Tuesday, 19 July 2011


Sunday was eagerly awaited in our neck of the woods as our local working farm museum (which was closed in 2009 due to council budget cuts) was due to re-open under a new charitable trust.

Cogges Manor Farm was opened to the public in 1974 as a working museum, a Victorian farm with livestock, a manor house and lots of demonstrations, from cooking to milking to steam threshing days.
It had been popular as a local venue for families and school excursions, so when it was announced that it was to be moth-balled, it really felt like such a waste.  I remember going in my youth and then loved taking my kids there too, it was a familiar place for them, their Grandparents lived just down the road and used to take them almost weekly in the summer, so just being able to go back in was like greeting an old friend.

These pictures make it look a bit quiet but actually it was fuller than I'd seen it for a long time which was really great to see.
All the barns were open and the main purpose of the opening was to publicise the fact that it would not be running as a farm to begin with but as a local venue for a farmers market and a brand new cafe with good food.

There was a lovely mix of food sellers, from bread to veg, to sushi to cheeses (full list on the Cogges website)

Some of the open barns (where they used to display old farming equipment) had been changed to be a lovely area for kids play, with art and craft tables

a beautiful mock playroom and even a mud pie making kitchen!

The Manor house was open (not the upper rooms sadly) and the popular kitchen was full of people, warmth and cooked biscuit aroma!

The old dairy, which is so cool and dark, is filled with all the original butter & cheese making equipment, I'm almost tempted to have a go at butter making.  The girls could relate to this as we've recently read the 'Willow Farm' series by Enid Blyton which describes most of the process involved and how the children of the farm would help.

I was really pleased to see the kitchen garden has been brought back up to be carefully tended, as during the closed period it had been left to go wild.  One of the aims of the trust is to get school children in to learn about organic farming and the cycle of food from earth to table, so there is a little children's garden too.

I never get tired of looking at the house, the sun came out in bursts and it really brings the building alive.  There was a lovely atmosphere too, lots of local people keen to support and keep it open.

'The Real Food Cafe' 
This is a new enterprise to use the site in a different way, it's being run by the people behind Oxfordshire's Natural Bread Company and will be open Tues- Sun 10-5pm, offering good food and drinks.  I think they're also keen to have a few evening openings with guest chef's.

I think the day went really well and I hope it continues.  The website lists the opening times and season ticket charges.
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