Life over the centuries to be celebrated at autumn show

Robert Sampson and his Percheron horses ploughing at the Weald & Downland Autumn Countryside Show SUS-150710-110758001
Robert Sampson and his Percheron horses ploughing at the Weald & Downland Autumn Countryside Show SUS-150710-110758001

The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum holds its annual Autumn Countryside Show this coming weekend. The show celebrates autumn, harvest and life in the countryside.

The rhythm of the changing seasons is something which never fails to excite me. We have been blessed with a beautiful autumn so far this year.

Trees have been transformed by the contrasting shades of leaves before they fall, and the particular autumn light has lifted our spirits. In our churches Harvest Festivals are celebrating, and giving thanks for, the abundance of the land and the work and stewardship of our farmers.

This work has been tended to by countless generations. This weekend the Weald & Downland Museum will be celebrating how work, traditions and life in the countryside has changed over the centuries.

This wonderful event is alive with heavy horses and vintage tractors ploughing as they prepare the land for sowing after the harvest.

After the harvest the grain needs to be separated from the straw, a process known as threshing.

Today combine harvesters do this job. But from the 19th century up until the Second World War threshing trains would have been a common sight on the lanes of Sussex and across the country.

These threshing trains comprised of a steam traction engine, a threshing drum, an elevator and a living van used by the engine driver and his mate.

They moved from farm to farm, threshing the harvested wheat crop during the autumn and winter months. The steam traction engine powered threshing machine demonstration at the Autumn Countryside Show is always remarkable and transports us back to an earlier age.

The Horticultural Show celebrates the fruits of the land with categories ranging from vegetables to marmalade! Alongside are rural craft demonstrations, cider pressing and the fun dog show.

It is 50 years since Roy Armstrong, the museum’s founder, first suggested the idea of an open air museum for the Weald. At this time many important and listed buildings were being destroyed to make way for redevelopment.

There was a sense of urgency to preserving the buildings vital to our understanding of our vernacular architecture and social history. Roy, a Storrington man like me, proposed a museum made up of these saved buildings with a village at its centre. The village was to be surrounded by open countryside with farmsteads, cottages and farm buildings, enabling the introduction of farming activities relating to them.

The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum today reflects most of Roy Armstrong’s hopes and aspirations. Its 40 acre site in the heart of the Sussex Downs to the north of Chichester provides the perfect setting to celebrate life in the country. This weekend’s Autumn Countryside Show will once again bring life to the museum in a way that its founder always intended.

The Autumn Countryside Show is being held at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, Singleton, near Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0E, on Saturday October 10 and Sunday 11, between 10.30am and 5pm.

For more information go to or telephone 01243 811348.

Tickets will be available to purchase on the gate and there is plenty of free parking.

Step back in time and treat yourself to the delights of autumn and the countryside!