South-west England - folk life museums & social history exhibits

Ideas for visits to cottages or farmhouses - restored or preserved - exploring rural life, domestic life in towns and cities, as lived in the recent or more distant past - living history experiences

Stone walls, small multi-pane windows, uneven slate roof Visit museums or ordinary homes from previous centuries. Visit houses, settlements, farm and urban heritage exhibits telling the story of working people's daily lives in town or country. Take a look at domestic life, everyday objects, traditional crafts, old cottages, preserved villages, old-fashioned farms etc. OldandInteresting hopes these suggestions will help people find good days out, and plan holidays. Enjoy!
In this part of the country you can see inside several small and middling medieval or Tudor homes. At Tintagel in Cornwall the charming old post office is a 600-year-old longhouse with Victorian furnishings. The region has a good choice of smallish local museums, and bigger ones too, where you can see rooms recreated to imitate the past, and/or collections of old domestic items from candle holders to cradles. Check out traditional homes and hearths throughout the south west - you could take a ferry to see a traditional Scilly Isles kitchen. In Bristol the Blaise Castle Museum shows what urban home life used to be like - don't miss its collection of baths.

South-west England

Cornwall, Isles of Scilly


Somerset, Bristol



Gloucestershire museums are on the Midlands page.

Please check opening times - especially of smaller or volunteer-run places.

UK folk museums, domestic life and social history exhibits, ordinary homes in the past - introduction

Please send an email if you want to suggest an addition to this list of museums and other exhibits about "ordinary" or "folk" or "everyday" ways of life in the past. So far we're trying to cover Britain and then Ireland, but suggestions for a future USA list are also very welcome. Even though grand castles and stately homes are fascinating too, sometimes with interesting kitchens, laundry rooms etc., they aren't listed here, and nor are industrial heritage exhibits all about manufacturing and technology, without workers' cottages. These pages emphasise ordinary domestic life, our ancestors' everyday objects, traditional crafts, living history, old cottages, preserved villages, old-fashioned farms etc.

Copyright - Information is free, but lists are not! This is the legal position in the UK, and in the USA and many other countries too for "creative" lists like this. As you will appreciate, it takes time, effort, and knowledge to assemble this kind of directory. OldandInteresting has reserved all rights in this work. If you think your readers would be interested, please just link and don't copy.

You may like our new sister site Home Things Past where you'll find articles about antiques, vintage kitchen stuff, crafts, and other things to do with home life in the past. There's space for comments and discussion too. Please do take a look and add your thoughts.  (Comments don't appear instantly.)

For sources please refer to the books page, and/or the excerpts quoted on the pages of this website, and note that many links lead to museum sites. Feel free to ask if you're looking for a specific reference - feedback is always welcome anyway. Unfortunately, it's not possible to help you with queries about prices or valuation.