Abbey Museum – A legacy of Magnitude

I had the privilege to chat with Michael Strong, Senior Curator of the Abbey Museum at Caboolture in QLD Australia. Michael has a wealth of knowledge as an archaeologist and with that he provides and immensely interesting side to our heritage that most people do not even know about.

The following extracted from the Abbey Museum website at – worth a visit!

The Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology has its roots in the Abbey Folk Park, established by Rev. JSM Ward at New Barnet, England, in 1934.

John SM Ward, founder of the Abbey Museum collection

Born in British Honduras in 1885 and educated at Cambridge, John Ward developed an interest in collecting antiquities as a child. In 1929, following a profound spiritual experience, he founded a utopian religious community at Hadley Abbey and established the Abbey Folk Park, Britain’s first social history museum.

War, migration and death

“The man who collects houses
A pioneer of modern museology, Ward displayed artefacts in sympathetic historic settings. Dubbed “the man who collects houses” by the press, Ward amassed 30 salvaged historic buildings at the folk park, where he displayed his substantial collection of prehistoric, classical and medieval antiquities. Ward constructed a replica prehistoric village, making him an innovator of experimental archaeology and open air museums.

23 WE 1-2 Lake Dwelling

In 1940 during the London Blitz, the Abbey Folk Park was forced to close; it never reopened. In 1945 the museum buildings and the bulk of the collections were sold to finance the migration of Ward and members of his community to Cyprus where he died in 1949. The escalation of violence as Greek Cypriots campaigned for union with Greece forced the community to relocate again to Australia in 1956; they eventually settled in Caboolture, Queensland, in 1965.

Ward’s Museum reborn at Caboolture

In 1978 it was decided to make the remaining collection available to the public and the Museum Board was formed, appointing Michael Strong (M.A. Archaeology & Heritage) as Director. A selection of the collection was displayed in a temporary building while funding was sought to build a permanent museum. With the securing of assistance from government and public sources, construction commenced in 1983. In June 1986 the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology was officially opened. In 1999 a small manuscript gallery was opened, named in honour of Professor Richard Stephens who served as Board chairman from 1993-2003.

COME TO THE MUSEUM and see for yourself !!

If you enjoyed this article, Get email updates (It’s Free)



See us on Social