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Top 5 National Trust Sites for Creative Kids

In Part II of our Top 30 Family Friendly National Trust sites, we’ve got a great selection of the five best National Trust sites to help your children explore their creative sides, including Beningbrough Hall, Plas Newydd, Penrhyn Castle, Kingston Lacy and Nostell Priory.

1. Beningbrough Hall

Art workshops at Beningbrough Hall, nr York, North YorkshireBeningbrough Hall prides itself as being a ‘family friendly house and garden’. This is one for the budding artists and historians of tomorrow.

Georgian mansion Beningbrough Hall near York, North Yorkshire is run in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, and has seven galleries and over 100 18th century portraits. This place is definitely worth a visit if you have arty kids. Event days and family art workshops are held regularly – noteably the Artrageous! portrait classes.

For the young historians, hands-on history is a big factor at Beningbrough Hall. Georgian costumes are available to play dress-up in, and there is a working Victorian laundry inside the house itself.

Outside is no let-down either. The ‘wilderness’ adventure playground features a large wooden fort for kids to play Kings & Queens until the sun goes down. There are also swings, tyre tunnels and rope bridges, 2-miles of cycle paths within the grounds, and even an ice cream kiosk and barbecues throughout the summer holidays.

The house, gardens and play area are open daily from 11- 5.30pm (except Thurs/Fri on alternate weeks). 

Call Beningbrough Hall on 01904 472027 for more information

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2. Penrhyn Castle

Penrhyn Castle National Trust Site in Bangor, WalesThis castle is outstanding inside and out. Art galleries, history and nature come together wonderfully, making Penrhyn the ideal location for both sunny days and rainy weekends.

Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, Wales, is an enormous fairytale castle situated between Snowdonia and the Menai Strait. The castle itself is full of fascinating objects and furniture– and even features a fully restored Victorian kitchen and stable. There is also an outstanding collection of paintings – one of the finest galleries in Wales – that you can browse around at leisure.

For the kids, Penrhyn is an absolute must-visit location. Not only is there 60 acres of grounds, including an adventure playground, and walled garden, the new Lottery funded ‘Wild in the Woods’ project runs right through the summer and allows families and kids to take part in a real woodland adventure. Creative crafts, story telling and den building are just a few of the activities on offer on Mondays throughout the summer holidays. Tues-Thurs also see the Wild in the Woods Club – a free play scheme for children over 8.

Inside the house, children will absolutely love the model railways and dolls’ museums. They can explore the Victorian kitchens and servants quarters, or why not try out the House Trail designed especially for little history and art fans? The trail introduces Rex, Lady Penrhyn’s fictional pet dog, who invites children to be detectives and find out answers to clues around the house. Truly amazing fun!

The castle and gardens are open Weds – Mon (closed Tuesdays) from 11 – 5pm. 

Call Penrhyn castle on 01248 363219 for more information.

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3. Kingston Lacey

Kingston Lacey National Trust site in DorsetNot only is Kingston Lacey home to the largest private collection of Egyptian artefacts in the UK, it also has a fantastic art collection, hands-on craft days for the kids and miles of open space. Children who enjoy to be creative will fall in love with this place.

Kingston Lacy, Dorset, is a striking 17th century house with an outstanding art collection containing works by Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian and Tintoretto. There is also a grand array of Egyptian artefacts, which the children are almost certain to fall in love with. Scarbs, mummys and bronze cat figurines are plentiful. Why not let the history inspire them to create their own Egyptian masterpieces? Children’s craft days run throughout the school holidays, giving them the perfect opportunity to let loose and go wild with cutting, sticking, glitter and paints.

Inside the house, Kingston Lacy offers several ‘Above and Below Stairs’ days where the kids can experience the life of Kingston Lacy’s staff and servants in days gone by. Look out for people dressed up in character as maids and cooks too.

On sunny days, Kingston Lacy is perfect for parkland walks – can your kids count the North Devon cattle they see? – a restful afternoon in the newly restored Japanese tea garden, or a picnic on the grand lawns in front of the house. There is also an open-air theatre, and tractor trailer tours run throughout the summer. Kingston Lacy really does cater well for the little ones.

The house and gardens are open daily from 10.30 – 6pm. 

Call Kingston Lacy on 01202 883402 for more information.

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4. Nostell Priory

Nostell Priory National Trust site in Wakefield West YorkshireNostell Priory is a house that stands one step above the rest. Its luxurious interiors are to be marveled at by both the young and the old, and kids will love the 18th century dolls house and stepping-stones over the river.

Nostell Priory, Wakefield, West Yorkshire is a spectacular house built on the site of a medieval priory. It boasts fantastic interiors, with a collection of Chippendale furniture made especially for Nostell House, as well as paintings by Hogarth and Kauffmann.

The house may sound a little grown up, but the smaller guests amongst you will have a great time too. In the Museum Room there is an 18th century dolls house, complete with 3 floors and lavish soft furnishings. Little girls are guaranteed to want their own. For the little boys there is also an old John Harrison clock, displayed so that you van view the wooden workings inside, and see what makes it tick! House tours run daily, and ‘upstairs-downstairs’ tours run every Wednesday and Saturday.

The gardens of Nostell Priory are a treat too. There is a large park with guided parkland and lakeside walks, an orchard, vegetable gardens, sensory trails, children’s quizzes and a brilliant adventure playground. Don’t miss the stepping-stones over the water either!

Every Thursday throughout August, Nostell Priory also plays host to various children’s events, as well as family activities, concerts and craft fairs. The summer holidays bring with them outdoor games, such as family croquet and giant snakes and ladders. There is no doubt that you and your kids will have an amazing time at Nostell Priory – this house certainly has something for everyone.

Nostell Priory house is open Weds – Sun from 1 – 5pm. The gardens and parkland are open daily from 11 – 4.30pm. 

Call Nostell Priory on 01924 863892 for more information.

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5. Plas Newydd

Plas Newydd National Trust site in Anglesey, WalesWhether your child is a budding photographer, artist, historian or nature enthusiast, they will absolutely adore Plas Newydd.

Plas Newydd, Anglesey, Wales is a stunning country house locate on the Menai Straits. It was built during the reign of Henry VIII and has beautiful views over Snowdonia. The house is an artistic one, and is famous for its association with Rex Whistler, of which there is an exquisite collection of his works. Craft days run through school holidays for kids to get involved too.

It’s not only the house’s interior that has artistic qualities however. The landscaped gardens consist of an Australasian arboretum, an Italian summer terrace, and a woodland marine walk along the Menai Straits. Plas Newydd screams with aesthetic elegance, and there are many opportunities for an arty photo or two. Why not let the kids loose with a disposable camera, and see how many creative snaps they can take?

Timber shelters, bird hides and alleys of trees make up the woodland, there is a children’s play area, and a row of cannons can be found running along the waterfront. There is also a marine walk available, and boat trips on the water. Plas Newydd is definitely the place to visit on a sunny day so as to fully appreciate the vast array of activities and the extreme beauty on offer.

Plas Newydd house is open Sat – Weds (closed Thurs, Fri) from 1 – 5pm, and the woodland and playground are open daily 10 – 5.30pm. 

Call Plas Newydd on 01348 715272 for more information.

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Did we miss one? Let us know your favourites too – just add a comment below!


National Trust memberships

The National Trust are offering 15% off membership fees, which means (at the time of writing) you’d pay less than £7.50 a month for a family of four. That’s amazing, especially considering the huge number of child friendly and buggy accessible National Trust sites and the superb activities available during half term and school holidays… and the fact that just visiting one site without a membership can cost over £30 for the day with the kids.

Your membership includes:

  • Free admission to over 300 National Trust sites, including the best family friendly sites handpicked by ReallyKidFriendly
  • Free parking at the sites and at most of the National Trust coastal, woodland and countryside car parks
  • Free pair of binoculars (while stocks last)
  • Map guide, magazine and National Trust member’s handbook with lots of information about the sites you’ll be visiting.
  • National Trust members also enjoy reduced rates (and occasionally free entry) at historic sites in other countries including Canada, Australia, The Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbados, New Zealand, Malta, Cayman Islands, Italy, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey and Scotland.

Buying or renewing your National Trust membership through Really Kid Friendly helps make it possible for us to run this free resource for parents and carers living in and visiting the UK. Just sayin’ 🙂 [button link=”″ type=”big” newwindow=”yes”] More about National Trust memberships[/button] [/box]

Images of Beningbrough and Penrhyn courtesy of the National Trust.
Image of  Plas Newydd courtesy of PhilnCaz on Flickr
Image of Nostell courtesy of maureenswift on Flickr
Image of Kingston courtesy of flashoflight on Flickr

Written by Louise

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