A Haunted Halloween at Tatton Park (review)

October half term is here and like many parents, I’ve been looking for fun and imaginative activities for my 7 and 5-year-old girls.  So this weekend we headed to Haunted Halloween at Tatton Park in Cheshire with some friends, in order to get ourselves totally spooked!

Halloween at Tatton Park
The VERY haunted Old Hall

We love Tatton Park.  There’s always so much to do as a family, whether you’re visiting the beautiful gardens, Mansion House, Farm or the Old Hall.  There is also a fantastic adventure playground, picnic areas and places to eat and drink  (my favourite is the Gardener’s Cottage!).  We tend to visit every school holiday and see what activities are on offer as it’s convenient, easy to travel to (we’re based in Manchester) and a beautiful setting.

For October half term, Tatton is currently in Halloween or Haunted mode.  You can visit Secret Hauntings at The Old Hall, which has been named as one of the most haunted places in the country.   You can also follow a spooky “I spy” trail  to spot the eccentric treasures of the last Lord Egerton in the Mansion House, encounter a Mystery Maze at the farm, or go ghoul spotting in the Gardens.

There’s so much to do, it’s difficult to do it all in one day.  So with this in mind, and as it was a blustery day amidst Storm Brian on the day we rocked up (a very apt atmosphere for spooky wanderings), we kept indoors and headed to the Old Hall.

SPOOKY!

I can report if you love being creeped out, this is definitely the place to visit.  As we entered the Old Hall, we were told that our eyes “should soon adjust to the darkness, so not to worry”.  It was dark, and decorated with a number of creepy adornments including skeletons, candles, ghouls and bats.  There was a projecting light show of skulls on the walls.  However the spookiest feature was by far the actors – dressed as ghosts, with silent, stony faces and primed to chase us unrelentingly around the Hall or leap out at our poor, unsuspecting selves.  Other rooms were set up as creepy crypts of hell, with skeletal, gibbering forms and model creatures.  And all this within one of the most haunted buildings in the country!

At this point I should note to my readers that my youngest daughter – age 5 – had to be hurriedly carried out of the Old Hall by my husband!  It was far too scary and upsetting for her.  However, my 7-year-old was fine and quite enjoyed it.  Whereas my fellow 41-year old friend also screamed her way through the Hall and was in and out in around 4 minutes! I would consider your own children’s sensitivity (and also your own?!) to this kind of environment.  I don’t think we’ll be taking our 5-year-old to anything spooky any time soon.

However, next up we visited the Mansion House, which was totally fine, spook-wise, for all family and friends.

Halloween at Tatton Park
Eccentric clues at the Mansion House

The Mansion House at Tatton was home to the Egerton family from around the turn of the 18th Century, and is set amidst over 50 acres of gardens and a whopping 1,000 acres of landscaped parkland.  The collections and exhibitions inside the mansion are beautifully kept and well presented.  I love wending my way around old houses like this; my favourite room at Tatton is the old study, complete with columns of bookshelves full of dusty old tomes.  The kitchens are another favourite.  I’m a self-confessed oven-geek and very much enjoy a browse of the old range ovens used in days of yore to prepare hearty feasts.

For half term, the children are given an ‘I Spy’ quiz sheet to complete.  In each room there is a fact sheet for them to spot containing a clue which will give them the answers to their questions.  All the children enjoyed the quiz and it was difficult to keep up with them as they excitedly ran from room to room.  We spotted many eccentric objects collected by Lord Egerton on his travels around the world, including a table made out of an elephant’s ear!

We’re planning to return later in the week to both the Farm and the Gardens.  My 7-year-old spotted a ghoul through the window whilst in the Mansion House and now wants to see how many more she can find!

A Haunted Halloween at Tatton Park runs until the 29th October and is well worth a visit – just a note that the Old Hall is for the non-sensitive!

Disclaimer:  We were invited to review A Haunted Halloween free of charge.  All opinions are our own.

Halloween vs SpongeBob?

halloween pumpkinA quick ask of what my 5 and 3 year old like about Halloween and I get a few shouts of:

  • Making pumpkins
  • Dressing up
  • Going to Halloween parties
  • Dancing around at home (that obvious Halloween tradition)
  • Pumpkin soup (that they have never, ever eaten)

It’s a weird old thing isn’t it, Halloween? Without going into stuff about Pagans etc it’s well weird letting our kids dress up as zombies and witches for a day.  But hey- SpongeBob SquarePants is weird, too and mine are totally obsessed with the series! Which is weirder, I ask myself, as I remember an episode where Spongebob’s skin falls off, revealing his skeletal form?

I was going to begin a list of what we have planned for Halloween this year when I realised that I’ve also just started writing a Christmas list.  Huh? Isn’t Halloween usually over before Christmas panic settles in?

Christmas aside (it’s over 8 weeks away isn’t it??) and back into Halloween, we’ve carved our pumpkin and sorted two black cat costumes (not as much gore, actually look cute).  My two girls have 3 parties to go to and there’s 1 more in the offing.  Last weekend, they went to a Harvest festival which they loved and a good alternative to the Halloween weirdity.  There was live music, apple pressing and lots of activities for the kids.

And me at Halloween? I love nothing more than a good old psychological horror film – sat in the dark, box of milk tray and glass of wine in hand.  That’s what I’ll be doing!

Who needs Halloween? This is just as scary…

I do like to scare myself silly, as I’ve said very often over the past week or so in my eager Halloween anticipation. Tonight I will be sat in front of the TV, on my own as husband is out, watching Paranormal Activity.

But you want to see something scarier?

Check out my inate inability to carve a pumpkin.

My daughters love cats, so I very much wanted to carve a cat face in the Monster pumpkin purchased from Sainburys. I googled a few ideas. Seemed easy enough.

You ready? Here it is:

Halloween cat pumpkin

I hope I’ve not scared you too much…happy Halloween!