Chippenham history centre offers an insight into Wiltshire at War (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Chippenham history centre offers an insight into Wiltshire at War
More than 500 people got a taste of Wiltshire at War at a Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre open day in Chippenham on Saturday.
Activities and artefacts brought to life battles involving the Wiltshire regiment, including the American War of Independence, presented by costumed Association of Crown Forces 1776 re-enactors with flintlock rifles.
About 120 children delved even further back in time with the Chippenham Museum Anglo-Saxon activities, decorating round shields, braiding bracelets and embossing brooches.
Those trying on chainmail and helmets with only slits to see out of got to appreciate the weight of the metal and the restricted vision.
A longbow activity was popular, with many aiming to knock down the knights behind the windows of the replica castle wall.
Laurel Miller, education officer at the centre, said: “It was very busy and a real mix of people, lots of families, couples and older people.
"I learnt something new myself; my favourite new fact is that when the Wiltshire Regiment served in the Boer War at the end of the 19th century, they crafted a white horse on the hillside at Bloemfontein.”
Dressed as a Tommy, Steve Williams showed how quickly he could reload a rifle, but also how a spade used to dig the trenches could in hand-to-hand combat be more effective in hitting someone over the head.
Mrs Miller said: “He was very knowledgeable and an extremely good speaker. He had all the children of all ages enchanted for over half an hour.
“There was a side of the trench made out of wood, which gave people an idea of the height and how they’d have to step up on a ledge to shoot over the top. It showed how it was reinforced with wooden planks so it didn’t cave in.”
The open day, which allowed visitors a peek inside the strongrooms, was the seventh since the history centre on Cocklebury Road opened in 2007 and the first on a war theme. Other days have looked at Victorians, royalty and the Middle Ages.
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