“ Address: 2/3 Castle Street / Cambridge / Cambridgeshire / CB3 0AQ „
After three days of museum viewing in London, I chose to shun the bigger museums for a little visited folk museum at the edge of the city centre. Located ina 400 year old building that was formerly an inn, creaky and with a labryinth of rooms, it houses some of the most interesting artefacts I've seen to date. Items are related to both the pub and the city of Cambridge itself.
After being given a numbered peg, we left our bags at reception, where a jovial lady charged us an entrance fee of £3, a most worthwhile investment. The museum is seperated into different chambers with a range of themes, the first being the pub where a collection of breweriana is on show amongst a reconstruction of the bar area. Next up are mints, tobacco and kitchen items such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines that all come with interesting descriptions that bring the equipment to life. I found the sausage filling machine and menu particularly interesting. It's always nice to get a feel for pricing of a bygone age.
The museum is somewhat cramped and like a house viewing of a property that's undervalued, it's not suited to large crowds. We were there late in the afternoon and lonly one or two others were in. Despite its modest size, there's a lot to see and I recommend giving yourself at least 2 hours to look round.
Made up of three levels, the middle one was a tier I found rather special. A sports room featured a bandy stick and an interesting piece about the forerunner to Ice Hockey, its Fenland origins and how it was played on frozen dykes. There are also eel catching contrapments and a totally eccentric Surgeon's Bill which consists of such oddities as "Having your brain's removed and stuffed with an ass's stomach"
The part that touched me the most though were two poems, one about dinner time etiquette and another about one's outlook on life, entitled Grumble Corner or Thanksgiving Street. Tidbits of unique info are spread throughout the museum, like the custom of burying a horse's head and pouring beer over the gournd before building a house in order to bless it.
With detailed history of different eras and groups of people, there are displays with just the right amount of text and physical items. I really rate this extraordinary little museum.
Like most journeys these days, this one finishes in the gift shop, we'd reached the culmination of our trip back in time after closing hours and didn't have the chance to browse.