Day Out at Chedworth Roman Villa

February 23, 2018 Family, Kids Travel
Chedworth - Romans

National Trust

We’ve had a National Trust family membership for years. It’s great fun going out for the day exploring, and with an annual family membership we can take up to 10 children.  We only have 3 Grandchildren, I can’t imagine taking 10 for a day out!

We’re a charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. More than 120 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything we do. We look after special places throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland for ever, for everyone.

We look after coastline, forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, nature reserves, villages, historic houses, gardens, mills and pubs and one of the world’s largest art collections. We restore them, protect them and open them up to everyone. For the Trust, conservation has always gone hand-in-hand with public access. We welcome everyone to explore:

  • 775 miles of coastline

  • Over 248,000 hectares of land

  • Over 500 historic houses, castles, ancient monuments gardens and parks and nature reserves.

  • Close to one million objects and works of art

The diversity of National Trust properties is amazing, and we have lots to choose from in and around Oxfordshire.  The boys especially enjoy a day out when there are Easter Egg Hunts. A chocolate egg or bunny at the end of a Treasure Hunt is always a good incentive.

It’s always great to visit historic places as well,  and Chedworth Roman Villa is one of the boys’ favourites for a day out.  We visited back in the Summer as Grandson No 1 was learning about the Romans at school and they had a school outing to Chedworth.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t very well on the day, so he couldn’t go.  We didn’t want him to miss out so we planned a visit the following week when he was feeling better and took all three Grandsons.  Everyone loved it as there is so much to see and do.

Chedworth Museum

Chedworth Roman Villa

Chedworth Roman Villa is near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, which is around 40 miles from where we live in Oxfordshire.  It only takes just over an hour by car and is quite a pretty journey so is perfect for a day out.  We went to Chedworth in the Summer and were lucky that we had a warm sunny day and in hindsight should have taken a picnic with us.  We will definitely remember to take one next time.

Chedworth Villa is the remains of one of the largest Romano-British villas in the country. It has several mosaics, two bathhouses, under floor heating, a water-shrine and latrine.  Mr J (Grandad) is a Public Health Consultant Engineer and specialises in the modern day equivalent of the hot and cold water and heating systems, he was able to explain it all to the boys in great detail.  We spend a lot of our time looking at guttering and things when we’re on days out 🙂

The first remains of the Chedworth Villa were discovered in 1864 by a local gamekeeper, apparently while he was digging for his lost ferret.  James Farrer, an archaeologist realised the importance of the finds and excavated the site over the next 2 years.  Most of the buildings you can see today were excavated by him, and paid for by the then owner, the Earl of Eldon. 

After the excavation work was completed a Lodge and Museum were built on the site to house the finds they had uncovered.

In 1924 the site was bought for The National Trust. However,  it wasn’t until 2010, after a successful Lottery Fund bid, that more serious work on the site was carried out when two National Trust archaeologists led a team of volunteers to uncover the floors in the West Range.

The mosaic floor they uncovered was a 37 meters long corridor, the longest one of its type in Britain.  Work continued in 2011 to 2012 in the West Range, with its mosaic floors and main rooms, being protected under a new modern building which helps to protect it and makes it easier for visitors to view.

Work continued on the site and in 2014 a new mosaic floor was uncovered. The mosaic floor measured 18m long and 6m wide, the mosaic is the largest on site and is believed to be part of the grand reception hall as some of the tesserae within the mosaic are made of marble. 

We’ve also visited Pompeii and Herculaneum a few times and I’ve always been amazed that there are pieces of tesserae just lying on the floor, I still find it fascinating that you can see and touch something that someone built and walked on nearly 2000 years ago.

They are still working on the site and constantly uncovering more finds, including more mosaic tiles, bowls and coins and chunks of painted plaster which they think may have decorated the walls.

Chedworth is in a sheltered woodland close to the River Coln, a few miles from the Roman road, the Fosse Way, and from Roman Britain’s second town, Corinium Dobunnorum (Cirencester). There’s a natural spring in the corner of the main villa area, which was the main source of water. There is also a shrine built to the water-nymphs (nymphaeum). 

It is believed Chedworth Villa was built in phases from the early 2nd century to the 4th century AD, with the early 4th century phase transforming it into the house, built around a courtyard, of a rich family. It’s not possible to know for certain who lived at Chedworth as nothing has been found to directly link it to any particular family.  From the elaborate mosaics and size of the Villa it’s obvious that whoever owned Chedworth would have been wealthy and enjoyed a certain status. They may not have been Roman at all, although they were living in a Romanised way.

What The Boys Got Up To

The boys loved wandering around the remains of the Villa looking at the mosaics and remains of the under floor heating, especially as Grandson No 1 was learning about the Romans at school and it really brought what he’d been learning about to life.

We borrowed the Family tracker packs from the Reception and went on a bug and wildlife hunt.  There are lots of trails and walks around the area which are great for exploring.  Grandson No 3 is a huge bug and animal fan and he found a frog which he was fascinated by.

Chedworth is also home to Roman snails which are a protected species and very rare. We were lucky enough to spot some, although I did have to stop the littlest Grandson picking one up.

The museum with its Roman artefacts from the site is great to wander around and look at the various coin and pottery finds.  There’s also a great activity room where the kids can take part in activities and have a go at making things.  The boys did some brass rubbing and made some mosaics.  

The highlight of their day was finding the basket of Roman dressing up clothes and swords on the big grass area in front of the buildings.  They quickly put on some of the clothes and grabbed the swords.  Grandson No 3 was too eager to get to the gift shop that he skipped the dressing up although he did have a bit of a sword fight with his brothers.

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We had a quick snack and drink in the small cafe which was very good and catered for both children and adults alike with a good selection of cakes and sandwiches. There is also plenty of space to picnic and the views are stunning, so I wished we’d packed a picnic which we usually do when you go for a day out.

As with most days out we finished our day with a visit to the gift shop to buy a small memento of the day, much to Grandson no 3’s delight.

It was a great day out and we all enjoyed it and are planning a return trip as Grandson no 2 will soon be starting to learn about the Romans and I’m also keen to see the new discoveries they have uncovered.

You can find full details of opening times etc on the National Trust Chedworth Roman Village Page and they also put on special activities in the school holidays and some weekends.  I’d love to hear what your favourite day out with the kids is, especially any National Trust ones.

Extraordinary Chaos

7 Replies to “Day Out at Chedworth Roman Villa”

  1. This sounds like the perfect day out for bringing learning to life. And yes, I too have learnt it’s always a good idea to take a picnic along! Thanks for linking up with #CulturedKids

  2. Romans and an activity pack it sounds like a perfect day out. Ten children would be a bit of a handful even with two of you! Thank you for linking up to #CulturedKids

  3. What a fab day out! I do laugh at the number of kids you can bring with you on a National Trust pass – I can’t imagine 10 either. I’m adding Chedworth to our list of places to visit in Gloucestershire. The National Trust don’t have many of this type of place, so it would make a welcome change from mansions and country houses! #MondayEscapes

  4. I love places that are historical but education it looks like there is so much for the kids to engage with alongside the beautiful scenery, thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes x

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