With National Trust membership, I always feel like we should make the most of it whenever we’re away. So on our February break in the New Forest, we stopped at Mottisfont on the way home.
N wasn’t impressed at doing another National Trust visit, but given I’d taken him to Peppa Pig World he owed me! Once he knew there would be lunch boxes and water involved, he was happy. He even told me to get out my camera to take photos of all the pretty snowdrops.
We arrived early, the first ones through the doors, and had an hour to walk round the grounds before the house opened. I didn’t know what there would be to really see in the winter months garden wise, but I needn’t have worried. First on the agenda was pooh sticks over the bridges, and laughing at ducks trying to avoid going under the archways against the river flow. Mottisfont was built near the historical font (hence the name), which is still there to see. Or it would be if you managed to find it – we somehow kept missing it with N leading the way down random paths.
Mottisfont has a beautiful winter garden with plenty of colour in it to enjoy and explore. N enjoyed the different stepping ‘stones’ and walkways. He was also keen to order me around, telling me which direction I could go in.
Our next stop was to hug the huge tree. Essential for any child, and N was positive his arms reached a quarter of the way round!
The walled gardens weren’t much when we went. Although I don’t know if we saw it all because it was really empty and N dragged me out again pretty quickly. It would be nice to return in June when the famous rose displays are in bloom.
The weather was a little dreary and threatening rain, so we headed to The Stables for a break. The Stables is a lovely area of courtyard tables, an indoor café, and open stables where you can find out about the wildlife at Mottisfont. There was also a riding block which N hopped on happily, along with various pieces of tack to play with.
The café itself serves basic meals, snacks and drinks. The usual National Trust fayre, along with the lengthy wait despite it being quiet. After refreshments N allowed me some time to look around the back of the house, and underneath in the old priory cellerium roomwhich is still as it was all those years ago. I think they always feel a bit earthy and spooky, but thankfully N didn’t moan that it was scary.
N also spotted some building blocks for children to build up the abbey and house. He loved getting creative with this trying to make it as accurate as possible, and was pleased to see on our later return that it hadn’t been broken up.
I was disappointed in the house itself. The downstairs was interesting with the rooms we could go in, set up as though in use. This is the type of thing we enjoy about National Trust properties, bringing the history to life. We were also able to look into the room where the staff were cleaning books which was really interesting. But upstairs it was taken over as an art gallery, with an exhibition celebrating Rex Whistler. Now I’m not a big art follower, so I have to admit I’ve never heard of Rex Whistler, and apart from the amazing murals in the house itself, I wasn’t that excited by the sketches and smaller artwork. Although it was busy, so obviously a lot of people are interested.
There was a picture trail for children, which N started out enthusiastically, including watching a bit of the video about Whistler’s paintings and stays at Mottisfont. I’m not sure if the house is usually as a normal display of the house and furniture or whether exhibitions are the norm, but luckily for us there was plenty else to look at.
We ate in the café in the house, which was a reasonable space. N had been moaning he was hungry for hours (despite having had a cooked breakfast in the hotel), so an early lunch did help us beat the queues. It was sandwich and lunchboxes all round as usual, quickly demolished so we could get on our way home.
N wanted to check out the playground before we left, although the natural playground was way too boggy for trainers. If you’re at Mottisfont with children and want to play, then do think about wellies unless it’s been dry for a while. There’s also a water play area so in the summer it would be great to go for a picnic and day out in the grounds.
As we turned to walk back along the river, the heavens opened, and we rushed back to the car. I feel for the people just arriving because that rain wasn’t stopping any time soon.
Mottisfont is a beautiful place to visit. For me it’s more about the grounds – there was so much we didn’t get to explore and I’m sure May-June time would be glorious with all the roses in bloom.
Have you ever been to Mottisfont? Are you a National Trust aficionado?
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