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The American Museum in Britain

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One of my very favourite of all Bath buildings, the American Museum in Britain, lies just outside the city on a hillside overlooking a wooded valley. I fell in love with the peaceful atmosphere, beautiful gardens and elegant buildings on my first visit many years ago.

The American Museum in Britain

A little while later, I was drawn back to work as a voluntary guide for several seasons, in various of the reconstructed American rooms in the house and then in Conkeys Tavern in the basement, where I arrived early before opening time to light the fire and make the traditional gingerbread which baked on it. Sometimes it was a bit charred, but there was always plenty to give away to the visitors as they passed through!

The American Museum in Britain


I became a Friend of the American Museum after giving up the guiding work and continued to visit regularly. Admission to the grounds and Exhibition Gallery is available at a cheaper rate than the ticket which includes the collection in the house.

There is something here to interest everyone and plenty to see in the grounds, particularly for a first visit. There is an annual exhibition in the Exhibition Gallery, outside exhibits such as a railway observation car and a settlers’ wagon which will appeal to all ages, and folk art gallery in the old stables.

The American Museum in Britain


In the grounds you will also find a formal garden, a replica of that created by George Washington at his home in Virginia, an arboretum and two walking trails. The grounds ticket also allows you access to the two American Museum shops. The one in the exhibition gallery stocks books about American artists, history and interior design. There are also unusual cards, some showing details of the exhibits, and gifts. The Country Store next to the tea room has naïve art pictures and other American-style nick-knacks displayed alongside museum articles.

The American Museum in Britain


The self-service counter of the tea room has a mouth-watering collection of traditional American cakes and cookies, including George Washington cake and Snickerdoodles! You can eat your tea in the high-ceilinged Lecture Hall, the stencilled Orangery or out on the terrace with its fabulous views over the Limpley Stoke valley.

The American Museum in Britain


Included in grounds admission are the many events held over each season, which feature music, dance, fashion shows and recreations of Civil War camps and drill manoeuvres, plus many children’s events.

The American Museum in Britain


The house tells the story of American houses and interiors from the first days of the New England settlers up to the Civil War – each room is constructed from the floors, ceilings and panelling of real American houses, often on the point of being demolished, which were dismantled, transported to the UK and painstakingly re-assembled.

The rooms are furnished with furniture and artefacts of the period and there is a well-informed guide in each to tell you more and answer your questions.

The American Museum in Britain


Inside the house is the Textile Room which houses a well-known collection of American quilts and Navajo weavings. There are workshops and courses, and special events for American Museum members (Friends). At Christmas the museum re-opens with the rooms decorated and seasonal food and gifts for sale.

Allow as long as you possibly can – once here, you will want to linger!