On a sunny day in August Questers’ 9 had an informative and enjoyable day at Little Woodham. Situated not far from Alver Valley Country Park this 17th century living history village is situated within the parish of Rowner. An unlikely place to find such a gem it is approached through a modern housing estate which ends in a mainly oak wooded area where the village containing many cottages has been established for 30 years. Run by volunteers who are skilled at ancient crafts this educational experience is attractive for adults and children alike and has been used as a film location and backdrop to documentaries and dramas.

The volunteers who are dressed in replicas of clothing that would have been worn in the mid-1600s also speak with an accent and dialect that is thought to have been true to Hampshire at the time. On the day we visited we met the ale housekeeper busy at her oven making traditional dishes, a button maker, the blacksmith working in his forge, a lady making lace and others weaving and spinning as well as operating a weaving loom, a cottage ‘industry ‘prior to the Industrial Revolution. The pedlar was particularly interesting with his tray of miscellaneous wares including a bone tool for clearing earwax, oak galls for making ink and hand produced soaps. He had a lot of tales to tell including witches! There are many more skilled people to see including a wood turner and wheelwright depending on the availability of the volunteers. We spent some time with the potter a Merlin look alike wearing a wizard’s hat who told us all about the brick and tile kiln he had made to the oldest known specification from a kiln discovered by archaeologists. He makes pots from Michelmersh clay stacking them on top of each other and slowly bringing the kiln to the correct heat with a long cooling period to prevent the pots from smashing.

The village and houses are accessible for wheelchair users and dogs are welcome on leads. Look at their website for more details, photographs and opening times.

Norma Goodwin