Visiting Stevenage Museum with kids

Visiting Stevenage Museum with kids

If you’re a fan of Brutalist architecture, it’s worth visiting Stevenage Museum for its location alone, set beneath the 1960s St Andrew and St George Church, which features an unusual concrete bell tower.

St Andrew and St George church bell tower

St Andrew and St George church bell tower

Stevenage Museum is a great place to visit with children in the school holidays. It’s free and the exhibits are easy to follow and fun for children of all ages. My children were 6 and 3 when we visited, we stayed for nearly 2 hours.

The Stevenage tiger who came to tea

The tiger who came to tea at Stevenage Museum

On arrival we were given a little shopping basket on wheels containing a toy tiger and the Tiger Who Came to Tea storybook by Judith Kerr. The museum features a 1950s kitchen where children can role play feeding the tiger buns and sandwiches, there’s even a teapot to pour into his mouth.

As well as tiger antics, there are several trails around the museum to engage young children. Although there’s a comprehensive audio trail (via buttons next to the exhibits), we opted for the “mobile museum” trail which involved finding items which have become obsolete since mobile phones took over the world. It’s slightly disconcerting to find objects from one’s childhood resigned to a museum (this keeps happening) but it was educational nonetheless.

The museum covers quite a breadth of topics from the town’s Stone Age origins to its current guise as a New Town. There are artefacts reflecting the Roman settlement discovered in Stevenage and plenty of objects from more recent domestic settings which have been donated to the museum including a washboard and plunger for laundry, a dolls house and an old fashioned television.

Stone Age exhibit at Stevenage Museum

Learning about the Stone Age at Stevenage Museum

Throughout the museum, there are plenty of hands on experiences and interactive exhibits as well as more opportunities for role playing. I spent quite a bit of time being interrogated in a Victorian courthouse witness box but made up for it by putting my son in some stocks.

The sinister man trap at Stevenage Museum

The sinister man trap at Stevenage Museum

Continuing down the crime and punishment route, we discovered a rather terrifying “man trap” which would break a poacher’s leg if stepped on. These were made illegal in 1827 but took some 50 years to be properly phased out…

The Stevenage-built Vincent motorcycle

The Stevenage-built Vincent motorcycle

Many of the themes in the museum have a hat associated with them. We tried on a Roman centurion helmet, an air raid warden tin hat, and a motorcycle helmet which went with a Stevenage-built Vincent motorcycle.

The Great North Road from London to Scotland passed through Stevenage so there is an interesting section on stage coaches and highwaymen to explore, including a highwayman’s hat to try on.

Highwayman history at Stevenage Museum

Highwayman history at Stevenage Museum

We all enjoyed donning headphones and listening to “chart toppers” which included such eminent artists as Elvis Presley and er, the Spice Girls. There were various dance outfits to don such as a 60s disco frock.

I’m always impressed by our country’s local museums and Stevenage Museum is no exception. The new town of Stevenage may not win any awards for its charm or character (although it is slowly being revamped), but its history is rich and well worth exploring with kids if you live close by.

CulturedKids
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24 Comments

  1. pigeonpairandme
    01/08/2018 / 2:52 pm

    I love it. A Jackie Annual, in a museum! We are getting older….. This looks like a nice bite-sized, fun museum. Even the terrifying man trap looks worth seeing. Thanks for linkin up with #CulturedKids

    • 01/08/2018 / 8:05 pm

      I was impressed by how many exhibits they had that appealed to children. Even my three year old remained engaged for most of the time!

  2. 01/08/2018 / 8:50 pm

    Oh my! My grandmother has a kitchen unit like that blue one and I think between us Mr CW and I have the Blue Peter and Jackie annuals. Love the concrete bell tower too. Thank you for linking up to #CulturedKids

    • 01/08/2018 / 8:57 pm

      The museum really does cover the complete history of human life up until yesterday it seems!

  3. I got so excited when I saw this – Stevenage is where I grew up! 😀 I have very fond memories of this museum, used to visit a lot as a kid, and even back then it was well known for being great for kids and having a lot of interaction. I love that they’ve kept this going!

    It’s probably not there anymore, but there used to be an old glass bottle collection there – some of which were given in by my grandad! Aww thanks for the lovely nostalgia trip! #citytripping

    • 01/10/2018 / 8:16 am

      I’ll have a look for the glass bottles next time we visit!

  4. 01/10/2018 / 10:24 am

    This looks like such a great find for a day out with kids – my daughter loves a museum where you can dress up, and there’s so much to get hands on with. It is very disconcerting to see perfectly normal everyday items (well, I think they are!) consigned to history as museum exhibits though. I remember my daughter’s face when I tried to explain vinyl to her… Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • 01/10/2018 / 10:37 am

      Yes, I’m sure history is speeding up!

  5. 01/11/2018 / 8:03 pm

    I’m from Stevenage! I grew up going to that museum! I take the kids there fairly frequently too! So excited to find another blogger writing about it – I think it;s everything a local museum should be. It’s really very good, and so pleased your kids think so too! Hurrah!

    • 01/11/2018 / 8:20 pm

      You’re the second Stevenage-bred travel blogger to comment on this! I’m singing it’s praises to everyone at the moment, I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was for the kids, definitely the best one in our area. I’m looking forward to taking them back.

  6. 01/30/2018 / 2:25 pm

    It is so important to expose children to museums early on. Not only the cultural and educational benefit they learn how to conduct themselves. It looks like a fun time was had! #explorerkids

    • 01/30/2018 / 3:41 pm

      Yes, it’s a really great place and I agree, it’s good to start the young!

  7. rawsonjl
    01/30/2018 / 9:03 pm

    Two hours of fun for free sounds like such a wonderful parenting win! Looks like they had a really fun time checking everything out. #ExplorerKids

    • 01/30/2018 / 9:19 pm

      It’s a really great place, I can’t wait to go back.

  8. 01/31/2018 / 6:23 pm

    Lovely! I really like museums, especially ones with some hands-on stuff. This place looks great! x
    #BloggerClubUK

    • 01/31/2018 / 6:27 pm

      I was really impressed by it. I’m looking forward to exploring more local museums over half term.

  9. 02/01/2018 / 1:06 pm

    Gotta love a free museum. We have a tiny museum in our town – it literally looks like it could be a house. Sarah #ExplorerKids

    • 02/01/2018 / 1:10 pm

      Have you been in it?! There’s a really tiny one in a neighbouring village to us which I keep meaning to visit but finding a time when it’s open and we’re not busy is really tricky!

  10. 02/01/2018 / 1:43 pm

    That definitely sounds like the kind of museum I would enjoy, and my kids as well! #ExplorerKids

    • 02/01/2018 / 1:45 pm

      I’m so glad we discovered it, my kids are keen to return!

  11. 02/03/2018 / 6:24 pm

    Oh Wow! I didn’t know there was a museum in Stevenage New Town. The “man trap” sound really scary! I can’t believe anyone would invented such a horrendous thing! Anyway, nice to know that its there. I shall be paying a visit soon!

    Thank you very much for linking up with us on #ExplorerKids x

    • 02/03/2018 / 6:26 pm

      It’s a perfect winter school hols destination!

    • 02/05/2018 / 12:16 pm

      It really is very well done, I think it could become a regular haunt for us!

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