Richard Jefferies was a Victorian nature writer with a passion for the English countryside and the richness that he saw all around him.
His 1879 book Wild Life in a Southern County is given as the earliest example in the Oxford English Dictionary of the phrase being used in a nature context. Jefferies was born at the house which is now the museum, in Coate, Swindon, on the 6th November 1848, and died at the tragically early age of 38 on 14th August 1887.
Noted for his depiction of English rural life in essays, books of natural history, and novels, his childhood at Coate had a great influence on him and provides the background to all his major works of fiction.
The museum consists of a seventeenth century thatched cottage bought by the Jefferies family in 1800, a later, nineteenth century three-storied farmhouse, plus outbuildings, gardens, a copse, orchard and vegetable gardens. The site is run by the Richard Jefferies Museum Trust and is fully accredited by Arts Council England.
Inside, there is an extensive collection of items relating to Jefferies, mostly on loan from the Richard Jefferies Society. For example, there are first editions of many of Richard Jefferies' writings, the manuscript of Wood Magic and photographs, paintings and memorabilia.
Much of the house has been restored to create the atmosphere of a mid to late 19th Century farmhouse, complete with four-poster bed, a diorama of Jefferies as a young boy reading on his bed, and even a cheese room. Many of the exhibits give fascinating insights into bygone times.
Occasionally, they bridge different layers of Swindon's rich history; for example, a plaque placed on Liddington Hill in 1938 (with the support of the then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain) was later reputedly shot at by US troops in advance of their push into Nazi-occupied France during World War II.
The museum hosts regular events including live music and arts and crafts.
Richard Jefferies Museum
Marlborough Road, Coate, Swindon SN3 6AA
Tel: 01793 979224 / email@example.com
See Richard Jefferies Museum website
10:30 - 12:30 Tuesdays and Thursdays
10:00 - 16:00 Second Wednesday of each month
13:00 - 17:00 Every Sunday (from beginning of May to end of September)