The first time I attempted to visit Canons Ashby wasn’t a success thanks to N’s moaning and refusal to go anywhere or wait for the house to open. Afternoon only opening houses are a bit of a pain for us, as we like to be in early and out for lunch and then going home.
But this time we were meeting Mary and Monkey from Over 40 and a mum to one, so we were looking forward to a quick look round the house (because boys aren’t generally fans of trailing round National Trust properties) and lots of outdoors wandering.
Canons Ashby is a lovely house set in a pretty estate in Northamptonshire, with lovely gardens of different levels and a church in the grounds.
I knew N wouldn’t go in the church as well as the house, but we meet our friends just before lunch in the den building area so we could chat and the boys could play until it was time for lunch. All the time we were sitting in the area, we had no other children wanting to come and play – I don’t think it’s signposted though, so unless you know it’s there, you’ll only come across it if you’re walking the grounds.
Lunch was on the agenda, and the tea room was surprisingly quiet, although there were plenty of people sitting outside in the sun. Of course, it being National Trust, it still took some time for the short queue to move along.
We had to negotiate with the boys to go in the house and then into the garden. The house had a good little mystery searching trail for children, where they had to find the parcels of missing laundry. Trails always give us a bit more time to enjoy the rooms while children are filling in their little trail booklets. N did get bored and gave up halfway through. No staying power my son!
The house was surprising. I expected the servants hall and kitchen to be less smart, but it was really quite nice compared to some other houses we’ve been to in the past.
The boys had hoped for croquet on the lawn but they were happy just running around the gardens. As well as the formal flower gardens, you can walk along the kitchen garden area to see the sunflowers and sweet peas, and even out to the fields.
We’d promised ice creams if the boys hadn’t moaned about us going in the house and gardens. So we had an ice cream stop before heading back to the den building. National Trust places are great for providing natural play areas, and Canons Ashby has logs to play with and a tree swing.
After a lovely relaxing time chatting in the sun, we dragged the boys away, not far off closing time.
What we loved about Canons Ashby
- Den building area (near to the car park)
- A fairly quiet tea room even at 12.30
- No timed house tickets – just get a token and hand it in when you’re ready to go round
- Kids trail in the house – kept them amused looking for parcels and doing the booklet activity
- Lovely stepped garden, with lovely photo frames to help with photo opportunities
Now all we need to do, is get to further afield to National Trust locations.
Where’s your current favourite National Trust or other stately home?
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