Stafford Castle 08/04/2018
As spring draws in and the weather starts to feel a touch warmer, we don our jeans and t-shirts for a castle adventure. We had a local recommendation to visit Stafford Castle so decide to have a gander. Molly decides to wear open shoes and we put on trainers instead of walking shoes thinking ‘how bad can it be’?
We arrive at the car park which is big enough for about 15 cars and walk around blindly for 10 minutes wondering where we pay. Dicky asks in the gift shop and lo and behold, it’s free. What is this mastery? Free entry to the castle AND a free car park? We are overjoyed and decide to take our time exploring the grounds and the castle. There is a circular trail around the base of the hill of the castle so we walk around there first, which is obviously unsuitable for clean trainers and open shoes. We scold ourselves for expecting too much, too soon of the great British weather but soldier on regardless, Molly flicking dirt into her shoes at every opportunity.
Up to the castle.
The trail starts to wind upwards and signs placed at different intervals indicate where the castle grounds would have been originally. We work our way up through the drawbridge (a valley between two mounds of grass) and up to the Keep. Signs inform us of incidents that have happened to the castle over the years and prove to be quite interesting reads. The castle was originally commissioned in 1348 by Ralph Stafford but has had it’s downfalls over the years. It was ordered to be torn down but Lady Isabel kept it standing and slowly it has been restored and made into the visitor centre it is today.
The kids had a good run around the ruins themselves and climbed the walls peering through the gates on the windows. As we walked around the castle grounds we noticed the walls had different coloured stonework, probably due to the restorations. Finley was adamant this meant there was a secret door and proceeded to spend the next ten minutes pushing on all the different stones to find the release key! Such a fantastic imagination for a little one.
We eventually exhausted the castle so headed down to the visitor centre, stopping by the herb garden just behind it. I wish the weather would have been better in order for the herbs to grow to their full effect. It was a lovely little garden with beds of herbs detailing what they would have been used for. There were beds for heart and lungs, culinary, skin conditions and many more.
In the visitor centre was where the magic of the castle came alive. Just beyond the pokey little shop and display cases was a sort of classroom with try – on helmets and dress up garments. The kids got to work demolishing the place and tried on everything that wasn’t stuck down! Oliver went for the chainmail and got a little sweaty in the armour and protective clothing. Molly became a lady of leisure and Finley went for anything sharp and metallic! Even us adults had a go! We all loved the interactive experience that the centre had to offer which was plenty informative but not overwhelming.
Overall, it was a fantastic little day out, more so because the whole thing was completely free. A lovely few hours learning about some local history and keeping us outside.
The important stuff: Price – FREE! Car Park – FREE! Good for pushchairs and small children. A lovely half day out to fill up a Sunday afternoon. Postcode ST16 1DJ