Magical mansions and gardens
Many of our houses and gardens are imbued with a magic that is normally only found within the pages of a fairy-tale.
From houses that are guarded by dragons, to gardens where princesses once played – at these special places there’s plenty to feed the imagination of the young and the young-at-heart.
Hidden in a tree in the gardens of Hardwick Hall is a little fairy house, waiting to be discovered. Children can open it up and look inside to see what the fairies are doing.
This certainly is an unusual house. Built nearly 700 years ago and surrounded by a moat, Ightham Mote was once owned by medieval knights. Children can follow our magical map to uncover the secrets of the garden – from the curly wurly tree, to the goblin’s grotto and the fairy glen. There are lots of family events happening throughout the year too.
In the gardens of Cragside a labyrinth awaits brave children. Named after a reputed local witch, Nelly’s Labyrinth is a network of winding paths and tunnels cut out of a vast area of rhododendron forest.
Waddesdon Manor looks like a palace that’s leapt straight from the pages of a fairy-tale and landed in the hills of Buckinghamshire. Children following our trail should look out for Sleeping Beauty in the Bakst room.
According to local legend a dragon once lived on the extinct volcano near Killerton and watched over the house. Follow the dragon quest play trail to bring the legend to life once more. There will also be a selection of fairy-tale events at Killerton in August. Keep an eye on our events page to stay up to date.
One of the most curious buildings on the Killerton estate is the Bear's hut. This little building once housed a bear cub and has many interesting stories to tell.
‘There's something extra special about letting your kids play where princesses once did.’
Melissa K, visitor at Claremont Landscape Gardens
When you check in at the kiosk make sure to ask for a children's map, so that little princes and princesses can lead the way through the garden. Don’t miss the Thatched Cottage, full of fun and games, and the children’s play area.
Tim Burton chose Antony House to shoot his film, Alice in Wonderland. He was looking for ‘…a perfect, pocket-sized mansion; something beautifully symmetrical, with intimate interiors, wide views and landscaped gardens.’ Walk in Alice’s footsteps through this magical house and gardens.
There are a lot of secrets waiting to be discovered in the curious gardens of Mount Stewart. Spot the animals from Noah’s ark in the Italian garden, pick up a tracker pack from reception and meet the white stag of legend, who takes humans to Tir N’an Og, ‘the land of the everyoung’.
These gardens are a magical world for children, just waiting to be explored. From 8 March 2014 young visitors can arm themselves with our new Plant Hunter Tracker Packs and imagine they are exploring jungles, climbing mountains and crossing roaring rivers.
Each pack – a backpack loaned for the day – includes a map, activity sheets, stationary, binoculars, a magnifying glass and compass.