With woodland walks, a large kitchen garden, formal gardens and the manor house itself there is plenty to do here.
They installed a new car park a while ago now which has made things easier on busy days. It does mean that there is now a bit of a walk from the car park to the manor. On the plus side they’ve also installed a woodland play trail alongside the pathway. With things like a wooden aeroplane to play on it’s a big hit with the kids. Have a look at the video below for some pictures.
I really like the kitchen garden; there is lots of fruit and veg to explore with the kids and they have a bug hunt you can do. They also have little wheelbarrows and my kids could spend hours pushing these around “gardening”. Now it is well established the willow tunnel is brilliant for kids to run in and out of.
The formal gardens themselves are actually very small in comparison to the NT properties nearby but they’re very pretty. They have some massive deck chairs you can relax in when the weather is good. There are some bee hives at the end of the garden which my two eldest enjoyed visiting. There is a little woodland path (The pleasure grounds) alongside the house which is very pushchair friendly. In the grounds there is also the West Bank Garden (this is accessible by steps only). There is also the Ice House bunker which sheds more light on the military past of the Manor. At the moment the disabled access slope is broken so there is only stepped access into the bunker.
There are lots of awesome walks around the woodland and wider estate. If you walk back towards the road then you can explore the stream and the resident cattle herd. The estate can be very hilly and muddy in places, but that’s the nature of woodlands. If you are starting your walk in the woods near the ice house then you are greeted by a fairly steep muddy path from the outset. The paths are extensive so it’s best to get a map (we did get lost once and ended up pushing a double pushchair up a VERY steep and muddy hill. It was very funny but also hard work!!) If you’re a fan of GeoCaching there are several points within the grounds that have caches hidden.
Dogs on leads are allowed throughout most of the site, including within the stables area so you can have a drink / something to eat whilst you’re there. If you want to walk your dog off the lead then this is allowed in the wider parkland (also, National Trust membership isn’t required to walk in this part, you simply park at the Church to start your walk)
Inside the house there is usually a children’s trail. The rooms are fairly simply decorated but there are guides in each room. If your family are fans of the TV series “Horrible Histories” you might be interested to know that some episodes are filmed here. They also have a permanent exhibition dedicated to Queen Victoria as she was close friends with Disreli. The basement is dedicated to Operation Hillside, a fascinating insight into how the house helped towards to war effort. Access is down steep, narrow steps though.
They do regular events such as an Easter Egg hunt, Apple days and Christmas trails which we’ve always enjoyed.
Normally we have taken a picnic with us and just brought a cake from the cafe but the last time I visited I decided to get lunch for myself and smallest child from there. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake. Whilst they do sell children’s boxes it turns out that they don’t normally do them during the week (I was there on a Thursday). They don’t sell them regularly enough during the week and so there was a lot of waste and they stopped doing it. Apparently they normally keep some bread in the kitchen to make up a sandwich if needed but they didn’t have any of that when I visited. They did manage to find a roll for her, but it was very dry and she didn’t eat any of it. It was unlucky but useful to know for the future.
Free for NT members £31.65 for a family ticket
Free, on-site and a decent amount. The car park is a walk from the manor but there’s a shuttle buggy if needed
Yes, they’ve just been refurbished so there is now a decent baby change in the disabled loos
Cafe on-site, picnics are very welcome in the orchard. There is also Dizzy’s Tea Room near the house but for some reason I’ve never found how to get into it!
4 / 5 – it’s a nice family day out and there’s enough to keep kids interested. The kitchen garden is brilliant.