Upton House is the first stately home that I actually took the children into. I hadn’t been planning on it, but the volunteers at the entrance were so lovely and said how child-friendly it was inside the house so we went in. The house was owned by the founders of the Shell oil company – we’ve since had a tour and found out all about the fascinating history of the family – did you know the company starting selling shell covered trinkets? During the war it was used as the headquarters of their bank, and it’s set up like it was then.
The car park is a few minutes from the house. You can either walk straight down the drive to the house or you can take the nature play trail. This is a longer route around the perimeter of the “front garden” of the house and leads to the restaurant which is next to the house. There are lots of obstacles and areas for the children to explore and quite often there are children’s trails along this path. My two could happily wander and play along this trail for hours!
There are several hands-on areas for the kids within the house, including the banking hall where they can type on a real typewriter. Apparently this is a hilarious way to type anything and I’m a million years old for having used one when I was a child!!! Thanks kids. There are plenty of rooms that are open for them to explore, including the basement. My kids always love having a look around how different it is “below-stairs”. They also have a pool table that the kids can play a game on. The house isn’t massive but there’s a decent number of rooms to look around and they’re very engaging. Only the first floor is accessible and I don’t think pushchairs are allowed in. You’ll need a carrier to explore the other floors with smaller kids but you can borrow one if you need to.
The grounds themselves are not as large as some others locally, but they’re lovely and have a variety of areas. They have an orchard, several marked walks, ponds including a large mirror pond, there’s a swimming pool (which you’re not allowed to swim in) and they even have an Anderson shelter in the grounds. There’s a nice grassy lawn at the side of the house overlooking the surrounding hills. It’s great for letting the kids run around and there are some perfect spots for rolling down hills. In the spring the snowdrops and daffodils in the orchard and woodland walk look so beautiful. The main terrace garden is stunning in summer too. It’s got both flowers and vegetables growing and it’s set-out over several terraces (hence the name). There are a LOT of steps though and it is only partially accessible via slopes if you’ve got a pushchair or wheelchair with you. The view from the mirror pool at the bottom is pretty spectacular though.
A visit to the restaurant is definitely a good idea. We’ve eaten in there several times – the food was nice, portions are decent and it’s a reasonable price. The scones were really good. It’s always been very clean and the staff have been very friendly and helpful. Be warned though, if you sit on the chairs outside there are several very “friendly” robins who would love to share your lunch with you – we had to move a couple of times!! There are a couple of places throughout the grounds you can have a picnic as well, including some that are sheltered.
Whilst this isn’t the biggest site, you can still make a full day of it. It’s also more than possible to do there and back from Aylesbury between school runs and still have a decent amount of time on-site (I’d recommend coming off the M40 at Jct 10 not Jct 9 to avoid the risk of traffic).
Entry – £31.50 for a family ticket or FREE for NT members
Parking / How to get there
Parking – On-site, free.
Address – near Banbury, Warwickshire, OX15 6HT
Nice restaurant, picnics welcome. Good scones but do be careful sitting outside, there’s a few overly friendly robins
Rating – 5 / 5 – we’ve been quite a few times.
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook