A nice day out in the 17th century: Time-travelling back 150 years at Little Woodham, a Hants slice of yesteryear
- Little Woodham is a family-friendly tourist attraction outside Portsmouth
- It pretends to be in the year 1642 – a time of the English Civil War
- Visitors can see craftsmen in action – without the use of electricity
Just outside Portsmouth in a secluded patch of woodland, it is still the year 1642.
Instead of electric heaters and overhead lights, people in the cottages here make do with smoky fires and candles.
All you have to do is walk down a wooded lane at the back of a modern council estate, and suddenly you find yourself transported back to the 17th century.
Step back in time: Little Woodham harks back to a bygone era
Little Woodham is a great experience for youngsters — and instructive for the not-so-young, too.
The first villager you meet is long-bearded potter Master Harris, who is clad in clothes that were fashionable 350 years ago. All day long, he works his foot-operated wheel, producing pots, plates and drinking vessels.
His neighbour is wood turner Master Etherington, whose home is a draughty cottage with just a wood fire and a rough-looking bed.
Next door, there’s young apothecary Master Simon, who grows herbal remedies for the sickly. Then there are ladies carving wool outside their front door, and the burly village blacksmith who hammers red-hot metal into shape, pausing only for his fish, potato and bread lunch.
Yes, you can forget oil and electricity; the materials the villagers use are all made of natural dyes and herbs (woad, camomile, St John’s wort).
Not only are the participants, clad from head to toe in 17th-century costume, but none of them get paid a single groat for their services. They do it all for the love of history.
‘We are all volunteers here,’ says village scribe Master Barry. ‘The only thing we don’t do is thatch the cottages. Apart from that everything is as it would be in 1642.’ That even extends to the younger population, who make themselves useful collecting sticks for brooms, and carrying out tasks for their parents.
And when they have a moment, they show the 21st-century children how they amuse themselves in this woodland setting, several centuries before TV and computers.
Travel Facts: Plan your own weekend visit
Little Woodham 17th Century Village Experience (littlewoodham. org.uk) is at Howe Road, Gosport, Hampshire, PO13 8AB.