Having lived in Kent for about 15 years, I had never been to The Canterbury Tales, Maybe it's because the kids got older and I thought they wouldn't be interested or maybe it's because we never do the things that are on our own doorstep. The older kids went there for school trips when they were younger and I had just never got around to doing it with the Tilly.
I was invited along to The Canterbury Tales for their Medieval garden event this easter and I thought we would pop along as Tilly is now at an age where she would understand the stories a lot more. When we got there we were welcomed by a young lady dressed in costume, who was very welcoming. There was an area of dressing up clothes, that the children could dress up in to go to the attraction. Tilly didn't want to dress up, but she was told she could pop back and choose something later for the medieval garden if she wished.
We were given an audio guide to listen to as we walked around, but there was a special children's version for the younger people on the tour. This was better because it was told in a way that she would understand. We entered the attraction and the first room we were met with a real actor in the Tabard Inn, London who told us about the history of the Canterbury Tales and all about Chaucer. It was interactive and Tilly got involved with it by answering some of the questions, even though I was whispering the answers in her ears. Soon we were sent on our own merry way on our journey canterbury with our audio guides and listened to the stories.
The attraction takes about 40 minutes to complete and there are some rickety stairs to climb, they are perfectly safe but to keep in with the look of the attraction, they are obviously medieval and I wore heels. I ask you 'who wears heels to an attraction like this?' So my advice is to wear flat shoes, and it isn't the right attraction for you if you have a child in a buggy because you have the stairs to go up and down. Leave your buggy at home. When you get to the end of the attraction, you come to Canterbury cathedral and there is another costumed actor, who finishes the story and tells you about Henry II and Chaucers murder. It's done in a way that kids understand but do not get scared. The tour finished and we left it to go into the shop before going to the medieval gardens. You have to walk around the building and get to the back of the attraction, the medieval gardens are free with entry to the Canterbury Tales.
The medieval gardens had a knight school where Tilly was taught how to become a knight, how to fight like a knight by using a sword and was then actually knighted by the gentleman who was running the school.
The maypole was where she learned how to do the maypole dance, it certainly wasn't as easy as she thought! But nonetheless, she had a giggle as she did it.
The medicine area, this is what intrigued her as she never knew that medicines could be made from plants in the garden. There was a basket with illnesses and then sheets of paper with the remedies and how to use them to cure the illnesses. I had lice of all the illnesses and watched as Tilly chose lavender and crushed it, before telling me how to use it.
Tilly enjoyed her day out at The Canterbury Tales, The Medieval garden was okay, but there was only one member of staff working all three of the little activities. So he had to go to each one at a time and if more children arrived they had to wait for him to finish the activity he was working on. There was also a story tent and nobody in there to read stories. Some chairs in the garden to sit on as your child gets involved with the activities would be a good idea and the man did tell us that they are looking to get some in. So if you want to sit down and watch your child, I suggest taking a blanket. We learnt a few things from being in the Canterbury tales and I loved the idea of the kids dressing up costumes to get them involved with the history. I also liked the idea of the kids audio guide, it made the stories so much more understandable for Tilly. The rooms were fun with lifelike medieval models and smells from the day, it did bring old England to life for Tilly
The Canterbury Tales is can be found in Margaret Street, Canterbury and is open every day of the year except Christmas day, Boxing day and New Years day. It costs £9.95 for adults, £7.95 for children and you can book tickets online at www.canterburytales.org.uk.