NORFOLK Museums Service
Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse is a truly unique museum. Visit its 50-acre site and discover the:

    • Historic workhouse

    • Museum of life on the land

    • Traditional farm with rare breed animals

    • Beautiful, unspoilt grounds

The museum is a great day out whether you want to learn about the lives of Norfolk people in the past or relax and have a good time with your friends and family. You’ll need a whole day to begin to discover all its wonders.

Use the navigation links to plan your visit, find out more about the museum and for details of events and exhibitions. To access a copy of the site map, please click here.

Village at War - Experience life on the home front in both world wars

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Step back in time this August Bank Holiday and experience what life was like on the home front in Norfolk during both world wars. On Sunday 24 and Bank Holiday Monday 25 August, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse will once again host its ever-popular Village at War event. This year, as well as capturing the usual 1940s home front spirit, the event will commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in a number of special displays and activities on Gressenhall Farm.

Village at War once again promises to deliver an impressive display of home front history. Stroll around military and civilian vehicles and meet costumed characters from both the British and American forces, enjoy toe tapping 1940s music and live radio shows from the talented ‘Timescape’, and see how far the rations can be stretched, and worn clothes made good, in Cherry Tree Cottage. If you’re looking for that period item or accessory, the marquee is filled with stalls selling original 1940s memorabilia and antiques.

Pick up your ID card and make sure you have it to hand in case you are stopped by the Home Guard and be sure to keep an eye out for the Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill, who will be visiting the Village for the weekend, to help boost morale.

There may be a war on, but that’s no excuse to be late for school! Attend a special lesson in the school room, or see how The Southern Norwich Scouts are camping 1940s style and discover how they are able to ‘do their bit’ for their country. Get creative in Art Attack! and make your own Land Army hat or Home Guard cap badge. All children can also pick up their ration card and collect their weekly allocation of sweets from the Village Shop.

All eyes will be on the skies on the afternoon of Monday 25 August as we watch out for the Dakota flypast, part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (weather permitting). The Dakota was a war ‘workhorse’, carrying troops or freight, air-dropping supplies and paratroops, or used for casualty evacuation. Often unglamorous tasks, which went hugely unrecognised, the Dakota and its crews played a crucial part in the final Allied victory of the Second World War. To raise money to support the continuation of these flypasts, specially commissioned Spitfire badges will be available for a suggested donation of just £2 during the event, with all money received going to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Meanwhile on Gressenhall Farm, the clock has turned back 100 years as the people of Norfolk begin come to terms with the consequences of the outbreak of the First World War. Explore an encampment of the local 5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment and visit the Company Headquarters, field kitchen and the farrier with his field forge. Find out more about how the Battalion mobilised their transport, what weaponry or first aid provision was available and how they communicated with other Battalions.

On the outbreak of the First World War, the 5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment was mobilised from Dereham, just down the road from Gressenhall. Many a local man would have served amongst its ranks, and Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse hope that this encampment by the Royal Norfolk Regiment Living History Group will provide a fitting tribute to all who served.

Venture further onto Gressenhall Farm and find out how the newly formed Girl Guides are supporting the war effort in their period camp. 1914 may have seen a good harvest, but what if the war was to continue, and the farm labourers were unable to return to tend to the land? Will you join the ladies of Gressenhall in a rally to highlight concerns over future harvests?

Visit a special exhibition by the Docking Heritage Group and discover more about the Docking boys who went to war – stories which mirror those of many Norfolk towns and villages. If you had relatives who served during the First World War, experts from the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum will be on hand to help you discover how to find out more about them and their experiences. Finally, take a moment to remember those who served in this conflict and others by adding a tissue paper poppy to our special memorial wall – a reminder of the fragility of human life.

Schools Out!

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Whatever the weather this summer, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse is a great place to visit with extra family activities each day of the week from 24 July to 3 September (except on Special Event Days). All events and activities are free with museum admission. For full details on everything happening this summer, and a discount voucher for admission, please download our Schools Out! leaflet.

The Great Outdoors
Thursday 24 July to Sunday 3 August (Except 26 July)

Get up close to nature this summer and explore Gressenhall’s wild side. Go on a scavenger hunt around the site, explore our nature table and find out more about the animals and insects that call Gressenhall home.

Harness Up!
Monday 4 to Saturday 23 August (Except 10 August)

Discover a day in the life of a horseman and find out about all the different trades who used to help keep the horses working on the farm. Make your own winning rosette to take home.

Go Go Gressenhall
Tuesday 26 August to Wednesday 3 September

Find new ways to travel around Gressenhall. Leap over to Art Attack! and make streamers to enhance your movements. Play games, win races and jump on down to the adventure playground.

Enter our Wildlife Photography Competition!

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Be inspired by Gressenhall’s beautiful surroundings and enter our wildlife photography competition for the chance to win a great voucher to spend at WEX Photographic Warehouse Express, Norwich and to have your work on show at our Apple Day!

Photographers under 18 - a £30 WEX voucher
Adults - a £50 WEX voucher

PLUS! Winners have the opportunity to have their pictures printed and displayed in WEX Norwich Showroom! Send us your wildlife images by 12noon on Wednesday 1 October 2014 for the chance to win and have your photograph on display at Apple Day on Sunday 19 October 2014. Please provide contact details and your age if under 18.

The competition will be judged by local wildlife photographer Simon Litten and member of WEX photographic team. Photographs must be taken within the grounds of Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.

Email entries to in JPEG format (maximum size 3MB). Maximum of 3 images per applicant.

Postal entries can be sent to: Photography Competition, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, Gressenhall, Dereham NR20 4DR

Voices from the Workhouse

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Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, over the next few months we will be exploring how we can improve our workhouse displays. Using recently revealed original accounts, we will tell the real stories of the people who lived and worked in the workhouse.

Inspired by this, our Live Interpretation Officer, Rachel Duffield, spent three weeks this spring ‘Living the Workhouse Diet’. Of the 21 meals, 12 involved beer...and five meant beer at breakfast for Rachel. How did she get on? Find out more about Rachel’s diet and the wider project on our Voices from the Workhouse webpage.

Thank Goodness for Gressenhall!

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Calling all teachers! Are you worried about changes to the National Curriculum?

All, we can say is ‘Thank Goodness for Gressenhall’!

Our Learning Team have made two short films to highlight how Gressenhall’s formal learning offer fits into the new curriculum - they are well worth watching!

The films are available to view on You Tube by clicking on the following links:

For the Foundation and KS1 programme, please click here

For the KS2 programme, please click here

More to see with our special exhibitions

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This year Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse is proud have an exhibition dedicated to Norfolk’s Last Horseman, Ray Hubbard. Ray is a regular face at Gressenhall events, and has recently donated much of his fascinating collection, amassed during a life spent working with horses, to the museum. Come and explore the tricks and tools of the trade.

The First World War affected everyone. Discover the impact on the people of Norfolk in our special exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the start of this conflict.

For more information on these, please see our Exhibitions page.

Object of the Month

Each month, we pick one of the many fascinating items from our collection as our Object of the Month. With over 50,000 objects to select from, we are really spoilt for choice! You can find out more in our Collections Corner.

Read more