It is unusual to find a museum housed in an old church, surrounded by a very large, old graveyard. With so many visitors coming from all over the world to Woburn in search of their ancestors, we decided to identify as many graves as we could to help our visitors in their search. A retired group of archeologists mapped the graveyard, noting the position of every stone – some 1300, 1160 of which have legible inscriptions! Then, with the help of a team of volunteers from Santander Bank, every legible stone was recorded and the names and dates indexed alphabetically. The index now lives by the desk and is well used.
Our main graphic board in the museum is about Eleanor of Castile, the beloved wife of Edward 1, and the Eleanor Crosses. After she died in Nottinghamshire in December 1290 her body was taken back to London to be buried in Westminster Abbey. The winter journey took 12 days and Woburn was one of the places en route where the cortege rested overnight. The King decreed that a cross should be erected at each resting place. Woburn’s cross disappeared long ago but probably stood on The Pitchings, the cobbled area beside the old town hall.
Volunteer with us
Among our treasured artefacts is a “Woburn” range, manufactured in the village and donated to the museum by Woburn Abbey after it was removed from a past Estate worker’s cottage when central heating was installed. On the ledge above the range and the old kitchen display, stands our Victorian rocking horse and nearby are two ancient Woburn cricket bats, one dating from 1822. Sadly, Woburn’s cricket team disbanded in the 1980s but there is a thriving cricket club in the village of Eversholt, close to Woburn.
A more recent treasure, from the 1990s, is the painting of Woburn buildings by George Large, painted on a round wooden board. George, an eminent artist, lived in Woburn for many years and painted the roundel as a gift to the museum.