On the way back to Oxford from Bibury, we stopped by Northleach for an hour. About a 5-min walk from our bus stop was the Mechanical Music Museum, where we had a quick guided tour of how the oldest mechanical instruments worked. It was truly a fascinating experience as we got to hear live sound from the self-playing instruments in a cozy room decorated in Victorian style. The museum is in the Oak House, where a wealthy wool merchant once lived.
A full tour should last between 45-60 mins. Although we could not stay for the whole tour, we decided to do it anyway. Demonstrations included Barrel Pianos, Musical Boxes and Polyphons.
Even though I was introduced to a variety of instruments and learned about their history, the thing I remember most vividly is the uplifting and graceful melody of an English song, Daisy Bell, written in 1892. Interestingly, YouTube has a children version of the song.
Don’t miss the sweet surprise at the end:
I highly recommend this museum to visitors of all ages. Not only is it an award-winning museum and has received lots of good reviews on TripAdvisor, but it also offers an informative and entertaining tour. It is a great chance to look closely at a rare collection of 18th- and 19th-century intricate musical devices. In a nutshell, it is a feast for the eye as much as for the ear.
P.S: Northleach is a historic town, which is a hidden gem itself. The wool trade used to be the town’s main commerce in the 15th and 16th centuries, hence merchants’ houses.