National Trust Stories to Tell Your Children

Image British Library

Big sombre stately homes can be as boring to our children as cleaning the bathroom is to us. So next time you decide to take them to one of the many fabulous National Trust estates in the North West, try telling them a child-friendly story or two about its history, to help spark their interest. For example:


“We are going to see a massive black and white house that looks a bit like a zebra, and it was built about 500 years before even Grandma was born! 300 years ago, the Moreton family, who owned it, rented it out to farmers who used nearly all the rooms to keep farm stuff in, like hay and coal and tools. Unfortunately they didn’t look after the house and it went rotten with rats everywhere, and there were holes in the roof. Luckily someone in the family came along about 200 years later, got rid of the scruffy farmers, cleaned up the mess and made the house beautiful again. And you know how the floors in our house are completely flat and the walls are in straight lines? Well the floors in Little Moreton Hall are all higgledy-piggledy because the house is so old that the walls have bent and made the floors go wobbly and crooked. Sometimes when you walk around it can make you feel dizzy.”


“Feel your t-shirt, you see how it’s made from cotton? Well cotton comes from plants, and is all puffy and fluffy to begin with. In factories they spin it into long thin threads, then they weave it into fabric to make clothes with. Quarry Bank Mill, where we are going, was one of the first factories in England where they used to make cotton. It has a great big waterwheel that they used for power, because you couldn’t just plug machines into the wall socket in those days. Back then, nearly 250 years ago, very poor children who had no parents – or whose parents couldn’t look after them – had to live in workhouses, where life was really awful and tough. Those poor children had to do hard work all day long in factories like this one, sometimes quite dangerous work, and they didn’t have much time to play or go to school.”


“Did you know, before this huge house and all this land was given to the National Trust, one family owned it for more than 600 years? It all began when King Edward III (who was the Queen’s Great (say “Great” 19 times) Grandad) gave the land to the first one in the family, who was called Thomas. In a big battle, Thomas had saved the life of King Edward III’s son, who was also called Edward (but people sometimes call him the Black Prince, I don’t know why). The King gave Thomas this land to say thank you for saving his son.”