We’ve been to most National Trust places near us, but I forget that living where we do, we seem to be an hour away from so many other locations. Knowing that we were due sunny weather at the weekend, I shortlisted a few options for N and we decided to visit Croome Park in Worcester.
Croome Park is a beautiful house set in gorgeous grounds, somewhat similar to Stowe with various walks, rotundas, stone follies and bridges to view as you walk. Not forgetting the lovely river flowing through. But as well as the house, there’s also the RAF Deptford air museum, a 1940s style canteen including outside mess tents to have refreshments in and 2 great little playgrounds, one with air force based equipment and the other a natural playground for building dens and exploring.
We started off at the playground to give N a bit of a run around. The playground’s suitable for age 4 to 11, although there are toddler swings and the equipment is fine for younger children with a bit of help.
It was perfect for N and he enjoyed himself there for a while before we went to check out the natural playground.
N turned up his nose at walking on the balancing logs and wooden beams, scoffed at searching for bugs, but when he spotted the den building opportunities he was straight in grabbing branches to make his own den. The one downside with having only one child and him having a dad always working, means that I’m always the one who has to help with the den building. N did try quite a bit himself, but given he’d not chosen to use the den structures built for the den bases, instead he used a tree so needed some help.
He was quite happy ordering me around and telling me to either keep watch on our pile of branches, or getting me to bring him longer and bigger branches to bring over. N really had a good time until I mentioned we might want to walk down to the house so we could get some lunch. We decided to eat there rather than the mess tent although there is limited choice and space at the house tea rooms.
It’s a 5-15 minute walk down to the house depending on the route you take, and N for once was happy to take a longer route to get to the house. We stopped for a drink on the way as it was beautiful sunshine…and N had refused to wear his sunhat (he told me afterwards that he should have done – yep, I’m always right when it comes to things like that).
We spotted statues, beautiful bluebells and had a look at the open water culvert which was built by Capability Brown as part of his landscaping of the park. Capability Brown really was prolific during his time, everywhere we visit seems to have gained something from him.
The walk was lovely – despite N’s questions about how they cut the grass there, or whether they actually do given the number of dandelions, daisies and other pretty weeds and wildflowers off the paths. It was really warm though – not really walking weather but bliss to be outside.
The house itself upstairs hasn’t got a lot to see, that is, it’s not furnished. There’s a couple of rooms with jigsaws or models of the house suitable for children to play with but we didn’t find either of these. Instead we ‘enjoyed’ some of the modern artwork that was on view. The door viewfinder sculpture kept N interested for a while.
We headed downstairs to check out the kids construction activity room where there’s Lego, wooden tool box and table, and other activities for children to have a go at. We were the only ones in there for the 20 minutes we were there, and thinking about it, we didn’t see many children at all around the house (only a few older ones), just in the playground.
Downstairs there is a wonderful shoe exhibition and a chance for you to design your own as well as trying on some of the decorative historical shoes.
But apart from that area and the tapestry room (now wood panelled due to the pink tapestries being sold), there’s not that much in the house other than a few bits to read about.
The tea room serves what’s needed – sandwiches, kids lunch boxes, drinks and cakes – although there’s only a few tables. Some people were sitting outside to eat, and there’s plenty of picnicking space around.
Then we headed the more direct route back up to the playground and museum.
I have to say I was expecting more from the museum which celebrates Croome Park being a wartime air force site until its closure. The ambulance shed wasn’t open although a man went in and changed the sign to open, but the door was still shut. Other than listening posts around the museum (and the rest of the site), I’d say you needed to be more of an enthusiast and want to know everything about the history because it’s a little dry and wordy for my ideal, and certainly didn’t attract N to look.
After a brief walk round the museum, ice creams were calling as well as another brief playground stop before we headed back to the car and home. Croome Park is a lovely National Trust site but I could see it being a place to visit in good weather so you can let the kids run off and enjoy themselves rather than being stuck in a house with fewer activities than there often area at National Trust places.
Have you ever been to Croome Park? Where’s the best ‘adult’ place you’ve found with good kids activities?
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