Something incredibly exciting happened over the weekend. Me and Harley moved into the next stage of adulting life and became National Trust Members. We now proudly own a National Trust car sticker, and own our very first newsletter and booklet, stamped with the sophisticated leaf logo. Oo-er.
It all happened because of a semi-spontaneous Sunday trip to Tyntesfield; a gorgeous estate just a stone’s throw from Bristol. I woke on Sunday with an urge to explore a castle (this is a frequent side-effect of being a Disney fanatic) and after hitting up Google, we decided that actually, the Tyntesfield estate would more than suffice.
It’s a beautiful Victorian Gothic Revival house surrounded by astounding gardens, located a short drive from our Redfield home, on the B3128. The gardens looked gorgeous and I was 99% sure a trip to this spectacular National Trust site would involve tea and cake. The drive was fairly stress-free (it’s always a gamble with me behind the wheel). You can see Tyntesfield on Google maps here.
On arrival, we quickly realised that we had not quite succeeded into full-on National Trust adulting. With no cash, we were forced to pay for our parking via an obscure app, which charged us nearly double the actual daily rate. But open-minded and optimistic, we strolled into Tyntesfield with a hunger for adventure and cream teas. We were greeted by a plethora of arts and crafts stalls. An adorable market was taking place! The smell of fresh sourdough bread was in the air, and all around us were pretty reflections of colourful mosaics and handmade ornaments and cushions. Even a Bristol Rovers hand-carved clock was on offer. We had stumbled into the sweetest thing, but were keen to get into Tyntesfield itself before the rain threatened to join us.
We resisted the temptation to shop and devour bread and arrived at the ticket desk, where we very quickly realised that, if we were to actually commit to visiting National Trust sites, it would be far better financially to just sign up to become members than pay for individual entry (it’s around £17.50 each to explore the house and gardens).
And so it happened! We became National Trust members, and proudly strolled through the entrance, smug as the market rugs and garden bugs.
So down to the cultural stuff. Tyntesfield is truly a mesmerising place and ideal for outdoorsy folk. An ‘outdoorsy day’ for me and Harley usually translates to ‘beer gardens galore’, but we genuinely loved exploring the grounds here. There are 540 acres of parkland, woodland and gardens on offer at Tyntesfield, so you can certainly stretch your legs and let your mind wander as you admire the scenery. Cheesy stuff, I know, but totally true.
I would say it’s definitely quite a romantic destination too! The rose gardens are charming and there are plenty of places to enjoy a quiet moment or two. Even on a Sunday afternoon, when I assumed the place would be busy and bustling with families, we frequently found ourselves in really peaceful areas of the gardens, pretty much alone. It feels like there’s endless parkland, woodland and gardens here. Our Apple watches – or more specifically fitness apps – were chuffed with us. We walked what felt like miles (I slightly exaggerate). We saw a tennis court and some play areas for children, so I can see it being a great day out for the family (plus dog – in certain dog-friendly areas!)
Of course, we wanted to explore inside the house too! The National Trust are currently working on a major conservation project in the house, to replace its fire alarm system. The ‘Fire and Wire’ project sounded like it could potentially be really disruptive – a few rooms were closed off from the public as a result – but we actually really loved it! The majority of rooms open to the public contained fire-themed artefacts, such as a historic fireman’s helmets, and you could learn about how fire prevention has changed since Victorian times, and see the tools they’d use to tackle it. Old-school fire hoses and the like were displayed around the impressive rooms.
Tip: During this project, visitors need a site pass to visit the house, which are available for certain time slots throughout the day. We had a 2pm to 3pm slot and easily strolled in at around 2.40pm. You can pick up your pass from the ticket office.
For some reason, I am really impressed by historic houses with Sprung (servant) bells. They just look so nifty and make me feel like I’m a leading female on an episode of Downton Abbey! My imagination runs wild in situations like this. I can just so see myself meandering from the billiard room to the pantry, demanding red wine and canapes… then sitting down to play an astoundingly impressive (and memorised) piece on the piano…
Anyway, back to the 21st century.
We explored the house in around 45 minutes to an hour, but you could certainly stay longer if you really wanted to take in every tiny detail, and especially, admire the paintings. We wandered down through the Tyntesfield greenhouses (chillis growing galore, and lily pads bobbing up and down sweetly) and finally sat down for tea and scones (jam first, of course. We’re not maniacs). Despite being attacked by a jam-lovin’ wasp or two, it was really lovely.
So to summarise, I would really, really recommend a day out at magical Tyntesfield. If it’s sunny, definitely bring your own picnic – there are some gorgeous spots you can nab. If you’re not a member, bring cash for the car park (it was £3 for the day on Sunday). Or consider becoming a member, as I can see how quickly it can pay off.
Thanks to Harley for a lush day out and for calmly saving me from the killer wasp. 🙂