We were looking for different places to visit over the Easter holidays, and I’d spotted an advert in a local magazine for an Easter Egg Trail somewhere new. We would be spending a day exploring Stonor Park, near Henley-on-Thames and there was the hope that we might spot a few deer along the way.
The Stonor family have lived at Stonor Park for 800 years and are still in residence, so the house and grounds aren’t open every day. Check the website before you plan your trip to make the most of your visit is my top tip. We visited on Easter Sunday, the grounds opened at 10am with the house opening at 1pm. It looks as if the house now opens at 1.30pm on the days you can visit.
We arrived not long after the grounds opened, and the car park was already filling up. Exploring Stonor Park is clearly something that’s popular and I could see why as soon as we arrived. With rolling parkland and a wonderful outdoor area for the children, we were going to have fun without even setting foot inside the house.
We purchased our tickets from the Visitor Centre by the car park. You can choose to visit everything as we did, or just visit the play area and gardens. They also offer a season ticket and a reward card, so after 5 visits you receive a free visit. Always handy to know if you are in the area. There are a small selections of refreshments available here, along with some seating.
If like us, you’re looking for something more substantial, The Pantry is located in the oldest part of the house, dating back to the 12th century, and opens at 12, serving light lunches, sandwiches, cake and rather delicious homemade soup.
Our first stop whilst exploring Stonor Park was the Wonder Woods Adventure Park, which all the kids seemed to love.
Everything at Stonor Park looks very new, is well-kept and perfect for children who love to be outdoors. My 7 year old Monkey was in his element. There’s a sand pit and water play area, tunnels, climbing area, zip wire and a 9m Pyramid Tower that I would imagine is now open.
But with my son, the den building area was the biggest hit. He was in stick heaven. Building dens and camp fires and generally bossing his Dad around.
We’d also spotted the Stonor Deer herd as we drove into the grounds, so Monkey was eager to mimic the stag’s antlers.
My deer loving stick boy had a great time and he was occupied for ages with his den building efforts. He’s not one for zip wires or climbing really, but I can see on a second visit he might be tempted to have some fun in the sandpit and water area.
Our stomachs were calling and we headed to The Pantry for lunch, homemade soup for the grown ups and Monkey opted for a filling sandwich. The eating area is quite small so it’s worth getting there early, the prices are in par with National Trust eateries and the quality is good as is the coffee.
The house is well worth a visit and is so clearly still a family home. You can’t take photographs inside, but it was lovely to get more of an insight into the family and the history of the house. It’s also worth popping into the chapel if you have the chance.
The house grounds included a walled garden and the more formal Italianate Garden. Monkey had decided against trying the Easter trail but he did love playing hide in seek in the gardens with Daddy P.
I got to sit back and enjoy the the views whilst the two of them chased each other for ages. It was lovely to see Monkey so relaxed and just having fun.
I can imagine that in the coming months, the gardens will be full of colour. We saw an impressive amount of mistletoe growing in the trees too, something I’ve only ever seen from a distance before. Somehow we totally missed that we could visit the Arboretum at Stonor Park, something for a future visit.
The parkland had been calling us ever since we’d arrived. The views across the Chiltern Hills were wonderful even on a dull April day.
I’d only got my kit lens with me so couldn’t capture the Red Kites that were soaring overhead and offering us the most wonderful free aerial display. Even though we see them over our house all the time, we still find them captivating to watch. You’ll have to take my word that they were really rather impressive.
We were going in search of the deer we’d spotted earlier in the day. I explained to Monkey that he’d have to be very quiet and patient if he wanted to see them once we were out of the car. I was really rather impressed with him as he took it all on board and crept along the pathway quietly until we spotted them in the distance. Again, I had the wrong lens with me to capture the deer properly. But they were beautiful to watch, we stood quietly and just enjoyed sharing the parkland with them. Look carefully and you might spot them too. I’m not sure that Monkey’s stick antlers really fooled anyone but he was happy.
It would be useful if there was a trail map for the pathway, or at least some idea of the length of the walk. We’d have stayed walking on the path for longer if we’d had more details to go on.
Overall we really enjoyed our time exploring Stonor Park, and I’m sure we’ll be back to have fun in again in the future. Maybe you’d like to pin it for the future too.