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The best must-visit museums of Wiltshire

Posted on 11th February 2015

Image Credit: Gillett’s Crossing (flickr.com)

To really understand an area that you are visiting you need to know the history of it, and one of the best ways to do so is to visit the best museums in the area.

Wiltshire is a popular destination for a break in the UK and luckily for people that are on Wiltshire cottage holidays there are plenty of museums where you can learn more about the history of the county.

Here we take you through some of the museums that should certainly be on your bucket list during a holiday to the historic county.

Wiltshire Museum

To get a great overview of the county then you need to visit the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.

The museum has gold on show that dates back to the time Stonehenge was created, as well as the best collection of Bronze Age archaeology items in the whole of Britain.

The Prehistoric Wiltshire Galleries at the museum give visitors an insight into the people who built and used Stonehenge and Avebury.

There are also interactive displays that families will enjoy and the museum often puts on a number of events throughout the year.

STEAM – The Museum of the Great Western Railway

Image Credit: Hugh Llewelyn (flickr.com)

The Swindon-based museum allows visitors to jump in and explore famous trains from years gone by and is housed in an eye-catching Grade II listed railway building.

STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway is not just for steam engine and train enthusiasts as there really is something for everyone at the museum. Visitors can have a close-up look at the trains and can actually become an engine driver for the day, practice changing the signal lights or walk underneath the 80-ton Caerphilly Castle locomotive.

Salisbury Museum

People staying in holiday cottages in Salisbury in Wiltshire will find more than just Salisbury Cathedral in the city, as another must-visit attraction is the Salisbury Museum.

The Salisbury Museum is based in The King’s House, which in itself is a great reason to visit.

The museum is home to some world-class collections too. Take the Wessex Gallery of archaeology, for example, which has the Warminster Jewel, the Amesbury Archer and the Monkton Deverill gold torc on display.

The museum also has galleries that display pottery, a pre-NHS surgery, paintings, embroidery and other costumes from the 17th century.

The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum

Image Credit: Javi Vte Rejas (flickr.com)

Salisbury is also home to The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum. Visitors can freely explore the house, its stunning gardens and its amazing collection of military memorabilia.

Anyone interested in military history should visit the museum as visitors can browse through over 16,000 photographs, 6,000 archive documents, 4,000 medals, a thousand items of uniform and approximately 500 weapons, including a cannon ball from the American War of Independence.

The building, known as ‘the Wardrobe’, which now houses historic memorabilia from regiments in Berkshire, Wiltshire, Hertfordshire, Lanarkshire and Gloucestershire, was once used by the Bishop of Salisbury as a storehouse and administrative base.

Trowbridge Museum

Trowbridge was once known as the ‘Manchester of the West’ for its production of clothing and blankets, and the Trowbridge Museum explains the story behind the woollen town.

The award-winning museum is the only specialist textile museum in Wiltshire and now has around 19,000 items on display. Visitors can see working textile machinery, a medieval castle and a cottage where a weaver used to live.

The museum is renowned for being child friendly and has a history hunt and trails for the kids to go on.