Extract from Lorna Delanoy book “THE FARMLAND MUSEUM, 1969 – 1992, The Story of a Village Museum,” which will be sell in the Farmland Museum shop soon.
During the summer of 1969 the garden of 50 High Street, Haddenham, was ploughed up for the first time in many years. When this grassland was ploughed up, 'buried treasure' came to the surface - bits of pottery, clay pipe fragments and pigs' teeth showing varying signs of decay! These were collected up by a 4 year old boy, Craig Delanoy washed thoroughly and arranged neatly in cardboard boxes. He then announced to his family that on payment of a small fee, anyone could look at his 'museum collection'. The money raised was to help children who 'couldn't see and couldn't walk' Of course, the first visitors were family and friends. Within days they were returning with various items to add to the display - a commemorative clay pipe (unbroken!), real Roman pottery sherds and various bric-a-brac, One enthusiastic senior citizen brought along a prized possession which had belonged to her grandmother, a double baking dish whose design and shape was almost identical with some modern Swedish pottery.
Soon the collection was too big for a child's bedroom so a shed in the garden was cleared of its lawn mowers and tools and the 'bits and pieces' were arranged there on an old kitchen table. From then on the collection became known as "THE MUSEUM" and the appropriate wording was placed on a sign on the door. Friends, neighbours and acquaintances brought along all sorts of things for which they had no further use. It is due to people's kindness and thoughtfulness that a child's enterprise grew into a major venture.
The entire garden became the setting for the exhibits and the collection was named THE FARMLAND MUSEUM. Another sign was painted and this was displayed at the front of the house so that intending visitors could find the museum easily.
The big open shed at the bottom of the garden was completed in time for the first Blossoms and Bygones event held in the village in May 1971, later the ends were boarded in to form the Rural Crafts shed at the south end and the farming shed at the north. The story of the blacksmith's shop, completed in 1972 is recorded elsewhere.
Exhibits came in fast and furiously and the Bygones Building was officially opened by in 1976. Consolidation and improvement in displays followed. A grant from Shell enabled the original garden shed to be made waterproof and a grant from the County Museums' budget bought professional labels for the outdoor exhibits. Perhaps the greatest labour of love was the building of the trolley designed by Mike to move on small railway bogies. With Craig he worked many lamp-lit winter evenings so that the barn machinery could be moved out more easily on open days. Great fun was had in the early days of rolling oats for rabbit feed and chopping root crops for the pigs next door.
Also in the garden was a replica of the Holme Post, and a telegraph pole with a stern Victorian warning that 'people throwing stones at the telegraphs will be prosecuted'. A flagpole was also available for the raising of the Union Jack and the Scout flag on appropriate occasions.
The largest feature in the garden was the band stand, built by Mike to accommodate the surplus soil and broken bricks, one of the problems of building on a hill! This was a horseshoe-shaped podium abutting the farm wall and was used by two bands in 1979, our local one and one from Leicester. People in Hill Row have said how very beautiful the sound of the bands was on that special Sunday afternoon in August when over £504 was raised for the cancer scanner at Addenbrooke's hospital. Had it not been for the enthusiasm of my husband, Mike, the museum would probably have faded away within three years or so. It has survived against innumerable obstacles for 23 years and now both energy and money are exhausted, but the memory of 'the shoe box collection that became a way of life' will live on.