“ Address: Church Lane / Witney / Oxford / Oxfordshire / England „
Cogges opens to the public on March 23rd 2013, for another season.
Address: Manor Farm, Church Lane, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 3LA, United Kingdom
We're on a cusp of longer daylight hours; a mood shift beckons, of the lighter kind, for those who're jostling around pre sun-rise, will find a brighter start in the next week or so. Early morning hazes doth create a glow on the Cotswold stone, radiating a stone shimmer that demands your eye's attention. Cogges Manor Farm has that attraction; it is as if the Cogges volunteers and staff had brushed tirelessly on each sandy stone brick overnight, to aid the mottled yoke, sandy aesthetics that sinks into the stones crevices, this is ultimately characteristic of rural Cotswold stone - a scene that Peter Bowles from; 'To the Manor Born' would be at home in - the place is extemporary British. Cogges is better suited to the term 'Farm' than a conventional museum, for the last couple of years the label of 'museum' has waned, not duly due to the lack of archaic artifacts and contraptions in farm labouring, as they're show-pieces in their own right; but as a brand Cogges needs to function independently as a charity organization; 'The Cogges Heritage Trust' Charity No: 1141906. An award for being released by Oxfordshire County Council clutches. Charitable status in the scheme of things this epoch nevertheless is a bold move but a very worthwhile one. The first three years is imperative for the farm's survival - although now the charitable venture at least can map out it's pathway to secure its future. As far as I've witnessed, the local community is a testament to a viable business - from teaching youngsters the wonders of Victorian and today self sufficiency and animal produce; to engaging in seeing at first-hand the inner workings of a farm, and that in itself is a unique selling point - usually such voyeuristic experiences tend to be from a farm series on TV, or a 'Farmville' app.
Stroking is done at a minimum of several minutes at a time and under supervision of watchful staff and volunteers, having just had a bacon, lettuce, and tomato baguette I got a worried stare from a black pig, she slowly ambling around how my Aunt stiffly maneuvered to change a TV channel, pre-remote control time - a result of a long hiatus of non-activity. The warm stench concoction of feces, fresh hay and pig's swill of semi-liquidized translucent vegetables and seedless apples was apparent. There is something familiarly comforting about experiencing a pig's life up-close and personal, a nostalgic nudge from my days in Hastings being camped up next to a farm - when I had breakfast in bed and whilst staring at tomorrows outside. Cogges did however have a Shetland Pony, a well nourished brown one, and the mane was groomed as if Beyoncé and I called out, "Halo!" on prompt it walked over to me and my adopted Niece thinking I had brought gifts - I'm not big on petting long-noses, especially when I'm in the knowledge of anything of a dark brown substance sun-baked on, as if a cosmetic masque of the consistency of mud - err, it isn't mud! A trick that the equine species do to their two-legged friends, passed on via generation to generation - before throwing their heads in the air with laughter - 'NNuuuhheeerrruuufff!'
I wasn't aware of too many closed up enclosures - the Pygmy Goats and chickens had a fair amount of freedom within reason. Whitish pigeons nested in the fabrics of the seventeenth century Wheat Barn roof - the wooden beams working as a homing device, nestling in the foliage of earthy growth - Overall; a quaint, mother earth serenity for weddings and social gatherings, especially in the lighter and milder months coming. The 'Willow workshop' engages in activities from animal sculpture to horticultural creativity and building your very own willow baskets, to name a few that'll be running into the summer months. Take note that Cogges have a Café, a mini-play-park, and Shop - most produce is home-made or products of happy habitants. The mot juste is ovum; plural of ova, meaning eggs - from a very successful breed of hen, whereby Cogges has the patented breeding rights, if there is such a claim. A virile hen gamete is no mean feat, the main factor determines on whether the hens' cluck 'nine to a dozen;' which denotes happiness. Albeit, they could be complaining about the state of the hen quarters and why it seems the pygmy goats demand to be child-handled by little hands and crick their necks into absurd positions to get a brush of a sticky finger. These adorable animals act like deliriously love struck teens at a concert, contorted into unnatural poses to get a half a second feel of their idol's index finger. I suggested to Cogges it'll be fun to watch five year olds' 'pygmy goat crowd surf'- sadly, it breaches hygiene policy and health and safety - although Cogges are always open to new ideas to raise funds. Perhaps a spontaneous cricket match or a lunch-time Frisbee session - Cogges can cater for these types of spontaneity jaunts. The grounds are suitable for picnickers during the milder season; so long you stop off at the ornate shop to pick up a treat / ice-cream on your way out. Ice-cream just slips down. The staff has been known to wear Victorian outfits but I believe this not to be the case, I genuinely feel this attire is their everyday clothing - one of the perks of working for a charity.
See pricing tariffs: http://www.cogges.org.uk/content/opening​-times-and-admissions
Logistically, Cogges is 0.6 miles from central Witney and adjacent to a Junior School's green; and play area; notably health and safety conscious with spongy blue soft floor surfacing. Parking can be found alongside the play area. Traffic is at a minimum and therefore crowding won't be a concern - Cogges have capped the numbers of children for each School visit, as a means to not fret the livestock and staff. Cogges is clearly signposted on the A40, and in Witney town centre - Worth a visit just to see the yoke colour of the Cotswold stone on a beautiful bright day.
Please note, that this is David Cameron's constituency. He has made a visit to Cogges and is in favour of all the good it does to the local community. Cogges epitomizes the 'Big Society.' The plan Cameron has forgotten. Pity he hasn't emulated Cogges financial nuance to our increasing interest rates, inflation and dire GDP. Unfortunately, Cogges don't sell bad eggs!
Last week I accompanied my son and his autism teacher on a trip to Cogges Manor Farm Museum in Witney. Children with autistic spectrum disorders are often more comfortable and relaxed with animals, as they don't feel under pressure to say or do the right thing at the right time. We went on a school day as my son finds it hard to cope with crowds.
Cogges Manor Farm Museum is described as 'a unique, working museum depicting Oxfordshire rural life in Victorian times set in an historic manor house and Cotswold stone farm buildings'.
Once we were in Witney, we had no trouble with directions as it was well sign-posted for what I thought was going to be a small basic museum. There is only disabled parking on the actual museum site, the main car park is behind a local primary school. We walked down a path next to the school, and correctly guessed to turn left because we could hear bleating in that direction. (It could benefit from a small sign so pedestrians don't have to guess whether to go left or right) It was less than a five minute walk in all.
At the entrance there was a board showing coming themed weekends, including a dinosaur dig. We walked over a mat to clean our shoes, and walked into a small courtyard which had some picnic benches and a small wood-chipped children's play area featuring painted wooden animals and a small slide. There was a brown horse and a grey donkey in a small field adjoining the courtyard, and the visitor centre building on the left which includes a gift shop where you can buy fresh farm eggs and seasonal produce, and a cafeteria selling homemade cakes and ice cream(which was shut between 12-1pm on the day we visited, but is probably open all day during weekends and holidays).
The ticket prices are Adult £6.00, Child (3 to 16) £2.50, Concessions £5, Family (2 adults & 2 children) £15.00. We were also given free site maps.
When we walked out of the visitor centre into the main farmyard the first thing we noticed was the smell of the pigs! There is a group of three styes, one houses the older piglets who were playing with a muddy football, and the mother is in the next stye with her new piglets. There is a gap in the wall between the styes which is designed to let water run through for cleaning, and the keeper was trying to wedge a washing up bowl in the space through concern the little piglets would get through the space and get bitten by their older relatives. Even though dry wooden steps are provided, there is a fair bit of muck and mud around the styes and a change of shoes would be sensible!
The farm is set in the Victorian age and the staff from the museum guides to the farm hands and dairy maids are dressed in Victorian outfits.
There is plenty of Victorian farm machinery around the site, from shepherds huts, to horse drawn bread vans, ploughs, etc. We didn't see much of that as we were focusing on the animals. There were plenty of babies around - a pen of goslings, some chicks in a specially lit tank (I was told you can request to hold one), and there were two lambs running round the farmyard causing mischief together like delinquent school-children, very cute! There were some pregnant cows resting in stalls, and lots of chickens and guinea fowl wandering around. Also there were several hutches of rabbits and guinea-pigs, some were available to buy.
The Manor House was very interesting. Even though it was a quiet day for them, there were staff dressed in Victorian costume offering craft demonstrations, and in the kitchen the cook was making bread according to the recipes of that time, the smell was wonderful.
We were given lots of information by a guide who explained some of the features of the house are dated back to the 1200s, he was very knowledgeable about the Victorian era too.
Actually the staff were so friendly it had the feeling of a family home more than a museum. Several of the restored rooms were open to view, with an audio commentary provided.
My sons favourite part was a drawer full of things they'd found under the floorboards, mostly rat skeletons!
A couple of the rooms had dressed mannequins, so we got a bit of a fright when we walked into the parlour, not paying any attention to the mannequin until it spoke to us! It was a member of staff sitting in a chair making lace!
There was also an activities room in the house where children can try on Victorian clothes and play with replica toys and games.
At the back of a house is a beautiful flower garden with benches. There were butterflies everywhere on the day we visited. The side gate on the left leads to the goat pen. The goats were the highlight for my son, they were very friendly and gentle with him as he fed them, even while they were head butting each other out of the way!
On the other side of the garden is a walled garden with picnic benches and fields of cows and sheep bordering. The farm cat seemed permanently stationed by the benches waiting for picnickers, smart idea! He was lovely too, demanded lots of attention and stroking from us before we could carry on past.
It did rain while we were there, but you are never far from a building to shelter in, so that was no problem at all.
We didn't have time to see everything, there is also a granary, an orchard, a shrunken medieval village in the cow field(I don't think you can see much of that anyway), some fish ponds, and some nice country walks, a moat, etc. I think we saw a lot of it though.
Regular activities at the museum include demonstrations of:
* feeding the pigs
* buttermaking (on most Sunday afternoons)
* work of the Victorian maids in the Manor House
The programme of special events includes:
* theme weekends
* daily activities for children and families in the school holidays
* summer evening performances
Opening Hours for 2009
Open from 7th April - 31st August
Tuesday - Friday 10:30 - 17:00
Saturday & Sunday 11:00 - 17:00
Bank Holiday Mondays 11:00 - 17:00
Last admissions, one hour before closing. Closed Mondays and Good Friday.
The telephone number for enquiries is 01993 772602
My son absolutely love the farm museum, it is still all he is talking about (any parents of autistic children, you will know how obsessed they can get with new interests!) and I really enjoyed it too. We will go back again this summer, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a good family day out.
Discover what life was like for the Victorians of rural Oxfordshire and watch milking demonstrations, animal feeding and butter churning!