Historic days out with the kids
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away Han Solo and his Jedi pals may have been flying through space, ventilating Sith and Imperials alike with laser guns and light sabres, but here on Earth we were still sticking lengths of metal into each other, using pigeons instead of WhatsApp, and employing dragons as living, breathing flamethrowers.
If the latest series of Game of Thrones and recent Star Wars news has also left you unable to separate history from fantasy (and what hope do you have when experts still don’t know if King Arthur and his wizard Merlin were real or not?) then here are three of our favourite olde worlde days out in the UK, so you can educate your kids with genuine tales of yesteryear rather than half-remembered tales of dragon-slaying knights and quests for a holy cup.
Mediaeval Glamping – Warwick Castle
Don’t miss the chance to sleep in the grounds of one of Britain’s coolest castles. Glamping – a portmanteau word that means ‘glamorous camping,’ for the uninitiated – accommodation will see visitors sleep in spacious, mediaeval-themed bell tents, which are lit, carpeted and waterproof, and sleep four on a variety of double and single air-beds. Each tent features sheepskin throws, ample storage, a mirror and hot drink making facilities, though no wenches to bring mead to your room.
Communal games tents provide a selection of modern and classic family games, while public ‘pamper tents,’ cater to preened princesses and anachronistic monarchs, offering mobile phone charging stations, power points, hairdryers and a partitioned dressing area, whilst toilet and shower facilities are well stocked with essentials. There’s even free WiFi throughout the site, so you can really get into the spirit of things (irony alert:) and watch Time Team on your tablet while dressed in period garb(!)
Mediaeval entertainment includes Have-A-Go Archery for adults and children, Knight’s School and Jester’s School and, included in the price, guests will enjoy two-day priority entrance tickets to Warwick Castle, a choice of traditional or continental breakfast and – for an additional £16.95 per Adult/£7.95 per child – an evening all-you-can-eat mediaeval banquet.
This event takes place on various dates throughout May, June, July & August with prices starting at £200 per night for a family of four. For more information, visit: www.warwick-castle.com
King Richard III Visitor Centre – Leicester
My history teacher always used to tell me that Shakespeare’s descriptions, and artists’ renderings of a hunched, deformed Richard III were nothing more than propaganda portraits of the last of the Plantagenet dynasty – and the last king to die in battle on British soil – commissioned by the succeeding Tudor monarchs.
When King Richard III’s remains were found in 2012, ingloriously interred under a car park in Leicester, after being lost for 500 years, his body was indeed found to be twisted by scoliosis, although he did not have a withered arm or other details attributed to him in some characterisations. Richard III’s reign endures though as one marked by controversy, rumour and overshadowed by the spectre of dark deeds.
To find out everything that is known and rumoured about the man and myth, and give your kids a lesson in history and how it can be rewritten by its victors, take a visit to Leicester’s new King Richard III Visitor Centre, located in the city’s former grammar school, directly opposite the cathedral where the king’s remains were recently reinterred on 26 March 2015.
Visitors can see artefacts recovered from his burial site; the exact place where Richard’s remains were buried over 500 years ago; both a partial and the full facial reconstruction of the king; and also a replica of Richard’s skeleton, printed using 3D technology, which clearly shows his battle injuries, including the fatal blow from the Battle of Bosworth.
Entry costs £7.95 for adults, and £4.75 for children aged five to 15. Senior citizens pay £7.00, while kids under five go free. For more information, visit: kriii.com
Tudors on Tour – Tatton Park, Cheshire
Make your way to Tatton Park over May bank holiday weekend where King Henry VIII and his courtiers will be taking up residence as part of the spectacular outdoor family festival, Tudors on Tour.
Staged for the very first time outside of London by Historic Royal Palaces, Tudors on Tour will transport visitors back to the year 1526 and get them swept away in the excitement of the Tudor Court on Royal Progress, when the King would travel around the country staying in the castles and manor houses of nobility.
With a spectacular royal jousting tournament, pageantry displays with music, a bustling market place with traditional crafts such as carving, stone masonry and blacksmithing, costumed characters, authentic stories, delicious food, Tudor farm, Tudor theatre, digital pop up palace and lots, lots more, visitors can expect an action packed day.
Advanced ticket prices are £30 for a family ticket, £12.50 for adults, £6.00 for kids, and concessions at £10. On the gate, they cost: family - £40; adult - £16.50; child - £7.50; and £13 for concessions. For more information, visit: www.hrp.org.uk