A number of years ago when the boys were very small we decided to invest in lifetime membership of English Heritage. Nothing pleases us more than scrambling around old castles, playing a far-too-competitive game of ‘block’, exploring Abbeys and working out what each ‘room’ might have been used for. I’ll never forget 9yr old Jolly’s wide-eyed look of amazement when he suddenly understood, just from where he was standing, the principle of staggering gateways in castle defences to make attackers turn sideways – and therefore make them more vulnerable.
And every single turret with a winding stair is simply a challenge that cannot be turned away from. Counting the steps is optional, of course.
But the membership is not just for summer picnics and holiday outings – we use ours all the time locally, with a couple of really good places close enough for a couple of hours playing and rolling down hills of that kind of close-cropped special grass you only find in castle grounds. English Heritage properties aren’t just ‘special day trip’ venues. They’re there all the time, and to become familiar with them, and to see them as living breathing parts of our own heritage I feel changes your whole relationship with the past, and your understanding of our history.
We recently worked out our average number of visits in a year (with local trips and maybe a couple of holidays) and we think we made our money a couple of summers ago. For us, with six to pay for, we would need to make 60 visits at 2014 prices. Over the last ten years we’ve easily done that when you throw in the fact that it covers the Welsh castles under CADW too.
So whilst it felt like a big investment (though do keep your eye out at properties you visit as they often have excellent deals on for membership), it ended up being a fabulous bargain of a deal – because one adult life membership allows in one adult guest, plus up to SIX children. So my husband bought a single membership, and now he can take the whole family in to every English Heritage property until the children turn 19 (at which point if they want to come and play block at Wardour Castle they can jolly well pay for themselves). We have a whole lifetime to explore the properties and battlefields and monuments – we’ve only scratched the surface of what we’d like to visit.
I mostly love that unlike a lot of historical ‘museums’, in an English Heritage property there’s very little restriction on the children – they’re free to roam and explore. To read the information that interests them, to enact sword fights on the stairs and to hide in every. single. bread. oven. It’s like they’re absorbing the history through their skin – they just can’t help it.
So when English Heritage got in touch to ask if we’d like to give away some family annual memberships, I *might* have bitten their hand off. Personally, it’s one of my very favourite prize packages we’ve ever given away!
To be in with a chance to win one of FIVE English Heritage Annual Family Pass the entry is oh-so-easy – just use the Rafflecopter box below, there’s all the usual sociable Rafflecopter entry options with tweets and facebooking and the like.
The closing date for this competition is 24th October 2014 and only entries received on or before that date can be included. The five prize winners will be the first randomly selected entries. Good luck!