We were invited to spend a day at Palace House, Newmarket. Previously we’ve taken the kids to family days at Newmarket racecourse, but if I’m honest taking the kids to a horse racing museum hadn’t really crossed my mind before. However, with the Easter activities as well, Palace House is much more than just a museum.
Palace House is home to The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art. It houses the National Horseracing Museum, as well as a collection of sporting art at the Fred Packard Galleries. You can also visit the Rothschild Yard which is home to Retraining of Racehorses (ROR) charity.
As well as the normal exhibits and activities, there are also some special Easter activities for kids on from Good Friday until 15th April 2018.
We started our day by heading to the beautiful stables of the Rothschild Yard to meet some retired racehorses. At 11.30 and 2.30, members of the ROR charity bring out the retired racehorses so you can meet them, then take you on a behind the scenes tour.
I found it very interesting, and Isla liked meeting the racehorses. Sadly Oliver wasn’t quite as engaged so we left the tour early, and looked around some of the exhibits in the Kings Yard Galleries. A lot of the exhibits had interactive features, and where there is a button to push, Oliver is happy again! They could design their own coloured silks and learnt about the the different types of horses.
He also liked looking at the horse skeleton and seemed fascinated by it. We then had a go on the racehorse simulator. You have the option of getting dressed in racing silks and hats. Both my two just wanted to wear the hats. Considering they have only sat on horse once before in their lifetime, they did really well. Oliver thought he was cowboy! Isla had a bit more finesse about her riding style. They really enjoyed it, however I dont think either of my 2 children will make jockeys, lol!
We then went to meet two miniature donkeys ‘Pip’ and ‘Plumb’, who were only there for the weekend, in the King’s Yard near a statue of the famous racehorse ‘Frankel’.
By this time, tummies were rumbling and we decided to get some lunch. There is an on site restaurant ‘The Tack Room’, but we decided to get picnic bags. Our picnic bags were provided by ‘The Tack Room’, and we picked them up at The Pantry Bakery- which also had an amazing selection of cakes. We took our picnic bags to the indoor picnic room as it just started to rain which was a shame as there was lots of places to sit outside.
The picnic room was set up as the kids Easter craft hub, so it was a little crowded but only due to the weather! My lunch was lovely, and I particularly enjoyed the beetroot hummus and homemade sausage roll. The kids stormed through their lunch, so they could get on with the craft activities. They started with making ‘stained glass’ Easter decorations by sticking coloured tissue paper to card cut outs. Oliver doesn’t aways get involved with the crafts, but he quite enjoyed doing this, and the resultant decorations came out lovely.
They then wanted to decorate egg cups. We picked up some plain wooden egg cups from the gift shop, and used the pens and various embellishments to decorate them. Isla drew a horse on hers, and she was really proud of the result.
With our bellies full and clutching our finished crafts we finished our day by checking out the Trainer’s House galleries. This was more of a formal museum, but there was ‘Bingo’ for the kids to do as they went round, which kept up their enthusiasm. There were also some interactive exhibits. Oliver particularly loved the horse anatomy section, and they were both intrigued by the size of the horse’s heart!
Palace House itself also housed a selection of British sporting art, but we decided to give this a miss. The kids were starting to get tired with all the Easter excitement and their very short attention spans had be stretched as it was.
All in all, we had a lovely afternoon, despite the gloomy weather! My only criticism would be the craft hub/indoor picnic area was rather crowded due to the rain. However we still managed to get a seat to eat our lunch and do the craft projects, so not all bad. The kids haven’t really been exposed to the world of horses and racing, never the less they enjoyed the exhibits and activities. I think if you have children interested in all things equestrian, then Palace House should be on your to do list this Easter!
More Details about Palace House:
You can visit the Palace House website to see all the upcoming events, workshops and activities at Palace House.
Palace House is open everyday (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from 10am-5pm
Over Easter all the activities are 11am-4pm.
A family day ticket gives you access to all the areas at the National Hertiage centre, Rothschild Yard and Palace House. A family day ticket is valid for 2 adults and up to 4 children, is £35. This can be upgraded to an Annual family ticket for £45, giving you unlimited access all year.
Picnics are available to purchase from the Tack Room Bakery, pre-ordering is advised to avoid delays and disappointment. Pre-orders can be placed by 11am on the day of your visit at The Pantry Bakery, or in advance via The Tack Room by calling 01638 663390, or by sending them an e-mail.
Disclaimer: We were gifted a family day ticket and our Easter picnic courtesy of Palace House in return for this review. However, this is an honest review and all words and opinions are my own.