Opening Times

The museum is now closed and will reopen on Saturday 6 February 2016.

The museum & theatre are open on Saturdays from 10-1 from February to November.

Great British Railway Journeys

You can see the musuem and theatre in an episode of the Great British Railway Journeys. It is still available on BBC iPlayer.

There’s a great review of the programme, and links to where you can watch it on iPlayer, here.

Friends of Normansfield NHS Booklet cover

A booklet advertising the Friends of Normansfield from the period when it was operating as an NHS Hospital.

The film documents the extraordinary life of Mabel Cooper, a one time patient of long stay hospital, St Lawrence’s, Kent for 20 years. Upon her release Mabel became the chair of People First and an ardent campaigner for the closure of long-stay hospitals for the rest of her life.

Using a contemporary fictional drama of a young man with a learning disability, Robin who goes in search of Mabel’s life where he delves into interviews with old friends, archive film footage and even her original files from her time in the hospital. Robin contemplates his own rights and barriers and questions whether Mabel’s campaigning legacy still requires further work.

Commissioned by the estate of the late Mabel Cooper to educate young people about the history of institutionalisation and the continued recognition of equality of opportunity for learning disabled people.

The film is part of a multi platform theatre and digital platform called ‘Madhouse re: exit’ produced by Advocreate and Access all Areas in partnership with the Open University Social history of learning disability and University of East London Rix Centre new ‘Living Archive’ digital resource.

OU History of Learning Disability

Open University Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group

The Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, based in the Faculty of Health & Social Care at The Open University, is committed to researching and disseminating learning disability history in ways which are inclusive of people with learning disabilities, their carers, relatives and advocates.

OU SHLD Conference 2016: Exploring Learning Disability: Why history? 7 and 8 July 2016 | The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes. Blog Post: Why History?

‘Langdon Down, The Legacy’:  a short film about the extraordinary Victorian building in London which is home to DSA UK.  Built by Dr John Langdon Down in 1868 as a place where people with learning disabilities could be cared for and educated, it is widely regarded as the ‘spiritual home’ of Down’s Syndrome.


Theatre Woodland Sunset rebuild _Z4C8963 (Large)

Normansfield Theatre Talk and Tour

10am to 12 noon Saturday 6 February 2016

10am to 12 noon Saturday 21 May 2016

A one hour talk about Normansfield’s Grade II* listed Victorian theatre. The talk will discuss why it came to be built and its purpose in the daily life of the hospital. The fixtures and fittings will be examined in detail. There will be a guided walk around the theatre, stage and back rooms. Also on show will be a selection of restored Victorian flats depicting a variety of scenery. Light refreshments will be provided. Cost: £10 per person.

See Talks and Tours in 2016

Theatre River scene_Z4C8936 sml (Large)

‘Normansfield – Protecting a Theatrical Past’. The Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA) has received £85,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its exciting project: ‘Normansfield – Protecting a Theatrical Past’.  The HLF’s grant means that vital building works can begin to protect the rare, Victorian Grade II* listed theatre and its remarkable collection of original, hand painted scenery.  The scenery, which has no equal anywhere else in Britain, is extraordinarily complete with more than 80 flats, 18 borders, 5 painted cloths and many individual pieces. Read full story here.


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