacks including puzzles and Thomas the Tank Engine toys. Your ticket will entitle you to as many trips around the village as your feet can withstand, making this magical, miniature slice of English history tremendous value for money.