Address: 81-83 High Street, Great Missendon, Buckinghamshire, HP16 0AL
We were very excited to be invited to visit the Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre, especially as he is my absolute favourite children’s author. Every one of his stories is filled with magic and excitement and he brings to life a whole new world of imagination. The guy is an absolute genius. Fact. My favourite of all his books (and it’s a very tough choice, closely followed by Charlie and The Chocolate Factory) is the BFG. There is just something so entrancing about the BFG and his wonderful made up words that I absolutely adore. The film based on the book which was released in 2016 is also now one of my fave kids movies. Lilian and Lois’s favourite is Matilda, another absolute classic.
We arrived at the museum shortly after it opened for the day and were greeted by friendly staff who gave us our wristbands, museum guide and quiz sheet, as well as a little book and pencil each for the children to write their own story ideas and inspirations in, which I thought was a lovely touch!
We entered the first gallery called ‘Boy’ through the giant Wonka bar doors which actually smell like real chocolate – amazing!
In ‘Boy’ gallery you can learn all about Roald Dahl’s childhood including his family, school life and the tricks he used to play on people! A lot of his stories were inspired by things from his childhood and it was fascinating to learn about these links. We enjoyed seeing old family photos and reading some of the letters he wrote to his ‘Mamma’ from boarding school. There was also a trunk full of old school uniforms, similar to the one he wore at boarding school, which children could try on.
Next we explored the Solo gallery. This is where we found out all about Roald’s adult life, including his time in the RAF and of course his story writing. Cody particularly enjoyed exploring the plane cockpit, while the girls looked for hidden treasures in the peep holes and drawers around the gallery.
One of my favourite parts of the museum was the Roald Dahl height chart. This allows visitors to see which character they are the same height as. Cody was half the size of Roald Dahl, Lois was Matilda, Lilian was The Grand Witch, whilst Danny and I managed to be the same heights as Mr & Mrs Twit – not sure what they’re trying to say?!
Our other favourite thing in the Solo gallery was of course the Roald Dahl writing hut. While the hut itself isn’t the original, the contents inside are all taken from his actual writing hut that he did all his writing in at the bottom of the garden and are placed in the exact positions they were found. Roald liked to have his writing desk and light in exactly the right position and had a table of weird and wonderful nick-naks next to him, including his actual hip bone which was given to him by the surgeon after his hip replacement! There are photos and details about all the objects on display and some of the stories behind them are fascinating. It is a real little treasure trove, complete with dust from the original hut!
There were so many fascinating facts about Roald’s life, including a photo of the man who the BFG was based upon (and you can really see the likeness!) and a display of some of the clothing worn in the new BFG movie. Did you know that the little girl in the BFG was originally going to be a boy but Roald decided he wanted to include his Granddaughter Sophie so he changed it!
Further on through the museum is the Story Centre. This is where children are encouraged to come up with their own ideas and stories. There are craft areas for designing your own characters and story bags with props linked to each individual book. One of our favourite things in this area was the stop motion movie maker. The girl’s loved making up their own short stories using the different backgrounds and props. Such a great interactive way of encouraging kids to use their imaginations and make up their own stories.
The Story Centre is also where story telling sessions take place at regular intervals throughout the day and there is a replica of Roald Dahl’s chair to sit in and have a go at writing your own story.
After having a good look round the galleries we decided to head to Cafe Twit for a bite to eat – solely for the purpose of the review of course!
Be warned that the cafe is extremely small and really not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs. It was a very busy Sunday when we visited and every seat was taken so we sat in the additional seating area next door. Having said that, the staff were lovely and our cakes were scrumdiddlyumptious! My scone was freshly homemade and still warm. It was one of the best I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot of scones!).
On the day of our visit there were additional activities being held in ‘Miss Honey’s Classroom’ with the RSPB. The children enjoyed making a bird feeder each and masks. Check the website (link above) for details of future events when planning your visit.
To finish off our visit we had a trip to the museum shop. It was full of the most wonderful Roald Dahl story related goodies from books to tea towels, t-shirts, magnets, etc, you name it they had it. So many lovely things beautifully illustrated by the equally talented Quentin Blake. I could have bought everything in the shop! You can also order online via the museum website so do take a look.
There isn’t enough space to take pushchairs around the museum easily but there is a buggy park and cloakroom between the shop and the first gallery where you can leave them. It can get quite packed during busy periods (such as a wet Sunday afternoon when we went!) so I would advise booking online to ensure entry and try to go during a quieter period. The car park for the museum is well signposted and is a 500 yard walk down the road (parking is free on sundays, pay and display the rest of the week).
In total we spent around 3 hours enjoying the museum and cafe. It is a fascinating place to visit, especially for a huge Roald Dahl fan like me and is very inspirational in encouraging children to write. No visit is complete without a visit to Cafe Twit so do pop in and try one of their delicious homemade cakes (lunch items including paninis, soup, jacket poatatos, etc are also available at a reasonable price). You could make this a full day out by following the village trail and countryside trail walks (maps are available in the museum) and perhaps even visiting Roald Dahl’s grave just down the road.
If you have any book worms in your family then the Roald Dahl Museum is most definitely the place for them! It certainly got a big thumbs up from us!
Disclaimer: The Roald Dahl Museum kindly gifted us tickets to visit the museum, however they had no involvement in this review. All photos, words and opinions are that of my own 🙂
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