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Beaconsfield is located 23.6 miles / 38 km WNW of London (or 18 minutes drive from Heathrow). It is home to a lovely miniature museum in the open air. Called Bekonscot Model Village, it is “the world’s oldest and original model village”, and it’s a perfect place for a family day out with children.
Created by Roland Callingham in the 20s, it was intended to delight Roland and his friends (source). After becoming open to the public, over 14.000.000 visited the village (June 2016). HRM Queen Elizabeth visited the miniature world on the day the turned 8 (source).
We visited Bekonscot Model Village with the children in June 2016 for the first time. Since then, we have been there twice. It is a lovely place, a village in which you feel like Gulliver in Lilliput.
The place looks amazing right from the entrance. As you go down the small streets it fascinates you with the stories of its inhabitants. Every little detail, so carefully thought of, catches your attention.
To make sure the walk is pleasant for all the visitors, there are small arrows on the alleys. You always know which way to go to make sure you manage to see everything without disrupting other visitors’ walk. However, in case you have an ’emergency’, there is a sign at the entrance for a shortcut to the toilets.
Also, to protect the building from curious visitors, there are small fences. They were perfect for my daughter to hold on to when she was starting walking, last year.
Among the buildings, there are streets and train tracks for electric trains. I think adding them to the village was a very smart move. Absolutely all the kids were fascinated by the trains! They kept following them all around and shouting to each other “Look, here comes another one!” and “Over there, under the tunnel, it’s gonna come out!”. There are bridges and tunnels and the trains go over or under them. This is a whole adventure, pretty exciting for the kids!
The buildings are also fascinating and the inhabitants look so real! Everything recreates the atmosphere from the 30s and has all the details needed to bring the village to life. For example, in the photo below you can see the shoe shop that actually has lots of tiny shoes!
In the centre of the village, there is a lake and a pier, with boats and a lighthouse. In the water, you can actually see real fish swimming around. Speaking of lakes: towards the exit there is a small lake with a lighthouse. Here, for 1£, the kids can play with boats via remote control. A train track surrounds the small lake. Visitors can go for a ride if they hop aboard next to the entrance (price not included in the ticket).
Another attraction in this miniature village is the house in the photo below. It periodically catches fire and the smoke coming from the roof can be seen from almost any place in the village. Of course, the firefighters rush to the scene with two fire engines and make sure no one is hurt.
Next to this house, you can see a construction site. The steam roller actually moves back and forth and catches children’s attention.
Speaking of moving, all around the village there are things that move or make sounds. You can hear a choir at a cathedral, see acrobats performing stunts at the circus, a woman cleaning a window or the carousel moving at the funfair.
All the backyards look realistic and they all have a story. Some of the buildings, including the hospital, allow the visitors to peep inside through the roof or windows and see what’s going on.
In Bekonscot village there are also castles, hospitals, schools, sports areas (basketball, football, polo), a horse race, an airport, hotels, beaches and a camping site.
A river runs across the village and the inhabitants can canoe. They can also go with the cable car that actually works.
Every little inhabitant of the village is carefully placed in the story, every little detail is connected with another one. With every step you take, you discover a new story. And that is fascinating for all ages, and trust me, I know what I am talking about! The first time we visited this place my son was three and asked to go through the whole village, from start to finish, three times! We managed to explore the miniature world for three hours. A few months later we went there again, and a few weeks ago… yes, you guessed it, we visited again! And we are not done with Bekonscot as it is a really lovely place to spend a day out.
Update: the video below was filmed by me in April 2021.
Tips for a visit to Bekonscot Model Village and Railway with children:
- opening times are 10am to 5.30pm, with last admission at 4.30pm, from mid-February to late autumn
- facilities include Disabled Toilets/Baby Changing facilities, Tea Room, Picnic Areas, First Aid, Rain Shelters, Playground, Souvenir Shop, wheelchairs available
- there is a limited number of free car parking spaces at St Teresa’s Church car park (close to the model village)
- at the family tea room there usually are gluten-free and dairy-free food options
- you will need coins for the remote controlled boats and pirate blast water cannons
Photos: all made by me in June 2016.