To celebrate the Roald Dahl Museum’s 10th birthday, we peek in the archive and delve into the past to bring you these phizz-whizzing facts
1. The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre opened ten years ago in June 2005 and was the idea of Felicity "Liccy" Dahl, Roald Dahl’s widow. She wanted to ensure that the museum was a place that inspired a love of reading and creativity in children.
2. The Museum is situated in the middle of Great Missenden, the village where Roald Dahl spent most of his life. The village and surrounding area provided the inspiration for many of his stories, including Danny, the Champion of the World, Matilda, The BFG and Fantastic Mr Fox. Roald Dahl is buried in the graveyard of the church of St Peter and St Paul on the outskirts of the village, where you can see giant footsteps leading to his grave and a carved wooden bench with the names of his family.
3. The buildings that make up the Museum used to be a 17th century coaching inn, a bank, a stables, a meeting hall and a hairdresser’s salon.
4. The dark paving slabs of the courtyard were chosen as they look like chocolate, and there is a time capsule buried somewhere beneath them. Amongst the items it contains is a poem by Neil Rollinson written about the construction of the Museum, a chocolate bar and messages from Roald Dahl’s grandchildren.
5. The ‘living roof’ above the Crocodile Corridor is covered in sedum plants; this, along with the silver birch trees in the courtyard, was deliberately chosen to reflect Roald Dahl’s Norwegian heritage.
6. Roald Dahl’s archive of the manuscript drafts of his stories, letters, photographs and items connected to his life and work is kept at the museum in a specially constructed environmentally controlled room. You can look inside the archive store and see a selection of materials every month on our Archive Tours.
7. The interior of Roald Dahl’s Writing Hut, where he wrote his stories, is displayed in Solo Gallery. It is exactly as he left it, including the contents of the waste paper bin and the photographs and drawings on the wall. Even the dust on the floor was swept up, treated to remove any bugs and replaced on the floor to ensure that the Hut retained its character.
8. The courtyard gates were given to the Museum by Warner Bros after the release of the 2005 film version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp. They are copies of the gates of Willy Wonka’s factory seen in the film.
9. Some of the strange and wonderful objects that we hold in the Museum are: a rock veined with opal sent to Roald Dahl from children in Australia; Roald Dahl’s writing chair, customised for comfort by the author; a very heavy metal ball made of the silver foil from chocolate wrappers; Roald Dahl’s actual false teeth; a mouse in a jar of gobstoppers; a red plastic box that Roald Dahl kept his chocolate supplies in; a pair of large leather Norwegian sandals that were the inspiration for the BFG’s shoes; and two anamatronic Oompa-Loompas from the 2005 film of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
10. Famous people who have visited the Museum over the years include Michael Rosen, David Walliams, Tim Minchin, Quentin Blake and Mel Giedroyc.
Join in with the celebrations! Head to the Museum on Saturday 13 June for the Big Birthday Bash - a day full of fun, mischief, and cake!