We took Daddy P to the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire railway last Sunday for his Fathers Day treat. It’s well worth a visit if you are ever near in the Cheltenham area, and I’m sure I’ll be writing about it soon. The weather behaved itself and we decided to make a slight detour on our way home so we could spend a little time wandering around the ruins of Hailes Abbey. I was interested to see what Monkey would make of the site, it was going to be a first visit for all of us.
Hailes Abbey is run by English Heritage, and offers free parking next to the Abbey and Hailes Church. This would be Monkey’s first total ruin visit. We’ve been to lots of castles, including the ruins at Kenilworth Castle, but there was enough there for him to really understand what he was looking at. Would it be the same as we were wandering around the ruins of Hailes Abbey? We could have opted for the free Audio Guide, but I knew I probably had more chance of getting Monkey to listen to me rather than a guide.
The Cistercian Abbey was built in the 13th century and was in use for 200 years, until the time of Henry VIII when he dissolved so many of this sort of building. There are information points dotted all around the site and lots of opportunities to imagine the building as it once would have been.
I was so impressed with my 6 year old son as we were wandering around the ruins of Hailes Abbey. In fairness I’d expected him to zoom around and then ask when we were leaving. But he wasn’t like that at all. We started walking around the perimeter of the site and he’d get really excited when he found another part of the ruins.
We talked, imagined and he really listened as I read out about points of interest. He asked about what an Abbey was, who lived there and why it was in ruins. Is there a hint that he may love history as much as I do? I do hope so!
Daddy explained what the water culvert was for, how amazing that the drainage is still working today. So much more than a little bit of water running across a field.
This way Mummy!
We imagined people eating and cooking in the various rooms. We imagined what the doors would have looked like, and the handles which would have opened them.
In some areas concrete markers had been placed so we could envisage columns and the structures they would have made.
There were event moments for bug hunting too, although the caterpillar appeared to have been hunting me.
One made a great resting place to take in the views and let his imagination run wild.
Even though we were looking at ruins, Monkey really grasped what would have once been there.
He understood far more than I’d expected him to, and he really enjoyed discovering new areas of the Abbey.
It’s looks as if we weren’t the only ones who have appreciated wandering around Hailes Abbey over the years either.
Once we’d finished wandering around the ruins we visited the small museum behind the gift shop. The tiles and ceiling bosses were quite wonderful.
It seemed a shame not to quickly visit Hailes Church as we were parked next to it.It dates back to the late 12th century, so is actually older than the abbey, and holds a few surprises inside. The walls are covered in medieval paintings and the floor tiles are just as wonderful as those we saw in the Abbey Museum.
We were all so glad that we took our little detour last weekend. It was certainly worth it to explore Hailes Abbey and the Church, before heading home after a busy day.
Why not pin it for later if you’re going to be in the area?