Castle Hill, Dunster, Minehead TA24, UK
Set high on hill ‘Tor’, in the medieval village of Dunster, the castle originally dates back to the 11th century, though it has gone through much expansion since then. Inside, the rooms show snapshots in history, and are hosted by knowledgeable and entertaining workers to bring the history to life. Our favourite was the reenactor portraying Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince, who talked through his story and showed us his armour, kindly letting my nephews hold the blade and even knighting one of the children in our group!
The castle boasts wonderful views of Wales from the top of the hill (always nice to the see the sea!) and the oubliette (dungeon pit) and the ghostly crypt exhibition were big hits with the slightly older children (good for 6 years plus or so). The younger children were kept entertained with a ‘spotter’s trail’ throughout the castle (find the otters) and with the sheer idea of just being in an actual castle which has secret passages.
The outside (and very splendid gardens) are perhaps more child-friendly for younger children with a marvellous River Garden, summer trails and more spotter trails. National Trust even supply (very helpfully) an activity guide on their website which is worth looking at before a visit.
There are a number of eateries, plus plenty of picnic areas, and everything is very buggy friendly for those with very wee ones. Dogs are also welcome to boot! So a really family friendly day out.
Definitely worth a look and a great introduction to English history for children. The connecting village of Dunster (literally connected to the castle) is also a lovely place to visit, and not short on quaint shops including lots of places to get ice cream to keep the little ones happy.