Reviewed by Sarah Kerr
On Sunday (17 May 2015) I went to visit Chirk Castle in Wrexham with my partner and two children aged 4 years and 6 months. I had my e-ticket and upon arrival I was politely directed to where I was supposed to go to show them. We were given stickers to show we had tickets and were told there was a place to put the pram if we wanted to.
I had brought my sling and took the opportunity to ditch the pram and start around the castle. We went to explore the house part first and as soon as we got through the door there was a lovely member of staff there who interacted with my son (who is the 4 year old). She talked to him and his teddy and explained there were some cuddly animals which were hidden in every room for the children to look out for.
We were all amazed at some of the pistols and muskets that decorated the first room and were very impressed with the literature that was there to explain about them all. Everything from the furniture to portraits was labelled and there was always some information on it. Looking for the cuddly toys also helped keep our 4 year old happy.
There was quite a lot of history there and it was really brought to life with the names like Cromwell and Gruffydd ap Llywelyn who appeared on some of the documents around the castle. There were also a few members of staff scattered about in some of the different rooms explaining some of the items and historical context. Again they were all very friendly and interacted with my son which is really nice and kept him keen.
Then we went to see the dungeons, the steps were spiralled and uneven but it was all clearly stated on various signs and there were handrails that had been installed so we were all able to get up and down easily.
In another room in the same building as the dungeons there was a member of staff in full costume from the medieval times. He was so friendly with my son and was demonstrating different swords, axes and arrows that had been blunted. My partner and my son were both in awe and they were bath able to hold and touch everything, along with shields, helmets and suits of chainmail. This section really helped to make the experience special. I even held a sword and never thought they were as heavy.
At this point I had to go and use the baby changing facilities. There was some in the ladies bathroom but it was also a pleasant surprise to have another one in a unisex disabled toilet so my partner could have changed her.
We then went and had a hot chocolate and some cakes in the tea rooms. There was the option of a full meal though we had lunch not long before arriving. It seemed reasonably priced and was served by pleasant staff and was of good quality.
After this we went for a walk through the amazingly well kept gardens. The hedges are cut in shapes and there was a good flat grass surface where children were playing happily. It was here we discovered the laundry rooms and it was amazing to see how washing would have been done and how much work was involved.
Then we took a walk down to other buildings where there was a play park and some toy tractors with a track for the children to go round. There were some picnic tables and more toilet facilities. There was also another gift shop there which was bigger than the one inside the castle. My son got a knights helmet which made his day and after some play time we were ready to go.
On the whole it was a very enjoyable trip, very pleasant and relaxed. We all learnt a bit and had a lot of fun. I would like to commend all of the staff because they were all lovely and the fact they acknowledged my son was really amazing, especially with having a 6 month old who usually gets all of the attention. The castle is very laid back and there are not lists of rules and you certainly did not feel like you were being watched by the staff.
I would recommend this to everyone in all the categories from young families to elderly. There is something for everyone. The castle is in excellent condition and some of the design work on the ceilings alone belong in a museum. We all really enjoyed the day out and upon leaving noticed some of the events being run at holiday periods and we are already making plans to return.
A fun and educational day out.
Tickets cost (with Gift Aid): Adults £10.90 (£12), Children £5.45 (£6), Family £27.25 (£30)
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For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chirk-castle.
Chirk Castle, Chirk, Wrexham, LL14 5AF | 01691 777701