I have previously written about my love of The National Trust. Well, I also love the Historic Houses Association. In fact, I love it so much that one of my friends frequently asks if I work for them or if I am on commision when I talk about how great the places are that we visit. No I don’t, and no I’m not. I just think it is a great way to keep kids entertained if you like being outdoors. Until earlier this year I hadn’t even heard of Historic Houses, and it was only when I heard someone mention them on a parenting Facebook page that I started to look into them more. I discovered two places that I really wanted to visit were included in the Historic Houses membership, and that their membership was also a lot cheaper than The National Trust. It took me a while of being persisitant but I eventually persuaded my husband that we should join Historic Houses. We paid £80 for a joint membership and our 2 year old son is free, but still gets his own membership card. Although my husband doesn’t use his membership as much as me, I think he would agree that it is certainly good value for money, and keeps my son and I entertained.
The two Historic Houses places we frequently visit are Painswick Roccoco Garden and Sudeley Castle. These are places I have looked at going to before, but was often put off by the hefty entrance fee, especially for Sudeley Castle. With a toddler I am never sure how long we will spend at these places. I don’t want to fork out loads of money to get in, when we could only be there for an hour if James decides he isn’t in the mood, or just wants me to carry him everywhere. There have been occasions where I have pretty much carried him the whole way around Painswick Roccoco Garden, and it isn’t the flattest of places. On days like that we don’t spend very long there at all, but on other days we have had great fun exploring everything that there is to offer.
Painswick Roccoco Garden is brilliant for children. There is so much space to explore, with woods, a maze, a play area, a lake and green space to run around in. I am looking forward to spending more time there with James as he gets older. During the school holidays there is often some sort of trail to take part in, often with a small prize, all of which we haven’t had to pay any extra for. The cakes in the cafe are also very good, it’s just a shame my fussy toddler won’t eat cake.
Sudeley Castle is also brilliant for children. Again an abundance of space to run around in. We haven’t actually been in the castle because there is so much to do in the grounds, and I don’t fancy having to constantly tell James not to touch things. Sudeley Castle has the most fantastic play area, admittedly it is a bit old for James at the moment, but he still likes running around and walking up and down the bridge to get to it. There is also a section with birds to look at and some beautiful gardens, of which James is more than happy to just run around.
Both of these places are within a 30 minute drive for us, so we have visited many times since we have joined and have certainly got our moneys worth. We have found that a lot of these sorts of places shut for winter but we are lucky that Painswick Rococo Garden is open throughout November (and even has a reduced admission price at the moment) and then it opens again mid January. Sudeley Castle is currently offering a 30% discount on their entrance fee and they remain open until 21st December.
Other Historic Houses places we have visited this year include Berkeley Castle, Spetchley Park Gardens and The Garden at Miserden. Most of the other Historic Houses places we have visited are now shut for winter, which is a shame, but we will enjoy visiting them again when they reopen sometime next year, as well as some of the places we are still yet to visit. I find whenever I am at a loose end with James and have nothing planned, I can just decide to go to one of these places without having to worry about the cost. Generally, James really enjoys them and I think it does him good to play outside in the fresh air. It makes a change from repeatedly going to the park and gives him a chance to wander around a vast area being at one with nature.