Last weekend, we headed to Tredegar House, near Newport. The reason for our visit is that we now have a National Trust family annual membership. Yes, I have become the people my pre-child self used to laugh at. But do you know what? I absolutely love our new purchase and we had such a brilliant day there.
We visited on a sunny Sunday afternoon that also happened to be Father’s Day. We explored the house, did a nature trail in the gardens, met a dalek, walked through the woods, picnicked in the sunshine, climbed a fallen tree, spotted some baby ducks in the pond, and loads more beside.
I’m a bit of a history geek – I love old houses and castles, so I was thrilled to see my children enjoyed exploring Tredegar House as much as I did. The house itself is a beautifully grand red-bricked 17th century building that was owned for more than 500 years by the Morgan family, later the Lord Tredegars.
They were one of Wales’s most significant and influential families, owning 400,000 acres of land in Monmouthshire, Breconshire and Glamorgan. Situated close to Junction 28 of the M4 motorway, the house has only been in National Trust ownership since April 2012 (it was previously run by Newport Council), and is currently undergoing a huge restoration project. This meant some rooms were closed to the public when we visited, but there was plenty enough for us to see anyway.
Little Miss E, now 5.5 and Little Man O, 3¾, are fascinated with the idea of “the olden days” and especially loved the kitchen area, where the cook – one of many costumed and incredibly knowledgeable volunteers who help bring history alive at the property – was serving up homemade Welsh cakes and telling us about how life would have been in the 17th century.
They also loved the banquet table in the dining room, all laid up for a feast, and listening to the butler explain the intricate system of bells that meant the Morgans could ring and help would arrive to wherever they were in the house. We all had great fun trying on clothes from the box of period-style fancy dress in one of the rooms.
The house itself isn’t accessible to buggies (quite understandably) but the staff were so helpful in taking Baby Boy I’s pushchair from us at the main entrance and arranging for it to be left where we would be exiting the house. Some of the stoned paths around the house weren’t great for the light-weight stroller we brought along; next time, I think we’ll take our proper buggy.
From there, we were able to explore some of the 90 acres of beautiful gardens, park and woodland in which the house is set. Although you have to pay (£8 per adult, £4 per child or £20 for a family) or have membership (we found a great deal that gave us a 25% discount) to enter the house and its immediate gardens, there is also plenty of parkland and woods to explore around the house for free; you just need to pay £2 for parking.
We did a lovely little nature hunt around the private gardens, following the clues to find different animals. We also loved the grand horse stables – which are home to a dalek. Doctor Who is one of a number of TV shows to have filmed at Tredegar House (along with Sherlock and Being Human) and even though my children have never seen Doctor Who, they were fascinated by it.
The free-to-access areas are definitely worth visiting, even if you don’t wish to pay to visit the house and gardens. We went for a walk past the pond, where we saw several baby ducks nuzzling up to their mother, and had fun exploring the woods. The children’s playground has seen better days, but with separate areas for older and younger children, it kept my three entertained for ages. They also loved climbing on this fallen tree, below, and spent as long here as they did in the park. Such simple pleasures. Quickly followed by an ice cream from the little cafe.
My children keep asking when we can visit again. I’ve been looking at the National Trust website, and with all the free activities they have at Tredegar House and gardens during the school holidays – not to mention events at Halloween, Christmas and throughout the year, that are all included in our membership, I’m sure it won’t be long. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to exploring all the other venues our membership gives us access to.
Have you been to Tredegar House? What did you think? Do let me know on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy
You can see all my posts about local places to visit in and around Cardiff here. You might like this one on 13 free places to have a picnic, or if you like local history, the here’s what we think of St Fagans National History Museum.
Disclaimer. We paid for our National Trust membership ourselves and Tredegar House did not know we would be writing about them.