Thursday, 2 June 2011

Events - Great fun: Historic summer days - and knights (English Heritage South Yorks)

Remember the days when you wished you could live in the era of brave knights – fighting off dragons, baddies and generally saving the world?

Or maybe you were a true girlie-girl who wanted to wander around the expansive grounds of her castle picking pretty flowers, enjoying banquets and being adored.

OK, they may be stereotypes but that is the stuff little children’s dreams are made of.

Glorious battles, dramatic rescues and imaginations running riot through centuries of history.

And there are plenty of places where youngsters can step back through time.

There are four English Heritage sites within easy reach and plenty of events specially designed to help families make the most of the past.

If it is castles you are after there is Conisbrough and Bolsover on our doorstep – as well as Brodsworth Hall and Roche Abbey.

Volunteers at the sites work hard on their mission to bring history to life.

Forget dusty books, ancient stonework and lectures about the aristocracy, think about roaring battles and fabulous costumes.

English Heritage aims to help everyone enjoy England’s historic places by increasing their understanding and making people value days gone by.

The group believes that by making history fun, children will not only have a great time but will also learn why they need to look after the past in the future.

Conisbrough Castle dates back to the 12th century, is built of magnesian limestone and stands proudly as the only one of its kind in England.

It has become one of the most popular attractions in South Yorkshire and youngsters love climbing to the roof to see the views from the keep.

The castle played a big role in the Wars of the Roses but is now ideal for a family day out including a picnic, explore and adventure.

The medieval architecture was one of the inspirations for Sir Walter Scott’s classic novel Ivanhoe and it certainly fires the imagination.

Children – and parents – wanting to live the dream can feel the passion and excitement of a Medieval Castle Clash on August 20 and 21.

The grounds will be transformed into a stage for the pageant of the grand knights.

There will be plenty of cheering and booing as the ancient characters gather for the courtly pursuits of archery and dancing.

Families can see the presentations of ‘arming a knight’ before the dramatic conclusion of a tournament of knights.

Don’t Mess with Bess takes place on July 30 and 31 when the spotlight falls on Queen Elizabeth I.

Children can get involved with the major events of her life and meet some of the most impressive characters who lived during her 45 year reign.

There will be lots of costumes as actors conjure up everything from the Spanish Armada to Sir Walter Raleigh, Mary Queen of Scots and Sir Francis Drake.

Brodsworth Hall was built in the 1860s and much of its original look survives today, making it one of England’s most unaltered Victorian country houses.

It is hosting a Fairies and Dragons Week until Sundayso children can discover the secrets hiding in the garden.

There are delicate fairies and scary dragons as well as plenty of hands-on activities like storytelling, garden trails and arts and crafts.

Brodsworth Hall was occupied in unbroken succession by members of the Thellusson family.

The last resident, the indomitable Sylvia Grant-Dalton, fought a losing battle against subsidence and leaking roofs for 56 years.

When she died in 1988 English Heritage conserved the interiors ‘as found’ so everyone can see how a once opulent Victorian house grew comfortably old.

Now it also has an adventure play area where children can run off excess energy and enjoy a picnic in the grounds.

Visit to find out more about all our local English Heritage sites.

Upcoming Highlights

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens
Today until Sunday: Fairies & Dragons Week
June 19: Classic cars for Fathers Day
July 3: Yorkshire Thoroughbred Car Club
Most summer Sundays: Sunday afternoon band concert
August 28: Classic Cars.

Conisbrough Castle
July 30 and 31: Don’t Mess with Bess
August 20 and 21: Medieval Castle Clash
October 28 and 29: Tales of Fear from the Castle.

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