An Educational Easter Egg Hunt for the school holidays

As Easter half term approaches parents all over the UK are starting to ponder the perennial question of how to keep the kids from literally bouncing off the walls if their prayers for endless days of sunshine aren't fulfilled. The National Trust have been solving this problem for several generations of parents now, but in these times of value adding everything, kids seen no longer satisfied by an afternoon spent in quiet admiration of the finer points of a typical Georgian interior – but the National Trust have been doing some value adding of their own and are hosting Easter egg hunts and trails in many of their properties.

That's right parents: not only is this a change for your kids to bounce off other people's walls, it will also be a lot easier to get them into the car knowing that there's going to be chocolate involved.

As well as hunting chocolate eggs, various properties are also offering egg decorating, birdhouse building, chocolate making, hot cross bun baking and Easter egg rolling competitions.

These ten National Trust properties are all hosting value adding Easter events, now you just have to select from their more grown-up features.

Near London:

Ham House and Garden in Richmond Park 

When Richmond Park was a deer park for the king, Ham House was the very height of Restoration chic, and one of the centres of courtly life – this was around 1670. In 2010 it's in very close to it's original state, complete with impressively kept interiors and gardens.

Fenton House, Hampstead 

There are lots of nice houses in Hampstead, but this one is extra special – it was built in the 17th Century by a merchant, and has been well maintained by a series of owner occupiers ever since, the last one of whom was Lady Katherine Binning who lived here until she died in 1952. On display inside are her collections of porcelain, 17th century needlework and Georgian furniture, and collections of art and antique keyboards accumulated by other collectors.


Osterley Park House

When Osterley was built in around 1570 it was in the countryside, and was a wealthy London family's rural retreat, but the suburbs have encroached and this red brick rural idyll is now well and truly within the boundaries of west London,with the M4 cutting through the house's grounds. One of the most famous stories of the house involves a visit from Queen Elizabeth, who actually visited twice, on one occasion she suggested, in passing, that a hedge would look well, positioned in a certain way – and overnight a hedge came to be positioned that way!



Claremont Landscape Garden 

This garden was created by some of the 18th Century's most lauded landscape gardeners, including Capability Brown, and was begun in 1715, originally part of the grounds for Claremont House. One of the nicest views in the garden is gained by standing in the large, grassy amphitheatre overlooking the lake.


Box Hill 

The views from the top of Box Hill, over the chalk downs, grassy dells and woodland, are just part of the pleasure, as the varied walking or cycling routes up to the top of the hill are invariably beautiful enough to distract you from and feelings of undue exertion. On the top of the hill is an information centre for school groups, kids and curious adults. It's close enough to London to go for a quick drive out there to look at some rural loveliness before popping back.


Dunster Castle 

The current castle on the top of Dunster Hill is Grade 1 listed and lovely, but much of it was built in the 18th Century – so not as old as it could be seeing as there's been a castle on this hill since before 1066. Much of the furniture dates from the same period, as do the landscaped gardens and their follies.

There are all sorts of spooky stories about Dunster: during the Civil War siege soldiers were forced to eat their horses, and Cromwell was afraid of it – especially its dungeons and apparently had part of it burned.

Solar panels have been installed behind the battlements to reduce the castle's energy consumption.



Crathes Castle 

In front of the typically Scottish turreted and rough-hewn pink-granite castle of the Burnett family, dating from 1596, lies a wonderful garden whose monstrous yew hedges were planted in 1702. Crathes Castle is known for being one of the best preserved in Scotland and its garden is known for its clever use of colour.


Threave Castle 

Set on one edge of an island in the River Dee is a large ruined late 14th century tower house which is comparatively complete and unaltered. During their war against James II in the 1450s the Douglas family dismantled the nearby detached hall block and another building and used the material to construct a small moated court around the tower with a gateway with a drawbridge.

Fyvie Castle 

Bounded by densely-wooded hills, the Ythan River and a large lake, Fyvie Castleinstantly conjures up an atmosphere lifted directly out of a Gothic novel. It was built in 1211 as a baronial fortress and palace, and was owned by five different families in succession, each traditionally believed to have built one of its fairytale towers. Inside it displays an impressive collection of tapestries and paintings by world-renowned artists.



Dinefwr Castle 

This former seat of the princes of Deheubarth has only fairly recently been opened to the public after a long restoration, and is now one of the most complete of the castles of the princes of South Wales. There is access to the top of the circular keep and the curtain wall, which are 13th century, whilst the tower and hall block on the NE side are 14th century.

Let us know if we've missed your favourite National Trust House or Garden off the list.  Or if you have any other tried and tested ideas for keeping the kids happy over the Easter break.

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