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Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings

Bromsgrove, Worcestershire

Avoncroft is a 15 acre open-air industrial and architectural museum. It opened in 1967 and came about as a result of needing a new home for a 15th century timber framed building, the Merchants House, that was being dismantled nearby. It is now home to 25 of historic buildings covering seven centuries, which includes a:

Behind here is the Telephone Kiosk Exhibition

  • String of Horses Inn from Shrewsbury
  • 19th century buildings include the Toll Keeper’s House from Little Malvern, a ‘tin chapel’ from Herefordshire and a Victorian cell block
  • 20th century exhibits include an Edwardian living wagon made for a travelling showman and a 1940's Prefab showing how people lived after being re-housed following the Second World War.

Representing rural life there are a representation of farm buildings including a:

  • working 19th Century Windmill
  • Crushing mill for making Worcestershire cider and perry
  • 17th century cock pit
  • 16th Century cruck barn from Cholestrey in Warwickshire

All the buildings are made of all types of materials from timber, brick, corrugated iron, steel, asbestos, concrete and fibreglass.

As well as it's buildings it is also home to The National Telephone Kiosk Collection which explores the development of the telephone kiosk both in terms of social and material history. There are many displays covering this history including:

  • A 1950's standard building which houses a Unit Automatic Exchange, the building was originally a working exchange. These buildings came in different sizes and materials chosen to fit the location and budget of the time, the one on display here is made of wood. The Exchange Units also came in different sizes according the number of telephone users to be served, this example housed in this wooden building is a UAX-13 which could service a maximum of 800 connections.
  • Police Call Pillars or Emergency Pillars and Police Boxes these were used to allow both policemen out on the beat and members of the public to be able to have a direct contact with the local police station. They first appeared on UK streets in the late 1920's and continued to be in use until the 1960's. There are a number of designs on display including the blue box where Dr Who took his Tardis model from, this was originally located in Glasgow and made of concrete with small windows and was designed to be used as a temporary holding cell, with the phone being accessible on the outside for both the police and public to use.
  • Telephone Kiosks - what we know as public phone boxes. There have been many designs and styles throughout the period and here is home to more types of British phone boxes than anywhere elses in the world. All the major models as well as some less well known. Some examples include the 'Vermillin Giant' this was a large red phone box combined with stamp machines and a letter box, giving a 24 hour post office, or the 'flat pack' kiosk which was used at fairs and exhibitions . However at Avoncroft they haven't only preserved the physical structure but the interiors too and visitors can make and receive calls from most of the boxes on display.

As well as all this it also has a number of activities and events taking place during the summer months including; craft demonstrations from the wood turner, re-enactments explaining the domestic, working, social and religious lives of the past, historic battles, guided tours, olde music and historic games.

On a visit you will get to see

The layout of the site is such that you can do it in a clockwise or anti clockwise direction and still get in all the buildings, and which direction you choose may be determined by the time of day of your visit from a photography viewpoint as in most cases you will want the sun behind you and not the building. You not only get to see the outside of all the buildings which are laid out in a style that makes it easy to photograph them, but also for many you also get to walk inside or in one or two cases even walk through.

Our tour will take you clockwise. From the car park and on entering the site you will come across a row of shops on your left and behind this is the Telephone Kiosk exhibition. Within phone box area it may be difficult to photograph some of the boxes due to the number on display and therefore their closeness together. There are some other buildings you will pass on route that are not detailed here, so don't forget to take a look. So continuing our walk will now take you to the following buildings:-

Opposite is the small 19th century Octagonal Counting House from Bromsgrove Cattle market. Unlike the other buildings which were dismantled and then reconstructed onsite, this one was only two miles away and was transported in one whole piece.

The Victorian Mission Church - from Bringsty Common Herefordshire. Originally built in 1891. In its current position it is consecrated and hosts services and wedding blessings throughout the year.

The Earth Closet (outdoor lav) from the 18th Century and originally in the garden of Townsend House on the outskirts of Leominster.

Danzey Green Windmill, original 19th Century mill

On the left is a pond and opposite is the 16th century Cruck framed barn from Cholstrey Court Farm, near Leominster, Herefordshire. There is also a Granary building nearby. From this area take the path on the left and take a stroll down to see Danzey Green Windmill, the original 19th Century mill, moved here in 1969. It is still a working windmill and on some days you can go inside and take a look. Back up to the main area and the next building is

The Perry Mill a two storey brick building originally constructed between 1790 and 1810 from Redditch, used to make Worcestershire Cider and Perry.

An 18th century wooden Wagon Shed from Hanbury Worcestershire

The Chain Shop from Colley Gate, Cradley Heath.

A Nail Shop from Sidemoor in Bromsgrove - nail making once employed 9000 people in the Bromsgrove area.

Next is the Wood Turners Workshop - where you may see the resident wood turner displaying the skills of his craft.

16th Century Tudor Mansion

1940's Pre-Fab

The Tudor Merchants House built in 1558 by the Lylley family, was the first building to be reconstructed here.

The 1940's prefab shows the type of accommodation and living conditions of people in this area during World War II. This example was originally built in 1946 at Moat Lane, Yardley, Birmingham.

The Toll House, built in 1822 at Little Malvern, would be home to the toll keeper.

An ice house from around 1765 originally built at Tong Castle in Shropshire. The castle was demolished in 1954 when the M54 was built, but the Ice House was saved. From here go right and take a look at the Dovecote from Haselour Hall in Staffordshire. The original structure was built around 1600, although later was heightened and clad in brick. Now make your way back down to see the 17th century Cock Pit and continuing on around the site. Next is

The showmans wagon built for a travelling fairground showman and is typical of the large 'living carriages' built in the 19th century.

A Cell Block from Ledbury in Herefordshire which has 3 cells and each has its own ceramic flushing toilet.

Behind the cell block is the 18th century Forge Cottage from Wellington in Herefordshire, originally it was a house and working forge, now it houses the offices of the museum.

Prison Cell Block


Prison Cell Toilet

Just one building left back towards the entrance, and you will have seen this on your way in, is the Guesten Hall, a modern building with a timber roof from the 1330's. Originally built as the Guests Hall of Worcester Cathedral and now used for weddings and functions.

On their website there is a virtual tour of the site which allows you to see some of the positions of the buildings, which generally are on grass areas, although the pathways around the site are hardcore, even if a little uneven in places. Some of the buildings you enter may have individuals in them in costume of the period who will answer questions and tell you a little about what you can see. Also around there are information boards giving the little of the history of the buildings.

It is probably worth allowing 3-4 hours for your visit and is an interesting place from both finding out about the history of the buildings and people who used them as well as being able to see and photograph buildings of different time periods. Unlike some of the Open Air Museums this is not on a very big site, so many times you can see a number buildings in close proximity and for children or those with walking restrictions  it's ideal as there is not so much walking between exhibits.

The Dovecote

Further information Grid



Avoncroft, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire

Ceremonial County: Worcestershire

Grid Reference:


Map Link:


Aerial photo: Google Aerial Photo



Best Times to Visit:

on a dry day





Other useful websites:

Connected Earth - for telephone boxes


Nearby Locations:  
Other Relevant pages:

Living History Section

List of Living History Museums

Living history museums introduction


Living History

Date Updated: 07/2008


Planning Grid


Avoncroft, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire

Grid Reference:


Getting there:

located 2 miles south of Bromsgrove off the A38 bypass, and is signposted from Junctions 4 and 5 of the M5, and Junction 1 of the M42.




Free car park


Tea room, Museum Shop, Picnic Area

Things To Do, See and Photograph:

Buildings of different period throughout history.

What to take:


Nature highlights:



Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings

Stoke Heath




B60 4JR


01527 831363 or 01527 831886

Opening times:

Apr-Jun and Sep-Oct 10.30am-5pm Tues-Sun (closed Monday's unless a bank holiday).

July and August Daily 10.30am-5pm

Mar, Nov, Dec Fri-Sun only 1-.30am-4pm Closed 25-26th Dec.


Adults £6.60; Child + Students £3 (under 5's free); Seniors £5.50

Photo Restrictions:


Other Restrictions:  
Special Needs Access: Access around Avoncroft site is generally good, however owing to the nature and construction of some of the historic buildings, access is restricted to some of them. 
Special Needs Facilities: Toilets and wheelchair loan
Children Facilities:  
Dogs Allowed:  

CIN Page Ref:


Date Updated: 07/2008

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