* Prices may differ from that shown
I visited Sudbury hall in August 2009 with my husband, my stepdaughter aged 6 and my son aged 10 months, so this review is from the perspective of a young family. We had rented a holiday cottage a few miles away and needed something to do on a rainy summer's day so decided to give Sudbury Hall a go. What attracted us to it was the National Trust Museum of Childhood however we also visited the hall.
The car park for the hall is on the opposite side of the road a short walk away so you if you have young children you really need to take a pushchair with you. However, only National Trust pushchairs are allowed inside the hall which is fair enough as it's easy to understand that they don't want their floors damaged. However, there was no storage space for our pushchair and we ended up having to cram it in with several others just inside the doorway.
There are some stairs in the hall so we had to carry the pushchair up and down them (although by this time our ten month old was getting grumpy and so was being carried anyway!)
The room stewards in the hall were knowledgeable and helpful and pointed out things to try to keep our six year old interested. However I felt that our experience would have been improved had there been some information panels or even just labels on particular objects to explain their significance as not everyone wants to fork out for a guide book.
Parts of the hall were used in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice as the interior of Mr Darcy's house so when walking around you can imagine that you are walking in the footsteps of Colin Firth. The hall itself is interesting and worth a visit although as you might expect it doesn't have much to keep small children occupied and so we didn't spend as much time here as we would have liked.
The Museum of Childhood is located just around the corner of the hall and has a separate entrance charge. The museum is good for grown ups and children alike as the grown ups can reminisce about the childhood toys they may have played with whilst the children can take part in fun activities such as crawling through a tunnel which gives an idea of what it was like for children to work up a chimney in Victorian times (I have no idea whether this is a realistic representation as our six year old refused to try it and I didn't want to get myself stuck halfway through!)
There is a tea room on the site which serves the usual teas, coffees, sandwiches and cakes. It also has children's meals and a microwave and bottle warmer - invaluable for those with little ones.
There are toilet and baby changing facilities near the tea rooms and also within the museum. Unfortunately the baby changing room in the museum is located on a separate floor to the other toilets and is near a popular play area so I had to wait for the room to become free whilst parents with older children used it as they didn't want to have to walk down a flight of stairs.
There are gardens at the back of the house but there was not much to see here except for a nice lake although currently James May's plasticine garden which was originally unveiled at the Chelsea Flower Show is on display here. There is also a children's adventure play area just inside the gardens which occupied my stepdaughter for half an hour or so.
For souvenirs there are two shops; one selling the usual National Trust bits and pieces and another linked to the museum which sells toys and games as well as delicious handmade fudge which I can highly recommend.
The entrance charges if you want to visit both the hall and the museum are fairly steep. For 2009 gift aid admission charges are:
HALL & MUSEUM
We joined the National Trust while were there as for £82 for a family it seemed much better value.
There is plenty to see here, especially in the museum and you could easily spend several hours just in there. If you only have time to visit either the hall or the museum I would definitely recommend the museum over the hall.
Visit here on a nice day to get the most out of it.
The car park for the museum is located diagonally opposite over the road, for those who may need assistance little golf buggies do to and fro providing a nice lift.
The centre piece of any visit to Sudbury Hall is the Childhood Museum - which takes the whole family through the nostalgic journey of toys through the years. The grounds to the hall are kept imaculate and in the summer there are large outdoor games for children - there was also a nature trail when we went, this involved following directions around the ground to find the locations of cards containing information on various animals and writing down what the animals eat, where they live and what colur they are.
The to the rear of the hall there is a large grassed area with a lake at the end. The hall itself is open to go round, this probably has less appeal for younger children, it also has a lot of steps but if you are interested in the architecture of old country homes then there are very good examples of this from the false windows on the exterior at the front on one side.
SUDBURY HALL in Sudbury, Derbyshire is open from March until October and since 1967, after the death of the 9th Lord Vernon, has been owned by the National Trust.
The house is built in red brick and on the roof is a dome, topped with a golden ball, restored by the NT which as you approach the hall is something of a landmark.
Dating from the late 17th century, Sudbury Hall was built for George Vernon and, as he did not use an architect, its design is somewhat of a mixture of architectural styles. Predominantly Jacobean, but with Classical carvings and plasterwork.
Visitors to the house can wander through the rooms, taking in the Drawing Room, the library, sitting room, dining room, billiard room and kitchen, and walk up the Great Staircase, a very elaborate feature of the house. It is amazing to see how people used to live in such luxury all those years ago, and oh what joy it would be to be able to sit down in the tranquil library and spend an afternoon reading those books!
In the film Pride and Prejudice Mr Darcy was featured walking along the Long Gallery in Sudbury Hall. This gallery extends the entire length of the house and features lots of interesting plasterwork, which has to be seen to be believed.
To appreciate the plasterwork and paintings, the NT recommend visitors not to visit on dull days and photography is not usually allowed in NT properties, so do bear these factors in mind if your sole purpose of the visit is to admire these features.
Sudbury Hall was home to the Vernon family for many years until they moved to Italy in 1839 and rented the house out. It was during this period that Queen Adelaide, the widow of William IV, lived there for about three years. Today her bedroom is known as The Queens Room and is open to visitors.
Lord and Lady Vernon returned to the house in the 1920s and undertook a programme of restoration and refurbishment.
The peaceful gardens are set out with terraces and a lake and a castellated Gothic deercote built in 1751 is an elaborate feature. Wildlife have made their homes in the grounds and you may witness this as you stroll around at a leisurely pace. Listen to the birds singing and the gentle rustle of leaves on the trees as you walk around, it is so peaceful, even on a busy afternoon when there are lots of other visitors. Everyone seems to respect the tranquillity.
Sudbury Hall is now also licensed for Civil Wedding ceremonies, an ideal venue for those romantics! The ceremonies take place on certain days in the Saloon and photographs may be taken in other rooms and in the grounds. All of this is not cheap I dont suppose, but why not splash out if you fancy yourself as Lord and Lady of the Manor on the happiest day of your life!
Children are not forgotten either, and Sudbury Hall is not just another stately home which they may find boring and tedious, because attached to the Hall, in what used to be the Service Wing, is the Museum of Childhood. In here there are toys, dolls, games and books from the 18th century onwards, such as would be found in the nursery of wealthy families. It is very much an interactive hands-on kind of place, not just a museum.
Children can amuse themselves by finding out about Victorian chimney sweeps or how school lessons were taught. The schoolroom is set out with rows of old fashioned desks and those of us old enough to remember the days when children were seen but not heard will almost quake at the memories of schooldays when we dared not misbehave! The schoolroom manages to recreate this atmosphere and when we have visited I have often heard children whispering to their parents in hushed tones, that it seems a scary place!
At Sudbury there are lots of activities held at various times, which are suitable for children on family visits or for educational purposes. It is possible to hire the schoolroom for educational parties and experience a Victorian lesson.
There is a gift shop where you can buy postcards, guidebooks etc about Sudbury Hall and other National Trust souvenirs. In the Coach House there is a teashop where you can sip afternoon tea and the children can choose from the childrens menu. The food is good, especially the cakes!
Sudbury Hall has baby changing facilities and you can also hire indoor buggies, slings etc.
Parking is adequate, there is disabled parking and also space for coaches.
This is one of my favourite stately homes, it is situated about half an hour from Derby and Nottingham.
Unfortunately, like so many National Trust properties, it is closed now until Spring or, as NT say the house is put to bed for the winter. But do make the effort to visit next year if you get the chance, it is really worth a visit. You can wander round the house, taking in the luxurious furnishings and decoration, then spend some time reminiscing in the Museum of Childhood, before finishing off with a leisurely stroll through the grounds and I guarantee you will enjoy yourselves, especially if the sun is shining and you can sit for a while in the gardens.
I have not mentioned admission prices as they may have changed when the house re-opens in 2007.
Sudbury Hall is one the country's finest Restoration mansions. The property is now owned and maintained by the National Trust. The house was built in the 1660s and is notable for its fine Long Gallery, gardens and portraits of Charles II's mistresses. Inside there are a mixture of architectural styles with beautiful carvings, painting and plasterwork. There are formal gardens with a tree-fringed lake.