Sussex Museums

From large city museums to small village museums, Sussex museums offer something for all the family.

West Sussex Museums

Museums in East Sussex

Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft
Recently rebuilt, renovated and refurbished with a grant from the National Lottery, this stunning museum is a real pleasure to visit simply for the architecture and design alone! However, the exhibits are beautifully presented and include works by Eric Gill, Edward Johnson and Edgar Holloway. The new entrance to the museum is now via the old barn on the village green beside the pond.
Opening times:
Tuesday–Saturday 11am–5pm
Sunday 12pm–5pm
Bank Holidays 11–5pm
Book and Gift shop
Tea Room with tea, coffee & cakes etc

The museum is closed for Christmas and the New Year and will open again at 11am on January 11th, 2014.

Stanmer Park, near Brighton
Set in over 200 acres, this is a beautiful open-air, 'living' museum, which includes an entire village and an 18th century stately home (listed Grade 1), built in 1720. There is also a listed stable complex, walled kitchen gardens, and Stanmer Church, which was rebuilt in 1838 on the site of a 14th century building. We regularly take a lovely long walk from Ditchling village over the Downs, via the Beacon, to Stanmer Park; it's like walking back in time. You can download the walk and other details here. Details of a shorter (75mins), circular walk around Stanmer Park can be downloaded here.

Barbican House Museum, Lewes
Part of the Lewes Castle complex, the Barbican House Museum is a great local resource, offering a range of interesting exhibits and models relating to the history of Lewes, the South Downs and Lewes Castle. Children can dress up in period costume.

Hastings Museum and Art Gallery Hastings Museum has plenty of exhibits of interest for children; these include the fossils of dinosaurs, prehistoric crocodiles and fish, there is also a diorama of local animals and birds, Native American Galleries complete with tipi and buffalo. In addition there are exhibitions of fine china and art. Open throughout the year, except for Bank Holidays.

Check out this video of a recent re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings

Rye Castle Museum
This is a wonderful place, full of fascinating information about the history of Rye and the surrounding area. The museum also has a great timetable of talks from now through the whole of 2010.

Towner Art Gallery and Museum
This Sussex museum presents the history of Eastbourne from the first settlements on the Downs to the growth of the town as a holiday destination in the Victorian period and the 20th century. The archaeology displays include items from Eastbourne's Roman villa and the waterlogged late Bronze Age site at Shinewater, together with an Anglo-Saxon skeleton.

The Redoubt, Military Fort and Museum, Eastbourne
The Redoubt Fort was built in the 1880s and defended the Eastbourne coast for nearly 200 years.Now, it provides a perfect setting for the military collections of The Royal Sussex Regiment.
Closed for refurbishment until April 2010.

Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum
The first time we visited this place was when our children were very young and we went as part of a playgroup outing. It was a wonderful day out. Years later we went back with our now older sons, and their grandparents and it was equally successful. It may seem an odd combination - wild fowl and old cars - but it's a winning one! Complete with a Palladian Mansion, stunning gardens and a fascinating array of exhibits, Bentley Musuem also has an adventure children's play area, miniature railway, picnic areas and a gift shop.

Yesterday's World in Battle
This Sussex musuem offers a unique insight into the past through a series of vivid walk-through displays, which enable the visitor to experience the look, feel and taste of "how we lived then", at the turn of the century and beyond. You can also visit the 1930’s grocers, pharmacy, the Victorian Children’s Play Room, wireless shop and more ...

Bexhill Museum
The new museum building was opened November'09 by Eddie Izzard. Main galleries include costume, motor racing heritage, local archaeology and history (including smuggling), dinosaurs and fossils, natural history and geology, social history and cultures of other lands, local arts and crafts.

Museums in Brighton and Hove

Brighton Toy Museum
Conveniently located just below Brighton Station, Brighton Toy Museum (52/55 Trafalgar Street) was one our our favourite places to take our children, especially during the winter months when the weather made outdoor activities less appealing. With over 10,000 toys and models on display, this compact little museum is a treasure trove of delights. Including antique toys and a wonderful working train set, this is not only a great place for children but it is also another fascinating Sussex museum for adults.

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
With galleries of exhibits about fashion, Brighton and Egypt, this museum has an eclectic mix of displays. The current exhibition on the Land Girls evocatively portrays the lives of these agricultural stalwarts. It highlights personal stories, propaganda, paintings, posters and photographs. It reveals the experiences of women as they leave their pre-war lives to learn milking, rat catching, threshing and tractor driving.

Hove Museum and Art Gallery
The current exhibition until 10th January 2010 is 'War Stories', which tells the story of the Home Front in Brighton and Hove during the Second World War. Based on photographs and archived newspapers, this is an interesting exhibition, which is in addition to the other exhibits of toys, fine art and craft.

Regency House Museum, Brighton
The Regency Town House is a grade 1 Listed terraced home of the mid-1820s being developed as a heritage centre and museum to focus on the architecture and social history of Brighton & Hove between the 1780s and 1840s.

At this time in history, broadly defined as the Regency period, Brighton enjoyed an unrivalled status as the provincial capital of fashionable British society and was, perhaps, Europe's foremost seaside spa. A legacy that is, today, reflected in the city's rich architectural heritage. Visiting

Open for specialist tours throughout the year and public tours from spring to autumn. However, until renovation is complete, all visits must be pre-booked.

Brighton Fishing Museum
201 King's Road Arches,
Tel:01273 723064
Opening times Open all year, 9.00-17.00
Entrance Free
The main museum arch is the focal point of Brighton's fishing quarter. It contains a 27ft beach boat, prints, photographs and memorabilia of Brighton seafront life from the Regency days to the post-war boom in pleasure boat operations. A computer archive is also available which can be consulted for more information about the local fishing and boating fraternity. The museum also operates a 12 seater passenger boat, Skylark, off the beach in fair weather during the summer months. There are also two shellfish stalls, a smokehouse and a smoked fish shop adjacent to the Museum.
This Sussex museum was one of the favourite places for our kids when they were younger. It is also a good place to visit on a rainy day.

Stanmer Rural Museum
Stanmer Park, Stanmer,
Telephone:01273 686076
Opening times Easter - end Oct, Sundays 14.00-17.00
Entrance Free
Another fascinating Sussex museum containing a collection of rural and agricultural artefacts, some archaeological and some domestic exhibits. It contains archaeological collections, photographs, natural history exhibits, agricultural implements, information about domestic history and historic buildings.
Parking: on-site
Public transport:
Bus Services: Any Brighton - Lewes service to Park gates Nearest Railway Station: Falmer - 20 mins walk

West Sussex Museums

Marlipins Museum, Shoreham-by-Sea
As we have not yet visited this museum I am unable to comment on it, however, it is run by Sussex Archaeological Society, (also known as Sussex Past) and I have visited a number of their sites which are all superbly maintained and presented.

Horsham Museum
With over twenty-six galleries housed in a medieval timber frame building, Horsham Museum is another great Sussex museum which is well worth a visit. Whether you want to take the children as part of a family day out, or use its extensive resources for research, this place is an absolute gem! Horsham town is also a very convenient place to shop because it is so easy to walk around the pedestrianised town centre.

East Grinstead Museum
Situated in the Old Market Yard, in Cantelupe Road, the East Grinstead Museum has a wonderful collection of artefacts, memorabilia, photographs and documents based on the people, their lives, trades and crafts in the High Sussex Weald and the town itself. Series of exhibitions and special seasonal events are also listed on their website.

Amberley Museum
Open from mid-February until the end of October, this open-air Sussex museum is set in an old chalk quarry at the edge of the South Downs near the delightful village of Amberley. (We use to live near here, in Storrington, and the Amberley pub was our favourite local.) During the winter months, the museums does hold a number of events, especially at Christmas, so check their website for further details. With 36 acres dedicated to the industrial heritage of Sussex, Amberley museum is home to old Southdowns buses, steam train engines, a typical village petrol station, a print workshop, a wheelwrights and working Sussex craftspeople.

Fishbourne Roman Palace
Of course, this Sussex museum is an absolute 'must visit'! Parties of school-children flock here throughout the year, so it is unlikely that many Sussex children have not had the opportunity to visit Fishbourne at some stage during their education. It is a quite amazing place. Beautifully preserved, the remains of the famous Roman palace at Fishbourne, near Chichester, were discovered during the digging of a trench for a water-main in 1960. Dating back to the Roman invasion of AD43, the original military base had evolved into a magnificent palace by the end of the first century. With intricate mosaic floors, clear evidence of the Roman system of central heating - the hippocanth - and a re-established formal herb garden, there's many hours of fascinating things to see and to learn about at Fishbourne. There are also many activities and events related to Roman life in Britain, such as workshops open to adults on spinning, weaving and dying in Roman times.

Petworth Cottage Museum
Described as one of 'England’s Thousand Best Houses' in the book by Simon Jenkins, the Petworth Cottage Museum was once a Leconfield Estate Worker's Cottage. This very special small Sussex museum is furnished as it would have been in about 1910. Complete with a cottage garden, it is open from the beginning of April until the end of October.
Located at 346 High Street, Petworth.

Tangmere Military Aviation Museum
Established in 1982 on the old Tangmere airfield, which dated back to 1916, this museum of aviation history contains some fascinating exhibits. Open again 1st February 2010, this Sussex museum is complete with flight simulators! It offers a great programme of events planned for next year.

Arundel Museum
We have not visited this West Sussex museum but have seen it on trips to Arundel Castle. Unfortunately, it has had to relocate to temporary accommodation in a portacabin close to the river, just inside the main town car park, which is not particularly attractive, although certainly convenient! It is closed during the Christmas holiday period but re-opens on January 9th'10. It hosts a number of exhibitions and workshops, many based on the sea-faring history of Arundel. It also has useful resources for family history research.

Chichester Museum
Unfortunately we have not visited this Sussex museum, however, although its website is not particularly exciting, it is in the process of moving its physical site and so we will visit in due course and improve our listing.

Cuckfield Museum
Closed from 6th December until 14th February, this Sussex Museum is run entirely by volunteers and has recently achieved accreditation. Visit their site to find out more about their exhibits and forthcoming events.

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