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Wardown Park Museum

Wardown Park Museum

Wardown Park Museum, formerly the Luton Museum & Art Gallery in Luton, is housed in a large Victorian mansion in Wardown Park on the outskirts of the town centre. The museum collection focuses on the traditional crafts of Bedfordshire, notably lace-making and hat-making. There are samples of Bedfordshire lace from as early as the 17th century.

Robert How built the first property within the park, called Bramingham Shott, which is the current home to the museum.[1] In the early 1870s the estate was taken over by local solicitor, Frank Chapman-Scargill, he rebuilt much of the earlier house in 1879 for a total cost of £10,000. Scargill left Luton in 1893 and the house and property was let to B.J.H Forder who renamed the estate Wardown.


In 1903 the then owners, (the Stewart Family, whose famous son, Sir Malcolm Stewart founded the London Brick Company) decided to sell the house and 11-acre (45,000 m2) park, and placed the property up for sale. The property was bought by Luton Council in 1904.[1] Over the next few years extensive improvements were implemented, many new trees were planted, as well as new footpaths and bridges being constructed. The layout of the park today is very much as it was in this period. A bowling green was built in 1905.During the First World War Wardown House was pressed into service as a hospital, firstly by the Royal Army Medical Corps, and then the Voluntary Aid Detachments of the British Red Cross Society.Mrs Nora Durler and Mrs Mary Green were the Joint Commandants.The Luton Museum was transferred to the house in 1931.

The museum has a collection of circa 700 hats and pieces of head wear.The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment gallery, produced by the Imperial War Museum, explains the history of the local regiment.The first floor galleries were refurbished and opened as the Luton Life displays in February 2003. This was partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The museum displays explore stories of Luton people over the past 150 years.The ground floor displays include the Living Landscape gallery which displays local archaeology and natural history, including the Shillington Roman coin hoard and an Iron Age mirror.

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