Douglas Hayward outside the re-creation of the Abbots Bromley Puppet Museum


By bringing forward the shop-front facade opposite the Tailor's shop, a second shop interior was formed, which became the re-creation of the Abbots Bromley Puppet Museum and now houses around 200 puppets chosen from the Douglas Hayward Collection.

A selection of Douglas' own marionettes, made between 1950 and the 1970s, are displayed in the front window of the shop, as they were at Abbots Bromley.

Inside are fine examples of the work of mainly British leading puppet-makers including Waldo Lanchester, Ken Barnard, Fred Tickner, Eric Bramall, Christine Glanville and many more.  The puppets date from around 1800 to the present day.

Carmenetta by Waldo & Muriel Lanchester
Lanchester's Carmenetta

Whilst most of the figures on display are marionettes, there are also examples of glove, rod and shadow figures, with an extensive collection of glove puppets by Lester Bidston filling the upper display cases and Wallace Peat's Wessex Puppets (1930s) and the Hertfordshire Puppeteers (1920s), well represented.

Shugborough Mansion House
Shugborough Mansion House

The Staffordshire County Museum at Shugborough is open from 11 am to 5 pm, every day except Tuesdays from Mid-March to the end of October.

Ian Denny
January 2006

In 1975, after many years as a touring puppet player, Douglas Hayward established a permanent Marionette Theatre in the main High Street of the Staffordshire village of Abbots Bromley.  The building housed a modest permanent exhibition of puppets along the side wall of the 50-seat auditorium.  Marionette shows were staged in the theatre on a one night per week basis for the next 8 years.

The theatre was also a popular and frequent venue for Meetings, Exhibitions and Festivals of the British Puppet & Model Theatre Guild, both Regionally and Nationally.

Dutch Boy & Girl by Waldo & Muriel Lanchester
Lanchester's Dutch Boy & Girl

During this time, the exhibition aspect of the building began to grow, until, when Douglas decided to retire from performing, the exhibition had become so large, that in 1983, it was now able to take over the whole building, including  an additional two rooms at the back, to form a permanent Museum.

For another 10 years the building enjoyed a new lease of life as a Museum, attracting 1700 visitors per year and becoming a popular Staffordshire Tourist Attraction.


In 1993, the opportunity  presented itself to re-locate the exhibition in its entirety to the Staffordshire County Museum, which is part of the Shugborough Estate, at Milford, just South of Stafford.  For two years, the puppet collection was displayed in two rooms on the First Floor of the Museum, which is housed in the former Servants Quarters of the Shugborough Mansion House, a National Trust Property.

Alfred Warder of the Tower by Frank Worth & Birmingham Puppetry Guild
Frank Worth's Yeoman

On the Ground Floor of the Museum was a small area decorated as a street scene with re-created shop fronts.  Two of these shop fronts were merely facades and the third housed a re-creation of a former Tailor's shop from Abbots Bromley.

Puppet Museum Hanging Sign from Abbots Bromley
Museum Hanging Sign


Staffordshire County Museum, part of the Shugborough Estate, is located at Milford Common,
on the A513 between Stafford and Lichfield.  Post Code:  ST17 0XB.  Tel:  01889 881 388.
One Admission Charge covers car parking and entrance to the Museum, Mansion House (National Trust), Farm and Gardens.