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Bekonscot Model Village

834 of 1170 nominations


Bekonscot Model Village

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Bekonscot Model Village

Bekonscot Model Village is a mini-miracle, a major masterpiece on a minor (1:12) scale. Not one but six model villages nestle in the one-acre site in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, complete with a Gauge 1 model railway threading through it. Thatched cottages, a Tudor house, a castle, a windmill, a coal mine, a fairground, a cricket match, a scout camp and a fox hunt – all rural England is here. Unlike some model villages, these ones are mainly fictional, allowing the founder Roland Callingham, his gardener Tom Berry, and their host of enthusiastic successors to let their imaginations run free. Although some place-names and businesses have their real-life counterparts (Enid Blyton’s house Green Hedges, for example), others are excuses for gloriously bad puns: the greengrocer is Chris P Lettis. Beckonscot was opened to the public in 1929, making it the oldest model village in the world. In 1992 the decision was taken to send the village back in time, reversing the annual modernisations. Visiting Bekconscot today is a voyage of discovery, not only into a spectacularly detailed miniature world, but into an idyllic view of England’s past.

Photo: With kind permission from Bekonscot Model Village and Railway


Your comments

In 1929 an eccentric gentleman built a quintisentially English model village in his back garden. This is not just a quirky folly (although where else but England could one find such a thing?!) but an obsessive recreation of vintage buses, steam trains, telephone kiosks and villages across 2 acres of gardens. Stuck in a 1930s timewarp, to Bekonscot’s 14 million visitors it represents everything that makes England, England.

Tim Dunn

Model villages are full of gentle humour, unshowy eccentricity, polite notices and visitors enjoying being able to stare uninhibited into (little) people's lives ? these things feel like signs of Englishness to me. There are 'miniature parks' in other countries, but they don't seem to have the same focus as the English ones do on creating a nostalgic model of a particular community or place. The first ever model village was built in Buckinghamshire in the 1920s, so even if the idea has been exported, they are an English invention.
Ally Ireson

I'd forgotten all about the model village till i stumbled across it again on tinternet. Visited when I was about 8 with relatives. Now plan to take my son there soon as he enjoyed the website..can't wait to see it again in all its glory.

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I nominate the English weather.