Bramber: Weird and wonderful taxidermy tableaus at Mr Potter's Museum of Curiosities drew visitors from miles around

Bramber is a pretty little village that was once known for its rather weird and wonderful museum. Long since vanished, Mr Potter's Museum of Curiosities had displays of stuffed kittens enjoying a cup of tea, guinea pigs playing cricket and rabbits learning to read and write. The work of taxidermist Walter Potter drew visitors from miles around into Bramber.

By Elaine Hammond
Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 5:43 pm

Other displays included two-headed lambs and four-legged chickens – a source of amazement to the many children who visited the museum. Influenced by his sister’s nursery rhyme book, Mr Potter created the famous tableau The Death and Burial of Cock Robin. This depicted the funeral procession to the churchyard, with the parts all played by his stuffed animals. It featured an owl that dug the grave, a rook as the parson, a sparrow with his bow and arrow, and the chief mourners were a dove and a senior redbreast.

Mr Potter was born in 1835 and taught himself taxidermy as a boy. One of the people who worked with him was Sidney Rimmington, who lived at Highcroft, in The Street, with his mother Mary Elizabeth Anne Rimmington. Sid Rimmington, Sidney’s son, who lives in Twentynine Palms, California, said they owned or stayed in Highcroft from 1924 to 1932. Sidney had served in the First World War, having trained at Dover College. In later life, he left England for America in May 1967. Sid said: "In his childhood, my father used to help the local taxidermist prepare exhibits for the museum."

Mr Potter died in 1918 and was buried in Bramber churchyard but the museum continued under the direction of his daughter and grandson until the early 1970s, when the collection was moved to Arundel. It went to Jamaica Inn in Cornwall in 1986 and was auctioned in September 2003. For a time, Bramber Museum became The House of Pipes, another wonderful little museum, devoted to pipes of all shapes and sizes, as well as tobacco tins and rare cigarette packets.

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