Earlier in the year I treated us to English Heritage membership. To be fair it was a no brainer. Membership for two adults, with L free, is £30 in Tesco Clubcard Vouchers. So it was next to no money. L loves castles, English Heritage have a lot. It’s free days out for a year.
I’m going to try to write about all the properties we visit using our membership. What I liked, didn’t like, share some pictures. We’ve already made our money back on the membership, so I am very happy it is good value for money.
I have been visiting Castle Acre since I was a child. I love it. Castle Acre is a lovely village in its own right, with lovely tea shops and a great pub. There are many beautiful footpaths too. But what really makes it special is the Castle at one end of the village, Bailey Gate in the Centre of the village and Priory at the other end of the village. So much history in one place.
The Castle has a small car park but no other facilities. The Priory has a toilet block close to the entrance of the site, it is old, but clean and tidy. There is a large car park and a reasonable sized gift shop. If it’s food you’re after I would pop into the village and find yourself a spot at one of the many lovely places to eat.
The castle has several areas to explore. Large earthworks that you can walk around and get a feel for the original size of the Castle. There are also some quite large remaining sections of stone built castle building there which are fabulous to look around.
The information boards are great and very useful.
With a few sections of wooden walkway and bridges you can access a lot and it is one of the largest, best kept and most interesting free sites I have visited.
There is a large grassy area which is great for picnics or just playing in. L loves it as it is an exciting place for him to play and often times if we just want to be out for an hour so we will only visit the castle.
The Bailey Gate
You will drive through the Bailey Gate as you enter the village to head to either of the car parks.
It is amazingly in tact and whilst it doesn’t take long to look at it is nice to go and see if you are there.
The Priory is the main attraction. It is a vast site. When you arrive there is an impressive archway at the entrance and you get your tickets from the gift shop which leads to a really interesting display area covering the history of the site and surrounding area. This is attached to the small kitchen garden which is one of my favourite parts. It is small but it catches the sun and all the herbs smell heavenly.
You then head into the main site. The Priory, though mainly in ruins, is impressive. Really impressive. Gorgeous too, especially on a sunny day. There are sections that are historically quite new and remain intact so you go in them to look around, there are some lovely views from upstairs in the Prior’s lodgings.
There is a lot to walk around and look at with plenty of information boards to stop and read. You get a real sense of the Priory’s history.
Because the area is very open it is perfect for young children who just want to explore and be outside. There are also plenty of things, like the toilets, that children just seem to love. They have great events too. We’ll be visiting at the end of the month to see the knight on his horse, yey!
Opening Times & Prices (Priory)
|WITHOUT GIFT AID||WITH GIFT AID|
|Child (5-15 yrs)||£4.20||£4.70|
|Daily||Any reasonable time||10:00 – 18:00|
For full details of times and prices please visit the English Heritage Website, these are only a snapshot.
The Castle is free for everyone, the charges relate to the Priory only.
Castle Acre Castle is one of the best free sites I have visited. There is actually quite a lot there.
Coupling this with the Priory, Bailey Gate and Village means you can spend nearly a whole day at Castle Acre.
I think it is really good value for money and makes for a great day out.
I would say the Priory takes around 2 hours to look around and we rarely spend longer than 3 hours there. The Castle is about an hour long visit. But with the footpaths by the river making a lovely walk, a little look round the village and a stop at the Bailey Gate you’ve easily got half a day out. Stop for a leisurely lunch and that’s a full day out.
I really love it.