Review: National Trust Brockhampton Estate

The property is entered directly from the A44 between Bromyard and Worcester. About a 10-15 minute drive from another National Trust property we visited the same day (The Elgar Birthplace Museum – The Firs). The long, high wall on the outer of the property gives an indication of a vast estate, but it doesn’t prepare you for what you encounter.

After driving a few minutes down a single track road, surrounded by open countryside and grazing sheep you get to a lay-by and a little hut where you are expected to pull over. A National Trust member of staff comes to greet you and ask what your plans are for the day (so they can give you directions). It’s here that we found out we weren’t actually “here” yet… the actual house and gardens are a further 1.5 miles drive through the estate down this single track. The beauty cannot be escaped though – even the children were making sounds of awe as we turned the corner downhill towards the Lower Brockhampton estate. And then again as the road became tree lined. And then cheers of excietment when they realised we were at the car park and the much anticipated end of journey was nigh.

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The medieval manor house (entered by a cute little gatehouse) takes you through much history and is very well presented and provides a lot of information. This is a house with no roped off areas, so you can really get up close to the displays and furnishings. And in one of the upstairs rooms there’s a chance for dress up; though the children didn’t actually dress up on this visit, the house is a bit dark which added an eerie feel, they didn’t want to stick around too long upstairs. With short films available in a room at the back taking you through how the house was opened, archaeology days and the like.

 

 

 

 

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There is a lot more information to be found on various signs around the gardens and also in the courtyard by the Granary shop and kiosk (which we didn’t use on our visit, as we didn’t have need to). You can find a lot of information about the history and uses of the estate and some of the history of the chapel, as well as some information about agriculture.

 

 

 

 

The chapel is in ruins, but still has 4 walls and and is in good enough a state to get some kind of feel for space and layout. And previous archaeological digs have found remnants that give an indication of how it would have looked, so there are pictures of that too. The children thought it was very cool to see the font in position in the chapel. More history about the property and the site can be found at their website here.

 

 

 

 

The grounds are vast and as such we didn’t cover much of them, there are many walks but we didn’t come prepared for off-roading with Caitlin (we had the standard town-friendly wheelchair, and no carrier). We did try, but after rolling through a lot of sheep poop, and flicking it everywhere as the wheels spun, we decided to call it quits and hope that we may be able to get back there on another day for a walk (perhaps with Bruce, so he can share the carrying duties hehehe).

 

 

 

Whilst we were there, they were running the “Make do and mend” trail, where the children got to hunt for different things whilst learning about how people used to make do and mend. They found it both interesting and fun and were excited to chose their prizes at the end. It was an additional cost of £2.50.

This is a genuine review and all opinions are based on my own experiences during the visit. The National Trust are not funding my visits, we have a year annual pass that was gifted by a family member as a Christmas present, hence our numerous National Trust visits. 

Review: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (and Dippy the Dinosaur)

Knowing that Dippy the Dinosaur (the diplodocus skeleton normally resident in London’s Natural History Museum) is on tour around the UK (currently at Birmingham), how much my children love dinosaurs and how easy Birmingham is by train I decided that this was a must this summer… so a day trip was planned with my little brother (Max, only 10 months older than Logan).

We were surprised to find out it’s all free. Not just the exhibition to see Dippy, but also the entry to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. So that was a bonus. But I must say, having never been there before, and knowing it’s a free museum, we were pleasantly surprised not only of the quality of the exhibitions on offer, but also the interactivity layout and presentation of the place. It was fantastic. The regret we have is not having planned more time there. But knowing it’s free and easy to get to, I expect there shall be a return visit at some point.

There were various different permanent exhibitions, from Ancient History through to the history of Birmingham There were many artifacts on display, quizzes, electronic interactivity, models, example clothing and fashion as well as sections for the children to play on something related, for example the 1930’s kitchen in the above picture gallery.

Then it was time for Dippy, although it is free entry, you have to book in for your time slot to enter online here. It was a big hall with Dippy being the central focus. Some dinosaur related information and displays around the outer sections of the hall. And then towards the back the children were given the opportunity to write on a brown label, with a message for Dippy to take on tour with him.

The museum itself was about a 5 minute walk from the Snow Hill rail station, but surrounded by a lot of building works. It wasn’t that hard to find as it’s quite centrally located. However, using google maps on my phone for directions we ended up facing the task of getting a wheelchair up a enormous amount of steps. Luckily, Caitlin can walk, so she could get out and be supported up the steps whilst her wheelchair was carried. However, on exit we found that if you enter the museum from Edmund Street this is much more accessible. The Museum itself does have lifts, though the one at the beginning of the museum was the only one in use whilst we were there, so you had to walk back through the exhibition to get back to the lift to go down… or find a way down the stairs. Toilet facilities were good and clean, though had run out of toilet paper by the time we used.

A Mother’s Day out…

I know it’s over with, but as I say, I am trying to catch up with what we’ve been up to.

So this year, I felt that I should mention Mother’s Day. In previous year mentioning it would have been only to moan about how much I do and how it’s just one day out of the year where some kind of expectation of appreciation is placed upon them. Not necessarily worried about a gift, but just not being expected to do everything I usually do in a day.

Well this year was different. The children were very vocal to Bruce about what they wanted to buy etc. So I did actually get gifts this year. Logan wanted to get me a cute sheep doorstop. And Caitlin wanted to wander around Poundland getting me an array of presents in the most glittery bag she could find. Bruce told me she wandered around the store like she own the place, casually picking bits up and sticking them in the basket. She kindly bought me some wonderful things like scouring pads (she loves cleaning, so she thought it was amazing).

And on the big day, there was no housework… we had a day out. We went into Worcester where we had a spot of breakfast at Cafe Rouge – no review for that, it’s a high street brand.

Afterwards we visited Greyfriars House, the Tudor House Museum and The Commandery.

Greyfriars was very good. Tours are given in the morning and you can wander freely in the afternoon. I’d recommend a tour to get the most out of it, as the tour provides the bulk of the information regarding the history that make things more interesting (things you may not even notice unless on the tour). It’s not very big, but it packs quite a bit of history in. There is a small entry free, but as National Trust members it’s a free entry site. It’s just a house in the city centre, with a small courtyard garden. You get information on its uses, extension works and changes over the history of a few key families, and see some original furnishings, wall coverings etc.

The Tudor House Museum was free, I can see why in all honesty, it was not very extensive and was done and dusted fairly quickly. It’s worth a wander around as you’re not paying for it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit. It’s only a few houses down from Greyfriars, and just up the road from The Commandery, so would be worth doing if doing the other two. A few artifacts and some information about the building’s previous usage history.

The Commandery, very interactive, and of the 3 I would say had the most information, and interested the children the most. It explains the history of the civil war, and exhibits a lot of information through different media, some of which is very interactive – pushing buttons, trying on costumes and the like. The children thought it was amazing. There was a small entry fee (costing around £5.95/adult, children free) and it was most definitely worth that.

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Royal Caitlin

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Rolling their eyes at Politicians Bruce and Ariella pretending to debate in parliament

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Soldier Logan