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Teddy Bear Story - the latest exhibition at Maidstone Museum

By Angela Cole

They come from darkest Peru or could have super powers, but some familiar furry friends will be coming out of the woods and heading for Kent this summer.

Brenchley bear rides a dinosaur at Maidstone Museum
Brenchley bear rides a dinosaur at Maidstone Museum

A collection of almost 100 bears ranging from AA Milne’s Pooh Bear to Paddington Bear and Super Ted, will all be taking a trip from the V&A Museum of Childhood in London to Maidstone Museum in St Faith’s Street.

Organisers are going bear mad to coincide with the exhibition, and will be holding a series of themed events, including a teddy bears’ picnic in nearby Brenchley Gardens, a talk by author of the Little Bear stories Jane Hissey and a visit by the animal keepers from Wildwood, who will give an insight into the life of real bears.

The museum’s Amy Adams said: “It is quite a big thing for us to have such a prestigious collection, as it includes all the famous bears. It will be an interactive exhibition, with children able to go into Goldilocks’ house. We’ve also got lots of bear-themed events throughout the summer holidays.”

Paddington Bear. Picture: Victoria and Albert Museum
Paddington Bear. Picture: Victoria and Albert Museum

Behind the Furry Facade, a talk for families on the lives of real bears with role play activity, takes place on Friday, August 15 between 11am and 2pm.

Organisers have also been using their own teddy to promote the event on Twitter.

Complete with safari hat, Brenchley Bear has become almost as intrepid an explorer as his namesake, Julius Brenchley.

The former Maidstone Grammar School boy set out to explore the world in 1845, and collected hundreds of artefacts and natural history items on his travels until 1867. They are now part of the Brenchley Collection which is housed in the museum. Brenchley Gardens is named after him.

Brown bear cub. Victoria and Albert Museum
Brown bear cub. Victoria and Albert Museum

Picnic to mark war centenary

As part of the First World War commemorations, A Big Lunch will be taking place at Brenchley Gardens this weekend. Families can bring a picnic while a brass band plays at the bandstand.

The event runs from noon to 3pm on Sunday, August 10. There’s also the chance to see a 1912 Maidstone and District bus that was sent to the Western Front. It will be stationed outside Maidstone Museum and inside, at 3pm, there will be a talk surrounding a popular legend about the angels that are said to have protected the British Army in the Battle of Mons in August 1914.


Teddy Bear Story runs at Maidstone Museum from Saturday, August 9, to Saturday, November 1, with an official opening, complete with special furry guest, before the event opens to the public at 11am on the first day. The picnic will be on Friday, August 22. There is no admission fee to the museum, although visitors are encouraged to pay what they can. It opens between 10am and 5pm Monday to Saturday. More details at www.museum.maidstone.gov.uk

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