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Review: The Children's Country House at Sudbury

Updated: Mar 7

Boom kids and friends were excited to visit the National Trusts newly updated Sudbury Museum of Childhood this Winter. They weren’t the only ones as I haven’t visited Sudbury since I was a child, so this was going to be a nostalgic trip - I was secretly hoping the old Victorian Classroom was still one of the attractions!

Well to my delight some of the best features remain, from the old Dolls House collections to the Chimney Sweep tunnel for kids to climb through (which I remember getting stuck in when I was about 9), and to my delight the old classroom where we spent half an hour pretending to be at ‘old-fashioned’ school, scribbling on chalk boards.

But in addition there are so many fantastic parts to explore that reflect past, present and future of childhood and no expense has been spared on the resources used!

Believe me this is a local attraction you will definitely want to head to whatever the age of your child, it’s a top-quality day out worth every penny, with hours and hours worth of entertainment (free if you’re a National Trust Member).

The house & grounds itself are stunning and I imagine in the spring and summer months the outdoor space alone will provide hours of exploration. The playground area is small, but the open space is vast, with garden games, water features, funny rocking chairs, tepee picnic areas and topiary.

Then you have 2 indoor areas to explore: The Museum & The Hall – both are not to be missed so you really need to go in the morning to have time for both!

The Museum:

Old toys & games in glass cases reflect the last century and are interwoven in endless interactive areas from a bed to climb in, a chimney sweep tunnel to an interactive digital play area with projections on a wall and floor that respond to a colouring sheet children do in the creative area.

Dress up, pay a penny and join the Victorian teacher in the old classroom activity, then head to the Space room which is fantastic! Space helmets and play equipment add to the outer space projection on the wall. Lighting could be adjusted to suit your child’s preferences.

In fact, lots of thought had gone into the age, height and differing needs of children all across the areas, from books in Braille to wheelchair-friendly areas throughout the museum (less wheels-friendly in the upper floors of the hall).

The Hall:

This was our favourite area – I think as a child this had been less interesting to me, but not now…you step into the grand ground floor room and a host invites you to look up to the ceiling where a projection will play taking you on a journey back in time. From there you make your way around and upstairs to see grand four-postered beds, an amazing library full of paper hangings and then the grand hall.

In the grand hall next to the old paintings are lots of funny modern speech bubbles written to amuse children (but causing some controversy with the more traditional National Trust lovers).

Then to the kids delight, a dressing up area with props and a portrait ‘selfie’ booth’.

Then we headed off ‘down below’ to what once was the kitchen & pantry and to our delight everything was ‘hands-on’ to be touched and played with. Lovely faux food and jars and baskets.

We also discovered a disco ballroom. Friendly staff filled us in on the history of the room and the activities that would have taken place there in the past and we enjoyed a dance in dress-up clothes.

The gorgeous study room invited more creativity and they could cosy up by the mock fire and read books.

Just when we thought we had seen it all we discovered the wine cellar, now functioning as a place to create shadow puppets with fun props!

Finally we discovered a lego room full of duplo, lego and giant jenga.

If we had more time we could have booked a slot to do the Mystery Rooms – A child-friendly take on the Escape Rooms based on Evacuees in WW2 who would have found refuge at the Hall.

I can’t fully articulate just how great this place is for a trip out with the kids especially if like me you have children of varying ages plus my photos don't do it justice. They got so much out of Sudbury and if your children tend to find Museums ‘boring’, this museum will convert them. It’s very much about interaction rather than ‘look & don’t touch’.

There is also a café with indoor and outdoor seating with a good menu of hot and cold light meals and snacks, plus ice cream. I like how they had re-suable take-away cups. You can also take your own picnic. Well done NT!!

Open 10am-4pm (winter times)

Adult £22

Child 5-17 £11

Under 5’s FREE

Address: Main Road, Sudbury, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 5HT

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