In 1967 Avoncroft Museum was opened to the public following the rescue and reconstruction of a medieval Town House from Bromsgrove town centre.  Avoncroft’s priority is to retain historic buildings in their original location. Over five decades, Avoncroft Museum has continued to rescue structures where this had not been achievable. The Museum now displays and cares for over 30 historic buildings and structures.

All of Avoncroft’s buildings were threatened with demolition or neglect. In moving them to the Avoncroft Museum grounds, every effort has been made to retain as much of the original structure as possible.

Cottage and Forge

This late 18th-century cottage with its adjacent forge was originally on the main road between Leominster and Hereford. It was opposite the King’s Arms, an 18th-century coaching inn, so there was a regular demand for the blacksmith’s skill in repairing coaches and shoeing horses travelling the road. The forge would also have serviced the local farms and supplied the metalworking needs of the village.

Dovecote

Squab, the meat of young domestic pigeons, was an important food source in medieval England. Until the start of the 17th century, only lords of the manor were allowed to keep pigeons. The dovecote was probably built around this time as a home for pigeons or doves, which were a valuable source of mattress feathers, meat and manure.

Tollhouse

Avoncroft’s tollhouse is not only an exceptionally pretty building but also offers an insight into 19th-century transport policy and economics. It was originally built and owned by the Upton-upon-Severn Turnpike Trust. Turnpike trusts were established by Act of Parliament and were responsible for the upkeep of roads. To fund their work, they were allowed to charge road tolls, which were collected at tollgates. Trusts usually subcontracted this task to individuals who, in return for a yearly rent, were allowed to keep the tolls they collected. Most travellers hated the toll system as they saw little improvement in the quality of the roads and often suffered long waits at the gates.

Prefab

By the end of the Second World War, Britain faced a major housing shortage.  Over three million houses across the country had been either destroyed or damaged by bombing and new house building had ceased during the war.  The wartime Government had anticipated the problem and in 1944 announced a building programme of ‘emergency factory-made houses’. Following a design competition thirteen designs were selected for manufacture, and the Arcon Mk V, of which this is an example, was one of the most popular. Of the 156,623 prefabs built between 1945 and 1949 nearly 39,000 were Arcons. They were built at an average cost of £1,209 and were allocated to local councils most affected by bombing.

Medieval town house

This mid 15th-century town house was the first building in Avoncroft’s collection. It stood for 500 years at the corner of Station Street and Worcester Street (now Road), just a couple of miles from the Museum. Beneath centuries’ worth of alterations its dilapidated exterior hid a typical medieval ‘hall house’ with a central hall used by the whole household next to smaller private family rooms. It once had another bay, probably containing a buttery and pantry, whose location is now marked by sandstone blocks. The kitchen was probably located in a separate building to prevent fire.

Stable

This stable was built in the late 18th century to house working horses. It has a timber frame that takes the weight of the tiled roof and brick infill panels. The upper floor, reached by a ladder, was used to store hay, which was pushed down directly into the feeding racks at the back of each stall. Even though the stable is a simple construction with a utilitarian purpose, its builders took pride in its looks, and the curved braces on the back wall are notably handsome.

Windmill

Avoncroft’s much-loved windmill is a typical west midlands post mill: the entire upper structure, called the buck, pivots on a huge central post. This means that it can be turned around so that its sails always face into the wind and generate the maximum possible power. Each pair of sails has an18m-wide span and is attached to the windshaft. As this rotates it powers a giant cog wheel that turns the millstones inside the mill. The windshaft also powers a winding mechanism to help workers lift the bags of grain to the top of the mill (through trap doors) so they could feed it between the grinding stones to make flour.

Mission church

Known locally as the ‘Iron Church’ or ‘Tin Church’, this mission church was built at the side of the Worcester and Bromyard road in the parish of Whitbourne, Herefordshire, in 1891, at a cost of £70. It served the Anglican worshippers of the rural community of Bringsty Common, holding approximately 100 people. Purchased from the catalogue of JC Humphries, a London iron merchant and manufacturer, it is 12m long by 6m wide with a small vestry in the north-east corner. It has a softwood frame, clad internally with tongue and groove boarding and externally in corrugated iron. Such kit-form buildings were common at the time, and were shipped all over the British Empire.