Museum of Lincolnshire Life

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Based in the barracks built for the royal North Lincolnshire Militia in 1857, this has an excellent section covering the military history of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment and the Lincolnshire Yeomanry from the 17thC to 1960.

There are details about battles fought including Sikh Wars, Indian Mutiny and Nile Campaign. I now know who the Dervish warriors were and why the British regarded them as the toughest they had fought against. There is a display with Dervish sword, guns, ammunition and head dress. There is a reconstruction with sound effects of a World War One trench with soldiers going over the top.

There are touch screen, displays of military uniform, colours and medals. Take time in the rooms with the Beechey boys letters.

Eight brothers fought in WW1 but only three came home. There are pictures of the brothers and the cemeteries where they are buried. The most interesting bit were the letters sent home by them. As well as information about their life in the trenches there is a touching description about receiving a splendid parcel. The pork pie was as fresh and unbroken as if it had just been bought… Another one has a short Ps saying gloves and handkerchiefs had just arrived.

The barracks were built in 1857 for the Royal North Lincoln Militia and are a splendid brick building with the regimental crest over the gateway. They were built round three sides of the parade square. This had a Manege horse training area surrounded by a low wall topped with turf. They were remodelled in 1913 when an indoor drill hall was added on the fourth side and an indoor rifle range. In WW2 the barracks were used by the lincoln TA and Air Force. The Manege was removed and Nissan huts built on the parade ground. The barracks closed in 1963 and became a museum a few years later.

This is now a children’s play area with wooden fort, tractor and trailer as well as a corrugated iron air raid shelter. Some of the larger agricultural exhibits are also displayed here.

The two side wings contain the social history section with reconstructed rooms on one side and shops on the other.

I began with the reconstructed Victorian/Edwardian rooms. These consisted of the usual selection of rooms furnished with artefacts given to the museum. There was little written information and nothing which I haven't seen elsewhere. The nursery was crammed full with a small bed with patchwork quilt, iron cot, chest of drawers and toys. If it had been a real nursery there wouldn't have been any space for a child to play. There was a massive doll’s house and furniture, Noah’s ark, small cast iron stove with pans, small wooden drying racks with clothes hanging over them as well as lots of dolls and teddies.

Beyond was the bedroom with big brass bedstead with stone hot water bottle and chamber pot beneath the bed. There was a wash stand in the corner with bowl and jug. The wardrobe was stacked high with hat boxes. There was a folding screen covered with pictures of flowers, fruits and small children. Peg rugs were on the floor and suitably uplifting pictures on the walls.

One wall of the kitchen was taken up with the cast iron range and shelves with a display of blue and white china and cooking utensils. In a corner was a stone sink with small pump for water. Above the draining board was a drying rack with more blue and white china. The centre table had a display of kitchen equipment and there were cast iron saucepans and earthenware pots. A ham and dried herbs were hanging from the ceiling. Propped against the wall was the zinc bath.

The parlour was decorated for display rather than function or comfort. The coal fire had a patterned tile surround and there was a carpet on the floor. The table had a chenille cloth. As well as a piano there was a treadle sewing machine. There was a grandfather clock and also a smaller clock on the sideboard. There was a glass dome covering artificial flowers but no stuffed birds… Hanging on the wall was a holiday souvenir, a decorated rolling pin.

Beyond was the wash house with brick copper in a corner. This was coal fired and used to heat the water. There was a large mangle, zinc wash tub with a dolly. There were irons, a wooden clothes press and a goffering iron for the frills. It was rather a hotchpotch collection of artefacts. On the wlls was a list of rules for servants including underdressed needed to be starched so the servants could be heard by their employers. This gave them chance to acknowledge or not the servant.

The Saddlery had a work bench with tools and examples of different sort of harnesses and saddles.Unfortunately there were few labels. Next door was a stable with a wooden divider between the stalls. There was a stone water trough and a hay basket of the walls.

Beyond was a reconstructed blacksmith's forge with fire, anvil, tools and horse shoes on the walls.

I preferred the shops as these were actual shops. This was a real walk back into the past prompting the frequent question "Do you remember…"

There is a chemist shop with drawers and shelves lined with bottles. Hanging on the walls are artificial limbs. There are pill making machines, inhalers and urine bottles…

The drapers shop dates from 1920-30. Dresses hang from the ceiling. There is a display of undergarments including a formidable pair of corsets. A label advertises a 'discrete fitting service'. On shelves were cardboard boxes with other goods which would be carefully brought down and the contents displayed to the customer to choose? The glass fronted counter had huckerback towels, pinafores, handkerchiefs, scarves and artificial silk stockings. The shop also sold dress material and unbleached twill double warped cotton sheeting. There were display cabinets on the outer wall with needles, threads, lace and cotton covered shirt buttons.

The Post Office with a small counter with a metal grille had a small telephone exchange in the corner. There was a wooden rack for sorting the mail and a sacking postman's delivery bag.

The Co-op grocers shop had a wooden counter with a massive till. There was a formidable coffee grinding machine. Shelves on the walls held packaged good, with a wooden step ladder to reach those at the top. Below were drawers for loose goods. There were large tins selling loose leaf tea and scales for weighing flour from the big flour bin. Bread was delivered on wooden trays.

The printer's shop had a massive eagle press and drawers with different sizes and types of letters. The walls were covered by examples of printed work.

There is a display on basket and brush making. In 1891, 225 men and 98 women were employed as basket makers in Lincolnshire. They worked 6 days a week from 7am-8pm. There are bunches of willow propped up on the walls and examples of the different sorts of baskets as well as a babies cot and fish cage. There are examples of different kinds of brushes made. In 1888 there were nearly 500 brushes on the price list.

The Ironmongers shop had 1907 prices displayed. There were heavy items like mangle, washing machine, knife sharpener, gas fire. There were cast iron door stops, bellows, pokers, tongs, mincers, jelly moulds,cast iron saucepans, earthenware water filters and casserole dishes. There were oil lamps, candles and gas mantles, carpet beaters and even a vacuum cleaner…

Finally there was a small display on brick making. Bricks and tiles have been made in the area since Roman times but the industry declined in the 19thC when cheaper bricks could be brought in by rail.

Across the far end of the museum is a large modern glass building holding the Transport Gallery and the Industry and Agriculture Gallery. The latter was shut on the day I visited as it was being rearranged.

The Transport gallery is fairly small and again many of the exhibits will have been seen elsewhere, like the hobby horse, penny farthing, Handsom cab and 1925 Morris Oxford coupe. There is a 1897 carrier's cart used as a lunch wagon for shooting parties. There is a Lincoln Co-op handcart and horse drawn cart. The 1885 horse drawn hearse had a four seater carriage attached behind it to carry mourners. Many of us will have experienced the mid 20thC pram…

There are two examples of a Butlin's Bike was for produced exclusive use by Butlin's Holiday makers at the camp at Skegness.

The most unusual exhibit was the bank barrow from 1930 which was used by the National Provincial Bank to transport money between branch and the general post office. It was pushed and escorted by male bank staff who had rubber truncheons p their sleeves. It was in use until the 1960s when security companies took over this job.

Upstairs above the gatehouse is a Victorian schoolroom and what is described as the Village Green gallery. Unfortunately I forgot to go up to these.

Entry is free and through the shop. There is also a small cafe selling soup, filled rolls and cakes at very reasonable prices. I didn't investigate this either.

Museum website

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