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John Burningham's Bedtime Stories: exhibition and activity trail

Saturday 20 July – Sunday 29 September: a family-friendly exhibition and activity trail celebrating the wild and wonderful world of award-winning children's author and illustrator John Burningham.

  • Booking not needed
  • Free event (admission applies)

Discover over 60 original illustrations in our family-friendly exhibition, including favourite stories and characters such as Mr Gumpy, Avocado Baby, and Oi! Get Off Our Train!

There are comfy reading zones for kids to snuggle into with a book, colourful blown-up scenes for family photos, and dressing up inspiration. Look out for the life-size ‘magic’ bed that transports young imaginations to far away worlds, inspired by Burningham’s classic story The Magic Bed.

Sketches and personal items, including the artist’s paint palette, reveal how Burningham created his much-loved stories.

Outside, an energetic activity trail weaves through Mottisfont’s spacious gardens, introducing families to more characters, with games and challenges to complete. £3 per trail.

Art gallery open 11am-4.30pm daily, gardens open 10am-5pm daily. Last entry into the property, house and gallery is 30 minutes before closing.

Property admission applies (free entry for National Trust members and under 5s).

There's no need to book, but we may get very busy, particularly on weekends. We open at 10am, and mornings tend to be busier than afternoons - most of our visitors arrive before 2pm, which can cause congestion in the car park. If you have the flexibility, a weekday visit is generally quieter than a weekend, even during school holidays. If you can only visit over the weekend, Saturdays are usually less busy than Sundays.



Event ticket prices

This event is free, but normal admission charges apply for the venue.

Check admission prices

The basics


Aimed at ages 3-12, but there’s plenty for adults and younger children to enjoy.

Meeting point

The exhibition is on display in the art gallery on the top floor of the house. The activity trail takes place throughout the grounds.

What to bring and wear

The trail takes place outside in our gardens, so dress appropriately for the weather. Pathways can be uneven in places so sturdy footwear is recommended. Trail maps and pencils provided.


The gallery is on the second floor. For those unable to use the stairs, a digital version of the exhibition is available on lower levels. Ramped entrance to visitor reception/house. Volunteer-driven mobility buggy service and access facilities available across the site.


Drinks, snacks and light lunches with family-friendly options are available from the café and additional outlets.

Upcoming events


Guided walks along the River Test at Mottisfont 

Tuesdays and Wednesdays until 25 September, 11.30am and 2pm: a rare chance to walk along the banks the River Test, to find out more about the importance of chalk steams and the work we do to protect them.

Event summary

21 May to 25 Sep 2024
11:30 to 12:30
+ 75 other dates or times

May half term at Mottisfont 

Saturday 25 May - Sunday 2 June: pick up an activity pack and go on an adventure to discover art and take part in challenges and games inspired by nature.

Event summary

25 May to 2 Jun 2024
10:00 to 17:00
+ 8 other dates or times

Rose season at Mottisfont 

Our walled gardens are home to the extraordinary National Plant Collection of pre-1900 shrub roses, which creates an annual spectacle in early summer. We open our gardens until 8pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 30 May - 29 June.

Event summary

30 May to 29 Jun 2024
10:00 to 20:00
+ 30 other dates or times

Rose garden celebration evenings at Mottisfont 

On Fridays 7, 14 and 21 June: join us for evenings of jazz and wine to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our rose gardens.

Event summary

7 Jun to 21 Jun 2024
17:00 to 20:00
+ 2 other dates or times