Days out with the grandchildren – Brodsworth Hall and Gardens

Brodsworth HallJust outside Doncaster, Brodsworth Hall is one of English Heritage's most popular properties in the North. It was built by Charles Thellusson in the 1860s.

We like to take our grandchildren there to find out about “long ago”. We build them up for the tour of the house, explain how they have to behave and speak in quiet voices, and have been pleased with their conduct and interest.

The house is a treasure, so well preserved in exactly the state it was handed over in 1988 after the death of its remarkable resident, Sylvia Grant-Dalton, who was unable to maintain or modernise the property when the family fortunes declined. So the billiard room, the below stairs kitchen and Italianate interior are a priceless national resource. Of course kids are not necessarily aware of their national responsibilities.

So just when a break is needed there is a dressing up and play room for the kids so they don't need to be so good all the time. The gardens have spectacular arrangements for the adults to admire, whilst having a pets' graveyard and play area for the kids. Or they might play hide and seek among the topiary.

Brodsworth HallBut what I really recommend is that you take a look at the extensive programme of activities put on by English Heritage. This is when you and the grandchildren will have a truly memorable time.

Last year the activities were centred on the Second World War, this year the First. The project, “Duty Calls: Brodsworth Hall in Time of War” employed a talented team of actors. The children were drawn into the Drama. We took two of our grandchildren to two events last year.

Captain Grant-Dalton and his wife Sylvia were told by the War Office that their home was to be used by the army. They duly arrived and children were recruited, shown what to do in various situations, and taken through their parade ground drill. Sadly my grandson, Max, did not shoulder arms sufficiently well and had to be admonished by the drill sergeant.

Brodsworth HallTwo weeks later Brodsworth held a garden Fete held to raise money for the troops going off to war. Captain Grant-Dalton and Lady Sylvia presided over the event. Max managed to work out where the bomb had landed and won the prize at the ceremony at the end of the day. His sister, Rose, won the dancing competition to the music of three uniformed girls, The Spitfires. All perfectly in role. This year when “Lady Sylvia” returned we all truly believed she was the mistress of the house.

Do take a look at the events programme. Whether it be skittles on the lawns, Halloween, or a traditional Father Christmas, the re-enactments thoroughly involve the children and teach them about the past in an imaginative, inspiring way.

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Ian Lumsden

Retired deputy headteacher & writer

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