Family friendly fun at the carriage museum
Over the past few years the carriage museum has grown in popularity, not least with family groups. There are lots of hands-on activities to keep younger visitors engaged, which also helps other visitors enjoy their time at the museum. A lot of the carriages are hundreds of years old, so we provide as much hands-on equipment as possible, to make the collection relevant and accessible, and discourage touching of the historic carriages.
Become a driver or rider
In the stable yard the wooden play carriage is always popular, giving not only a great photo opportunity for children of all ages, but also a chance for children to feel what it would have been like to drive a carriage. Hobby horses are also avaialble at the front of the museum for children to ride outside, with some families organising their own races around the courtyard. The only limitation is your imagination!
Discover the collection
At the entrance desk of the museum families can pick up a quiz trail sheet and answer the questions whilst wandering through the museum. A great way to learn some interesting facts about the carriages and spot some things you might have missed. There are two versions of the trail, aimed at different age groups and abilities, it's for you to decide. Several characters connected with the museum are able to tell you their experiences of carriages, through push-button audio devices.
Get hands (or bottom) on
Many of the carriages are over 100 years old and too precious to touch, but we do have a handling table in the new wing of the museum, with carriage parts for you to feel and handle. Did you know a drag shoe was that heavy? And what was it used for? Plus in the loft you have the chance to sit in replica carriage seats, testing out the different types of suspension and discovering why the Queen can get sea sick when riding in her carriage.
Using your imagination
There are always carriage colouring sheets on offer in the museum, with a choice of carriages to colour, plus an array of colouring crayons to choose the perfect colours for your very own carriage. Upstairs you can put yourself in the shoes of a carriage groom or stable boy and have a go at harnessing Dandy, the wooden Shetland pony. You can sometimes see a harnessing demonstration with our ponies in the courtyard, but if not, there are instructions on how to harness a horse for you to follow. Once you've harnessed Dandy, there are also some costumes for you to try on and another great photo opportuntiy.
All of the above activites should be available everyday, but as some of them rely on techniology, there may be occasions when some of the interactives are not functioning. We strive to keep everything in good working order, but with over 70,000 visitors a year, the museum gets a fair amount of use.