Location: Arrignton, Royston, Cambridgeshire SG8 0BW
Opening Times: Seasonal
Duration: All day
Age-Range: The Hall – 6+, The Farm and Park – all ages
Parking: Car Park at 2 pounds
Wimpole Estate, forty minutes away by car, is one of the many National Trust houses opened seasonally. The estate is divided into the hall, garden, park, and farm and the times for each place differ so pay attention to the hours when you arrive.
When it comes to our kids, my husband and I try to knock out the least kid-friendly activities first and work our way into free time. In this case, that meant touring the interior of the hall. Open to the public, we gained access to a lot of the rooms. The book room and basement hall were two sections that stood out, in particular.
Placed in most areas were volunteers who provided us with a lot of interesting facts. In the dining room, one was kind enough to show the kids the painted doors and explained that they weren’t the actual doors used when the house was functional. Another gentleman taught me why the current pound symbol in modern currency looks like the letter L. (Hint: it dates back to the Roman times.) These men and women were kind and knowledgeable and carried a passion about the history. The more I visit these local places, the more appreciative I become of the people I encounter; they are slowly teaching me more than I could learn from a generic guide.
All of that is to say, if you see a volunteer standing around don’t be afraid to ask a question or say hello. I am a relatively shy person by nature but breaking out of my shell has gifted me with tidbits of facts.
Kid activities were available at the entrance to the hall, but I would recommend skipping the technology one. My six year old found it vague and boring, whereas the animal activity paper was more a seek and find and better suited to a kid’s attention span.
Some things worth keeping an eye out for are the bells in the servant’s hall (if you’re a Downton Abbey fan like me then they’ll amuse you a lot):
The group bathing tub, which resembles a small swimming pool:
And the vintage Louis Vuitton luggage in the steward’s room:
After touring the hall, my family enjoyed a picnic lunch near the back gardens and a refreshing walk through the woods. Wimpole Estate is a working farm, and we were allowed to visit the stables and see such animals as pigs and donkeys.
A good thing for parents to note: there was a large hand washing station set up near the exit to the farm yard with soap and paper towels provided. The estate actually encouraged guests to wash their hands thoroughly after touching livestock versus using a wipe or hand sanitizer.
Less than a quarter mile from the animals was a quaint playground area. There were only three structures comprising the play area, and when we first arrived it was overcrowded. However, the longer we stayed the less busy it became and my kids had a decent enough time playing on the features. It wasn’t a playground I would go out of my way to visit again, but it was better than nothing and allowed my kids to burn off excess energy.
I think the best aspect Wimpole Estate had in its corner was its proximity. This will be a great place to take family to let them dip their toes in the English heritage waters. It would also be a great place to take a long walk if it’s a warm sunny day and everyone needs to stretch their legs.