Before we get onto the ‘What’s on’ lark regarding the National Trust, I do just want to cover the boring membership stuff first just in case anyone thinks it might be for them. We currently pay £9.50 a month for our membership which covers 2 adults and up to 10 children or grandchildren and works out £114.60 a year. I’ll be honest, this is the one membership we have at the moment which we’re not overly sure on but we do think this might be because of the weather through the Winter so have decided to give it until the end of the Summer holidays to see if we can make the most of it. Membership cards don’t currently have a photo ID on them so in theory, you could lend them to friends but the National Trust are trying their best to look after their sites, so obviously they would appreciate the membership fees ;).
We have noticed since getting our National Trust guide that a lot of their sites do actually have free entry anyway, and the membership card would only really be worth the money if you were planning to go to any of these, where you would make the following savings:
- Bateman’s – Rudyard Kipling’s house – £28.50
- Bodiam Castle – £25.75
- Chartwell – £37.50
- Emmett’s garden – £22.50
- Ightham Mote – £33.00
- Knole – £8.00
- Quebec House – £15.25
- Scotney Castle – £35.80
- Sissinghurst Castle – £34.35
- South Foreland Lighthouse – £15.oo
Please bare in mind though, these are all the places in Kent, Surrey and Sussex so a few of them are a fair trek to get to, and the only ones we have been to are Bodiam Castle and Sissinghurst Castle because they don’t take too long compared to some of the others. So far, since August, we’ve been to Bodiam Castle 4 times though and Sissinghurst Castle twice so looking at it like that we have made our money up for the year already; I’m just not sure we would have been missing all that much if we hadn’t.
First things first, Bodiam Castle is a ruin so there are only one set of toilets right at the entrance of the site (this is to preserve the castle as it is for as long as possible apparently), but does also make for a bit of a walk if you find yourself desperate. The reason we have visited the castle more than once is because the kids love the fact it looks like the stereotypical castle you draw as a child and is stunning to look at. You can go up on the roof, and play amongst the ruins, but our main reason for going is for picnics in the nice weather and when they have school holiday events on.
This Easter (between the 1st – 17th April), Bodiam Castle are going all out for the kids and have a Cadbury’s Easter Egg trail with a special theme of Dragons where you have to find the Dragon eggs in order to get a chocolate prize. This is an additional £3 per hunter and runs from 11:00 – 16:00 on a daily basis. Pre-booking isn’t needed and they don’t usually have a problem with it being too busy. They also have some free craft events going on at the same time, with a design-a-dragon competition with the winner having their dragon printed for next year’s dragon hunt. Bodiam is also a great place for trying Archery out, with a £3.50 charge for 6 arrows, you can test your talent against your family and see how well you can get on right at the front of the Castle. There is also a bird of prey walk you can go on for £5 each but this isn’t something we have done just yet so I’m not sure how long this lasts. Every now and again, they will have market stalls outside the castle selling medieval jewellery but I’m not sure whether these will be there throughout the Easter Holidays.
One of the kids’ favourite things to do while having a picnic at the castle, is to feed the ducks…because there are LOADS. So if this is something you think your kids will enjoy, there aren’t many shops nearby so take some food with you to feed them or some change for duck feed. There is a café, but you will need to check their opening times as last time we were there, they closed quite early and we ended up in the pub across the road (which is really nice, just slightly pricey). I do find that all National Trust cafes and souvenir shops are all very similar, and once you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all.
Sissinghurst is also running an Easter Egg hunt for £2.50 each so slightly cheaper, and their one is based on ‘nature’ but unlike Bodiam, it is only on for the Easter weekend (14th – 17th). Other than this, there aren’t many other seasonal things going on but it is a lovely place to have a wander, a picnic and go up on the roof.