The American Museum
- Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD
The American Museum in Britain located 4 miles east of Bath and founded not only to display fine American furniture and decorative arts, but also as a means of fostering greater Anglo-American understanding.
Claverton Manor was designed for John Vivian, Solicitor to the Excise, by Sir Jeffry Wyatville (architect and garden designer), architect to George IV. Constructed of Bath stone, the building was begun in 1820 to replace the old Jacobean manor in Claverton village. The house is a thirty-room Georgian mansion occupying a prominent position overlooking the valley of the River Avon.
On 26 July 1897 when he was 23, Winston Churchill made his first political speech here. The manor has extensive grounds which include a fernery; an American apple orchard; a colonial herb garden; and a replica of George Washington's garden at Mount Vernon. There are a number of fine trees of North American origin which form an American arboretum.
The American Museum in Britain opened to the public in 1961 – the achievement of three friends: Dr Dallas Pratt (an American psychiatrist and collector), John Judkyn (a British born antiques dealer, who had become a United States citizen) and Nick Bell Knight (a furniture restorer employed at nearby Freshford Manor, Judkyn’s business base in Britain).
Dallas Pratt and John Judkyn considered establishing a museum of Americana in Britain as early as 1956, after visiting several historic houses and ‘living history’ museums in the United States.
Collecting for the museum began in earnest in 1958, facilitated by Judkyn’s business contacts
The museum, now over forty years since its opening, is still the only museum of Americana outside the United States.
The museum takes you on a journey through the history of America, from its early settlers to the 20th century. With its remarkable collection of folk and decorative arts, the museum shows the diverse and complex nature of American culture. The only museum of Americana outside the United States, the museum was founded to bring American history and cultures to the people of Britain and Europe.
The museum’s collection of furniture, paintings, quilts, silver and glass is presented in a series of period rooms within the historic Claverton Manor. Our textile and map collections are also on show in the Textile Room and Map Room. In the basement is the new permanent American Heritage Exhibition, which tells the stories of the Founding Fathers, Native Americans and the Civil War, through a series of interactive galleries that bring the development of America and American culture to life with bright and tactile exhibits - great for kids of all ages!
Each year there is a different special exhibition but in 2012 there will be two!
- From 10 March – 1 July The Compassionate Eye: Birds and Beasts from the American Museum’s Print Collection will show striking prints by 20th century American artists many of which not displayed at the Museum previously.
- From 14th July to 28th October By Way of These Eyes: The Hyland Collection juxtaposes iconic Stateside images from the early 1900s with vibrant photographs of 21st century America.
Throughout the season there is a range of exciting events planned, including traditional American music concerts, Kids’ activities and Living History Events.
Claverton Manor Gardens and Grounds
The American Museum in Britain is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The hilltop site of the museum’s home, Claverton Manor, takes full advantage of the spectacular views over the Limpley Stoke Valley and the River Avon.
The grounds total some 120 acres, of which 40 are open to visitors. An arboretum devoted to American trees and shrubs flanks a unique replica of George Washington’s flower garden at Mount Vernon, Virginia. Below this has been added the Lewis and Clark trail, containing trees and shrubs discovered on the pioneering expedition across the States, over 200 years ago. The parkland, with its majestic old cedars, provides a circular walk through ancient meadows, while above the house a path has been created through woodland. A small vegetable garden, dye plant area and colonial herb garden give a flavour of early colonial plantings.
Remnants of the old Italianate style manorial pleasure gardens and parkland, dating from the 1820s, can be seen within the grounds, including period features such as the grotto, the balustrade and curtain walling, as well as ornamental stone work. This work is attributed to George Vivian, son of the original owner of Claverton Manor, John Vivian.
You may picnic in the grounds during regular public hours. You are asked to respect the beauty of the grounds and to remove all rubbish when you leave.
Picnickers may not use the Orangery Café or terrace tables as these are reserved for café service. There is also a designated picnic area near the entrance gate, by the main car park.
Well behaved dogs are welcome in the grounds provided they are on a leash at all times. Dogs are not allowed in any of the museum buildings except guide dogs.
Website: www.americanmuseum.org; Tel: 01225 460 503
Room Hire, Private Events and Wedding Receptions
Claverton Manor is available for Private parties wishing to book a meeting/event, lunch or dinner and for Wedding Receptions.
See also - Famous Americans with Cotswold Connections
See also - Henry Ford's relocation of a Cotswold Cottage to Greenfield Village USA