This Review was recently posted on Trip Advisor. It does seem to embody so much about why all the Volunteers give their time to this wonderful Museum.
Unique, uncorrupted ambience.
Many of the other reviews here focus on how varied this place is, or how much its volunteer staff seem to love it, or how it makes for a fantastic little family day out. All of that is absolutely true, but I’d like to write about it from a different perspective: The overall feel of visiting this place.
I’ve been to this museum several times over the last couple of years despite having seen most of the exhibits repeatedly. I always find something new, but that’s not why I keep going back. I keep going back because it is absolutely the most pure-hearted and wonderful attraction I’ve ever been to.
The museum is staffed wholly by volunteers, and this means there’s no profit incentive. It has a blanket approach to chronicling the area’s history that means that ANYTHING, no matter how niche, no matter what walk of life it pertains to, is relevant as long as it was donated. Everything from old farm machinery and ancient cobblers’ shops and pharmacies that were donated wholesale, to collections of old lawnmowers, to cases of forgotten taxidermy packed in with the Victorian school life and World War 2 exhibits. Every single item here was important to someone, and every single one tells its own story. Sometimes you’ll get a few well-loved laminated sheets to give you the history, at other times, you’ll find yourself wondering and postulating, dreaming of what the personal history behind the item might be. Nothing feels quite as gleeful as uncovering a little corner in the museum that other visitors might miss, and seeing what it has to offer.
If I sound disparaging, it is only because these are things that people may point out when they’re TRYING to be disparaging about something simple and wholesome. This kind of thing is my lifeblood and frankly it gives me hope for the future of the human race, to witness a community that cares so deeply about its history and way of life that it has built, staffed, stocked and maintained this wonderful museum.
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys the same things I do, take my advice – go on an unremarkable afternoon when nothing special is going on. I’d recommend Thursday afternoons as most people are working/at school, yet the museum is open – but unfortunately, this means you’ll miss the incredible walled garden nearby, since it only opens on weekends. I’ve been at “dead times” and it’s one of the most wonderful, healing and fascinating experiences I’ve ever had. Take your time, get there right as it opens – it’s only open for 3 hours and you’ll need all of them if you’re to investigate every nook and cranny!
I recommend beginning by having a cup of tea and some (INCREDIBLE) cake in the lovely tea room on-site, and enjoying the little general shop built into the dining room. Then, if I were you, I’d hurry off to the Walled Garden straight away while the volunteers are still there, and buy some of their vegetables and preserves for later. Checking out the museum itself, exhibit by exhibit, as the afternoon winds down is a deeply relaxing and comfortable experience, and you’re bound to be in a receptive and spellbound mood. Don’t forget to check out the little second hand bookshop before you leave! I’ve found several gems in there.
All in all, I can honestly say that I prefer Ramsey Rural Museum to many of the country’s big-name tourist attractions, probably even all of them. If every community had a place like this in it, I think us English would feel much more in touch with our wonderful heritage and history, and more inspired to be part of our community and keep it alive. Hats off to all the volunteers and donors!
Posted recently by a visitor who lives in Sawtry.