“ Address: Rising Lane / Baddesley Clinton B93 0DQ / Warwickshire 7 Tel: 01564 783294 „
As a family, we have membership to the National Trust, which cost me £66 for the year. This initial cost is defrayed by the fact that once you are a member, you have free access to hundreds of fantastic, historic, properties dotted all over the UK. We hadn't really been making the most of our membership, so took advantage of the time we had over the October half term break to visit a couple of NT properties close to where we live in the West Midlands.
We visited two properties: Baddesley Clinton and Packwood House, located a mere two miles apart in a picturesque corner of Warwickshire. I have reviewed Packwood House seperately (see my other review), so now I can devote an entire review to the lovely Baddesley Clinton.
A Charming Moated House
Baddesley Clinton is a moated house that dates from the 15th century, although it is in immaculate condition and in some ways seems quite modern. The house was home to the Ferrers family for 500 years and is steeped in fascinating history. One of the main recurring themes you see when you walk around the house is the fact that the house served as a refuge for persecuted Catholics during Elizabethan times. Visitors can look at the three priest's holes, which were trapdoors that concealed a small space under the floorboards where the priests could hide when being hunted. Often the priests would be holed up for hours or days in a confined space with very little food or water and of course, no access to a toilet!
The exterior of the house is breathtaking, especially with the added visual delights of the moat and the surrounding gardens and lake, which I will discuss later in the review. Luckily the moat did not look too deep, but the sides were quite steep and I had to discourage the kids from leaning over too far! The house is a typical "black and white" Tudor-style building, surrounded by light stone walls. Once you have crossed the bridge over the moat, you enter a small exterior courtyard, which leads through to the servants quarters and kitchens. We enjoyed looking at the area where the servants would have done the laundry and the different pieces of equipment they would have used. it made me thankful for my automatic washer and my tumble dryer! I also loved looking at the kitchen area, where you can see all of the different herbs and spices that they would have used, and touch and small them. I like the fact that the national trust properties are very "hands on" in their approach to history, and you are encouraged to use all of your senses when exploring the property.
There are many guides on hand, usually one in each room, who are there to tell youi a little bit about the history of the house. they are, in the main, quite friendly and willing to answer any of your questions. They like to involve the children and get them to look for objects in the rooms, which makes the visit more interesting for them.
The house is not particularly big, and the doorways are quite small and low, which was a bit of a nightmare for my poor hubby, who is over 6 foot tall! The guide explained that the doorways were small to prevent loss of heat from the rooms.
At the end of the route around the house, there is a special activity room for the children, where they can have a go at climbing down a mock preist's hole. They have to climb some stairs and then descend through a trapdoor into a small space. the space has a glass window at the side so you can see them. of course, I was very tempted to shut the trapdoor and leave them in there so I could have some peace!!! The room also had some dressing up clothes so that the kids could dress up as rich or poor people from Elizabethan times.
Although the interior of the house was lovely, as a family we really enjoy walking around the gardens, especially the kids, as they love to have the space to run around. At the back of the property there is a lakeside walk, where you can have a walk through the woods, spotting wildlife. We did manage to see a squirrel, but that was about all! There were things dotted around the walk for the kids to climb on, such as fallen trees or tree stumps lined up in a row to make a wobbly bridge. it was a great way to get the kids connected with the outside world and there were a lot of parents and grandparents with toddlers and very young children.
As it was Halloween, there was a bit of a spooky theme going on, and the kitchen garden at the rear of the property was full of model witches! The trust run treasure trails throughout the year, which cost about £2 for a little book of things to hunt for as you go around the property and gardens. I think this is a really good way to keep the interest of young kids and helps them to be observant as they explore. The kitchen gardens were lovely, and i was surprised how much colour there still was at this time of year. there was quite a lot of produce growing in the garden, and they use these in their restaurant. the smells coming from the restaurant were heavenly and really got my tummy rumbling!
The kitchen garden also has some bee hives, although they are safely tucked behind a fence with the relevant warning signs! The bees looked really busy, which surprised me considering the time of year.
The kitchen garden led on to the main garden area, which was very popular with children. there was a grassed area with a sundial in the middle, and stunning dahlia borders, stuffed full of every colour and shape of dahlia flower imaginable. they were still in top condition, despite the time of year. The gardens were lovely to explore and look at and there were several seating areas on benches and in the summer house for those wishing to take a break to admire the view.
As with most NT properties, Baddesley Clinton has an excellent second hand bookstore, which you can browse and bag a bargain to raise money for the trust.
Baddesley Clinton is situated 3/4 mile west of the A4141 Warwick to Birmingham road, 9 miles away from birmingham international airport and 7 1/2 miles North West of Warwick. It was a straightfoward drive down the motorway from where we live in Walsall, and the road passed through a very pretty village called Knowle, which I would have liked to have had a better look at!
Parking is free and the car park is quite large, located 100 yeards away from the property.
Admission to the house is by timed ticket only to avoid the house getting too crowded at busy times. As we got there early, we were able to get in the house straight away. You can choose a time and are given a ticket at the reception desk with a time on it. Of course, you can opt out of looking at the house and buy a ticket for the grounds only.
The house is open from 1st Feb to the 31st December between 11-5, Tuesday to Sunday. A visit is best combined with a visit to Packwood House, as both properties are quite small, but Packwood is only open to the 30th October.
The cost of entry is as follows:
NT members: FREE
House and Grounds:
Joint Ticket With Packwood House
A family ticket to the house and grounds is £24.50, which makes our membership worthwhile, as we save money once we have visited three properties.
I wouldn't really say that the property was ideal for wheelchair and pushchair users, as there are stairs in the house, narrow doorways and the garden does not really have suitable paths. Thre are certain accessible areas though, and the NT have done their best to make this old property as accessible as possible for all, by providing a disabled toilet and disabled parking, an induction loop for the deaf and braille guides for the blind, as well as many seating areas around the house and grounds.
We really enjoyed our visit to baddesley clinton, which was like a small hidden jewel in the Midlands, which many consider to be a dirty, industrial area. This is a wonderful escape, considering that it is so close to the hubbub of Birmingham city centre, and it stands in stark contrast as an oasis of peace.
The property and grounds are child friendly, although obviously, supervision is needed in the lake and moat areas at the rear of the house as well as the steep staircases inside the house. Although they encourage a "hands on" approach, I still have to make sure that the kids don't mess with things they shouldn't, such as the more fragile and valuable objects on display. Old chairs are indicated as out of bounds by means of an individual thistle placed on the seat! I love the way the voluteer guides engage visitors with useful facts and stories.
It took us just over an hour to tour the house and gardens, so it is not a destination for a big day out. however, there are a lot of nice attractions nearby, such as Packwood, or the local woodland or villages to explore, so you could take a picnic and make a day of it if you wanted to.
Baddesley Clinton is now a firm favourite, and I have been encouraging friends and family to go and visit. It really is something special.