Chance to be king for a day is fuel for a lifetime

Conisbrough Castle, by Ray Sykes
Conisbrough Castle, by Ray Sykes
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Get a grip on history with this week’s Family Matters discount voucher and follow the English Heritage trail

WE’D all love to be king of the castle but there aren’t many places left where children can act out their dreams.

Brodsworth Hall and gardens

Brodsworth Hall and gardens

Fortunately Conisbrough Castle is the perfect place for childish play - even if it isn’t quite in the same condition as when royalty lived there.

Huge battles were fought here by knights in shining armour and centuries later it looks just like a castle should.

It is a spectacular sight and you can’t help but feel the history as soon as you lay eyes on the attraction.

This is the ideal day out for youngsters with great imaginations and they can spend hours making up tales of what might have happened in the past.

Mercey Roberts, aged three, at the Conisbrough Castle open day

Mercey Roberts, aged three, at the Conisbrough Castle open day

Whether it is gruesome tales of medieval torture or perfect princesses enjoying ancient banquets, youngsters can usually bring exciting history to life in a true castle.

Conisbrough Castle is not filled with modern-day entertainment or plastic play areas but in many ways that is why it is so magical.

Sprinkle a few seeds on a fertile imagination and let them explore where kings and queens once trod.

Just tell them it had a major role to play in the Wars of the Roses and was once owned by Richard of York.

The lofty 12th century keep is very well-preserved and the roof and floors have been restored.

It is believed to stand on a site first fortified with earthworks by King William’s trusted supporter William of Warenne, soon after the Norman Conquest.

There are turrets for archers and boasts an ingenious design which is unique in Britain.

Over the centuries there has been wicked plotting, tragic deaths, royal births and finally dramatic ruins.

If that can’t tempt you to unplug the kids’ computers and stimulate their brains the old-fashioned way, nothing will.

Address: Conisbrough Castle, Castle Hill, Conisbrough, Doncaster, DN12 3BU

Web: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/conisbrough-castle/

Price: Adult £4.50, child £2.70

Opening times: 10am to 5pm daily

Ages: Any age - you’re only limited by your imagination

Weather warning: This castle is best visited on a dry day

Don’t miss: The chance to eat your picnic in a castle

Top tip: You’ll feel on top of the world with the views from the top of the Castle keep.

A blooming good day out with something for all the family

BEAUTIFUL blooms, history and play are all rolled into one at Brodsworth Hall and Gardens.

There are obvious grown-up attractions at this picturesque Victorian country house but what isn’t as well known is that it is great for kids too.

It boasts plenty of space where they let off steam which you enjoy the grand gardens in miniature.

If the weather is right little ones will love the cleverly designed play area which includes a boat and mini rocking horses to reflect the family’s sailing and racing enthusiasm.

The dolphin fountain is an eye-catcher for all ages and the restored summerhouse is a fun find.

Brodsworth was built in the Italianate style of the 1860s and lived in by the Thellusson family for over 120 years.

Inside there are some fascinating pieces of history - although you may find children are keener to head outdoors.

Among the most interesting items are the mummified hooves of famous horse Rataplan, which won the Doncaster Cup in 1855 - strange enough to capture most young attentions.

Other winners include a baby’s Second World War cradle gas mask and a recently identified passenger pigeon, a rare stuffed specimen of an American bird that was hunted to extinction by 1914.

The house is frozen in time to the days when the last resident Sylvia Grant-Dalton fought a losing battle against subsidence and leaking roofs.

It feels like a treasure hunt as you make your way through the building coming across everything from the grandest piece of furniture to family mementoes and humble domestic items, all still in their original places.

Visitors can also try out the jukebox and pick from the family’s long-accumulated record collection ranging from atmospheric Edwardian Caruso recordings to hits of the Swinging Sixties.

You get a true feel for the former grandeur thanks to the kitchen and scullery.

The Tupperware, Formica and Fanny Craddock cookbooks are all still in place, as is the battered armchair of the house’s last cook-housekeeper, Emily Chester.

Brodsworth offers a great slice of yesterday combined with one of the best of today’s play areas - the tearoom also has very tasty treats.

Address: Brodsworth, Doncaster, DN5 7XJ

Web: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/brodsworth-hall-and-gardens

Price: Adult £9, child £5.40

Opening times: Gardens and Tearoom 10am to 5.30pm daily

Ages: Young children will prefer the play area to the historical home

Weather warning: The kids will love the gardens but if it rains the house is great too

Don’t miss: The Target House in the gardens - it’s like a picture postcard

Top tip: Grab their attention by hunting out the house’s strangest objects - there are plenty!