Quintessentially British, steeped in History, and if walls could talk they would certainly have a few tales to tell you about it’s past, Dyrham Park House and Gardens is well worth a visit with your teens. Just a few miles from Georgian Bath, Dyrham Park is a National Trust property located near to the M4 motorway in South Gloucestershire. During your visit you can view the Main House, built in the late 17th century by William Blathwayt, the stunning Orangery, St Peter’s parish church (itself a Grade I listed building which has close links with the Blathwayt family), and the 274 acre formal gardens and Fallow Deer park. Since becoming a National Trust property in the 1950’s, the house and gardens have been fully restored to their 17th century appearance, and there are always plenty of activities and events organised by the trust for people to see and experience. There is also the obligatory National Trust shop and Tea Shop, which are both rather good too, and definitely worth patronising as part of your visit.
Why is this a good place to visit with teens? We’ve been visiting Dyrham Park for many years now, it is a regular haunt for us here at Travel with the Tribe, and the first thing about a visit here is the sheer beauty of the place. If your teens don’t feel like the walk down to the main house, they can always catch the complimentary National Trust bus, which will take them past the deer park, and down to the main house. As you approach the house, you get the opportunity to take in the view, the house facade really is spectacular, and as it is positioned down in a valley, from an elevated position as you walk towards it is a stunning sight to behold.
The space at Dyrham Park is enough to tire out your teens easily, there are countless walks available (guides available at reception and on request), and you can walk, run or skip (if you really feel the need!) without getting in anyone’s way, breathing in the fresh air – no Xbox’s here! We tend to get out wellies out and go deer spotting, there are certain times when you will be able to get up fairly close and personal to the deer, it really does depend on their routine, the weather and the time of day, but generally speaking you are likely to see some on your travels, so get those phones and cameras ready for the photo opportunities. As there is an obvious abundance of space, you and your teens can also use the space to have a kick about, have a picnic on the grounds, or even do some rolling down the hills if you fancy being a bit retro! The lovely thing with Dyrham Park is that it is so open, but you can take everything at your own pace and enjoyment, there’s no rush to get to the bottom to get into the house, you can relax, take in the surroundings, see a few deer along the way, take a few pictures, and stop and chill out for a bit, maybe even engage in some conversation with your little ones – you never know!
The main house and St Peter’s Church are interesting to a point, and worth going in at least once, but for your teens they’re probably not going to find it as interesting as you will! Having said that, when we last visited Dyrham Park our tribe were really interested in looking at the monuments and references to the Blathwayt family in the church, and finding out a little bit more about the family who used to live here. You do get a sense that St Peter’s Church is very much a family affair, and there are mentions of members of the Blathwayt family which go back to the 17th century when the house was first bought by the family, but also more recent members of the family who fought in both the Great War and the Second World War. For our teens, this brought to life the story of the house a bit more, they could see that Dyrham Park was not just a stately home, but actually a family house where people lived in.
Once you’ve visited the main house and St Peter’s Church, you can continue walking around the seasonal gardens and pond, and see the beehives making honey for the National Trust shop. If it’s a cold day, there’s nothing better than being wrapped up in scarves, hats and boots, feeling the cold air and seeing your breath in front of you. In the summer, you can stop and have a picnic in the grounds, we’ve done this a few times when the sun has been shining, and you can find a great spot near the house to get your picnic blankets out, unpack your picnic and do a bit of people watching. There’s something terribly British about this, we are certainly a nation of people watchers! We generally end our visit to Dyrham Park with a trip to the Tea Room, which has a good selection of alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks, afternoon tea, cake, sandwiches, soup and main meals, in a lovely indoor and outdoor setting where you can sit depending on the good old British weather! The food is seasonal and good quality, which is kind of what you expect at a National Trust Tea Shop, some of us in our tribe go for the classic Victoria Sponge or Carrot Cake, whilst others enjoy a Cheese Scone with lots of butter! A quick look in the shop, which has the usual National Trust fayre, alongside some locally produced goods – honey, Jam, Lemon Curd, Cider and Chutney to name a few, but generally speaking the shop at Dyrham Park is pretty similar to most National Trust shops – we do love the smell and ambience of them, so we always make a point of visiting!
As with most National Trust properties, there is usually a range of different activities for you and your teens to do or get involved in, it’s probably worth beforehand checking the website and seeing what is going on. Particularly at Easter, Christmas and school summer holidays, you will find Easter Egg Hunts going on, Victorian lights out in the house, Shakespearean plays being performed by a theatre company in an outdoor theatre, or tours of the gardens and parkland (which are a constant), there is always something going on. Our teens have been doing the Easter Egg Hunt for years, and they still love the anticipation of getting their egg at the end of their trail! It also gives them the opportunity to go off and enjoy the surroundings (and the chocolate!) by themselves, in a safe and secure environment.
We think Dyrham Park is a given, in that it is a place where you can while away a morning or afternoon in lovely surroundings with your family. It isn’t a whole day experience, it’s probably best to go to Dyrham Park as part of a planned National Trust day, where you can visit a couple of places in the area on the same day – there are lots of other National Trust properties close to Dyrham Park, so you can certainly plan a packed and full day out. Dyrham Park is relaxed, easy and chilled, with a great family feel, and there is also some history thrown into the mix if you are interested in that too! You might even feel like singing “Doe, a Deer, a female Deer” like the Von Trapps (probably without the guitar!) at the site of those beautiful animals….we know we do!
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