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“A Little Gem of a Museum (with Cafe)” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Vale & Downland Museum

Vale & Downland Museum
Ranked #1 of 9 things to do in Wantage
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The Vale and Downland Museum is located in the busy market town of Wantage in Oxfordshire, UK. The museum has been nationally acclaimed as an outstanding example of community partnership. The range of services is very broad ranging, from galleries interpreting the cultural heritage of the Vale of White Horse region, to a cafe with a delightful terrace and garden. It also acts as a springboard for residents and visitors to enjoy and appreciate the countryside around Wantage.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase, Wheelchair access, Activities for young children, Activities for older children, Baby buggy parking
Oxford, England
Level Contributor
72 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“A Little Gem of a Museum (with Cafe)”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 September 2013

Taking a visiting friend to this museum, reminded me of how excellent it is. It gives a real insight into the history of the Vale of the White Horse in general and Wantage in particular. We saw a very well written and presented short Attenborough documentary at the start of our journey through the little museum, which set us up to better appreciate what was to follow.
I'm sure children would like the museum, as there is an opportunity for interaction as well as education. A very helpful mature volunteer walked round with us and gave some personal insights into life in the town.
The museum also lets out gallery space for art exhibitions, and sells books about the local area.
There is an excellent little cafe on-site with very good and reasonably priced freshly produced food such as quiche, baked potatoes with fillings, paninis and sandwiches and soup, also some rather delicious looking cakes. The latte I had was very nice and my friend didn't have to ask for extra hot water for her tea. The cafe was clean and cheerful and there is a small external courtyard for summer use.
Parking is only a short distance away in the Town Hall car park.
I will certainly make a point of visiting the gallery and cafe again and can happily recommend it as a nice place to spend an hour or so.

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
Thank Jay F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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52 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Ancona, Italy
Level Contributor
1,335 reviews
831 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,649 helpful votes
“A surprise round every corner”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 September 2013

Phenomenally interesting. Something unexpected round every corner - an old hat shop, a section of a tram, how a tannery worked, a real Williams Formula One racing car (built locally), a winnowing machine by Whyte’s of Fyfield (a local village), Lady Wantage's carriage (looks like a bath chair), parts of the ancient market-place cross (and what happened to it), stone age axes and how they were made, Wantage station (now sadly closed, but there's just a chance it might open again), the White Horse, dendrochronology, the first railway in the Vale, Robert Loyd-Lindsay, the first Baron Wantage, who was one of the founders of what became the British Red Cross and won the VC in the Crimea, Wantage in Roman times, how bricks were made with a decorative blue glaze, pagan temples...

Lots to do as well, esp. for children: push a button on the model railway and the train goes to the other end of the Vale; try the seats in the tram; haul up a sack on a pulley, sit in the stocks...

Maybe the best local museum I've ever seen.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank ELear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oxford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
38 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Well worth a visit”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 August 2013 via mobile

A lovely museum to visit. Lots to do in there with toddlers. The food in the cafe is also great. Good displays. Clean toilets.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank lisab80
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oxford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
23 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“A small but excellent museum,which is an ideal rainy day destination for younger children”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 May 2013

We took our three young grandchildren here on a rainy half term day. It is small enough to keep them well entertained for a couple of hours, and the visit can be finished off with a pit stop in the very acceptable museum cafe.

When asked what had been the highlight of the visit, the five year old said the skeleton (Anglo Saxon 25 year old woman), being able to dress up in a sailor's costume and the toy train. The three year old also liked the dressing up opportunity and the sweets I had brought along for the trip. The toddler had happily run around holding a plastic Roman Centurion shield under the friendly gaze of the volunteers, who all actually appeared to like children and wanted them to enjoy their visit.

This really is a well thought out and extremely informative little gem.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
Thank Cali4Uk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Wantage, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
22 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Great Treasure trove of history”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 May 2013

A small museum with plenty of local history. Good coverage from the chalk downs, Alfred the Great to modern life in and around the vale. Young children will enjoy a couple of hours here

Helpful?
Thank CaptainCash
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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