Reviewed by Jennifer Edwards
My family and I recently visited Tredegar House and Gardens (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/tredegar-house), the day we chose was Pirate Day (it was during May half term and they usually have activities on most days in school holidays and weekends during the spring/summer).
Upon first arriving we collected our tickets from the Visitor Reception, then we headed to the Orchard Garden where we purchased two coffees for the adults and a homemade skull biscuit for my daughter from the tea hut. Around the garden (and throughout the whole property) all of the staff members were dressed up as Pirates and fully in character. There were some games set up (throwing wooden balls at pirate blocks, throwing plastic balls at people in the stocks and throwing wet sponges at a pirate) which were not only hugely entertaining, but also free, so we passed a little time just enjoying what was going on around us.
Next, we went into the Cedar Garden. This is a much larger space and there were deckchairs set up strategically so people could sit and rest. There was a stall on the grass selling plastic swords, eye patches, masks and other things to help turn your child into a pirate. We purchased a sword (£3) and a mask (£1) and felt that the prices and quality were very good. There were other booths scattered on the grass, offering a variety of things – face painting, a game to guess where the treasure is and one with information. We were getting hungry, so we headed to the Brewhouse tearoom for some lunch.
We decided to sit in the inner courtyard, which was lovely and clean with plants for sale on a stand in the centre. Inside, when I went to order the line seemed long, but moved surprisingly quickly. My partner and I each had a Panini with bacon, brie and cranberry, and my eldest daughter had a children’s meal. Her meal was pirate themed, which was a nice touch. It came with a ham (or cheese) roll, a carton of juice, a packet of crisps, a pack of raisins and sultanas and a chocolate coin. Also included were a pack of crayons and a pirate themed colouring page, which helped keep my daughter entertained whilst we ate our food. I also had a pot of tea, and I ran out of milk as the waiter brought out Panini’s out, I requested more and he was politely obliging, returning moments later with a refilled milk jug.
After lunch, we took a walk towards the lake, along the edge there was a mated pair of swans with their cygnets, which was lovely to see. There were boat rides on the lake for a small fee (£2 adults, £1 children), but they were fully booked until later in the afternoon, so we purchased some tickets and decided to visit the play area in the meantime. There are two play areas right next to each other, one for younger children, one for older. Both had a nice selection of equipment, were well maintained, and clean. My daughter had lots of fun playing on both slides before we made our way back for our boat ride.
The people in charge of the boat ride said we could leave the pram with them, and they kept an eye on it whilst we were on the boat, which was nice as it meant we could all go on instead of one of us having to stay with the baby and the pram. The boat ride lasted about 5-10 minutes, and was very enjoyable and worth the price.
Finally, we decided to have a look around the house. The front entrance has steps up to it so a member of staff let us in through the back (which is the exit). We explored the rooms downstairs, which were very interesting and well looked after. There were many members of staff around, either in period dress or dressed as pirates and they were all eager to answer any questions you might have. In the kitchen, there were two women cooking welsh cakes for people to try which were not only enjoyed by my daughter, but also made the room smell very appetising!
We attempted to head upstairs, but couldn’t manage with the pram, and a member of staff informed us that there is a place by the front entrance where people can leave them, so my partner explored upstairs with our daughter, whilst I waited in the inner courtyard with the baby. The upstairs was the house proper (as opposed to the servants parts downstairs), and therefore was much more lavishly decorated. They had removed the wood panelling from in the schoolroom to expose an earlier area of wallpaper, and many of the rooms had personal effects displayed. Once again there were many staff around to answer any questions you might have.
Out in the courtyard, a wooden pirate ship had been set up for children to play on, and there was a life-sized model of a pirate for you to have your photo taken with. A man entered, introducing himself as Captain Morgan, he spent some time talking to all of the children, and then had them talking and walking like pirates. Afterward, he gave them each a pirate pencil.
All in all, we had a great day. There were many things to see, plenty of places to rest and relax, the whole place was lovely and tidy, and the staff were very helpful. We enjoyed our meal, and although on the more expensive side, the quality and service were wonderful. We would definitely visit again, and I’m very interested to see what other events are available.
Tickets cost (with Gift Aid): Adults £7.20 (£8), Children £3.60 (£4), Family £18 (£20)
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For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/tredegar-house.
Tredegar House, Newport, Monmouthshire, NP10 8YW | 01633 815880