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WELCOME TO
SULGRAVE MANOR

A UNIQUE VENUE WITH A FASCINATING HISTORY

Sulgrave Manor is a Tudor and Georgian house built by direct ancestors of George Washington, the first President of the United States. Discover how Civil War, financial ruin, and a shipwreck led to Washington’s great-grandfather seeking a fresh start in the New World.

Explore Sulgrave Manor, an accredited museum, which comes to life with costumed interpreters, interactive games and engaging displays. Set in a picturesque village thirty miles from both Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon, Sulgrave Manor’s compact size, inviting gardens and the Brewhouse offering tasty cakes, make it an ideal family destination.

Events at Sulgrave Manor

TODDLER TIME

Our trip, and our tips!

When my youngest son (aged 7) asked to visit the birthplace of George Washington, I had to gently explain that a trip to Virginia, USA, might take a bit longer than a drive in the car and a packed lunch. However, a suitable alternative was available, much to my son’s delight. When I informed him that we could visit the home of George Washington’s ancestors and that we could do it in an afternoon and still get back in time for an episode of ‘Horrible Histories’, he was keen as mustard to get going.

Sulgrave Manor in Oxfordshire (although it’s so near the Northamptonshire border it could be in either county really), is a gorgeous Tudor and Georgian Manor house, reached by travelling down twisting roads and through quaint villages. I was grateful to see lots of parking available, and we were invited into the grounds by a tempting and pretty pathway leading to the shop and ticket office. The member of staff behind the desk was lovely, and I was so thrilled when she handed me - not an activity sheet, not an activity pack - but an activity BACKPACK! You heard right. A whole backpack filled with different activities for my boys (7 and 10 years old) to do, and it was free! Inside the bright yellow backpack was: a
calculator, tape measure, wildlife identification cards, kaleidoscopes, colouring pencils, crayons, paper, colour cards, tweezers, bug viewer, and an activity guide. Enough to keep even the most fidgety of little ones occupied for at least a little while.

We went into the house first, which I wasn’t expecting to take very long with the kids with me. Boy, was I wrong! There was so much to do in the house, every room had an activity for the children to engage with, and not just your usual ‘eye-spy’ fare either. In the hall they made family shields using ready-made pictures - they spent about half-an-hour doing just this, which gave me plenty of time to look around the room, and read the information. In the kitchen, there was a pestle and mortar to use, and (my favourite) a collection of different fresh herbs for the kids to smell. I loved that the activities here were involving all the senses.

Upstairs, the boys had a brilliant time in the children’s room, which was full of Tudor toys such as nine men’s morris, yo-yos, and a ball and cup. There were also dressing-up clothes, which the kids loved, and they ended up wearing them around the whole upper floor! We went through the Great Chamber, to a special exhibition about the wool industry of Tudor England, from which George Washington’s ancestors made their fortune. The kids were so involved in the activities that we honestly spent more time in the house than most of the adults we came across!

But there was more…

The gardens were full of fun things too. The littlest loved to hunt for bugs, putting them in the viewer and then begrudgingly returning them to their homes. They both really enjoyed the texture rubbing, as recommended in the activity guide, exploring different textures in the garden, and creating art that they could take home. There was plenty of room for them to have a good run around, and Sulgrave has even recently created a family play area, where we could build dens, stack wood bits and explore little places full of imaginative play potential.

As home educators, I take my two boys on a lot of trips to historical places and museums. Some sites are better at hosting families than others, and Sulgrave Manor is one of the best we’ve visited, with the activity backpacks and all the things for children to do both in the house and out in the garden. We must have been to hundreds of locations over the last 5 years, and I’ve learnt a lot during that time, and made lots of mistakes. So, to make your day at Sulgrave Manor even easier, I’ve listed my nine best tips for visiting:


1. Make use of on-site activities

Sulgrave Manor has really thought about the children who visit. The activity backpack is amazing and full of so many fun things to do. They also have family and child-focused activity days, all of which take some of the pressure off you, and help the kids to engage with the manor in a new and interesting way. The best way to find out about these special events is to follow Sulgrave Manor on social media, and regularly check their website.

2. Download the Go History! pre-visit
information sheet on Sulgrave Manor

My kids never read the information panels at historical places, and they never let me read them either! The pace and interest points of my children are very different from mine, and that is one of the reasons I create pre-visit information sheets which contain fun multiple choice questions, easy-to-read facts and quirky tidbits to whet the appetite of both you and your young ones. With a little advanced knowledge, you can relax a bit about the ‘learning’ element of your visit, because you already know something about the manor. But, to be
honest, with a little information shared before the trip, my kids seem keen to learn more once we’re there. However, Sulgrave Manor makes it pretty easy for us adults to read the info panels in the house because there are so many activities to keep the children busy while you peruse the property. Go to thegoh.uk/sulgrave-manor to download the information sheet.

3. Take snacks and water.

I find it useful to make sure the kids have got full tummies before we go in. This gives them lots of energy and a good chunk of time to explore before they start flagging and complaining. Sulgrave Manor has a cafe, and using it is a great way to support them, but if you’re on a budget, you can also find somewhere for a picnic.

4. Focus on the stories.

I don’t know about you, but my children respond so much better to stories, rather than artefacts. Sulgrave Manor introduce a servant character in the house (by way of short written panels) with information specifically directed at children. My kids took to this really well, playing the roles of servant and lord (see tip 5). You’ll find out about some of the stories and
characters from the Go History! info sheet, and you can integrate this into your tour of the house.

5. Use imaginative play and dress-up

As I mentioned, Sulgrave Manor has a children’s room, with clothes for dressing up, and Tudor games. This makes history really come alive for them, so expect to spend some time here! Also, in the room about the Tudor wool industry, the children can try wool carding and weaving. We pretended to be in a wool shop!

6. Go at their pace

Honestly, this makes all the difference to my stress levels when out and about! Another benefit of learning a little something about Sulgrave Manor before you go is that you feel more relaxed about going at your child’s pace. You don’t have to be at odds as to when to move on and when to stay, or what you think they should look at against
what they want to look at. It really is more enjoyable responding to their curiosity, following them wherever they want to go, and watching them get into whatever they want to explore. There’s a certain amount of parental acceptance with this - accepting that you might not be able to see and do some of what you want to, but that’s okay. By letting go of the ‘shoulds’ you end up really enjoying the ‘right now’, and the freedom you give them to explore in their own way helps to create a positive relationship with history. You can also get down to their level, literally. By joining them at their height, you’ll get more of a sense of how and why they’re engaging with certain things.

7. Make use of volunteers and staff

The volunteers at Sulgrave Manor are a wealth of interesting information. They have stories to tell (see tip 4) and often know what excites kids about a room. If the children have questions, I encourage them to ask the staff themselves - this helps with their confidence and gets them directly involved in the learning process.

8. Go inside first, but make time to explore
outside too.

With a full tummy (see tip 3) and the excitement of arriving at a new place, it’s the perfect time to get the kids at full interest. Plus, you can use the promise of a good run around afterwards as motivation! The grounds at Sulgrave Manor are family friendly, with many of the backpack activities focused on this area.

9. Discuss the site rules.

I think that part of engaging in history and heritage is understanding the preservation and maintenance of places and artefacts. A discussion about why we don’t climb on the furniture, or touch artefacts is a great way to introduce young people to the care of historical objects and places, and I find that discussion is far more effective than just telling them not to.

I hope you find these tips helpful, and that you and your family have a wonderful time at Sulgrave Manor. It really is a treat of a place, and we even had tears at the end of our visit because the 7-year-old absolutely did NOT want to go. But when the volunteers started going home, I managed to persuade him to leave!

I was really surprised and delighted by the lengths Sulgrave Manor went to to get younger visitors involved. My boys felt special and engaged from the word go, and they definitely want to return to do it all again, plus all the activities that they didn’t have time to do this time around! As a mummy who visits lots of historical places, this level of attention is much appreciated.

Elizabeth Beston is the creator of
the website Go History! https://thegoh.uk

Families can download pre-visit information
sheets for a multitude of historical places around England and find listings of
over 1,000 museums.

Join Go History! on Instagram and Facebook

@gohistoryuk

When my youngest son (aged 7) asked to visit the birthplace of George Washington, I had to gently explain that a trip to Virginia, USA, might take a bit longer than a drive in the car and a packed lunch. However, a suitable alternative was available, much to my son’s delight. When I informed him that we could visit the home of George Washington’s ancestors and that we could do it in an afternoon and still get back in time for an episode of ‘Horrible Histories’, he was keen as mustard to get going.

Sulgrave Manor in Oxfordshire (although it’s so near the Northamptonshire border it could be in either county really), is a gorgeous Tudor and Georgian Manor house, reached by travelling down twisting roads and through quaint villages. I was grateful to see lots of parking available, and we were invited into the grounds by a tempting and pretty pathway leading to the shop and ticket office. The member of staff behind the desk was lovely, and I was so thrilled when she handed me - not an activity sheet, not an activity pack - but an activity BACKPACK! You heard right. A whole backpack filled with different activities for my boys (7 and 10 years old) to do, and it was free! Inside the bright yellow backpack was: a
calculator, tape measure, wildlife identification cards, kaleidoscopes, colouring pencils, crayons, paper, colour cards, tweezers, bug viewer, and an activity guide. Enough to keep even the most fidgety of little ones occupied for at least a little while.

We went into the house first, which I wasn’t expecting to take very long with the kids with me. Boy, was I wrong! There was so much to do in the house, every room had an activity for the children to engage with, and not just your usual ‘eye-spy’ fare either. In the hall they made family shields using ready-made pictures - they spent about half-an-hour doing just this, which gave me plenty of time to look around the room, and read the information. In the kitchen, there was a pestle and mortar to use, and (my favourite) a collection of different fresh herbs for the kids to smell. I loved that the activities here were involving all the senses.

Upstairs, the boys had a brilliant time in the children’s room, which was full of Tudor toys such as nine men’s morris, yo-yos, and a ball and cup. There were also dressing-up clothes, which the kids loved, and they ended up wearing them around the whole upper floor! We went through the Great Chamber, to a special exhibition about the wool industry of Tudor England, from which George Washington’s ancestors made their fortune. The kids were so involved in the activities that we honestly spent more time in the house than most of the adults we came across!

But there was more…

The gardens were full of fun things too. The littlest loved to hunt for bugs, putting them in the viewer and then begrudgingly returning them to their homes. They both really enjoyed the texture rubbing, as recommended in the activity guide, exploring different textures in the garden, and creating art that they could take home. There was plenty of room for them to have a good run around, and Sulgrave has even recently created a family play area, where we could build dens, stack wood bits and explore little places full of imaginative play potential.

As home educators, I take my two boys on a lot of trips to historical places and museums. Some sites are better at hosting families than others, and Sulgrave Manor is one of the best we’ve visited, with the activity backpacks and all the things for children to do both in the house and out in the garden. We must have been to hundreds of locations over the last 5 years, and I’ve learnt a lot during that time, and made lots of mistakes. So, to make your day at Sulgrave Manor even easier, I’ve listed my nine best tips for visiting:


1. Make use of on-site activities

Sulgrave Manor has really thought about the children who visit. The activity backpack is amazing and full of so many fun things to do. They also have family and child-focused activity days, all of which take some of the pressure off you, and help the kids to engage with the manor in a new and interesting way. The best way to find out about these special events is to follow Sulgrave Manor on social media, and regularly check their website.

2. Download the Go History! pre-visit
information sheet on Sulgrave Manor

My kids never read the information panels at historical places, and they never let me read them either! The pace and interest points of my children are very different from mine, and that is one of the reasons I create pre-visit information sheets which contain fun multiple choice questions, easy-to-read facts and quirky tidbits to whet the appetite of both you and your young ones. With a little advanced knowledge, you can relax a bit about the ‘learning’ element of your visit, because you already know something about the manor. But, to be
honest, with a little information shared before the trip, my kids seem keen to learn more once we’re there. However, Sulgrave Manor makes it pretty easy for us adults to read the info panels in the house because there are so many activities to keep the children busy while you peruse the property. Go to thegoh.uk/sulgrave-manor to download the information sheet.

3. Take snacks and water.

I find it useful to make sure the kids have got full tummies before we go in. This gives them lots of energy and a good chunk of time to explore before they start flagging and complaining. Sulgrave Manor has a cafe, and using it is a great way to support them, but if you’re on a budget, you can also find somewhere for a picnic.

4. Focus on the stories.

I don’t know about you, but my children respond so much better to stories, rather than artefacts. Sulgrave Manor introduce a servant character in the house (by way of short written panels) with information specifically directed at children. My kids took to this really well, playing the roles of servant and lord (see tip 5). You’ll find out about some of the stories and
characters from the Go History! info sheet, and you can integrate this into your tour of the house.

5. Use imaginative play and dress-up

As I mentioned, Sulgrave Manor has a children’s room, with clothes for dressing up, and Tudor games. This makes history really come alive for them, so expect to spend some time here! Also, in the room about the Tudor wool industry, the children can try wool carding and weaving. We pretended to be in a wool shop!

6. Go at their pace

Honestly, this makes all the difference to my stress levels when out and about! Another benefit of learning a little something about Sulgrave Manor before you go is that you feel more relaxed about going at your child’s pace. You don’t have to be at odds as to when to move on and when to stay, or what you think they should look at against
what they want to look at. It really is more enjoyable responding to their curiosity, following them wherever they want to go, and watching them get into whatever they want to explore. There’s a certain amount of parental acceptance with this - accepting that you might not be able to see and do some of what you want to, but that’s okay. By letting go of the ‘shoulds’ you end up really enjoying the ‘right now’, and the freedom you give them to explore in their own way helps to create a positive relationship with history. You can also get down to their level, literally. By joining them at their height, you’ll get more of a sense of how and why they’re engaging with certain things.

7. Make use of volunteers and staff

The volunteers at Sulgrave Manor are a wealth of interesting information. They have stories to tell (see tip 4) and often know what excites kids about a room. If the children have questions, I encourage them to ask the staff themselves - this helps with their confidence and gets them directly involved in the learning process.

8. Go inside first, but make time to explore
outside too.

With a full tummy (see tip 3) and the excitement of arriving at a new place, it’s the perfect time to get the kids at full interest. Plus, you can use the promise of a good run around afterwards as motivation! The grounds at Sulgrave Manor are family friendly, with many of the backpack activities focused on this area.

9. Discuss the site rules.

I think that part of engaging in history and heritage is understanding the preservation and maintenance of places and artefacts. A discussion about why we don’t climb on the furniture, or touch artefacts is a great way to introduce young people to the care of historical objects and places, and I find that discussion is far more effective than just telling them not to.

I hope you find these tips helpful, and that you and your family have a wonderful time at Sulgrave Manor. It really is a treat of a place, and we even had tears at the end of our visit because the 7-year-old absolutely did NOT want to go. But when the volunteers started going home, I managed to persuade him to leave!

I was really surprised and delighted by the lengths Sulgrave Manor went to to get younger visitors involved. My boys felt special and engaged from the word go, and they definitely want to return to do it all again, plus all the activities that they didn’t have time to do this time around! As a mummy who visits lots of historical places, this level of attention is much appreciated.

Elizabeth Beston is the creator of
the website Go History! https://thegoh.uk

Families can download pre-visit information
sheets for a multitude of historical places around England and find listings of
over 1,000 museums.

Join Go History! on Instagram and Facebook

@gohistoryuk