Feeding the baby goats
Feeding the baby goats
Dressing the scarecrows
Dressing the scarecrows

The Shugborough Estate & other National Trust properties with museums

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Kids in Museums Commissioning Editor, Rhonda Carrier, explores the ancestral home of the Earls of Lichfield with its county museum and finds five more National Trust properties with their own museums – great for varied days out this May half term.

There’s something so comforting and dependable about National Trust properties, especially when you’ve got kids. At relatively little cost (especially if you invest in annual family membership), you can have a great day out that combines outdoor fun and fresh air with a bit of history and culture. Many properties are based around country houses that can be explored before you head off to enjoy the gardens, parkland, adventure playground and sometime even a farm.

The Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire is one such place. We began with a walk around the walled vegetable gardens, where my kids got busy dressing up scarecrows, then headed to the working model farm, where we spent hours oohing and aaahing over and milk-feeding baby goats. The farm buildings themselves have period interiors and old machinery so there was an educational element to the visit too.

Then it was a mini-train ride up to the the main Georgian mansion house and servants’ quarters, where costumed interpreters demonstrate tasks of yore and where you’ll find the Staffordshire County Museum collections – a child-friendly mock-up of an old street including a reconstructed chemist shop, a tailors’ shop, a Victorian schoolroom, a puppet collection and a display of horse-drawn carriages.

The highlight of Shugborough for my boys, however, besides the baby goats, was running along the river and crossing the pooh-sticks-perfect bridge onto the estate’s own island. Here they roamed the brand-new Wilderness, a natural play area with logs to clamber on, stones for cairn building, den-building materials and a blindfold trail, plus a wild art area with animal sculptures and materials for embellishing the string-and-wood spider’s web and tree stumps. Geocaching is also available on the estate, and on Monday 26 May (in half term), there’ll be Bank Holiday Animal Racing at the farm, with sheep, ducks and guinea pigs vying for pole position.

For a well-rounded day out, Shugborough really is hard to top, but read on for further National Trust properties with museums to complement their other offerings.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/shugborough-estate/
Admission: family ticket for whole property £37.50 (reduced price for National Trust members – the Estate is actually administered by Staffordshire County Council)

1/ Sudbury Hall & the National Trust Museum of Childhood, Derbyshire
2/ Penhryn Castle & Railway Museum, North Wales
3/ Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum & Village, Wiltshire
4/ Clandon Park & Surrey Infantry Museum, Surrey
5/ Arlington Court & the National Trust Carriage Museum, Devon
For all, see www.nationaltrust.org.uk

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