A season of misty fruitfulness and... Percy

HISTORY The Weald and Downlands Museum. Picture: Max Tweddle
HISTORY The Weald and Downlands Museum. Picture: Max Tweddle
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Lucy Hockley from the Weald & Downland Museum near Chichester looks forward to the Autumn Countryside Show and the arrival of special guest Percy

THE weather feels very much like autumn is just around the corner – the museum’s market square and grassy bank look atmospherically dewy in the mornings.

Percy at Whittaker's Cottage

Percy at Whittaker's Cottage

This means that it must nearly be time for Percy and his friends to reappear around the site.

Percy is a scarecrow, right, lovingly made each year by our gardening team.

He even has a name badge and a special seat (a hay bale) in Whittaker’s Cottage garden. The birds will perhaps not be very scared by him and visitors find him quite lovely, but he does of course remind us how important the full crop was for the inhabitants of our historic homes.

Small as the gardens were, they would have been full of food for the family.

As many of us gather fruit or veg, and perhaps preserve them for the winter months, it is useful to remember how vital keeping produce was to many families in the past.

The little store cupboard inside Whittaker’s Cottage reminds us that even eggs, which are more plentiful in the summer months, could be kept.

This year Percy will have many new friends because we’ve invited our local community to make a scarecrow and display it here.

From school groups, local charities and small businesses, we hope many will be inspired. Scary or sweet, they will all be found here from October 8 at our Autumn Countryside Show until the end of half-term on October 30.

Labels will give the names of the scarecrows and share some of the enjoyment that the team of makers have had in their creations.

Scarecrows can be a fun activity to make with children or a group of any age; you can make mini-versions (as we do at half-term) with a lollypop-stick body, woollen hair and scraps of materials for clothing, or something much larger that can stand outside.

We’ll be sharing images of all the different scarecrows here using social media in October and will be looking out for what others have made too.