Living in Dorset we have some fabulous countryside in our doorstep, but I always tend to head west along the coast.
Back in May we visited Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and invested in an English Heritage annual pass, which entitles you to unlimited access to more than 400 historic places all over the UK and we have been busy planning places to visit ever since.
Today I decided to head North to Wiltshire to visit Old Wardour Castle as I spotted that it had an event on that I knew the kids would love.
Set in peaceful countryside beside a lake, Old Wardour Castle was once one of the most daring and innovative homes in Britain. It was built in the 14th century as a lightly fortified luxury residence for comfortable living and lavish entertainment.
Fun Fact: The castle was the inspiration for the one featured in the Kevin Costner film ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’
Up until 31st August, Old Wardour Castle is holding its Castle Capers event, with the Hands on History Crew bring Old Wardour to life with games, activities and storytelling.
The activities are arranged to run throughout the day, with a morning session and an afternoon session.
We arrived just in time to be introduced to some of the items that you would have found in the castle and the History Crew engaged the kids brilliantly, asking them questions to see if they knew the answers. There were quite a few references to ‘wee-wee’ as it was used for lots of things including washing shirts and tanning shoes, much to the kids disgust.
It was the physical activities that the kids were more eager to try.
Their favourite activity by far was Hobby Horse Jousting, which involved riding a hobby house along the jousting ring whilst carrying a lance.
They had to catch a rope ring and hit the targets with the lance they were carrying, whilst another child made hoof noises with coconuts.
There was also archery on offer, which gave them the chance to try the difference between a bow and arrow and a crossbow.
The kids love visiting castles, so in between activities were keen to head off to explore.
Although not a huge castle, it is full of rooms to explore and winding staircases to climb, perfect for a game of hide and seek.
There is an audio tour included with entry, however, if you choose to explore by yourself there are a few plaques around which tell you what the rooms were used for.
The old stone staircase is quite steep and uneven in places, but don’t let that put you off the climb, the views from the top are spectacular.
You can look up to the sky, across the landscaped gardens and over the lake and beyond to the local countryside.
You can climb impressively close to the top of the castle, viewing the Doric columns and the lions as you go.
The kids do love to scare me as they have no fear!!
In the gardens, there is an 18th century stone grotto set amongst the trees. Built by Josiah Lane of Tisbury, there are also some standing stones and two stone seats, one topped with a 16th or 17th century fountain base.
The kids even found some ammonites in the grotto!!
The facilities at Old Wardour Castle are limited. There is small gift shop selling ice creams and souvenirs and toilets in the banqueting house, but if you visit I recommend you take a picnic as the gardens are the perfect place to sit and eat whilst the kids burn off some energy.
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