On last week’s visit to see my family in West Yorkshire, we were hoping for better weather than what we ended up with. I took my National Trust membership card in the hope of getting out and about to see some of the local area and I thought that I wasn’t going to get to use it at all. Luckily though, the week got better as it went on and we finally made it to the nearest National Trust venue which was Nostell Priory.
As I have come to expect with any National Trust property we visit, Nostell Priory is stunning. An 18th Century manor house, it was never actually a priory, but built on the site of one and the name retained. Overlooking acres and acres of parkland (300 to be precise), this is truly a magical setting.
I’m so glad my children are interested in these types of places now they are older. They couldn’t wait to go and explore the house and the staff are always so encouraging and welcoming to their younger visitors. First stop for us was the servant’s quarters, where my younger two couldn’t resist getting dressed up for the part.
How chuffed they were to be allowed to keep their costumes on as we ventured on our tour of the rest of the house. This amazing doll’s house was a source of fascination, especially after we were told to look for the white mouse, which is apparently moved around in order to keep visitors guessing. We couldn’t find it without the help of one of the volunteers, not surprising though considering how tiny this little thing was.
Nostell Priory were running a bear hunt whilst we were there. The children were told that all the bears had escaped from the nursery and were hiding around the house. We had a list of their names and when we spotted one, we had to work out which one it was using the clues from the room we found it in. Now this was not an easy bear hunt and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of each room guide. What resulted, was us learning a lot about the house and it’s previous inhabitants along the way.
On completing the bear hunt and returning the costumes, we ventured in to the courtyard. I was ready for a coffee by then, but my little ones spotted the stables and wanted to go and have a look. We learned about a day in the life of a stable hand and they even did a spot of grooming themselves.
No visit to a National Trust property would be complete without a stop in the café. It was late in the day by the time we got there, with most things being sold out, however, I couldn’t resist this beetroot and mozzarella scone. Hmmm, some inspiration for my own baking there I think. Sadly, it wasn’t gluten and dairy free, but on a separate table was a nice selection of free from cakes, so my son was able to choose something that he could eat (for a change). National Trust, you made a six year old boy very happy!
Last stop was the gardens at the back of the house, which contain an adventure playground. What I loved about this play area, was the way it blended in to the surrounding woodland. As much as possible, the equipment is made of natural materials, so it complements rather than spoils, the landscape.
We had to drag the children away from this as it was nearing closing time by then. They didn’t want to leave, but they were pleased to be able to write a note to say what they had enjoyed most about their day, leaving behind a button to show that they had had a great time.