Category Archives: Exhibitions

A Taste of History : Demonstration and Tasting of Salad through the Ages

Wednesday 12 July 6.30 – 8.30pm

including Free Admission to the Museum from 1.30pm to view the Feeding the Family special exhibition

Join cook and food historian Monica Askay to learn about salads of the past and their varied and surprising ingredients. A cookery demonstration with tastings, this will be an opportunity to see salads from three different periods assembled and try them. The ticket includes soft drinks and a handout on salads from medieval times to World War II. Be inspired to create your own historically-informed salads at home!

£40 per person (adults 18 and over), limited to 15 places so book now!

Monica Askay website

Information on allergens:

17th century salad ingredients include sulphites and nuts.

18th century salad ingredients include fish, eggs, celery and raw apple

Victory in the Kitchen

This ‘Deliciously Entertaining’ book is the story of a woman who was not a royal, not rich, not famous; someone who simply worked hard and enjoyed her life. But while Georgina Landemare saw herself as ordinary, her accomplishments were anything but. Georgina started her career as a nursemaid and ended it cooking for one of the best-known figures in British history: Winston Churchill.

To him, food was central, not only as a pleasure but as a diplomatic tool at a time when the world was embroiled in war. With this eager eater and his skilled cook, ranging from rural Berkshire to wartime London, via Belle Epoque Paris and prohibition-era New York, Annie Gray shows how life in service – and food – changed during the huge upheavals of the twentieth century.

On sale in the Museum Shop at £9.99

The Hidden History Project


Thursday 4th May saw a new display launch in style at Saffron Walden Museum.
Earlier this year, a group of young people and facilitators from The Lodge – a consent-based, self-directed learning community based in Saffron Walden – formed a collaboration with the Museum.
They toured the museum and visited the off-site store, to explore the collections, and to see what they could find behind the scenes.
Once they had ‘magpied’ their items and areas of interest, they dug further into the meaning and significance of the items to them. The group played with diverse ways of interpreting and exploring their thoughts and connection to the items, including writing fictional stories about them, creating artwork inspired by them, finding out more about their contexts and histories, and reflecting on how they provoked their own thoughts and feelings. The group enjoyed selecting their items from the collections, displaying them in their own way and then presenting the finished display to invited guests, parents and the rest of The Lodge group. This display is part of the Your Stories : Community Showcase programme, in which the museum facilitates and features community co-curated displays.

Saffron Walden Museum Dishes up a New Exhibition!

Feeding the Family :

a history of dining from Roman times to Present Day

1 April – 2 July 2023

Saffron Walden Museum dishes up a new exhibition!

The new exhibition showcases the history of food preparation and food serving from Roman times to the present day.

Throughout history, people have laboured to put food on the table. The Museum draws on its own collections and historical sources to see what local families might have been preparing and eating over the last 2,000 years.

Food is always a major topic and these days more so than ever. Affordability, supply, diet and environmental sustainability are all in the news. We wanted to explore how our meals and food fashions have changed throughout history.

Visitors to the exhibition will get the chance to see original recipes as well as typical dishes and tableware from each time-period. To accompany the display there will also be mystery food smells to identify, and why not decorate a plate with a picture of your favourite meal and add it to our display.

In conjunction with this exhibition, the museum has partnered with Uttlesford Foodbank to help our visitors learn more about their vital work, helping local residents who are struggling to afford to feed their families.

Aphrodisiacs – Valentines Day

Folklore, mythology and superstition informs our knowledge of aphrodisiacs. One of the oldest referenced in literature is arugula, dark leafy greens, whilst Cleopatra, reportedly bathed in saffron infused milk.

Ancient Egyptians are believed to have favoured fennel, ginger, pomegranates and radishes mixed with honey, as well as lettuce, a “favourite food” of the fertility god Min.

Some aphrodisiacs have become popular for their perceived luxury, such as truffles, foie gras, caviar and Champagne.

There have been some eccentric aphrodisiacs, like bird’s nest soup (made from real bird’s nests of the swiftlet bird, using solidified saliva), sparrow tongues and a tincture of eels and charred newt!

Although, unusual ones like Ambergris (a solid waxy substance originating in a sperm whale’s intestine), Bufotenine (from Bufo toads), Yohimbine (tree bark), have been shown to have some scientific benefits.

In Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love, was “born” when she rose from the sea, hence seafood is commonly known as an aphrodisiac, but it does have a grounding in science, as seafood is high in zinc.In legend, strawberries originated from the heart shaped tears of Aphrodite after she learned of her lover Adonis’ death. Strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C which boosts chemical neurotransmitters in the brain. Concentrations of vitamin E and potassium in asparagus, omega-3 in salmon and walnuts and hot spicy food, are good for heart health and improve hormone production.

Pomegranates, watermelon, olive oil, cherries and red wine are high in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation in the body. Avocados and bananas are high in B vitamins which boost energy. Garlic is high in allicin which increases blood flow and overall cardiovascular wellness. Ginseng, Maca (a Peruvian plant), and fenugreek have also been found to have proven scientific benefits.

Celery contains traces of androsterone, which has been found in studies to make men more attractive. The question is how much celery would you have to consume to start sweating a love potion!

Coming soon…our new special exhibition on food history from ancient times to present day, opens Saturday 1st April #valentinesday #foodhistory #exhibitions

Museum Tours in November

Saturday 12 November & Wednesday 16 November


Introductory Museum Gallery Tours

Join Human History Officer, Jenny Oxley on a whistle stop introductory tour of the museum’s galleries.

Free activity, but Museum Admission fee applies. 

You can book in advance by emailing 

Object in Focus: Partnership project with the Horniman Museum


Objects in Focus is a loans programme run by the Horniman Museum in London, funded by Arts Council England, which aims to improve access to their collections and strengthen their partnerships with other museums and cultural organisations, by offering a range of objects for loan free of charge.

In July the Museum is loaning some tattoo design examples from the Horniman Museum under this Objects in Focus scheme.  These tattoo models from Sarawak, Borneo date to the 19th century.  We will use them, along with other items from our collections, to share with visitors more about the history of tattooing around the world.

The display will also include a tattoo implement from Fiji, made from a bone plate with a bamboo handle, which has been decorated with plaited coconut fibre.  It was collected in Viti Levu, Fiji, Oceania Polynesia in 1876.

The display will be supplemented by an online talk by Dr Lodder, from the University of  Essex, who curated the British Tattoo Art Revealed exhibition which was on display in 2018 at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall, of which you can find out more here

New Special Exhibition – All Fired Up!

Essex Fire Museum and Saffron Walden Museum have collaborated to create a unique presentation of the history of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, which will go on display at Saffron Walden Museum from Saturday 2 April. 

Research for this exhibition has been undertaken at Saffron Walden Library, Essex Record Office Access Point based at Saffron Walden Library and at the Gibson Library and the Essex Fire Museum. Staff and volunteers also visited the Saffron Walden Fire Station and met current serving fire fighters. Local people have also generously lent archival information and related artefacts for the displays.

Visitors to the exhibition at Saffron Walden Museum will be able to explore some of the fascinating stories of firefighting across Essex. The exhibits include a wide range of artefacts, photographs, uniforms and equipment which trace the history of firefighting from Victorian times to the present-day. It will also feature private and works’ fire brigades, which were particularly prominent in Essex during the 20th century.  

Along with discovering some of the technological developments which have influenced firefighting, visitors will also be able to discover heroic stories of bravery and the human stories behind some of the major incidents which have occurred in the county’s history. The exhibition also touches upon some of the more obscure aspects of local fire-fighting history, including a troupe of fire-fighting scouts, a famous fire-fighting Vicar and the story of how an obscure family pet caused a local mansion to go up in flames.

The exhibition will be held in the temporary exhibitions gallery at Saffron Walden Museum, Museum Street, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 1BN from Saturday 2nd April to Sunday 3 July 2022.

A launch event for the exhibition is to be held on Saturday 2nd April, 10am-3.30pm. Vintage Fire Engines and Equipment will be on display on the museum’s forecourt. Standard Museum Admission charges apply.

For more information about the exhibition please contact: Jenny Oxley, Collections Officer (Human History) 01799 510333

More information can also be found on the Museum’s website and on our social media feeds.