The Children’s Country House at Sudbury
“It’s a place where the past sometimes gets caught up in the cracks.” So explains one of the National Trust guides to the small troop of children about to embark upon a journey of adventure through the magnificent 17th Century country house of Sudbury Hall on the edge of the Peak District. They all stare up at her, eyes shining, and race off in eager exploration.
This is also a place where magic drifts through the corridors, sparkles in the old ballroom and weaves its way about the books in the libraries. Sudbury Hall is now open to the public again after a 2 year period of renovation by the National Trust, and it’s been reinvented in the most wonderful way imaginable as the Children’s Country House.
Forget your experiences of National Trust properties as stuffy, quiet places filled with fragile furniture, dark paintings and signs instructing you not to touch. The Children’s Country House at Sudbury has rooms that are filled with interactive spaces, where children can play with toys in the Long Gallery, curl up with picture books on sofas in the Library and dance with the disco lights in the Ballroom.
It’s not all about frivolous play – not that there’s anything wrong with that. There’s plenty of education here too, but sneaked into the exhibits in such a subtle way that children can learn without even realising it.
The paintings in the Long Gallery have amusing captions beneath them to draw gentle attention to the hidden language of portraiture, and there’s a selfie booth with props for children to recreate classical portraits for themselves. In the Harry Potter-esque small library, where the Vernon family who once owned the Hall planned their grand tours, there are maps to follow and toy boats to navigate through seas. Below stairs in the kitchen there are recipes from the 17th Century for children to ‘make’ using clay ingredients. There’s even a huge Lego version of the Hall surrounded by brightly-coloured bricks where children can have a go at building their own extensions to the house.
The fun doesn’t stop when you step outside either. In the old Servants’ Wing of the Hall you’ll find the Museum of Childhood, which is a fantastic place for the whole family to explore and relive nostalgic memories! There are exhibitions about childhood in times gone by, where you can try your hand as a chimney sweep, a scullion or a Victorian school pupil. There are also fascinating collections of toys throughout the centuries – you’re bound to recognise some treasures from your own childhood!
In the beautiful landscaped gardens and parkland there are acres of space in which to burn off steam or just relax under the apple trees, not to mention fun sculptures to spot and dens to hide in. And when you’ve worked up an appetite, there’s a lovely restaurant, activity centre and fund-raising gift shop, stocking a few National Trust favourites but also lovely items donated and made by local people.
The Children’s Country House at Sudbury has been thoughtfully planned and beautifully designed, not only to give children a magical day out that they will never forget, but to spark a love of heritage that will hopefully last a lifetime.
Information about The Children’s Country House at Sudbury
How do I get there?
The Children’s Country House at Sudbury is located in the Derbyshire village of Sudbury, just south of Ashbourne. It is open every weekend and through most school holidays from 10am – 5pm. Pre-booking is essential, even if you’re a National Trust member.
Address: Main Road, Sudbury, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 5HT
For more information about the Children’s Country House at Sudbury click HERE.
Words and Photos by Peaklass for Let’s Go Peak District