Monday, 10 April 2017

The day my boys went to Battle.

Sunshine and days out are the magic combination that keeps us sane during the school holidays. It means the boys hope for ice cream (and there's always ice cream) and there's usually a treat or two while we're out. On Saturday we visited Battle Abbey in glorious sunshine and as Brown Bear has just finished a topic at school about castles he was very excited about being our 'expert' on all things to do with castles.

I reminded Hubbie that we've been to Battle before - we went for a spa weekend at a local hotel when I was pregnant and had dinner in the town - but he has no recollection of it at all. Visiting again we got to appreciate how much nicer it is than we could tell in the dark evening. The view as you arrive is spectacular and the boys were really excited when they saw where we were going.

English Heritage invited us to visit and try out the family activities so our first stop was the shop to pick up audio guides for adults and children. Brown Bear loved his handset with a Horrible Histories style commentary and took great care with his kit. He was able to tell Blue Bear all about what they were looking at and it gave him an independence that I think he really enjoyed.
Beautiful cafe 

We stopped for lunch at the beautiful cafe and sat outside in the sunshine. The boys had a lunch box (£4.50) with plenty to eat in it and the promise of a visit to the children's playground was enough to ensure they ate pretty quickly. They loved the wooden rides and in particular a 'hamster wheel' that kept Brown Bear busy for ages.

Wooden playground

We took a walk around the battlefield site and in such great weather it was lovely to explore and follow the signs explaining the historical significance. Brown Bear in particular was fascinated by the story of the battle of 1066. 

The Abbey itself is really impressive and we took a walk through all the rooms and saw an ice room, a crypt and took a walk along the precinct wall. Luckily the boys didn't mind all the walking and we got to see so much while we were there.


The visitors' centre was a real highlight with interactive exhibits and plenty to see and do for the boys. There is a film you can sit and watch, games and lots to see and read about.

The visitor's centre
Brown Bear was surprised at how heavy the chain mail was and we talked about how hard it would have been to walk wearing armour.

The interactive exhibits are great fun and as it wasn't too busy when we were in there the boys were able to spend time playing and learning. 

Our last stop was to explore the new rooftop views. It's a steep staircase so be prepared if you aren't he best with heights. We left Hubbie on the ground floor while me and the boys went to see what we could see. On the first floor there was an activity for children to design their own coat of arms. As a child my favourite book was the ladybird book of heraldry so I loved this. 

Designing our own coat of arms 
Another innovation at Battle is these tablets with an abbot guiding you through the exhibits and explaining what they were for. It's fun and lighthearted as well as being a different way to get children to engage with history.

Brother William as our guide
On the day we visited there was a wedding taking place in the grounds and I can see why it would be a wonderful choice for a special day.

There is so much to see and do at 1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield (to give its full title) and during the easter holidays they will be hosting an easter adventure quest from Friday 14th - Monday 17th April. You can meet a Saxon outlaw and characters from the past with stories of times gone by. Rise to their challenge and win a reward.

It’s time to get hands-on with history!

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher in return for writing this post. 

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