The Red House

Christchurch, Dorset

Opening times

Open every day except Sunday, Admission free.

Museum description

The Red House is a find Georgian building built in 1764 as a workhouse. There is a small coffee shop with seating in the gardens in fine weather.

You will find The Red House near the Priory. Go the top of the High Street, turn right into Church Lane and you will see Th e Red House opposite on the left.

I found this an excellent local museum.  There are a wide range of exhibits so you never feel bogged down or lose interest.  Also the labelling and explanations are excellent.  It is extremely easy to understand exactly what each exhibit is.

In addition to the permanent displays, The Red House also has temporary exhibitions and was running one on Hidden Dorset Histories when I visited (October 2011).

On Display at the Red House

VICTORIAN DISPLAY

Fascinating collection of kitchen and domestic items including a mangle, lots of pots and cookware, and a crimpling machine (for creating those beautifully crisp pleats Victorian ladies wore).

Wide range of instruments and artefacts including surgical instruments, writing instruments and every day objects – the hearing aid with trumpet was particularly interesting.

FASHION

Excellent display of fashion, mainly women’s but some men’s from 1900 to the 1940s.  The increasing size of the mannequins as time went on was very obvious.  Our ancestors at the turn of the 10th century may have still have been tightly laced which would account for their slim figures, but they were also much shorter than we are now.

THE ARTHUR ROMNEY ROOM

This is a sitting room of a middle class family with furniture, soft furnishings and the family displayed as they would have been in the 1930s.

ARCHAEOLOGY

The upper floor of The Red House is given over to a display of finds found in the local area and date from the bronze age up to the 17th century.

The area around Christchurch Harbour, a superb and very large natural harbour, has been settled for around 5000 years, with the area between the two rivers, the Avon and the Stour, which both feed into the head of the harbour, being the most popular area for habitation.

Displays include details of the 1936 excavation of the long barrow at Holdenhurst ( a little further west in modern Bournemouth) which dates back to the Neolithic period.  Hengistbury Head, at the mouth of the Harbour, was occupied well before Roman times and archaeological finds from this area can be seen.

Flint scappers and arrowheads can be seen in abundance, as well as bronze age axes and iron age pottery is on display.