It was always a childhood daydream of mine to open a hands-on children's history museum... I think museums have the ability to kill a child's interest in the past, but also the capability to light a spark that will create a lifelong love. So it was with me, and so I am eager to pass on that fascination with history to our little people.
The National Trust Museum of Childhood did not disappoint.
From the moment we stepped through the door, the girls were enthralled... an old market cart laden with toys from the past, artefacts to touch and feel and play with... even Jonas watched enthralled by his sister's attempts at the ball and cup game, Dave's yoyo-ing and Kaya's skipping... we could have stayed in that very first room for an hour exploring all the toys, the wigwam tent and the interactive information creatively displayed around the walls... but the rest of the museum beckoned!
And so we entered the "Work" zone, and the children were given a rather eye-opening insight into what childhood looked like in the past...
Ava and Kaya climbed a chimney... clambering into one fireplace, up a pitch black, narrow tunnel before exiting out through another fireplace. Heidi was too afraid to go in.
At four years old, Ava is around the size of the average 6-year-old chimney sweep. It was a wake-up call for all of us, and certainly caused the children to be a little thankful for their protected and comparatively idyllic childhood.
But chimney-sweeps were not the only occupation children found themselves in in Victorian Britain...
Check out my little washerwomen...
The girls scrubbed, and washed, and soaped and ironed and loved every minute of their "domestic service" experience... I'm not so sure they would have loved it after a 14 hour day though!
It was helpful as well that the Museum raised awareness that child labour is still an issue today, and so we were able to talk about the fact that around the world there are still children who are working every day, who don't get to play and run free as our children do. The novelty of "working" was something thrilling for our girls, but I am all too aware that the reality is somewhat different. The Museum tackled these issues in a very simple, helpful and interactive way. We were really impressed.
We wandered on around the museum, but the room that really grabbed the girls attention was the school room...
They loved the details... the strict instructions on the blackboard, the dunce hat, the lift-top desks and the slates. The little ladies wrote away to their hearts' content, while Kaya sat in the corner with her dunce hat on!
The whole museum was a hit... the dressing up box, the story room, alleyways to explore and exhibits everywhere... even on the ceilings! The whole experience culminated in a play area full of old toys to play with, and we spent a good 20 minutes just allowing the children to play with the toys of time gone by - the huge Noah's ark and puppet show were the favourites!
It was just such a fantastic day - all of us enjoyed it... the adults, the tween, the child and the toddler all said it was a highlight of our trip, and even Jonas happily slept around most of it!
So if you're ever in the Derbyshire region, go check out The National Trust Museum of Childhood! It's definitely worth a visit!
This post is not a review... it is all my own thoughts and opinions, I have received no compensation or incentive for writing it.