Thought the National Trust was meant for your parents?
My childhood memory of the National Trust is of anoraks, garden tea and boredom! Now with their 50 things to do before 11 initiative, as embarked up on by Kids Outdoors, The Boy and Me , Little Sheep Learning and More than a Mum, it feels like they have something to offer for all generations. We have a couple of gems close to us and Julie, local friend to me and mum to 2 lovely girls, offered to share their appeal……
Escaping the traffic-jam-from-hell on the M5 last summer, we headed for the A roads and accidentally discovered the wonders of Avebury. Inspired, we bought an annual National Trust family membership and ever since have been getting our money’s worth exploring as many Cornish NT properties as possible. By a happy coincidence my Dad bought a membership at the same time so now we check out these places from the point of view of three generations. Here are two of our favourites within a short drive of Coombe Mill..…
What’s not to like about this place? It is a stunning house set in a large wooded estate which offers you the chance to see what life was like for a wealthy Victorian family and their numerous staff. Bring anyone of any age here and there will be something to capture their interest and make for an enjoyable day out. What I love is that the rooms have been so well preserved it’s almost as if the occupants have just stepped outside for a moment. And having studied the Victorians in recent years, both my girls loved seeing what their life was like at close range.
My Dad was particularly fascinated by the history of the family who owned the house and spent time poring over the extensive background material and photographs which are available to visitors. He was also thrilled to be able to play the Steinway Grand Piano in the Long Gallery (anyone who is a reasonable pianist can!). Having toured the house he was then happy to sit in the beautiful gardens reading the local guide book, browsing the second hand book shop in the old stables, whilst we and the children explored the grounds more extensively.
There is a small but well laid out adventure playground in the woods just next to the main car park, as well as picnic areas and a plant nursery – all this before you even need to pay to enter the grounds and the main house. Definitely recommended.
is an Elizabethan Manor House, a little gem of a place tucked away not far from Quintrell Downs. The house itself doesn’t take too long to tour (so ideal for really little ones) but nevertheless offers a snapshot of times gone by. It is very much a “hands-on” National Trust property with opportunities for youngsters to try on chain mail and armour, and a very impressive helmet. (see photo). They can even imagine a world without their Xbox and try the games that Elizabeth children played.
Outside in their stunning garden, you can have a go at kayling (Cornish skittles) and spaycock (which apparently in Tudor times involved hitting a chicken’s head between two bats – the idea being to make as much mess on your opponent as possible!). These days things are rather more sedate and a cork with a few chicken feathers attached is used instead. The grounds are beautifully maintained and every time you turn a corner there is a bench just crying out for you to sit, reflect and enjoy another photo opportunity!
As with every National Trust house, the guides are well informed and eager to share their knowledge and passion for the property with you. It is always worth checking the website for any special activities on offer at the time of your visit. And you can guarantee that the café will be a child (and grandparent) friendly place to catch your breath and enjoy good coffee and food!!
to Julie for sharing her family days out here. This is her second post for me as she also shared her family trip to Cardinham Woods. I am rather hoping there will be more to come! If you would like Julie to Guest post for you please do contact her by email on [email protected]
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