Lullingstone Castle and World Garden

Lullingstone Castle isn’t a castle. It’s a big house, a great big manor house – it was named a castle way back when it was an impressive thing to do so. It’s a fun place to visit and there’s plenty to do.

Lullingstone Castle

Lullingstone Castle is situated in Lullingstone, close to Orpington, Kent. It is a big manor house where you can join guided tours which last approximately an hour. The tour was interesting, though involved a lot of talking.

I would suggest if you have an impatient child younger than 7-8, skip the house tour and go straight to the World Garden – but make sure to pick up the trail questions from the house before you do.

Lullingstone Castle World Garden

The World Garden is pretty amazing. Tom Hart-Dyke who is the son of the current owners of Lullington Castle is an explorer, a plant hunter. He has an interesting story, and has featured on tv programmes about the garden.

Lullingstone Castle World Garden sign

The World Garden is split into continents, each has plants and flowers from all over the world. There is information in each area from simple stories about the plant hunters who inspired or helped build the garden.

Actually, there’s no point in me describing it – here’s some of my photos that we took. It’s worth going to visit, is open every weekend and we can get in free with Historic Houses Association membership.

Lullingstone Castle World Garden flower 1 Lullingstone Castle World Garden view with wire tree Lullingstone Castle World Garden Australia area Lullingstone Castle World Garden flower 2 Lullingstone Castle World Garden flower 3 Lullingstone Castle World Garden America area Lullingstone Castle World Garden totem pole Lullingstone Castle World Garden flower 4 Lullingstone Castle World Garden flower 5 Lullingstone Castle World Garden cacti Lullingstone Castle World Garden cacti 2 Lullingstone Castle World Garden spot the penguin

Add to that a couple of greenhouse areas which include the most poisonous plant in the world, and you’ve a fascinating afternoon wandering around. Once you’re outside the World Garden, there are grounds too, including a carp lake.

Over that is a bridge – perfect for Pooh Sticks.

Lullingstone Castle World Garden pooh sticks

We were there for almost four hours, popping into nearby Lullingstone Roman Villa up the road, some fascinating ruins which are part of English Heritage. That’s one for a follow-up post I think!

Lullingstone Castle’s website can be found here. It’s fascinating visiting other people’s houses and having a nosey around a small area – especially when they’re still living there. Definitely worth a visit!

Loseley Park – Our First Visit

We have Historic Houses Association membership which opens up a new world of places to visit. This weekend it was Loseley Park near Guildford.
Loseley Park

Loseley Park has a lot of history. Once visited by many Kings and Queens (including Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn off the top of my head), it is a property owned by the More-Molyneux family.

Loseley Park flowers

The house itself is fascinating. Built in the 1500s it’s a very sturdy building with the majority surviving. Only the West Wing is no longer there. The More-Molyneux family live in one half with the other half open as part of a guided tour. The property has fields around it, as well as the Botanical Gardens to the right of the house.

Loseley Park wisteria

Loseley Park has enough to keep you busy for an afternoon. We started with our customary game of hide and seek (which H loves in new gardens). A glorious, sunny day, we hid and laughed, breathing in the fragrant wisteria which grows over the walls as you enter the gardens.

Loseley Park sculptures

We stopped for a quick sandwich at the Wisteria Tea Rooms. It was a quick service and yummy food. A little bit more expensive than National Trust places but filling nonetheless.

Loseley Park moat

H had space to run around and made the most of it. There’s a moat with a small tunnel from the gardens to reach it. We wandered around there hoping for a sighting of a kingfisher – but it wasn’t to be.

Loseley Park foot sculpture

The tour of Loseley Park takes 45 minutes. H had a clipboard with questions on to answer. Our guide told us about all the rooms, the family and where a lot of the things on show there originate. When H returned her clipboard she won a Loseley Park pencil which I was happy about. It’s nice they win sweets at these kind of things, getting something practical is so much better.

Loseley Park gardens

After that we grabbed a Loseley Park ice cream. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with the site any more these days, but was still delicious. We wandered around the lake which isn’t too big and definitely walkable, before heading to the play area. The play area is pretty basic but it was enough for H and she had a fun play for 45 minutes or so.

Loseley Park lake

Loseley Park is somewhere we’ll definitely go back to, especially with the change of the seasons. For more information they’re over here.
Loseley Park is also now part of the Gardener’s World 2 for 1 deal if you bought a copy of the magazine this month.

Loseley Park field of dandelion clocks

Easter Egg Hunts – Where to Go?

It’s almost that time of the year again, Easter. Every year without fail we find ourselves at a National Trust Easter Egg hunt which are all brilliant, and well organised. This year we fancied a change. But where to go?

Easter Egg hunts are starting around now, the start of April. Most run for a few weeks, but please check the links provided for more information.

National Trust and Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts logo

The National Trust Easter Egg hunt are great. They work with Cadbury’s, and usually have some kind of trail around the place you’re visiting. I’ve spotted easy ones for younger children and slightly more complicated ones for the slightly cockier over 7’s (read : H). They’re suitable for all and perfect for glorious sunny days. The eggs are pretty good too!

You can find more information here. There is usually a cost involved on top of your National Trust membership.

[We pay for National Trust membership every year]

hampton court magic garden h on dragon

Historic Royal Palaces have some trails on as well. We’re probably going to do Hampton Court Palace this year, who are doing their trail in conjunction with Lindt. I’m actually wondering if adults can do it too… It is Hampton Court’s first ever Easter trail. I love Hampton Court, and the Magic Garden has reopened for the season as of yesterday (1st April). I can’t think of a better reason to go! The Easter Egg trail is included in your admission price.

[We get free entry to Hampton Court as it is part of the CSSC scheme]

hever castle

Hever Castle has an easter egg hunt, another Lindt one. I don’t think we’ll have time to do this one this year, but having had a day at Hever recently, it would be a wonderful place to wander around in the sun, especially knowing there is Lindt chocolate involved at the end. The Lindt Gold Bunny hunt is free, and they have additional activities available at a cost. Worth looking into anyway!

[We have Historic Houses Association Membership so can enter Hever Castle for free]

Our Summer - Tintagel

English Heritage also have some Easter Activities on – with all sorts of activities. They look pretty awesome, and don’t mention chocolate… Not all English Heritage places are doing it, so please check this link for more information. They also fall around the Easter weekend, rather than the start of April.

[We are English Heritage members via CSSC and the above link is an affiliate link]

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

We visited Riverhill Himalayan Gardens for the first time, not sure what to expect. It recently opened for the season and looked like there was plenty to do.

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens is near Sevenoaks. If you were to look on a map, it’s close to Knole, the National Trust place. They’re no more than ten minutes apart. To be honest, I thought we’d get through Riverhill in an hour or so and end up going there. How wrong was I?

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens has LOADS to do. It was a glorious, sunny day. When you have sunshine, gardens to wander around and some quirky sculptures around it, it makes for an interesting afternoon.

As Historic Houses Association members our entry was free.

We headed towards the Explorers Escarpment and Adventure Playground where there were climbing frames and slides suitable for young children but also ideal for H. It was the kind of area we could leave her unsupervised (as in, sitting at the back of the playground while she explores) and know she was safe as there was only one entrance in there.

Afterwards we headed up the hill towards the Himalayan Hedge Maze. We’re a maze-loving family, and this one was different – and not as easy as it looks. It seems to be new so wasn’t that high, which meant we could all try different routes and still see each other. H may have cheated….

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

We headed back down the hill towards the main gardens where there is a water feature plus fountains (which weren’t working) – it was a lovely place to sit and have a moment of calm.

A quick visit to the cafe for sandwiches and in H’s case a Yeti Food Pack and we headed back out to the Woodland Trail. There was a reason for this.

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens - yeti

From 2pm-4pm there’s a yeti in the woods! It’s someone dressed up but seeing how the kids flock around him it works a treat. At first we headed up a hill where H found a den built into the ground. She has a love of picking up sticks (which we then leave behind) and managed plenty today.

The yeti was pretty easy to find. Riverhill Himalayan Gardens also publicise it well so you know when it’s happening – and it’s well signposted. He keeps silent, so H went finding sticks to build a den, handing them over. We stood back and watched.

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

After that we had a walk around the Woodland Trail to a bigger field with views all over Kent. There was a giant pebble which H sat on, with two windsocks that were gigantic pairs of hands dancing in the breeze like Kate Bush doing Wuthering Heights.

A walk down the hill and we were back to the maze. H and Shaun had another go while I sat directing from the hill!

Another play in the play area, and we decided to head home. We had spent four and a half hours there!

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens is great fun, there are buggy accessible routes and plenty to hunt around for. It feels like the kind of place we would go back to several times. Their website is here. We also did some Mothers Day crafts which I’ve stolen the idea for Brownies for next year – we had a brilliant time!

Painshill Park – We Returned and Found Our Happy Place Again

Painshill Park is somewhere we’ve visited since H was a baby. It’s in Cobham, up the road from Claremont Landscape Gardens. We haven’t been for a couple of years, so put this to rights recently.

Painshill Park view from Turkish Tent

Painshill Park and Claremont are both landscape gardens, and have similarities. Painshill Park has some unique features which make it a place we love going back to – though it has been some time.

Painshill Park looking towards the five arch bridge

Imagine some gardens which have random things built in them because that was the done thing when you’re a wealthy person. So you build a ruin because you can. Or you build a Turkish Tent because it looks great on top of a hill. Then there’s the Gothic Tower, which has fabulous views. Lest we forget the wonderful Crystal Grotto which is now restored and looks amazing.

Painshill Park Crystal Grotto

We used to go on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day as one parent would get in for free, which would keep costs down. We’re now Historic Houses Association members, so can now go whenever we want. It was a sunny day, the kind where you aren’t wrapped up which meant we had to get back to Painshill Park.

Painshill Park

It hasn’t changed, but there are changes. The Crystal Grotto is now restored and looks so much better for it.

The Temple of Bacchus is being recreated and will complete in July this year – that’s going to be one to go back for.

Painshill Park Gothic Tower

Over at the Gothic Tower there are big changes. I don’t remember there being toilets there before, but there are now. There’s a small pop-up cafe on the first floor which has a good selection of food which you can take out. That section of Painshill Park isn’t so isolated any more. I even made it to the top of the tower to check out the views for the first time.

Painshill Turkish Tent and Five Arch Bridge

My favourite view is from the Turkish Tent, looking across to the Gothic Temple. You can see the serpentine lake, and in the middle the island where the Crystal Grotto lives.

Painshill Park Woollett Bridge

What I’ve always liked about Painshill Park is how almost everything is accessible. There are areas which would be difficult for people with mobility issues or buggies, but Painshill have alternative routes. But bear in mind the Gothic Tower has a spiral staircase to the top. While it’s a lovely walk it might be worth having a baby carrier if you want to climb the tower.

It’s a lovely day out, a picturesque walk and even though you’re right by the A3 and the M25, there isn’t any noise from cars. I love Painshill Park.

For more information head here.

Painshill Park reflections

Country Kids

Picture-perfect picnic spots with the National Trust

There’s no better way to celebrate summer than packing a picnic and catching up with friends and family. With miles of coastline and acres of countryside, the National Trust cares for some of the best spots in the country for eating al fresco and enjoying stunning views.

For those whose picnic preparation isn’t quite up to scratch, there are also plenty of ways to make it extra-special with the delicious seasonal food on offer at National Trust cafés and shops.

Here are some of the top picnic spots and places to stop for a tasty treat:

South West
Avebury, Wiltshire
If you’re looking to picnic in historical surroundings then Avebury is the perfect spot. The pretty village is partially encompassed by the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle, now a World Heritage Site. There’s plenty of green space to throw your rug down and little ones will love rolling down the surrounding hills and banks. On the edge of the village stands Avebury Manor, which was recently transformed in a partnership between the National Trust and the BBC. The Manor creates a hands-on experience that celebrates and reflects the lives of the people who once lived in Avebury; the perfect educational accompaniment to a glorious picnic.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury

Lanhydrock, Cornwall
Lanhydrock estate covers 1,000 acres, with parkland, ancient woodland and riverside paths. Pack a rucksack and go on a family adventure to find your perfect spot. The estate has lots of cycle trails and even has bikes to hire, so you can plan a day full of exploration. Once you’ve had your fill of sandwiches and adventures, why not relax in the gardens and take in the beautiful scents of blooming herbaceous borders.
For information on bicycle hire, please call: 01208 265975
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lanhydrock

Studland Beach, Dorset
Take the children for a good old fashioned day out on this golden sandy beach that stretches four miles from South Haven Point to Old Harry Rocks. It’s an ideal place to enjoy the simple pleasures of beach picnics and tumbling sandcastles. And with shallow bathing water it’s perfect for paddling with the little ones. You can also visit the nearby ruins of Corfe Castle to discover over 1,000 years of history and relive childhood memories by seeing the inspiration behind Enid Blyton’s Kirrin Castle in the Famous Five.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/studland-bay

A family enjoys a picnic on the lawn at Polesden Lacey, Surrey ©National Trust Images Stuart Cox
A family enjoys a picnic on the lawn at Polesden Lacey, Surrey ©National Trust Images Stuart Cox

South East
Polesden Lacey, Surrey
Lazy Jazz Sundays, every Sunday June – September & Bank Holiday Monday 29 August, 2pm – 4pm
Unwind on the lush green grass of Polesden Lacey’s South Lawn to the melodious tones of live jazz music. You can fill up your hamper with treats at the café which will be offering pick-up-and-go food for impromptu picnics. Every penny you spend in the café helps the National Trust care for special places like Polesden Lacey for summers to come. Afterwards take a stroll through the gardens and estate where stunning displays of climbing roses and double herbaceous borders will be in full bloom.
Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call: 01372 452048
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/polesden-lacey

Morden Hall Park, London
Jazzy June Evenings, 17 & 24 June, 8pm – 10pm
Morden Hall Park is green oasis, giving you a taste of the country at the end of the Northern Line. Every Friday throughout June, Morden will be staying open late and playing host to an evening of jazz in the historic stable yard. A different group will be performing each week, so bring a picnic, grab a glass of Pimm’s and take the chance to dance the night away.
Price: £8 in advance, £10 on the gate (booking essential)
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/morden-hall-park

Woman relaxing beside the River Wandle at Morden Hall Park, London. ©National Trust Images John Millar
Woman relaxing beside the River Wandle at Morden Hall Park, London. ©National Trust Images John Millar

Stowe, Buckinghamshire
Stowe is a place of such scale and beauty that it has attracted visitors for over 300 years. This timeless landscape, created by the celebrated gardener ‘Capability’ Brown, is full of picture-perfect viewpoints, winding paths, lakeside walks and classical temples. Drop by the café to add an extra homemade treat to your hamper. There’s everything from mouth-watering cheese scones and sausage rolls to indulgent slices of cake, so all you need to do is bring a rug and choose a spot to enjoy the view.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe

East
Blickling Estate, Norfolk
With a shimmering lake, shady woodland, colourful garden and rolling green parkland, you’re never far from an idyllic picnic spot at Blickling. Take a stroll around the grounds to find your picture-perfect setting. After tucking in, set the kids loose in the secret garden and ancient temple, and smell the wonderful citrus trees in the orangery. The whole family can also hire bikes and segways to explore the park, with every penny going towards conserving the beautiful landscape.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling-estate

Flatford, Suffolk
Flatford Mill is right in the middle of Dedham Vale, part of the rolling Essex landscapes that inspired Constable’s idyllic rural paintings. This is great walking countryside, so why not pack a rucksack full of treats and head out onto the trails for a day of family fun. There are plenty of spots along the way to relax by the water’s edge and enjoy your feast. Or you can even hire a boat from the nearby boathouse and row down river to see the beautiful surroundings from a new perspective.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/flatford

Wimpole, Cambridgeshire
Admire the views of the recently restored Gothic Tower at Wimpole Estate with a picnic in the north park. The 18th-century tower, designed to look like a picturesque medieval ruin, makes a picture-perfect backdrop for any picnic. You’ll be able to see right across the estate as you enjoy the peace and tranquillity of your surroundings. Afterwards, take a stroll around the gardens and woodland and find out how Wimpole’s gardeners are using greener gardening techniques to safeguard the future of this glorious estate.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wimpole-estate

Visitors at Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckinghamshire. ©National Trust Images John Millar
Visitors at Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckinghamshire. ©National Trust Images John Millar

Midlands
Berrington Hall, Herefordshire
Enjoy the splendour of Berrington Hall’s ‘Capability’ Brown parkland from the comfort of your picnic rug this summer. The lake at the centre of the park is a haven for wildlife, carefully cared for by Berrington’s gardeners and rangers. Herons, mute swans, great-crested grebes and much more live there so there’s always something to see. Afterwards take a stroll around the walled garden to see the flourishing orchard, flower borders and vegetable patch.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/berrington-hall

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and take the time to get closer to nature at Clumber Park. Whether it’s cycling, orienteering or a gentle stroll you’re after, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun with all the family. Afterwards you can enjoy a shady picnic in the woodlands or overlooking the glittering lake. The kids can climb, swing and run around in the play park, try out some of the ‘50 things’ activities or pick up a family tracker pack to see what they can find.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clumber-park

Croome, Worcestershire
Croome was Capability Brown’s first landscape garden and it’s the ideal place to relax with some tasty treats. When it comes to picnicking you’ll be spoilt for choice with tranquil spots overlooking lakes and rivers, next to statues, bridges, follies or classical temples. There are plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained too, including a natural play area with den building and an exciting programme of walking trails to explore.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome

Plas Newydd Country House and Gardens, Anglesey, Wales. ©National Trust Images John Millar
Plas Newydd Country House and Gardens, Anglesey, Wales. ©National Trust Images John Millar

Wales
Chirk Castle
Chirk Castle is packed full of fantastic places to picnic, each with their own charm. Relax in the Kitchen Garden with far-reaching views along Offa’s Dyke and into the Ceiriog Valley below, or up at the castle you can picnic and play in the meadow with views for miles across the Cheshire plain. Why not spread a blanket on the grass in the courtyard, or if it’s tranquillity you’re after then head to the terrace at the bottom of the gardens for beautiful views across Shropshire from the ha-ha.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chirk-castle

Dinefwr Park and Castle, Carmarthenshire
Settle down for sandwiches at Dinefwr Park and keep an eye out for the resident fallow deer that have been roaming the land for 1000 years. What better place to lay down your picnic blanket than the only parkland National Nature Reserve in Wales. Stop beneath an old oak tree or next to a flower-rich hay meadow cared for by National Trust rangers and watch the world go by. There are some designated picnic benches on the estate too.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dinefwr

Plas Newydd Country House and Gardens, Anglesey
With atmospheric views across the Menai Strait and to Snowdonia’s mountains, and beautiful blooming gardens throughout the summer, it’s never hard to find a perfect picnic spot at Plas Newydd. Settle down with a hamper on the lawns to the north of the mansion and you’ll be rewarded with views of the Italianate Terrace, where hot borders are a virtual furnace of reds and oranges, including canna, rudbeckia and dahlia.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/plas-newydd

Fountains Abbey,  ©NT Images Andrew Butler
Fountains Abbey, ©National Trust Images Andrew Butler

North West
Borrowdale and Derwent Water, Cumbria
Just five minutes’ walk from the quaint market town of Keswick, the Borrowdale Valley is a great place to get an introduction to walking in the Lake District. There are plenty of trails up onto the fells, or you can stick to exploring the pebbly shores around Derwent Water. Brandelhow on the western edge of the lake makes the perfect picnic location, with far-reaching views across the water and loads of space for the kids to run around in.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/borrowdale-and-derwent-water

Quarry Bank, Cheshire
Picnic on the Mill Meadow at Quarry Bank, set against the backdrop of the 18th-century Georgian cotton mill in the valley of the River Bollin. With scenic panoramic views and plenty of space to play in, it’s the ideal place for a day of fun in the sun. Quarry Bank even welcomes four-legged furry friends to its woodlands and gardens, so you can explore the estate as a whole family.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/quarry-bank

Wray Castle, Cumbria
Perched on the shores of Lake Windermere, this mock-Gothic castle with turrets and towers provides a great backdrop for a family day out. Settle down with a feast at the picnic tables just outside the castle and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views in all directions. Little visitors will be excited to know that there’s now a mini ‘treecastle’ in the outdoors play area, so after you’ve had your fill of feast why not head out for an adventure?
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wray-castle

Visitors in the grounds to the south front of Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire. ©National Trust Images John Millar
Visitors in the grounds to the south front of Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire. ©National Trust Images John Millar

Yorkshire and North East
Beningbrough Hall, York
Beningbrough’s gardens are full of secret nooks where you can picnic surrounded by flowers and wildlife. Or if you prefer a bit more space, why not throw the rug down on the south facing lawns and soak up some summer sun? If you’re hoping to build an appetite first you can borrow a bike for the day. There’s a selection of bikes and trikes on offer, and even one with a picnic-carrying carriage so you can tow along your lunch to your perfect destination.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/beningbrough-hall-gallery-and-gardens

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, North Yorkshire
On a glorious sunny day you can’t beat packing a picnic and heading for the abbey green. With acres of lush green grass and the stunning 800 year old abbey ruins as a backdrop, it’s not hard to find a picture-perfect spot. Afterwards, take a stroll among the trees on the edge of Studley Royal deer park or along the banks of the river Skell and see if you can spot some of the 500 wild red, fallow and Sika deer.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey-and-studley-royal-water-garden

Wallington
A family day at Wallington isn’t complete without the chance to play games in the outdoors. Bring your Frisbee or football or set off towards the West Woods for a wild adventure. If you’re looking for a quieter spot to relax then why not set out a blanket and tuck into a picnic on the lawn at the end of the walled garden. Overlooking the little pond, it’s the perfect hide away for a tranquil afternoon.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington

Northern Ireland
Rowallane Garden, County Down
Just a short drive from Belfast, Rowallane is a beautiful setting for a walk and picnic. During the summer the walled garden is brimming with colour, from egg-yolk yellow hypericum to bright pink shrub roses. There are plenty of picnic benches around the grounds, or you can take a blanket and find your own hidden corner among the blooms. Head to the garden café for extra treats, where every penny you spend goes towards conserving places like Rowallane for summers to come.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rowallane-garden

The Argory, County Armagh
Deep in the green County Armagh countryside is a place where the mist rolls down to the River Blackwater and time stands still. Enjoy peaceful views of the river, running wild in the woods and adventure playground, and mulling over the sun dial. The Courtyard Coffee Shop is full of fresh, home-baked scones, sandwiches and cakes so you can grab an impromptu picnic while you’re there.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/argory

Florence Court, County Fermanagh
Build up an appetite for a picnic with a day of adventures at Florence Court. There are miles of glorious walks and cycle trails through the forest, a playground for little explorers and the opportunity to discover more about nature with adventure tracker packs. Take a stroll to visit the blacksmith’s forge and carpenters workshop, then relax with a picnic in the peaceful gardens and enjoy the mountain views.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/florence-court

Every single visit supports the National Trust’s conservation work, looking after special places for people to enjoy for years to come.

Terrible Tudors at Hampton Court and Revisiting the Magic Garden

Are you going to Hampton Court to see Terrible Tudors from the Horrible Histories team at the Birmingham Stage Company this half term? We went yesterday (Saturday 28th May).

terrible tudors at hampton court palace

Terrible Tudors is the latest Horrible Histories play we went to see. Horrible Histories, how I love thee. How I wish you had existed when I was at school doing history as some of the information I’ve learned from watching the shows I’ve retained. I’ve always been convinced that had my entire schooling been in the form of a 1980s lyric I’d have got A’s in everything; but as it was, it didn’t, so I failed most of my exams. Things are so different for H. She LOVES history – my dad would have loved that she does too – he was a massive history fan and owned his own wargames business on the back of it.

So whenever Horrible Histories put on a performance nearby we do our very best to go and see it. This time it was Terrible Tudors at Hampton Court Palace; talk about a perfect setting for that period of time.

horrible histories terrible tudors hampton courtThe stage is set up to the east front gardens of Hampton Court Palace – if you’ve ever been to their open air screenings of films it’s further over so as to keep the main gardens open, and has just three stalls. You have cushion hire (£1.50 per cushion or £5 for four), a Tudor Store (takes cards, there’s a fantastic Royal Historic Palaces magazine you can buy for £2.99 – and don’t forget your membership discount in this shop – I did!) and a drinks and snacks store (cash only, no discount).

horrible histories hampton court terrible tudors

The area opens up an hour before the performance, so we headed to Hampton Court for midday, going straight to the Magic Garden now it’s fully open. I’ll come to it more in detail at the end, but it was the perfect place to have a picnic while the kids got to have a play, plus we wanted to see how much had changed since we had first visited. When we moved to the theatre area they both got a bit restless as it involved a lot of sitting down waiting, plus you’re in the sun so there isn’t a lot of shelter. Not a huge problem but if you want to get a decent space to see the production you need to aim to get there early. They have requested people don’t take chairs, though cushions are fine – I was able to lie down towards the end but still see the stage.

You can have picnics in that area too, and there’s plenty of space. Each performance has around 900 tickets sold – and I believe only a couple of dates have tickets left.

Terrible Tudors is an hour long and takes you from the reign of Richard III and the Wars of the Roses to James I succeeding after the death of Elizabeth I. Obviously, the centre of the show is Henry VIII and again, lots of “and this happened just over there at the Palace” type moments because you’re right next to an amazing piece of history, learning about it all 500 years later. It has just the three actors, but gets everything across brilliantly – even I’m retaining information!

There are plenty of laughs, plenty to entertain adults and kids at the same time (to paraphrase, “Richard III, he was mean so they buried him somewhere rubbish – under a car park in Leicester because nobody ever wins anything in Leicester” – topical and us football fans all had a laugh!). They explain religion and the differences with the catholics and protestants via supporting football teams which again is amusing! Anyway, if you’re going, you’ll love it. If you’re not then hurry up because Terrible Tudors tickets are set to sell out.

Hampton court magic garden crown mound

Afterwards we headed back to the Magic Garden until it was time to leave. We had been given coloured wristbands – you get about three hours play in there (or alternatively you could be sitting chatting in the main area next to the arena – we got seats every time and you could see the entire play area so always knew the kids were safe), then you have to leave the park for an hour before you can come back in. It was full but not too full, and it seems like they have crowd numbers well under control.

hampton court magic garden h on dragon

There’s a drinking water fountain which we refilled bottles with, and the small kiosk was also popular as it was a gorgeous hot day. They ran out of Calippo’s but we spotted a delivery of more fairly soon afterwards. The toilets are now open inside the play area too, and seemed absolutely fine – with one low sink and one higher one so good for smaller children.

Hampton Court Magic Garden May 2016

The water play area was fenced off – it looks like maybe some younger children fell in, so they’re revamping it at some point – understandable as it was quite open. Having said that, H and her friend still had plenty to do. The park looked wonderful and colourful as you can see from the pictures.

Hampton Court Magic Garden large slide

Hampton Court is open every day until 6pm. Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors is on every day this half term, and they’ll be back with a Best of Barmy Britain in the West End soon too – and I know there’s some productions arriving in Wimbledon soon as well. We love Horrible Histories, and love that the Birmingham Stage Company keep putting on these productions (10 years now!). It’s a great time to be young and to love history! Book your tickets here – adults are £10 and children £5.

Cadbury teams up with the National Trust to offer families a cracking Easter weekend 

It’s that time of the year again when Cadbury teams up with the National Trust to offer families the ultimate day out with their popular Easter Egg Hunts.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on


This year, the Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt (25 – 28 March*) will be inviting families to unleash their inner explorer with adventurous quests taking place across the country.

From spring woodlands and craggy coastlines, to historic houses and enchanting castles, there are over 250 Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts to choose from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, guaranteeing a fun-filled Easter for everyone.

What’s more, everyone will be rewarded with a delicious Cadbury chocolate treat at the end of each completed hunt, and every single Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt will help support special places looked after by the National Trust for future generations to explore.

To join in with the fun and find a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt near you, visit: www.cadbury.co.uk/easter

National Trust Easter 2016 Topiary bunny
Conservation charity, National Trust, unveils a series of show-stopping topiary Easter bunnies to celebrate the ninth year of their partnership with Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts. Taking place at 271 National Trust locations over the Easter weekend (25 – 28 March), the special topiary bunnies will be on show at select National Trust places for visiting families to spot on their Egg Hunts. Helping to preserve special places for generations to come, the National Trust anticipates over 3 million visitors over the course of the weekend, and has received an impressive 362,592 Cadbury chocolate bunnies in preparation.

 

London & South East

Mottisfont, Hampshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 10 April, 10am – 5pm

Ancient trees, bubbling brooks and rolling lawns frame this lovely house. Crafted from a medieval priory, it is full of surprises, both inside and out. Pick up an Easter hunt sheet, full of brain teasers and craft activities. Follow the trail to discover giant eggs hidden around the grounds, and complete challenges with your family to earn a delicious Cadbury treat.

Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01794 340757

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont

Morden Hall Park, London

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 3 – 6 April, 10am- 4pm

At the end of the Northern Line deep in the heart of sprawling south London, you can step off the train and hop into the countryside at Morden Hall Park. This Easter, families are invited to follow a special hunt, with clues that will have you searching high and low through tree-lined paths and riverside lawns. To top it all off, each egg hunter is rewarded with a yummy Cadbury chocolate treat.

Price: £4 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 020 8545 6850

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/morden-hall-park

Stowe, Buckinghamshire

Stowe’s Sleeping Beauty Quest – Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March 10am-4.30pm

This Easter embark on a quest to awaken Sleeping Beauty from her slumber, and in return claim your delicious chocolate treat. Fairy-tales, myths and legends have been weaved through the garden, where chivalrous knights and courageous princesses will hunt for clues. The quest will take you past mystical lakes and deep into the Sleeping Wood to claim your egg and finish on a happily ever after.

Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01280 817156

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe

Chartwell, Kent

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt at Chartwell, 25 March – 10 April, 11am – 4pm

This year, discover Easter characters from the 1920s era as they take you on a good old-fashioned adventure around Chartwell. The Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt will wind through the natural play areas and finish with a delicious chocolatey treat. Afterwards, stick around for more Easter related fun and grab a chick-shaped shortbread in the café.

Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01732 868381

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell

Woolbeding Parkland, West Sussex
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt and Spring Nature Trail, 27 March, 10.30am – 3.30pm

Hop down to Woolbeding Parkland for an exciting day of Easter fun. There’ll be a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt down by the River Rother where adventurers can hunt to claim their Cadbury treat. Make a day of it and stay for crafty egg-decorating fun and all sorts of competitions from egg rolling and egg and spoon races, to face painting, an old-fashioned egg shy and creative craft activities. It’ll be hard to know where to begin!

Price: £3 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01730 816638

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/woolbeding-gardens

South West

Dunster Castle, Somerset

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 10 April, 10am – 4pm

This dramatic Norman castle, perched on the top of a wooded hill is an impressive place for an Easter Egg Hunt. The quest will take noble explorers through the garden where they will solve clues to win the ultimate reward, a delicious Cadbury chocolate treat.

Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01643 821314

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle

National Trust Easter 2016
Conservation charity, National Trust, unveils a series of show-stopping topiary Easter bunnies to celebrate the ninth year of their partnership with Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts. Taking place at 271 National Trust locations over the Easter weekend (25 – 28 March), the special topiary bunnies will be on show at select National Trust places for visiting families to spot on their Egg Hunts. Helping to preserve special places for generations to come, the National Trust anticipates over 3 million visitors over the course of the weekend, and has received an impressive 362,592 Cadbury chocolate bunnies in preparation.

Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 10am – 5pm

Complete with roaming deer and herds of cattle, Dyrham Park’s 270 acres of wild parkland is perfect for a day of adventure. And what better way to explore than on an action-packed Easter Egg hunt? Complete the hunts to claim your Cadbury chocolate treat, and afterwards take a look around the house, where tours will take you high above the roof of this 17th-century mansion to see the restoration works from a birds-eye view.

Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 0117 9372501

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyrham-park

Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 10 April, 11am – 4pm

With acres of beautiful gardens and parkland to explore, including a kitchen garden with a royal reputation, you can have a great family day out at Kingston Lacy. This Easter help Bunny find all his giant egg creations around the garden. Each egg is different and some are easier to spot than others. Once you have found them all claim your very own Cadbury chocolate treat.

Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01202 883402

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy

Knightshayes Court, Devon

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 28 March, 10.30am – 4.30pm

Head over to Knightshayes and revel in the Easter fun, where little explorers can hunt high and low for clues in the magnificent garden. There’s a yummy chocolate treat from Cadbury when you’ve completed the hunt. Stick around after for craft activities and face-painting.

Price: £3.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01884 254665

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/knightshayes

Lanhydrock, Cornwall

Lanhydrock Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 10 April, 10am – 4pm

Calling all Easter detectives, there’s a mystery to be solved! Head to Lanhydrock to uncover the clues while exploring the colourful garden, ancient woodlands and riverside paths. All detectives can claim their Cadbury chocolate treat once the mission has been completed. Afterwards head to the adventure playground for some wild play, or go on a family bike ride on the special family trails.
Price: £3 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01208 265950

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lanhydrock

Stourhead, Wiltshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 4pm

Take a trip to Stourhead this Easter where egg hunters can explore through towering trees, by mystical grottoes and past a glittering lake. Make a day of it and bring a picnic, best enjoyed on the rolling lawns with views that stretch across the Wiltshire countryside. Afterwards, keep the family fun going and play giant games in the garden.

Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01747 841152

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead

East

Melford Hall, Suffolk

Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 28 March, 12pm – 4.30pm

Enjoy a family day out at this eclectic home deep in the Suffolk countryside. Join the ever-popular Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt to solve the clues and claim your chocolate treat. Afterwards why not test your skills in the egg and spoon races or try your hand at some colouring in the crafts corner.

Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01787 379228

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/melford-hall

Sutton Hoo, Suffolk

Eostre – Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 10am – 5.30pm

Easter is named after Eostre – the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the radiant dawn, so what better place to celebrate than here at Sutton Hoo. Discover the secrets of the Anglo-Saxons on the fabulous Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt and collect your chocolate treat at the end.

Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01394 389700

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sutton-hoo

Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 8 April, 10.30am – 4.15pm

Take a trip to this beautiful country home complete with a working farm and resident bunnies. Rhyming clues will lead you on an egg hunt around the gardens, but to claim your chocolate treat you’ll have to find the hidden magic word.

Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01223 206000

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wimpole-estate

Easter-Nymans-West-Sussex-©National-Trust-Images-David-Levenson

Midlands

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses, Staffordshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 3pm

Go on a woodland hunt to learn all about the wildlife of Kinver Edge, and find your chocolatey treat awaiting you at the end. Afterwards, take a stroll around the unique rock houses, carved by hand out of the sandstone ridge, and let off some steam on the Adventure Play Trail.

Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01384 872553

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kinver-edge

Attingham Park, Shropshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 10am – 4pm

Explore Attingham’s vast parkland this Easter and follow a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt to unravel the clues and claim a chocolate treat. Continue the family fun with spring activities and a good old run-around in the playfield.

Price: £2.50 per egg hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01743 708123

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/attingham-park

Upton House and Gardens, Warwickshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 4pm

Upton’s gardens are worth exploring at any time of year, and even more so when there’s chocolate at stake. Discover the great outdoors on this Easter Egg Hunt through the sweeping lawns and colourful flowers. Afterwards, have a go at the Wellington boot trail and see if you can spot some spring wildlife.

Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01295 670266

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/upton-house

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 11am-4pm

This Easter there will be no less than four days of family fun, with the Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt through the Pleasure Grounds and across the mansion site, along with mini children’s rides and activities such as face painting and a BBQ. And if that’s not enough, there’s the whole park to explore on foot or by bike with plenty of wildlife to spot.

Price: £3 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01909 544917

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clumber-park

North West

Fell Foot, Cumbria

Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt at Fell Foot, 27 March, 11am – 3pm

Perched on the edge of the stunning Lake Windermere with rolling lawns and views up to the mountains, Fell Foot couldn’t get much more idyllic. Enjoy an action-packed day out in this glorious park with a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, traditional Lakeland Egg rolling, family-friendly games and much, much more.

Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 015395 31273

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fell-foot

Wray Castle, Cumbria

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 10am – 4pm

This Easter make a splash and visit Wray Castle nestled on the shores of Lake Windermere to discover turrets and towers fit for a knight in shining armour. Have fun exploring this quirky building, weaving your way through woodland and rambling along the lakeshore, solving clues along the way in order to claim your Cadbury chocolate treat.

Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 015394 33250

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wray-castle

Ennerdale, Cumbria

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 27 March, 11am – 3pm

Enjoy the great outdoors at this activity-packed Easter Egg Hunt in the wild Ennerdale Valley. There’s a Cadbury chocolate treat waiting for you at the end too. Starting at the Bowness Knott car park, the hunt will take you on an adventure around the lakeshore, through the woodland and along the forest track with loads to discover along the way. Perhaps you’ll find a Tree Spirit, help the Easter Egg Tree to grow or hear a woodland tale.

Price: Free event

For more information, please call 017687 74649

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ennerdale

Dunham Massey, Cheshire

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 4pm

The Earl and the Countess are coming to Dunham Massey for a picnic to celebrate their wedding but the food is hidden all over the garden! Can you save the day and follow the hunt to find the food? It’s hungry work, so chocolate treats will be plentiful at the end.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 0161 941 1025

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunham-massey

Speke Hall, Liverpool

Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt, 27 – 28 March, 11am – 4pm

Glorious gardens and woodlands surround this magnificent Tudor manor house. Venture through the blooms of daffodils and bluebells to solve the clues on the Easter Egg Hunt and receive your delicious Cadbury treat. Once you’ve finished the quest why not head to the house and see if you can track down all the run-away chicks? They’re counting on you!

Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 0151 427 7231

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/speke-hall

National Trust Easter

Yorkshire and North East

Wallington, Northumberland

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 3 April, 11am – 4pm

Amble down to Wallington’s West Wood for a wild Cadbury Easter Egg hunt amongst the trees. This rambling wildlife haven is complete with red squirrels and a bubbling river. Follow the hunt through the woods, keeping an eye out for resident wildlife, and claim your yummy Cadbury treat at the end. Why not top the day off with a hearty family picnic and a game of Frisbee?

Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01670 773606

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington

Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, North Yorkshire

Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 10 April, 10am – 4pm

I spy with my little eye… an Easter bunny! This spring at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal little bunnies have been hoppety-hopping around the estate. Head over bridges of the river Skell, explore around every corner of the Abbey ruins, and follow the waterways of the Georgian gardens to find them and get a yummy Cadbury chocolate treat. There’ll be lots of family fun along the way too, including crafts in Swanley Grange and a brand new adventure playground.

Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01765608888

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey

Northern Ireland

Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down

Easter Egg Hunt, 26 March, 2pm – 3pm

Join the Easter fun on these beautiful windswept sand dunes, where an Egg Hunt will have you searching high and low to discover the hidden treasure. Murlough is a wonderland of wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for seals and resident seabirds as you explore.

Price: £1 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

Booking Essential

For more information, please call 028 4375 1467 or email murlough@nationaltrust.org.uk

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/murlough

Ardress House, County Armagh

Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 30 March, 1pm – 6pm

The Easter Bunny has made a hunt around the farmyard and gardens at Ardress House. Follow the clues to unlock the tasty Cadbury treat. Stick around afterwards to explore the apple orchards and feed the resident chickens. And on Easter Sunday there’ll be games, face painting and more family fun.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 028 8778 4753

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ardress-house

The Argory, County Armagh

Easter Egg Hunt, 21 March – 3 April, 12pm – 5pm

Where could be better to enjoy Easter than in the beautiful wooded estate surrounding this country house in County Armagh. Solve the clues to find the Cadbury chocolate treats with this fantastic hunt around The Argory Estate. Enjoy some eggstra fun on Easter Monday and Tuesday with face painting, games and more fun for all the family.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 028 8778 4753

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/argory

Springhill, County Londonderry

Easter Egg Hunt, 21 March – 3 April, 12pm – 5pm

Bounce down to Springhill this Easter where you can search the house and grounds for clues on the Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt. After you claim your delicious chocolate treat, why not stay for extra fun on the natural play hunt, or join in the face painting and games on Easter Sunday and Monday.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 028 8674 8210

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/springhill

Easter-An-Easter-Egg-Trail-day-at-Charlecote-Park-Warwickshire-©NTPL-John-Millar

Wales

Erddig, Wrexham

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 10am – 5pm

The Easter bunny will be hopping over the wall into Erddig’s beautiful garden to offer families the ultimate day out with a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt. Unleash your inner explorer to solve the clues dotted around the garden and outbuildings to claim a delicious Cadbury chocolate treat. Once you’ve completed the egg hunt there’s more fun to be had inside the house where some special Easter chicks are hiding, can you spot them all?

Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01978 355314

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/erddig

Plas Newydd House and Gardens, Anglesey

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 3.30pm

Bunny has hopped over the Menai Strait and has been up to his tricks again. He’s hidden clues for you to find all around the gardens at Plas Newydd. Help us find them and claim your special Cadbury chocolate treat. You can even take part in the famous Easter Sunday egg rolling race after, or head to the Dairy Wood for some wild time in the adventure playground.

Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01248 714795

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/plasnewydd

Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd

Cadbury Easter Weekend, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 4pm

The cheeky Easter Bunny has hidden clues behind the front doors of our woodland friends’ houses, dotted around the woods and garden. And that’s not all, while he was busy setting his clues, Bunny’s family have disappeared. Can you help him find his family, who are lost inside the castle? After you’ve helped Bunny and claimed your chocolate treat, there’s even more fun to be had with fluffy-eared team games and Easter crafts galore.

Price: £2 per egg hunt (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01248 353 084

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/penrhyn-castle

* Some Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts will be running for an extended period over the Easter holidays, please visit www.cadbury.co.uk/easter for more details.

National Trust membership offer

This Easter, if you take out a National Trust membership by Direct Debit, you’ll receive access to over 500 special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland that can be enjoyed all year around. Any new membership taken out with Direct Debit over the Easter weekend at a National Trust place will receive a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt voucher, valid until Monday 28 March. The voucher entitles the holder to free, unlimited Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts on presentation at a participating property – the voucher is multi-use. The cost of the hunt bought on the day of taking out a membership to the National Trust will also be refunded. Plus every membership helps the National Trust carry on looking after these special places and spaces for ever, for everyone.

National Trust and Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts logo

Hampton Court Magic Garden

We’re Historic Royal Palace members this year, and as luck would have it so is one of our friends, and H’s best friend at school – so when she received an email inviting her to a special event today to try out the new Hampton Court Magic Garden, we all went along as it sounded pretty awesome.

Hampton Court Magic Garden amphitheatre

The Hampton Court Magic Garden is described by them as “a truly unique and immersive children’s play garden at Hampton Court Palace which translates the stories of the palace into Tudor-inspired design and features a liberal sprinkling of magic!” – so what did we think?

Hampton Court Magic Garden - spotty

We LOVED it. It’s awesome. For me it has the spirit of the Diana playground in Kensington, but with less sand (there is a water and sand play area there), where children are safe, can be left to get on with playing with minimal adult supervision, and there’s plenty of space for their imagination to run riot. It’s suitable for young kids and older ones – with enough space that nobody gets in each other’s way.

As it was a test weekend when we get to check how things work, some features weren’t available (the toilets weren’t ready, but Hampton Court itself has plenty).

Hampton Court Magic Garden crown hill view

There’s a large mound with a tunnel-slide through it and a crown on the top. There’s towers, the Tiltyard Towers (and while the Magic Garden was being built they found what might be one of the original towers), a smoke-breathing dragon you can climb on (which is awesome), a water area where you can pull a boat from one side of the water to the other, or just walk across on stepping stones instead.

Hampton Court Magic Garden Water play area older kids

There’s plenty on offer – a dragon cave, two slides – one in a tunnel and one from the tallest tower over the other side of the park, suitable for older kids. A giant fireman’s pole which H loved and said it felt like she was going down it forever. We easily spent almost two hours in there – us adults sitting chatting while H and her friend had the best time ever!

The Hampton Court Magic Garden felt safe, well thought out and fun. We had perfect weather for it – there’s an amphitheatre area too which is fun for just running or rolling around in (good hills, y’see). On top of the mound is a crown – H and her friend had races from the top to the bottom.

Hampton Court Magic Garden crown hill

There’s a climbing area leading to a long fireman’s pole, and an even longer slide – both kids loved it and kept going back.

Hampton Court Magic Garden dragon and water sand play area

Then there’s the sand area which has water you can pump from various places, there are wooden dams, and when the Hampton Court Magic Garden opens you’ll have buckets and spades too.

Hampton Court Magic Garden tree house

Oh, and the tree house. Oh my word, it’s awesome. H and her pal stayed in there quite a lot, climbing up there to get away from us adults. We wanted to join them! How amazing does this look?

Hampton Court Magic Garden towers with mirrors

As for us adults, there wasn’t space for us to sit anywhere so we perched in an area which looks like it has hooks for something, next to the fire breathing dragon (well, smoke, anyway) – and grabbed a reasonably priced drink from the nearby cafe (within the Magic Garden) – there are snacks and ice creams on offer there too.

The Hampton Court Magic Garden opens on the 21st March – keep an eye on their website for more information. You can buy a maze and Magic Gardens ticket, otherwise it is included in the cost of your Hampton Court Palace admission ticket. For members it’s included in your membership package.

It was really difficult to take photos to try and show how amazing the playground is, without there being other people on it. I’ve tried to blur out faces where I can, and can only apologise if you spot yourself and wonder why you have no face. Sorry!

Hampton Court Palace

We headed over to Hampton Court Palace, as newly signed up members of the Historic Royal Palaces gang – we figure we can visit three times and make our membership fees back, so it’s worth it.

Hampton Court

Hampton Court Palace is somewhere I’ve visited since I was very young. My Great Aunt and Uncle lived in Teddington, and we’d stay with them whenever we visited London. This would always involve a visit to Bushy Park, with a walk through to the maze at Hampton Court. Living so close to it these days, there was no way H was going to miss out on something I’d loved when I was her age – the only question was, would it still be the same?

Having the Historic Royal Palaces membership helped a lot – they’ve just finished a 50% off entry offer, and prices are increasing – plus of course there are additional things to do when you’re there. But as the gentleman who showed us to our seats in the ticket office said, “with this membership you’ll never need to queue again” (I like it already!) We also get 10% off food and any purchases in the gift shops – every little helps!

Hampton Court

Hampton Court has a lot to offer. There are the gardens, which are enormous and largely unaltered since the early days of the Palace, as well as the maze. Oh the maze. I would go in it when I was young, and did manage to get to the middle once in record time. Today it wasn’t to be, all I could remember was keep around the outside and you get to the middle, which didn’t work at all (even though it was the right thing to do). H has decided she has “a terrible sense of direction”!

Inside Hampton Court Palace there is so much to see – and we’re going to need to go back to finish off. Somehow, weirdly, I had never been there when we’ve visited in the past. I don’t know why, but that is no longer the case. We wandered around rooms Henry VIII will have dined and existed in – H was excited about this – one of her favourite subjects at school is history. You can see a crown of Henry VIII’s however they were starting to set up in the church part, so weren’t letting people in any more – another thing to go back and do!

Hampton Court

Inside Henry VIII’s kitchen there were displays of cookery as well as how to make ink. H got to use a quill to write with too.

We arrived around midday, and left at 4pm, tired and having walked for ages – and yet there’s still so much to see – and having our Historic Royal Palaces membership we can go back as often as we want!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall