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 broad, ranging from galleries interpreting the cultural heritage of the Vale of White Horse region, to a cafe with a delightful terrace and garden.
Situated in Oxfordshire’s Vale of White Horse, and historically part of the Royal County of Berkshire, the Vale & Downland is one of the most popular museums in the area. Described by the Museums and Galleries Commission as a ‘model community museum’, it attracts about 53,000 visits a year. It attracts both local people and tourists, about a quarter of visitors coming from beyond Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The museum has grown steadily from modest origins in 1958 and celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2008.
The museum entrance, Squires Room, Downland Kitchen and offices are in a converted 17th century cloth-merchant’s house. It’s a Grade 2 listed building and a fine example of local vernacular architecture. Behind it are the visitor facilities, in a 20th century extension with wooden crucks spanning two floors. The main gallery is also partly 20th century but includes the 18th century Hunt’s Barn, kindly donated by Thomas More Eyston and moved from the nearby village of East Hendred. The stores, workshop, kitchen and library are in an adjoining building, known as Legge’s Cottage.