Welcome to Mrs Smith’s Cottage

Step into a different era and make yourself at home. You are surrounded by what is familiar and yet unfamiliar; ordinary and yet extraordinary. This is Mrs Smith’s home where her unique presence is felt in every authentic object, as if she has just stepped out for a moment. This is the story of one woman, in one home, through one century.

Mrs Smith

Mrs Smith was born Hilda Craven on the 28th of October 1892. Raised by her adoptive mother Mary Barrand, she went on to live a self-sufficient life through the enormous changes of the 20th Century. There is much to learn from the daily diaries she kept from 1948 to 1994, evidencing her principled existence and community spirit.
Listen to the memories of those that knew her here.

Her Cottage

Her humble cottage and garden belies a palpable sense of pride and contentment. From ‘the room’, reserved for high days and holidays, to the cozy kitchen where her rocking chair sits by the range. When the council urged Mrs Smith to modernise, she resisted their insistence on an inside toilet and continued climbing a ladder to her bedroom aged 102. This independence preserved a cottage which has been largely unchanged since the 1800s.

Our Learning Centre

This is not just a place to look back though, Hilda Smith was always interested in the future and what children had to say. The cottage now includes our Learning Centre, added during our Heritage Lottery Fund project. Here we host exhibitions, as well as providing hands-on learning for school groups and our NavenBees toddler group. Find our events here, and our education offer here.