Pocket Number 12: Discovery Centre, Stockwood Park

Stockwood Park comprises of 240 acres of countryside situated on the southeast edge of Luton.

Once a private estate, belonging to local landed gentry, it was gifted to Luton borough in 1945 and converted into a public park.

Chestnut trees lined the road traversing the park and made it look stately. I followed it until I came to signage directing me to The Discovery Centre.

The Discovery Centre contains a mix of museums and gardens, galleries and exhibitions and activities. At the Centre’s reception I discovered Merish and Craig. I told them about what I was doing and where I had been referred up until now. I asked them what object I should put on the montage and they suggested I find the Wenlok Jug at The Mossman Collection.

I guessed I should photograph the jug and put that photo on the montage – I asked if I’d get into trouble if I made off with the real jug and glued it to the montage. Craig said someone had in fact stolen the jug several years ago, was caught and imprisoned for several years as a consequence.

I asked Merish if she recommends any exhibit display at the centre in particular. She said she likes everything – before recommending I have a look around the gardens.

I’ve included pictures in the gallery below:

The sun was out. I followed Merish’s recommendation and walked in the gardens outside while eating my first ice cream of 2022. The gardens appeared especially vibrant in the spring sunshine. In fact, there were various gardens to appreciate, and all in different styles and from different periods: a sensory garden, medicinal garden, walled garden, ‘world garden’, Victorian gardens and greenhouses, a ‘dig for victory garden’ and a formal Elizabethan knot garden of clipped boxwood, bay and yew.  

Tucked away behind the gardens are stables displaying a selection of machinery: grass mowers, hay rakes, potato spinners, seed drills and centuries old steam engines for grinding corn and pumping water and hot air

There was also an installation of lace trees designed by @ChoiShineArch and assembled by Lutonian volunteers. They reminded me of the delicate veil of stinkhorn mushrooms I had once seen in a forest near Reading.

Eventually I headed back indoors to look for the Wenlok jug at Mossman.

The Mossman Collection boasts one of the largest collections of horse-drawn carriages on public display dating from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Everywhere I looked was a different carriage with some stacked high up the walls. I was even allowed to enter inside a few. The collection also included man-drawn vehicles, such as a bier and a sedan chair, plus there was a painted truck from Pakistan and a steam powered roller.

Highlights in Mossman included discovering double decker carriages which preceded double decker buses, and peeking into the interior of gypsy wagons: which would you prefer:

I’ve put some highlights in the gallery below:

The Wenlok Jug itself was prominent and on display. It is a rare example of a medieval English bronze jug from the 15th century. The jug’s name comes from having in it the words inscribed of “My Lord Wenlok”. There are two Wenlocks it is believed it may refer to – William Wenlock, canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, or John Wenlock, the first Lord Wenlock.

Merish had written on the picture frame for me to next visit Wardown Park Museum and have a look at the lace exhibition there. She said Wardown Park Museum is run by Luton’s Culture Trust, the same organization that runs The Discovery Centre.