The Victorian-era writer, Richard Jefferies, lived in a thatched cottage on a farm in what is now the outskirts of Swindon. The writer’s former home is now open as a museum.
Richard Jefferies (1848–1887) was a prolific writer whose oeuvre covered genres as diverse as children’s books, essays and novels. His most well-known works include the two Bevis children’s books, Wood Magic: A Fable (1881) and Bevis (1882) plus The Story of My Heart (1883), an autobiography and After London (1885), an early example of post-apocalyptic science fiction.
What to see at the Richard Jefferies Museum
The museum is housed in the 17th-century thatched-roof cottage where Richard Jefferies was born and grew up.
Inside the house, there is an exhibition about Richard Jefferies and the rooms in the house have been restored to show what it would have been like to live here during the mid to the late 19th century when Jefferies lived in the house.
For those without an interest in Jefferies’ works, the house is still an interesting place to visit, if only to see inside the refurbished home and the Victorian-era farm buildings.
It is located adjacent to Coate Water Country Park, a lovely park set around Coate Water, a large reservoir that the New Sea in the Bevis books was based upon. The park is very popular with Swindonians and it has its own miniature railway and it is even possible to visit the museum by train.
Visiting the Richard Jefferies Museum
The Richard Jefferies Museum is located on the eastern outskirts of Swindon close to the Holiday Inn hotel. It is 3.6km (2½ miles) from the town centre, which is a 50-minute walk or a 10-minute bus ride away. If you’re driving you can park at Coate Water Park.
There is no charge to visit the museum although it has limited opening hours. It is open every Tuesday, Thursday and the second Wednesday of each month plus Sundays between May and September.
It is set up as a Victorian-era farm and farmhouse and as such is not particularly wheelchair accessible.
There is an on-site cafe/tea room that serves cream teas using jam made from the Mulberry tree in the garden. There is also a nice pub next door (the Sun Inn) that is a lovely spot for a drink or two.