I’m a recent convert to the National Trust but you can’t stop me going on about it at the moment! I’m making the most of our membership over the summer and one of the top places on my list was Mottisfont, near Romsey in Hampshire. Over an hour’s drive from us, so I was really hoping that it lived up to the hype, and I think it’s safe to say that it did! I’m a big garden lover, and love visiting gardens for inspiration, and the fact that Mottisfont has so much to do for children makes this one a hit with our whole family.
The Walled Rose Garden
We headed for the formal rose gardens first, as Max’s patience for gardens can start to wane once he gets a bit tired. There’s something so special and ‘secret garden’-ish about a walled garden, isn’t there? All those doors and wondering what’s behind them! Although we were past the best of the rose season being late July, there were still plenty of rose blooms to be seen. I loved the sectioning off of various parts of the garden to make individual square gardens, each with a little bench to sit and relax. A pretty fountain forms the centre of the garden, surrounded by echinops, so full of the relaxing sound of buzzing bees.
Through the walled doorway, you enter another garden, filled with lavender spilling over the paths and poppies dancing in the breeze. A rose covered pergola is a lovely centrepiece, although I suspect we massively missed it looking it’s best.
The grounds themselves are beautiful and so relaxing with all the different water sources around. There is the Font itself, and then the river (which is so clear!). The curved bridge covered in roses with the weeping willows behind looked like something out of a fairytale! It provided the perfect opportunity for me and Max to go trip trapping over the bridge to find trolls!
Mottisfont for Children
I love how much effort the National Trust have gone to to make their properties family friendly. It’s so different to the rather stuffy houses that I used to visit with my parents as a child. Mottisfont has huge grounds for kids to run around in, open spaces to play games, a water play area, and a muddy bog climbing area. Mottisfont in particular appear to have a ‘let kids take appropriate risks’ approach to play which is really refreshing in our age of health and safety regulations. It feels worth saying that if you’re heading to Mottisfont, a change of clothes for your kids is probably required – they will get wet/muddy!
Pump, pool, and Paddle
I’d read about Mottisfont’s water play area and I thought Max would love it. It’s located just by a stream and is a simple wooden construction with a water pump and a series of sluice gates that can be opened and closed, allowing the water to flow down to the river. Max took a little while to warm up to getting his feet wet, but once he did we practically had to drag him away! (Scratch that, we did have to drag him away!) He loved working the pump, and watching him work out how to open the gates was lovely.
The Muddy Bog Climbing Area
Max was instantly drawn to the muddy bog climbing area, but it’s designed more for slightly older kids. It looked like a fantastic space to play in though and Max is nothing if not ambitious, so I’m sure he’ll be trying to tackle it on our next visit!
The Beatrix Potter Trail
From 16 July to 18 September Mottisfont have a Beatrix Potter exhibition in the house, with an accompanying family trail through the grounds. You’ll find these cute little doors carved into tree trunks, with different Beatrix Potter characters hiding behind. I expected Max to be a bit young for this, but I underestimated the power of opening and closing a door to a toddler! He was fascinated and could have done this for ages.
Eating and Drinking
Mottisfont has a good range of places to eat and drink. There is The Old Kitchen, it’s biggest cafe, serving hot food, cakes, salads, sandwiches, and The Coach House Cafe, which is more focused on sandwiches, cakes and drinks. Inside the walled garden is The Walled Garden Kiosk (sandwiches, cakes and ice cream) with outdoor seating, and on sunny days the Stables Ice Cream shop is open to satisfy your sweet tooth! We ate at the Coach House Cafe and took advantage of the kids pic and mix picnic option for Max.
Mottisfont Lane, Romsey SO51 0LP