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May Fair fun and May-hem half term madness at Arlington Court

If you are wondering how to occupy youngsters during May half-term, Arlington Court offers a cheap and fun-filled day out with their May-hem Half Term Madness event. It includes building a den and plenty of crafts as well as the extensive woodlands.
Arlington Court has put together so many brilliant activities and crafts for young visitors it almost makes me want to be a child again! Den building, art from nature, working with clay and other excellent activities are all part of May-hem Half Term, which takes place in the last week of May.

May-hem Half term Madness activities

The events take place throughout the extensive grounds at and are suitable for all ages and abilities. I would suggest that children dress for fun in waterproof clothing that may well get muddy. After all, building a den in the woods from sticks and creating a piece of art from nature will involve getting little hands dirty and is a necessary part of the experience!

Indoors, you can model something from clay to take home or learn how to make felt in these informal fun workshops. Best of all, no booking ahead is necessary – just turn up on the day and join in. There is a charge of £2 per activity on top of the usual admission fees to cover materials.

Dates for May-hem Half Term Madness 2013 are Monday 27th May, Tuesday 28th, Thursday 30th and Friday 31st May and events run from 11am to 4pm.

Family fun year-round at Arlington Court

I find Arlington Court is one of the most interesting and proactive properties anywhere in . It helps that the property has acres of space including woodland areas, but even when it is not May-hem madness, there are plenty of activities for youngsters to enjoy. For instance, down in the cellars beneath the stately home there is a batcam which shows the sleeping bats hanging around in the roof space above.

One of the newest recreational areas is the Woodland Play Area with its Monkey Puzzle Mania and play trail. I found it a great safe area to let my children loose to balance on logs, climb ropes, run through the autumn leaves and play in the fort. Definitely take wellies, as it can be rather wet and dirty at times!

The Carriage Museum is in the stables and although children may not appreciate the history of these modes of transport, they will certainly enjoying seeing the huge Shire horses. Look out for the hands-on demonstration about carriage driving with all those reins – it’s more complicated than you might think. You can also take a ride in a carriage and four around the grounds of this stately home.

A carriage ride is also the easiest way to view the livestock and animals in the grounds and we saw strutting blue peacocks, Red Devon cattle and heritage breeds of black and white sheep with impressive “don’t-mess-with-me” horns!

Arlington Court May Fair

The traditional May Fair is another good reason to earmark a visit to Arlington Court and it takes place the last Saturday in May. Being a craft-orientated person myself, I always enjoy the craft demonstrations and stalls. Local artisans keep Devon’s historic trades and crafts alive by demonstrating their work and selling their handmade goods. It’s well worth supporting them, even if it costs a little more, to preserve the centuries-old skills and keep them alive.

Wool dying, carding and spinning is a long and tedious process, before the yarn can be made into hand knitted woollies. It is great to see the various processes, and very educational for young visitors. How else do they understand that not all jumpers come from M&S! Wood carving, painting and jewellery-making produce gifts suitable for almost anyone, along with local honey and other food goodies. I would recommend browsing the marquee for new ideas and gifts after enjoying the traditional May Fair activities.

Have you visited Arlington Court? What would you say was the best part of your visit? Are there other National Trust properties you would recommend to visitors that are similar to Arlington Court?

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

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