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Share your thoughts on historical days out and events with your children - £300 voucher to be won NOW CLOSED

(281 Posts)
JustineBMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 21-Jul-16 14:46:57

It can be difficult to keep kids’ boredom at bay during the school holidays. English Heritage sites in London and the East are putting on events throughout the summer to help keep children entertained and they’d like to hear your thoughts surrounding historical days out and events you’ve attended with your children.

Here’s what English Heritage have to say: “English Heritage have a host of sites across London and the East that are perfect to keep your little ones entertained throughout the summer holidays. With a new themed activity each week at each property, your little adventurers will be thoroughly entertained (and may secretly learn a thing or two along the way!) during those long hot (here’s hoping!) holidays.

From London to Suffolk to Derbyshire and everything in between, English Heritage have castles, manor houses and sites with acres of beautiful gardens that are sure to keep even the most active of children busy! Not only are the sites fantastic, but each has a varied event programme for children throughout the school holidays. From becoming a home front hero to learning the ropes as a budding knight; from being inspired by Darwin’s science experiments to taking to the stage 1920s style and from going on a bug safari to playing games like a Victorian – your little time travellers will get hands on with history with English Heritage this summer.”

So, have you been on a really great historical adventure or attended an event which really brought history to life for your children? Do you think events you take your children on should be educational, or purely fun? Maybe you think that they should always be both? Whatever your thoughts or stories surrounding events and days out for your children, share them with English Heritage below.

All those who leave a comment below will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £300 voucher from a store of their choice.

Thanks, and good luck!


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loosechange Thu 21-Jul-16 15:57:17

Not posting this to enter the draw, but wondering why English Heritage have restricted this to London and the East?

MiddleClassProblem Thu 21-Jul-16 16:09:07

Hampton Court is fantastic. A mixture of fun and educational and I also love London zoo for a similar mix. I think if kids need educational trips to be fun or interactive otherwise it can limit the attention span. It's nice to throw in a purely fun day in there now and again though, which can be socially educational

PerspicaciaTick Thu 21-Jul-16 17:30:44

Hampton Court is fabulous. Nothing English Heritage does comes close, although Audley End was excellent too. It's the extras that engage my children, especially actors.

hermancakedestroyer Thu 21-Jul-16 18:43:48

We went to corfe castle the other day and there was a viking battle whist we were there. It was so amazing to watch and really brought history to life. I think a few actors in costumes and props go a long way to helping you experience life in those times.

CMOTDibbler Thu 21-Jul-16 18:55:11

We love historical outings, but some of the best experiences have been very understated. Often I feel the bigger events at EH places feel like they could be anywhere and don't make you feel really in touch with the people who lived and worked there or telling their story.
It often feels like theres a gap between 'history for tinies' where its all dressing up boxes and interpretation for adults. My 10 year old doesn't want to dress up, colour, or follow a trail (which often has nothing to do with the history). The Staffordshire Hoard exhibit at Birmingham museum is presented in a way that is so accessible to everyone, and is interesting at lots of levels .

Wigeon Thu 21-Jul-16 18:58:44

The annual Tudor recreations at Kentwell Hall in Suffolk are just amazing. My parents took me as a child and I was just captivate; I've now taken my own DC. 250+ people, dressed up as Tudors, behaving like Tudors, doing all kinds of Tudor activities.

Also Blist's Hill Victorian village at Ironbrdige - fantastic recreation, also with costumed people, and all sorts of original shops etc. Such a good day out.

foxessocks Thu 21-Jul-16 19:16:09

Dover castle is great. Loads to do there and the views are beautiful. We went on a very windy and wild day so it was quite scary at the top but I imagine on a nice day it is very peaceful up there!

CopperPan Thu 21-Jul-16 19:24:37

Audley End is stunning and has an interesting history. We spent a whole day out there recently when they had a Horse, Hound and Hawk event on. The hawk displays were excellent, especially seeing a golden eagle close up. The dc loved running around in the grounds and we had a lovely picnic by the lake.

PerspicaciaTick Thu 21-Jul-16 19:40:42

Sutton Hoo was very good for all generations of my family, a good balance of activities, open areas and accessible information.

falgelednl Thu 21-Jul-16 19:50:37

We love visiting Osborne house and carisbrooke castle on the Isle of Wight. Lovely fair recently at OH where we met Queen Victoria as well as lots of old fashioned games - all free once we had paid to get in.
At carisbrooke all three of my children - aged 3 to 9 - were fascinated when listening to the battle of Naseby retold using vegetables! Yes, vegetables and they all still talk about it.
So often they are learning without realising.
OTOH neither of my DDs - when aged 4 and 6 - liked the real-life characters at Warwick castle as they found them scary! Youngest did love meeting the princess though and both enjoyed the jousting (albeit from a distance as was noisy!) and still remember the trebuchet demonstrations.

asuwere Thu 21-Jul-16 19:57:56

We went to a special event at an abbey a couple of years ago. It was fantastic, it was like going back in time. The staff were dressed in medieval costume, there was a hog roast, falconry etc. It was really well done. It was fun but with a bit of education thrown in.
I think fun usually is the important factor but if you can add education, it makes it even better.

ProfYaffle Thu 21-Jul-16 20:30:19

We love historic days out. We especially like either re-enactor led events or proper research activity. We've done a few surveys with local volunteer groups which the dc enjoy because they know their work is going into the local historic record. We've also done a few young archaeologist activities too.

We don't like events which simply have themed craft activities. My kids are now 12 and 9 and this is a difficult age for family days out. They've grown out of cutting and pasting and 'archaeological digs' with plaster bones in a sand pit, but they aren't old enough for 'teenage' type things either..

We really enjoy events that don't patronise the dc. Talk to them intelligently and let them get hands on to capture the imagination.

Theimpossiblegirl Thu 21-Jul-16 20:32:31

Dunster (Somerset) has several English Heritage and National Trust sites and is a wonderful place to visit all year round. The Yarn Market is a central point in their Dunster by Candlelight Christmas evenings, when the village is transformed into a Victorian Christmas, complete with street entertainers, stalls, roasting chestnuts and mulled wine. The first weekend of December, it really kicks off our Christmas.

Hs2Issue Thu 21-Jul-16 20:35:40

I love history and am trying to pass this onto DD. We recently went to an event at Barnsley Museum where Jorvik museum/ characters came and showed some activities and an exhibition which DD found fascinating especially the genuine skeleton!

MakeTeaNotWar Thu 21-Jul-16 21:27:33

My dad passed down a love of history to me that I'm keen for the DC to inherit. We recently went to Lewes Castle and had a lovely day out. The kids dressed up in medieval costume and had a turn in the stocks!

LifeIsGoodish Thu 21-Jul-16 21:36:06

I love these sorts of outings!

We have tried on genuine period garments, eaten authentic Tudor dishes, handled artefacts, experienced the pitch black of a mine, played on stunning musical instruments over 100y old, countless other hands-on experiences which enthral and entertain - as well as educate.

Sometimes it triggers an interest in the dc, such as ds2 deciding that he really did want to have piano lessons, after playing on a fabulous antique piano, which in turn has been fantastic for him both educationally and socially.

durezz Thu 21-Jul-16 21:37:17

I went to Hampton court when I was in school. Have wanted to go with the kids for a long time now. Thanks to other posters who are recommending it.
We did go to chislehurt caves, very eerie but it was an eye opener to how people survived through the war.

EwanWhosearmy Thu 21-Jul-16 22:10:56

We had a week in Northumberland in 2014.

On the way we stopped at Warkworth castle where DD, then 7, had a lesson in archery, followed by Pike training. We went on to Chesters, for Roman soldier training, where we learnt how the soldiers uniform changed over the centuries, and got to try on a variety of helmets.

Next stop was another EH site where the children and their fathers all got to dress up as Vikings, and learnt some battle techniques.

Our last stop was Belsay Hall for Knight training, including jousting.

As we are EH members it was a fabulous week for very little cost, and one DD talked about for months.

forkhandles4candles Thu 21-Jul-16 22:25:06

Historical trips are my absolute favourite. We are English Heritage members and go on countless trips to ruined castles or old Roman forts etc. Too numerous to mention but faves are Dover castle, Harlech castle, Hadleigh castle...Battle esp the recreation of the battle, Kenilworth....

finova Thu 21-Jul-16 22:25:31

When my boys were nearly 3 and 5 we walked along the cliff tips on a warm September day to Dunstanburgh castle. It was a magical day, the castle once in the distance getting bigger and bigger.
We also attend a WW2 event each year at a train station. The boys love dressing up and it's a great mix of fun and facts.
They get different things from it each year.

MegBusset Thu 21-Jul-16 22:39:19

We went to Dover Castle a few years ago and really enjoyed it. The DC were a bit young to 'get' the historical stuff then. But the best one was a medieval day at Pendennis Castle in Cornwall a few years ago. There was jousting which the kids loved watching, but best of all was an executioner who very convincingly went through all the gory ways of putting people to death.

cornflakegirl Thu 21-Jul-16 22:43:07

Blists Hill is amazing - all the actors are completely in character and really engage with the children. The printer had a long conversation with my DS about taking him on as an apprentice - it wasn't just a script.

Beamish, which we thought would be quite similar, was nowhere near as good. Far fewer people in character, so we missed a lot of the relevance of the various buildings. Although the trip down the mine was fantastic, due to the quality of the guide.

Melfish Thu 21-Jul-16 23:39:38

We visited Osborne House and had a lovely time looking round the house and grounds. DD loved the Punch and Judy show and splashing on the beach. She also liked collecting the clues in each room (I think it was a treasure map?).
For interactive events, the best was the Time Quake event at Hampton Court which had actors getting the children to help stop a time vortex from opening up thanks to the palace's astronomical clock. The children enjoyed being encouraged to zoom around the palace and it provided a good opportunity for them to have a look around with a purpose. I like mooching about looking at ancient stuff and could do that all day but DD prefers a bit more structure and a story/puzzle to solve in order to engage with history.

UnikittyInHerBusinessSuit Thu 21-Jul-16 23:59:01

I loved Blists Hill, as did the DC. I have very very low tolerance for people dressing up and pretending to be characters from history, but the people at Blists Hill really are doing the jobs they're re-enacting.

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