Last month we took a mini break to Sandybrook; a lovely self contained resort on the southern edge of the Peak District. Being November, we were prepared for bad weather and so looked into some indoor activities to keep us all amused should the rain come. Sure enough, our second day was forecast heavy showers. In the morning, we headed to the pool and then after lunch decided to try out the nearby Museum of Childhood .
Set in the grounds of Sudbury hall, the Museum of Childhood can be visited on its own or with entry to the hall also. With three year old twins in tow, we opted to just focus on the museum. This National Trust property is stunning and I think my girls were in awe of its size.
Time to play
On entry, you pass through an old Victorian street. There is so much to look at but also toys to try such as a wooden cup and ball, jacks and spinning tops. Throughout the museum, volunteers encouraged us to touch and try different activities and made us feel very welcome.
Our next stop was the work exhibition which took you through a coal mine and into a Victorian living room. Here little ones can climb the chimney to experience life as a chimney sweep. It was pitch black and at first my pair weren’t keen. However, when they’d been through once, they loved it and wanted to go again and again.
We moved into the toy gallery and looked at a huge range of familiar and not so familiar toys. There is an amazing display of bedrooms through the decades which is actually mounted to the ceiling. If you weren’t told, you wouldn’t think to look up. Yet when you do, there are three separate bedrooms set out with toys, posters and furniture in keeping with the different decades.
So much to see and do
One of the best aspects of this museum is that there are more than a dozen mini exhibitions which constantly kept little ones interested. Five or ten minutes in each one then we’d move on. In almost every room, there was some kind of interactive display allowing children to get hands on. In some exhibitions, there were headsets to listen to commentary also.
We quickly took in the Victorian school room and had a go at hopscotch then moved onto the storytelling room. Here, little ones can create backdrops for their setting, get dressed up from a selection of items from the fancy dress box and have a go acting out stories. The puppets were also a hit.
Before we left, we walked back through most of the museum for a second time and had to revisit the chimney for yet another go. We were also told there were six hidden mouse scenes to spot so we went on a hunt for these too.
Perfect for a rainy day
Overall, we spent about two hours at the museum. If my girls had been a little older, this could have easily been much longer. As with most National Trust properties, entry was free for under fives and so we spent less than £20.
Out in the courtyard, there is a lovely tea room and gift shop. We decided to head to a nearby garden centre to check out their Christmas displays and have afternoon tea. Without a doubt, I’d recommend this fantastic museum especially as a first taste of history. There was so much to do and it was a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.
Which other National Trust properties have you visited with little ones? I’d love to hear your recommendations.