Places for kids to dress up
Dressing up is a child-friendly way of getting in touch with the past. Kids can, quite literally, step into the shoes of Anglo-Saxon warriors, the lady of the manor or a Victorian scullery maid.
This is history as it should be – hands on. As you discover the stories of the people who used to live in our places, children can live the adventure and act out their favourite scenes from the past. They can play at being a knight in the grounds of an imposing castle or prepare themselves for a grand ball before waltzing down the main staircase.
‘I absolutely loved the fashion display, making peg dolls and dressing up. We spent about an hour in this area.’
- visitor at Killerton
Walk through the secret wardrobe into a world of costumes. Children and adults can dress up in replica outfits from different eras, with a choice of bonnets, hats and scarves to finish off the look.
Other places to dress up in the South West:
* Raid the dressing-up box at Chedworth, Gloucestershire, to be a Roman for the day
* Children can dress up as Bronze Age people and complete puzzles in the Alexander Keiller Museum, Wiltshire
‘I enjoyed the dressing up. I really want to come again another day.’
- Daniel at Sutton Hoo
Kids can transform themselves into mini Anglo-Saxons at Sutton Hoo. Find the dressing up box at the back of the exhibition hall for helmets, wooden swords and clothing. Once you’ve done that take a look at the Anglo-Saxon King, surrounded by his treasure and try being an archaeologist for the day in the ‘Let’s Dig It’ trench.
Other places to dress up in the East of England:
* Try on Tudor costumes at Elizabethan House Museum, Norfolk
‘We most enjoyed the children’s dressing up and the beautiful gardens’
- visitor at Upton House
There are loads of things to hear, feel, touch and see at Upton House. Dress up as the lady of the house, preparing for a 1930’s house party, or transform yourself into the busy cook.
Other great places to dress up in the Midlands:
* Open the huge wardrobe in the Tapestry Bedroom in Coughton Hall, Warwickshire, and you can dress up as the Lady or Master of the house
* In Squirt’s Stable at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire, children can try on 18th and 19th century inspired clothing
Try on our Edwardian costumes to become part of the story at Lyme Park. You can wear the costumes on stage in the Long Gallery, play with toys in the Edwardian nursery and write a letter in the Morning Room to anywhere in the world.
* Please note the image shows dressing up at Wray Castle
Other great places to dress up in the North West:
* At Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire, the whole family can dress up in Tudor costume
‘I take part in 16th century events and many places provide inauthentic costumes for visitors, but I appreciated the quality of clothes available to try on here.’
- visitor at Little Moreton Hall
* In the dairy at Speke Hall, Merseyside, there are Victorian dressing-up clothes for boys and girls
* With royal robes and a crown you can be king, queen or a knight for the day at Wray Castle, Cumbria
Visit the Stableyard at Castle Ward, to dress up as a Victorian boy or girl. Here you can also play some of Master Ward’s Victorian games such as diablo and pecking chickens. Alternatively, visit the barn, where kids can dress up as farmyard animals and play farm board-games.
Other places you can dress up in Northern Ireland:
* Springhill, County Londonderry, has a costume collection for children in the interactive room. The house has connections to the Titanic and these costumes are inspired by the kinds of things that people would have worn on the ship
Drama queens and kings will find no shortage of amusement at Petworth House. Go to the North Gallery to find the little 4ft wardrobe that says ‘open me’. Inside are costumes, each made to match a painting in the house. Once they’ve selected their outfit children can explore the house to spot the matching portrait.
There are also family boxes around Petworth House. One of these is a dressing up box, filled with clothing for boys and girls to ready themselves for a grand ball. Or for something a little less showy, visit the scullery to dress up as a servant.
Other places you can dress up in London and the South East:
* On selected days children can dress up in clothes that are Victorian and WWII themed at Hughenden Manor, Buckinghamshire
Kids always make a beeline for the dressing up box and shadow puppets at Tredegar House. Inside the box they can find costumes created by Tredegar’s Make Do and Mend sewing circle. The outfits and accessories reflect the different eras the house is dressed for, such as the Restoration, Victorian, 1920’s and 1930’s periods.