Free indoor family activities this winter? Yes please!
With winter approaching it can be a challenge to find indoor fun for the kids that doesn’t cost a fortune. We discovered the children’s activities inside Forty Hall recently and they easily kept the family entertained for an afternoon!
Forty Hall is a magnificent Grade I listed Jacobean Manor House in leafy north Enfield. The house has been sympathetically restored and some rooms are dressed in period style whilst others are used as exhibition and learning spaces. The grounds are spectacular too with gardens to explore, a woodland play area and a little farm.
To help families get the most out of their visit, the hall provides ‘Forty Small’ Trail Bags, Hidden Trail Chests, a range of hands on exhibitions and a Family Room too.
The Trail Bags come in two age ranges, Key Stage 1 (ages 5-7) and Key Stage 2 (ages 8-11). Each bag each contains a set of binoculars and a little book with photos of things to find in various rooms. The Key Stage 2 book also includes historical facts about the items. We used the Key Stage 1 bags and even though Imogen is only 2, she could get involved to an extent too.
We started off in the Great Hall eager to find some of the trail items and were delighted to also find the first Hidden Trail Chest! There are 4 beautifully carved Jacobean style chests around the house and each contains props, activities, handling items and resources relevant to the house. Seren loved the books in the first box and Imogen was delighted with the small magnifying glass.
In the kitchen we found another exciting Hidden Trail Chest and hands-on activities such as making a 17th century Grand Salad with play food and pretending to stir drinks, churn butter and light the kitchen fire.
Kitchen duties finished, we retired upstairs to find more Trail items and two more Hidden Trail Chests. The first chest was full of hats to try on and Seren loved pretending to be the Mayor. The 2nd chest has tactile bags with different fabrics, buttons and zips to play with – a great sensory activity for babies and toddlers as well as older children.
We also spent some time in the Family Room on this floor, it has comfortable seats for the grown-ups and games, books and dress-up for the kids.
On the 2nd floor we found a small dress-up section inspired by the Tudor princes and princesses, who stayed at the nearby Elsying Palace (long gone), and their horse-riding and falconry hobbies.
By this point the children were keen to run around outside in the late afternoon sunshine so we handed back our Trails Bags having mostly finished the trail. We spent 90 minutes inside the house and there are plenty of things we didn’t get to properly investigate in the Hidden Trail Chests so more then enough to keep us busy next time!
The Trail Bags and Hidden Trail Chests are aimed at children aged 4-11 years old (though we found our 2 year old could easily get involved too). Admission to Forty Hall is free (donations are welcome) and there is no charge for the Children’s Trail or for using the boxes but you are asked to leave a deposit of £5 per trail pack.
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