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Haslemere Educational Museum

Founded: 1888        Governance: Independent Trust        Scope: Natural History, plus    Visited: Spring 2012

Haslemere Museum is a bit of an oddity, founded by the wealthy Quaker surgeon Sir Jonathan Hutchinson with the intention of bringing residents of this dark corner of Surrey, which even then was curiously isolated - and especially to the town's children - the benefits of the kind of educational museum setting freely available to people closer to London.  This is still reflected in the way the displays are arranged: at times you get the impression of walking round a miniature version of the great Natural History Museum in South Ken, proceeding through the story of the development of the Earth's flora and fauna, beginning with rocks and ending with mammals, taking in stuffed birds and the head of a gigantic and very digruntled looking whale shark along the way. You can still spot some Victorian labels if you keep your eyes peeled, but overall the displays are really imaginative. You also get a smattering of Egyptology and old toys for your money. The Museum's gardens contain more of interest including (according to the season) a working beehive you can look in and the original Green Lion whose modern replacement sits in Green Lion Field to the west of the town. I particularly liked the Green Lion because at Wycombe we had a Red Lion which used to sit outside the eponymous pub in the High Street, replaced by a modern one in the same position. Children would be awfully confused by its apparent bilocation. I wonder if they get the same at Haslemere.

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