Gressenhall Farm And Workhouse – Hooray For Horses And Once Upon A Time!

Gressenhall Farm And Workhouse – Hooray For Horses And Once Upon A Time!

Always fans of Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse (part of the Norfolk Museums bunch of ten) we have been there twice this holiday already and would happily go again! We are museum pass holders which means for an annual price of just under £100 my family of two adults and three children can visit as many of the Norfolk Museums fleet, as many times as we like, in 12 months! We can even take friends with us as the family passes cover ALL the children you have with you on any given day – now isn’t that brilliant!

Outside the entrance is a horse designed by a child and made into a statue! My lot have to have a ride every visit – this is them with the children of the Feed Felix Fast gang!

The Norfolk Museums as a whole are pretty fab but some are smaller than others and probably not quite a full day out on their own. The Bridewell and Strangers Hall in Norwich (where we will probably take a trip to today) are ones to be combined as they aren’t big enough to create a full on day trip on their own but just because they are small it certainly doesn’t mean they are any the less mighty – they are all worth a visit. Gressenhall on the other hand, like the Castle in Norwich and Time and Tide in Great Yarmouth, are big enough to create a full day’s worth of fun in one and the playground at the workhouse in Gressenhall is worth your entry price alone! It’s immense – they are actually going to be renovating it and making it EVEN better for next year as well!

The playground IS just fab!

Yep, Gressenhall with its fascinating museum which both tells the story of the workhouse and local tales of wartime and agriculture and its surrounding buildings in well kept grounds are our favourite of the bunch! As well as the old church, school house, shops and cottages kept as they would have been there is an extensive woodland and orchard, beautiful gardens, that fabulous playground and… on the other side of the road a working farm! The workhouse was built on farmland for reasons of twofold: To give the inmates jobs and to feed them! Today you can see traditional farming methods in use all year round, take a ride on a tractor or a cart pulled by the Gressenhall Suffolk Punch horses, walk in the wild flowers, stamp trail your way around the most beautiful mooch by the river, see lots of wildlife, pond dip, meet the baby farm animals (at the moment EIGHT rare breed piglets born just last week) and many more fab and fun hands on things for the kids to see and do!

A look in at the workhouse from the gate – what must it have felt like to arrive here with nothing else to your name?!
Look at her smile, isn’t that wonderful!

I love the way Gressenhall, as with all Norfolk Museums, really puts children in their mind when designing because the museums are like stepping into a real life action of the past rather than reading stuffy information – THIS is the way to get kids to learn!

I am always so creatively inspired when I visit and have been writing an immersive play for children all based on the setting at the farm in Gressenhall. There is a farmhouse set up perfectly you see, with an air raid shelter in the garden and my play is all about evacuees. Now my plan is to convince Gressenhall and Norfolk Museums to take it on and use it for their learning programme with schools. The plan is to have 60 children made up of two classes and while half of them see the workhouse the other half immerse themselves in the play before they swap over. The children will all arrive in character – some evacuees with their luggage labels pinned to them by their parents before they leave on their school coach and a handful the children who will the the children who live on the farm. The teachers will have to join in and come in character too and then 4 actors (me as one of the for sure – I’m like a low grade Ben and Matt on a Goodwill Hunting mission), will take them on the story journey inviting them to join in with both improvised and scripted input! It’s gonna be good – I feel it in my bones! And hey, it’s only one of three BIG writing projects that I have on the go at the moment but what’s two scripts and a novel if not easy peasy to machine out?!

Anyway, I digress… Gressenhall! Yes it’s a massive learning opportunity and undoubtedly education is at the forefront of the museum’s minds but they always make it fun and that’s why Gressenhall is way more worthy than just a school trip!

For the summer holidays they have two important areas ‘Once Upon A Time’ is the first which is on until the 27th of October. The co-curated exhibition has been created by volunteers, staff, visitors and local library users. It asks the question – what’s your favourite children’s book? And then asks you to sit down and read, create your own stories, make your own characters,l listen to storytellers read, try on outfits… Essentially, to step inside a book! Filled with nostalgic favourites, modern classics and strange new worlds the Once Upon a Time exhibition celebrates Norfolk authors past and present, has a Reading Forest and a Story Den filled with interactives, stories and multi-sensory toys to engage with. This is all based in an area of the museum which isn’t usually open and can only be seen on special occasions – the exhibits in here are there all the time but hidden away – when they are allowed to be seen they must! There’s old toys and local artefacts a plenty and it’s absolutely a treasure trove of wonder!

Listening to a wonderful story teller with the Mummy Matters gang!
Stepping into the story – this exhibition reminds me of Discover Story in Stratford – this is HIGH praise I promise!
Busy crafting her story character!
Which of course became a surfer!
Something for everyone!

The second major thing at Gressenhall this summer is the Hooray for Horses fun where on the farm, as well as being taken for a ride by one of the stunning Suffolk Punches, you can meet them, stroke them, find out about how to care for them, see the equipment they use and touch it and create some more horsey crafts too!

The horse an d cart ride is perfect! 
Maybe not as perfect as getting to meet them afterwards though!

We had a wonderful day out as always and highly recommend a visit! The museum is open daily from 10-5 at the moment and closes for the season after October half term – you must make it before then and please do note that with an annual pass comes also the entry to their special days such as the Apple Day coming up in October which we have managed to miss due to babies being born and illness the past couple of years but are determined to make this year!

I am working with Norfolk Museums at the moment helping with a blogger outreach programme but we have long been annual pass holders which we buy ourselves.