After an action packed day in Manchester city centre exploring the Museum of Science and Industry we were very ready for a chilled out Sunday. No typical Manchester rain today. The sun was shining and set to stay so the plan was head to a historic home. From Hale there were two large National Trust Properties; Tatton Park and Dunham Massey, within a very short drive. On this occasion, Tatton Park was pipped to the post. Mainly from a personal recommendation of the awesome kids park from my friend Olivia. All packed up we set off through leafy Cheshire, oohing and aaahing at the gorgeous homes and villages in the surrounding area. Oh to live that Footballers wives lifestyle!
Heading into the entrance you are met by a National Trust booth. It costs £6 to park up at Tatton Park even if you are National Trust members. Seems a bit steep and not something we are used to free parking at out local stately homes. Guess there must be more running costs at this large estate and there were plenty of staff to supervise the car park.
As soon as we got out of the car the girls spied the huge play park. This was by far the best park of a National Trust property we have ever been to. The park really was huge and had a massive amount of equipment for kids of all ages. Anything that lets the girls demonstrate their upper body strength seems to be a hit at the moment. Spying the monkey bars and zip wire they bounded off leaving us to sit in the sunshine and soak up the rays. Bliss!
The Stable Yard
The girls would have happily stayed in that park all day but there was more to Tatton Park than a playground. Following the signs to the Mansion we found ourselves in The Stable yard. This area has all your shopping and dining options in one place. The Stables is the coffee shop (which we would return to later) with it’s large outdoor seating area. The Gardener’s Cottage is a sweet looking old fashioned tea room which was serving Afternoon tea. The Housekeeper’s Store provides all your cheese, meat and jam needs. Finally, The Tuck Shop, is an old fashioned sweetie shop with a massive ice cream section! A steam carousel was setting up too. Abigail started on the nagging for a ride and some sweets. But as we were so earlier neither were open. The gardens it was!
The Gardens at Tatton Park
The gardens at Tatton Park can be viewed on their own and paid as a seperate entrance fee. As NT members it was included for us. We walked in and headed towards a “greenhouse” and it was like being transported into a tropical oasis. It was all built up with rocks and moss. A stream inside added a humidity to the air. Large palm fronds swayed down as we walked around. I’m not kidding here when I say it would have been Jurassic Park the Park!
Next up we walked to the back of the Mansion house and as expected the gardens we set out perfectly for the mansion view. They were lovely and well looked after. I won’t go on about plant types as anything deeper than Daffs and Tulips sort of look like “plants” or “flowers”!
At this point Catherine had headed off to the Mansion for a tour. Uncle Freddie and Me were to explore the garden for an hour and a half. I did panic that we would just be sitting on the grass for an hour of this, but Tatton Parks Gardens are vast. The estate contains a maze, Japanese Garden, trees from all over the world. There is an African shelter, an enormous vegetable garden, Fruit trees, water gardens, monuments and so much so explore. With a picnic you could easily spend the day here without going in the house!
My parents and I decided to pay £3 each to take the tour of the Mansion with a National Trust guide. I always think you take more of the history in when someone is guiding you around and pointing out things. The girls were happy to potter around in the gardens and find some grass for cartwheeling. Starting at 11am each day, before the house opens at 12pm to the general public the tour takes around 1 hour and a half.
Tatton Park has a really interesting history, and until it’s bequeathment to Cheshire Council (now in partnership with the National Trust) in 1958 was in the hands of one family the Egerton’s. Throughout the years various members of the family added their own styles to the property. Buying up fine paintings from Italy and hand crafted furniture. In 1884 Tatton Park became one of the first homes outside of London (just after our original local entrepreneur Lord Armstrong at Cragside) to have electricity.
If you enjoy National Trust stately homes I would urge you to visit Tatton Park. The history of the house is fascinating and there’s so much to see. As it’s a preserved ‘museum’ to speak and not a residence, nothing is out of bounds. We really loved the gorgeous modern looking kitchen with it’s white tiles and copper pots. So on trend! The little track, with a turning circle which allowed servants to boule things in a cart from the cellar to the main house was also a little bit genius!
Chilling in the Stableyard
After all that culture it was time for a rest in the sunshine. Sandwiches were quickly gobbled up by the girls and the adults got their caffeine fix. Abigail and Imogen got their carousel ride and raided the Tuck Shop for sweeties and ice cream. Sadly, we had a long journey back to Newcastle so after another quick play in the park it was time to say goodbye to our host Freddie, Tatton Park and Cheshire.
There is loads to do here and I can see why they charge for parking and you could do so much here without seeing the gardens or the mansion!