Thursday, 25 April 2013

Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Berkshire

The National Trust have a free open weekend most years I think. This year we took up the offer and went to Basildon Park. We have passed it so many times on our way to Beale Park (almost right across the road) that curiosity finally got the better of us to go take a peek over the wall.

What an excellent day it was, and how well timed with the gorgeous sunshine. We took a lovely stroll around the gardens, we sat and made daisy chains whilst looking across the valley with the river below.

We ducked in out of little mazes and willow hides watching people playing games in the grounds. Wandered round the rose garden and pretended to be statues. We then came across the 1950's laundry. What fun, looking at mangles, old irons, twin tubs and smelling carbolic soap, phew stinky.

Before going round the house we headed for the tea room. As is National Trust style (akin to WI standards I'm sure) the service and food were excellent with some wonderful cake.
We then stood on the grand balcony pretending to do royal waves to our minions (sorry fellow NT visitors) below and then ducked into a tour of the house.

Big apologies here, I didn't take any photos in the house as I completely forgot, more reason to go visit yourself!
Its not a guided tour, you are free to wonder between the rooms, there is a guide in each room who can explain things in detail and they were very friendly, open and knowledgeable.  They were happy to explain things to children and adults and give the children a little challenge to spot something or guess what an item was used for. There are also factual sheets in each room where were very well laid out, larger boxes if you have the time to read everything and smaller boxes with snippets and photos with quick detail explaining key points in the room.
Very little in the rooms are "of limits", you can touch things, play on the piano, with just the odd rope to guide your way. Lady Iliffe wanted it left as a family home and this is how it feels. Family photos on the side, old magazines scattered about. I think everyone's favourite room is the shell room. just WOW. Shells everywhere and even more in the tucked away drawers. Some are laid out for you to touch and listen to the sea in. Some set on a low table so the children can listen. The second excellent room was the 1950's kitchen, with a tray of old utensils that I remember playing with at grandparents houses. I think we had just sadly missed the drop scones being baked... a few crumbs were left.

18th century kitchen being restored

The house has been used in a few films us as Pride and Prejudice (2005) and The Wedding Video (2012), we pretended to swirl around the Garden Room like we were in a film surrounded by the most amazing Zuber wallpaper.
To keep children entertained when going round the house, there are changing eye-spy items around, when we went it was playing cards and vol au vents, and people playing bridge.
We then went back outside to enjoy the sunshine and have an ice cream. There are some lovely walks in the grounds to enjoy, but we were enjoying the sun shine a little too much to up and move for a walk. We will be back to do that soon.

After a visit to the gift shop we decided that we had such a great day we joined the National Trust. We really want to return again (marble run this summer sounds excellent fun), and also want to go off and visit a few other places. When considering the idea of joining for a year we then compared it to a trip to Legoland. One day at Legoland is around the same price as a years membership to the NT.

1 comment:

  1. We visited there a couple of years ago when Monkey was still a baby - he was fdascinated by the cows I seem to remember


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