History on Stilts
A striking black and white building standing on stilts in the middle of the pavement is a well-known feature of the busy High Street in the market town of Royal Wootton Bassett.
Supported by 15 stone pillars, the half-timbered town hall has stood watching over the main road which travels through the small Wiltshire town since around 1690. Having been previously used as a courtroom, a council meeting place, library and a school in the past, it is now a museum crammed with fascinating exhibits of local history.
A steep wooden staircase draws you up into the top of the building through two pillars from the street below. The door above is open, ushering you into a surprisingly light space furnished with white walls, leaded windows, timber floors and a high beamed ceiling. Volunteers from the Museum and Heritage Group welcome you as they arrive, happy to talk you through the many exhibits on show.
The vast collection of photographs, along with slide shows, depicts how the town has changed over hundreds of years. You can also get up close to a suit of armour, costumes from town criers past and present, a 17th Century ducking stool, swords, guns and cannon balls, relics from the brewery which used to operate nearby, numerous fossils and even a bone dating back to the age of the dinosaurs.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum also organises regular special displays like the current one which marks 50 years since the closure of the railway station in the town. A wonderful hand built model brings the station as it looked in 1965 to life in miniature. Another display alongside shows models of the different rolling stock which regularly travelled through on the Great Western Railway line.
If you've seen the first tour
we produced for the Museum last year you could have taken a virtual walk around their previous exhibition of WWI memorabilia, complete with an impressive life-size reproduction of a trench.
Entry to the museum is free to visitors during opening times every Wednesday and Saturday from 10am to 12 noon. Find it in the High Street, Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire SN4 7AU. For more information contact the Chair of the Museum and Heritage Group via the Town Council on 01793 850222.
Date: 11 September 2015
Author: The 360 Company