I love taking N back to places that I visited as a child. My mum used to take us to some great places and we were lucky enough to visit many places around the UK over the years. It always amazes me how few places some people have visited, even in a small country like the UK. We are lucky that we’re only an hour or two from a lot of places though, and having friends and family all over the place helps as well.
The latest place we visited was Chedworth Roman Villa. I’ve got a few totally outdoor places on my list of places to visit but this was the first on the list which worked travel and day wise. The last time I visited was back at primary school and it was pretty much just a few mosaics and some boards to stand on. Nothing like the visitor attraction it is today.
We went on Mother’s Day and for once N wasn’t moaning about going out somewhere with me. Result! We had a lovely day, very chilled out, and the weather while cold, was pretty much dry for the time we were there.
Chedworth Roman Villa isn’t far from Cirencester, so right in the roman finds area on the edge of the Cotswolds. Great for exploring lots of other places nearby as well. The parking is sufficient although it’s not the largest place and I don’t know how busy it gets. But for us we arrived just after opening and it was nice and empty with not too many people to share the place with. And a bonus is that it’s a National Trust property which means my membership covered the trip.
Being a weekend and Mother’s day there was lots going on in the study room. Children could learn about the jewellery that Roman ladies wore, dress up as Romans, or do some craft work. N turned his nose up at making jewellery or mosaic tiles, but decided he’d do some colouring in.
Then we headed off to see the site along with the free kids activity pack that N insisted on having (even though I knew I’d be the one to carry it and that he’d get bored halfway through). The packs are great and we saw a few children walking round with them – there were 5 activities to do around the site including nature, mosaic and other tasks, as well as notepad, pencil and other relevant bits and bobs. Also around the site outside there are what look like wooden bins, but are actually information blocks. So you just open the lid, pull out the blocks and read about the location you’re standing looking at.
Going into the indoor area of the baths to see the uncovered mosaics and different rooms – dining hall, cold and hot baths and more – N found the kids learning activities to play. There were also tables set up for making mosaics, completing the activities in our activity backpack like working out different Roman artefacts and what they were. Plus being Mother’s Day there were people dressed as Romans and they were doing demonstrations of Roman make up.
Around the rooms there are information boards to you can always find answers to any questions. N did have lots about the baths and why they had hot and cold and how come the water came in and went out again. He wasn’t very interested in the mosaics. It was all about the water for him, whether it was the water pumping system, the water channels and the spring. In fact, not much difference to his interest in modern water.
We then wandered around the courtyard area and the ruins of the bedrooms and kitchen. For guests and the head of the house there would have been quite a view across the valley.
There’s a small indoors museum area with traditional exhibits behind glass cabinets, and stone work, but we didn’t spend much time in there out of the cold.
After a brief break sitting watching the birds on the bird table, and checking out the snowdrops (how did I go through nearly 40 years of life not knowing they had green on their petals?), it was time to get some lunch.
The café at Chedworth Roman Villa is really small. There’s only about 7 tables of varying sizes indoors (there is a larger outdoor seating area for the summer though) so get there early if you want to get one. The food choice is limited – N had a lunch box and I had a prepacked sandwich and was very good not buying some of the gorgeous looking cakes. The only annoying thing about lunch was having to sit at a table seating 6 for just the 2 of us, we ended up with another group of 6 adults kids squashing themselves on the other end thus losing our peaceful meal and space.
N decided that he wanted to go back and do some crafts before we left, so he had a go at making a badge. It was as simple as letting the children colour in or draw their picture on a circle and then having some help to use the badge making machine. N was very pleased with his badge and the machine itself. I thought he was going to volunteer to do badges for the whole room before I managed to drag him away and back to the car.
All in all, a nice place to visit, educational without being stuffy, and enough to do indoors and out. Obviously events are held on special occasions and during school holidays so it’s worth checking the website before you go. Be prepared for the nearly single track windy roads on the way as well.
Have you visited any Roman sites? Where would you recommend?
Why not take a look at these similar posts.