Roald Dahl For Everyone…
Back in the day, when giving croggies and playing kerbie had you exhausted by 8 o’clock, the ultimate wind-down session was a few chapters of the latest Roald Dahl book, in bed with a mam that collected accents for a hobby. The Twits had you thinking up tricks to play on grumpy old neighbours, George’s Marvelous Medicine was the start of many a garden shed potion and The Witches made you watch your teacher like a hawk if they even just the once scratched their head. Roald Dahl is woven into millions of childrens lives across the world and in my humble opinion was the starting block of every great childrens story.
So the thought of being able to learn a bit more about the mastermind behind some of the worlds greatest childrens books and see how he worked and where he created the characters which still live strong in childrens imaginations, appealed greatly and when I discovered the Roald Dahl Museum existed it immediately went on my bucket list of places to take the kids that disguise the fact I’m having fun too (along with segways and planet bounce!).
Great Missenden’s Magical Appeal
After spending a weekend in London with the kids we managed to shoehorn a trip to Roald Dahl’s home town, Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, on our way home. It’s located about an hour north-west of central London and is the perfect day trip for kids. I mean, I knew that Buckinghamshire was posh, and it seemed so quaint that they would build the museum in the spot where he lived, but I had no idea just how idyllic this little village was going to be! So when Mr and Mrs Twit nip down to the village and the Muggle-wumps and Roly-poly bird get busy attaching furniture to the roof, it is this village that Mr Dahl intended to paint in our imaginations. And when Matilda’s parents leave 4 year old Matilda alone in the house all day, it is to Great Missenden’s library at the end of the High Street that she takes herself off to immerse herself in the world of books. I just found it absolutely captivating that you can actually see the real life village that inspired all of Roald’s stories for yourself!
A pretty little High Street of high-end boutiques and gift shops is neatly arranged behind the perfect stretch of English parkland that follows the River Misbourne. Cricket spectators eating cucumber sandwiches in straw boaters wouldn’t ever look out of place in this corner of the world and Roald Dahl was lucky to live in such a spot that would fuel any childs imagination.
Happily, local neighbours have latched onto their famous resident and allowed and encouraged appropriately named coffee shops, bookstores and gift shops, so once you’ve had your fill at the museum there’s still a good hour left for the cultural past-time of changing the world one newly purchased trinket at a time. One can never have too many eclectic bits!
The Roald Dahl Museum
Built on the spot of his actual writing hut, and even recreating the old wooden walls, placing a room inside a room, you are instantly transported to Roald Dahl’s world and you get a true feel for the kind of gentleman he was. His hut was cluttered with fascinating memorabilia; little keepsakes that often found their way into his novels, like the trumpet he was once gifted in Africa which obviously became the BFG’s.
The museums Solo Gallery tells a fascinating tale of his life prior to becoming a writer. He was a fighter pilot, a spy and even a chocolate taster. His wartime injuries put a stop to his former career and luckily for us he turned to writing, but not before displaying bits of his femur and bone shavings on his desk to remind him of where he’d come from, and then inventing a chair which catered for his newly acquired disabilities. His life story is inspirational and I think what definitely struck a chord with my kids was how hard he worked – his ideas didn’t come easy, it was back to the drawing board over and over again, a lesson that I was happy to have demonstrated to my own children; they’re going to have to work real hard if they are to look after me in my retirement!
In Boy Gallery the theme continues; a cleverly thought out questionaire is aimed at drawing the kids attention to the fun bits, like the tricks he got up to at boarding school involving mice and motorbikes, I’ll let your imagination figure out the rest. And the height chart which measures you against his books characters again brings his stories to life. This was a man with a love of chocolate too and this certainly shows it’s face throughout the whole museum.
The third room is the Story Centre, which I just loved! It’s a mixture of areas, one for dressing up as characters from the stories, one which replicates his writing room so the kids can actually have a go in his chair and imagine themselves a writer, and one space where you can just sit and read if you so desired. Interspersed between all this excitement are beautiful glass displays of scenes from the stories which were made into movies, like Fantastic Mr Fox.
Other Things To Do In Great Missenden
Well apart from the fact there’s Cafe Twit, with much emphasis being placed on chocolate plus an opportunity to try some Frobscottle, the museum puts on regular events in some of their other rooms; stuff like crafting with paper and clay, fun interactive talks and games and guided trails which take you off around the village to visit scenes from his books and off into the woods where Fantastic Mr Fox lived. Alternatively, pick up the two little guides at reception and do your own guided tour once you’ve finished at the museum.
The actual museum is perfectly compact and bijou which gives children the freedom to do a bit of exploring on their own, parents safe in the knowledge they’re never far. There are also permanent areas for arts and crafts and an opportunity to record your own dreams or even make a movie.
You’ll definitely have a wangdoodle of a day and it’s exunckley what the chiddlers will be buzzwangling about for many weeks, so maybe next time you’re in the city you can incorporate a day trip from London and immerse yourself in the life of one of Britains National treasures, the beloved Roald Dahl.
- the museum is aimed at 6 – 12 year olds.
- book in advance for a secure place.
- check and book in advance for events.
- You can take your own food to eat in the court yard.
- parking is a 5 minute walk away (on Link Road) costing £1.80 for 3 hours – more than enough time.
- Great Missenden train station is a 40 minute ride from London Marylebone.
- Cost: Adults – £6.60 Chiddlers up to 18 – £4.40 (under 5’s are free) Family ticket – £21.
- Look out for 2 for 1 tickets beforehand, they’re not too elusive!
- The gift shop sells possibly every know Roald Dahl book published and I just loved the idea that they sell the exact yellow notepad and yellow pencil that Roald Dahl himself used.
I hope I have inspired a trip to the Roald Dahl Museum for you and your family – it’s a gloriumptious museum in a quaint little village which will most definitely lead to a car journey home of Roald Dahl chatbagging!
If you’re looking for accomodation nearby then find the best deals here.
And if you’re heading into the city with kids have a read of my posts…
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