A slight cheat but I knew I couldn’t get out on Monday so Sunday instead :)
Arrrrrrharrr me hearties. Sunday 19th September is National Speak Like a Pirate Day so we decided to go off and explore a pirates home! Sir Frances Drake, (if you’re Spanish he’s a pirate, if you’re from Plymouth – like us – then he’s a national treasure but it’s a fine line lol), and Sir Richard Grenville also lived at the house at one point. Buckland Abbey is a 13th Century Abbey which was sold to Sir Richard Grenville during the reformation and then sold to Sir Frances Drake.
From there you walk through a little garden, and then a courtyard, there were animals around and we sneaked carefully through them so we could watch.
The restaurant we didn’t explore but there is a little courtyard with lots of workshops with brass rubbing and lovely tactile things to do for kids. There is also a very modern sculpture of a cow, Charlie was very taken with it and I thought, well, that it was a bit odd.
I think this is the first time we have taken Charlie inside a historical house without it being a total nightmare because they really bring history to life. It’s not all things behind glass cases (although there is some of that) but there are all kinds of things for children to explore.
You start in a room with lots of artifacts but also a big boat which you can go and sit in and watch a video which tells the story of Sir Francis Drake and Grenville, really made like a little drama, Charlie sat through it happily and wanted to watch it again! He loved pretending to be a pirate and watching the video got him all excited to explore further. So being pirates we did explore.
There are lots of stairs and 3 levels so it’s not all that accessible and Charlie needed to be carried some of the way to avoid inevitable lying down as if we abuse him situations but generally he was ok at doing the right thing in the house. The best bit, from a childs point of view is the top level, there are lots of interactive things up there including the chance to dress up like a Tudor child would have and sit up at a table for a banquet!
From the top of the house you go out in to the newer part of the building, the stairs are really beautifully done, all wooden and sweeping, and you can find an old staircase the monks used to use to get up to the bell tower which was blocked off by Grenville, and you can go down the narrow, steep stairs of the servants quarters.
In the kitchen there was all sorts going on and the woman in there was brilliant, showed Charlie all the things and let him taste some jam and crackers they had (modern day not 13th century, that would be gross) and look at the real dead rabbits, the washing quarters and all kinds of things that he liked. I was a bit worried about the dead rabbits but he was cool with it. He knows where his food comes from so I don’t think it was a massive shock, that said I don’t think more sensitive parents (about food and dead animals) would have been too impressed! Thankfully we have no heart when it comes to being carnivores, I can’t get precious about hung rabbits (hung up not ‘hung’ in some kind of state sanctioned execution) when eating turkey for dinner can I?
After you finish in the Abbey you can go out to a little garden where they seem to grow everything from rhubarb to onions to really beautiful flowers. It’s a cute little place, you enter through a really sweet little arch
We did an obligatory snack stop too. We had taken some dorito style crisps, some carrot sticks, apples, and drinks with us so we sat in the garden and had a little picnic which Charlie made fun in his own way lol.
We also discovered (in the same vein as the big bull thing) some metal sheep hiding in a little secret garden around the corner. Again, a bit of an odd juxtaposition but I quite liked their curlyness.Charlie was so excited, he had managed to see real sheep and extinct sheep in one day, plus real horses (on Dartmoor on the way in) and an extinct bull. Brilliant.
From there we headed to the gift shop. I wish I wasn’t on a diet. I love the National Trust gift shops, they make me hungry. Jam, Honey, Fudge, Chocolate, all manner of things that make me want to give up on the diet and get so fat they have to cut me out of my house.
The drive home is lovely through Dartmoor and short thankfully but it was a lovely day out and nice not to pay a fortune to travel somewhere lovely. Entry was free as we are members, again membership paying it’s dividends as it would have cost nearly £20 to get in otherwise. Reality is if we weren’t members we wouldn’t be doing these things we would be languishing at home wondering what to do for family time. National Trust is an easy escape for hours and Charlie is really pleased he saw a pirates things.