A civil servant by day who has a passion for exploring what Great Britain has to offer in my spare time.
Published October 27th 2017
Explore a bygone age at Burwell Museum and Windmill
Quite large as villages go but with a modest feel at the same time, Burwell is situated deep in Cambridgeshire. To the south of the village is Devils Dyke, a manmade bank which forms part of the historic Icknield Way. Burwell has had its fair share of expansion and decline over the centuries. Most fortunately, the story of the village is told in the excellent Burwell Museum, complete with a working windmill!
The historic buildings have been carefully restored and these now house the many artefacts, virtually all connected to Burwell and the surrounding area.
The rural history of the area features prominently in the exhibits. These range from small agricultural tools to large carts that would have transported crops and people in the days of horse-drawn vehicles. The large 18th-century timber barn houses a number of historic domestic layouts. A blacksmith's forge has also been recreated.
Interior of 18th century barn housing domestic layouts
One of my favourite buildings houses exhibits showcasing Burwell's transport history. Burwell is somewhat unusual for a rural village in the extent of this industry, which was once served by a railway line (closed in the 1960s) and also had its own bus company, Burwell & District. Exhibits include a 1960s coach from Burwell & District, an Austin Seven car and a butcher's van which was used for local deliveries.
Burwell's transport history has its own building at Burwell Museum complete with fabulous vintage vehicles.
What I like about the museum is that it is very easy to wander around the modest site and the exhibits are nicely laid out. This is all blended nicely with audio clips of local residents recalling their memories of life in Burwell.
A visit is not complete without a tour of the windmill (known as Stevens' Mill). Dating from 1820, the restored mill is still regularly used for grinding flour on some open days. Be warned though; with the exception of a couple of handrails, you get up and down the floors of the windmill in the same way our ancestors did using wooden ladders!
You are sure to receive a warm welcome from the staff, most being volunteers and some have lived in the local area all their lives and they have their own stories to tell about the area.
The museum has a café, where you can purchase refreshments, and a shop selling souvenirs.
The museum is open on Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays from Easter – October (11am-5pm). If coming by car, park at the Gardiner Memorial Hall on the High Street and follow the signs from the back of the hall to the museum (it's about a 200-metre walk). With the exception of Disabled parking, please do not park in Mill close. If coming by public transport, Burwell is served by a regular bus service (service number 10) but this only runs Monday - Saturday.