Beamish museum is a surreal place. It aims to preserve historic buildings and scenes from everyday life in north-east England, dating from different periods. However it is a carefully edited view of the past. For example, many of the buildings were dismantled at their original location and re-built as part of the museum, which makes for a very strange place, neither real nor fiction.
This is St Helen’s church which originally stood in Eston, North Yorkshire from around 1100 until it was moved, brick-by-brick, in 2012. The stones have been left with their markers on, like a giant jigsaw puzzle.
I admire the dedication and craft that has gone into building the museum, but I found it an unsettling experience. It feels almost sinister in its cleanliness and perfection. The museum undoubtedly preserves beautiful things that would have otherwise been lost, but there is surely a danger in curating the past, glorifying the ‘good old days’ when everything was simpler and better.