The Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum is a visitor attraction at Halland, East Sussex, England. The site has a wildfowl collection, small motor museum and the house with its formal garden are all open to the public.
The house at Bentley was bought by Gerald and Mary Askew in 1937 and following the Second World War the couple developed the house and garden and started a wildfowl collection. Two large Palladian rooms were added to each end of the original house. Following the death of Gerald Askew in 1970, Mary gave the nucleus of the estate to the people of East Sussex. Mary continues to live in part of the house and the site was developed as a tourist attraction. In 2004 due to increasing running costs the East Sussex Council offered to sell the property back to the Askew family for £1.25m or it would sell the property on the open market. Fortunately the Askews purchased the estate and placed it in the hands of a trust in order to ensure it remains open to the public for the foreseeable future.
The woods in the area a very important part of the park. The pigs live in sties here in the winter and several Iron Age huts have been constructed using timber from the surrounding trees and authentic traditional methods. There is a woodsman who maintains the ecosystem and annually a fantastic wood fair is held, where many woodland crafts, such as fire-making, are displayed. Craft days are often held and children's parties can be arranged. In the autumn carthorses are brought in to help with bringing in the timber. The forest is an important habitat for robins and many other songbirds, woodpeckers, common pheasants, deer and grey squirrels. The surrounding fields are a good habitat for moles (who leave behind a lot of hills) and rabbits. In order to reach the woods one can walk or take the small trains from the mini railway that links up the park to Glyndebourne Station.
The quiet, peaceful gardens are quite secretively located behind the house and include well laid ponds and statues of sphinxes. Songbirds and moorhens live in the gardens.
As part of the 1970s development as a tourist attraction the Motor Museum was opened, it is not a collection as most of the vehicles are owned by private individuals and are on loan to the museum.
In 1962 influenced by the Sussex artist Philip Rickman and a visit to the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge the Askew's started a collection of wildfowl. A pond was dug in a nearby field which was poor agricultural land and the collection was started. The collection now has examples of 125 of the 147 species of wildfowl.
- ↑ Rebecca Allison. "Gift of country estate turns sour". Guardian. Retrieved on 2011-01-11.
- ↑ http://www.bentley.org.uk/#/motormuseum/4525135745
- Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum Guide (undated)
- Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum
- Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum 360 degree panoramic virtual tours
- Bentley Miniature Railway
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