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Reclaiming the Wheelwright’s Workshop

We've reopened the wheelwright's workshop at Mary Arden's Farm.

Samantha Gull
Wheelwright's Workshop

Did you know that Mary Arden's Farm was once open to the public as an agricultural museum? At that time, the wheelwright’s workshop housed a display of late nineteenth-early twentieth century tools used by wheelwrights (craftsmen of wooden wheels) and coopers (dealing in barrels and casks). 

When the site underwent its makeover to become the working Tudor farm that we know today, many of the items on display in the workshop did not fit the historical period, so it was temporarily closed while the tools remained in situ. 

Wheelwright's Workshop
The workshop, before cleaning began

This winter we have worked to clear the space and to recreate the display so the wheelwright workshop can be opened again to visitors.

We began by first disposing of anything that was unrelated to the display.  A variety of random objects were unearthed, including a set of replica stocks, broken tent pegs and a 1956 one shilling coin.  Once these were removed it was easier to assess the condition of the workshop. 

A thick layer of dirt and cobwebs had accumulated, so each tool was systematically removed while the building itself had a thorough clean.  The tools were then individually inspected for wear and tear, dusted, and replaced back on display. 

Wheelwright's Workshop
Many of the tools had not been touched for years

We will be introducing more interpretation into the workshop throughout the year, exploring how the craft of the wheelwright has changed since the Tudor period and investigating some of our ‘mystery’ objects.  Do come and visit the wheelwright’s during the season to see how our work is progressing.