Back in June (where exactly has that time gone?!) we went on one of our staycations, and visited Portsmouth, Legoland and Oxford (for the Oxford Castle Unlocked and the Oxford University Natural History museum). I’ve already told you about the other parts of our trip, but somehow I kept forgetting to fill you in on this bit, despite it being a lot of fun.
We went to Oxford with the lovely Lisa from The Love of A Captain, her fiance Trev (who is also one of Simon’s best friends) and baby Jack, which was just as well as I doubt we’d have found the car park, or known where to go if they hadn’t been there before!
My first impression of Oxford was that it’s a beautiful place, with buildings full of character – actually that’s a lie, my first impression was ‘£17 to park for a few hours what a rip off!’, then I noticed the buildings.
You can tell we live in Cornwall, I think it’s expensive if I have to pay more that £4 for parking all day, but the nonetheless we paid it, as although there may have been cheaper parking else where, the chances of us actually finding it were slim.
Our first stop was Oxford Castle for the Oxford Castle Unlocked guided tour, the castle was gorgeous on the outside, and the boys had fun putting themselves in the stocks.
We paid for a tour, which unfortunately Lisa couldn’t do all of because they don’t allow you to take babies up the tower, even in a baby carrier like Jack was. I can understand this, as some parts of the steps were very steep and they don’t even like you to take small children unless you are sure that they can walk up a lot of steep steps, and they are over 92cm tall.
It really isn’t safe to be carrying anyone up there, but something to bear in mind if you plan to visit as a family. Also when I say steep, I do mean steep, even the boys were a little puffed at the top.
Our tour guide was brilliant, he was dressed up to fit the part and kept in character the whole way around as he told us about the history of the castle.
Part way up the tower, we went in to a room with more stocks in, and he explained to us that back before human rights were a factor to consider, people actually had their ears nailed to the stocks.
Yes you read that right, and the next bit is grim sorry….when they were set free, the only way to remove themselves from the stocks was to actually rip their own ears off. The boys loved this bit, gruesome devils! Apparently this was an added punishment, as people who had no ears or parts torn out of their ears were marked forever as offenders.
Sorry disgusting bit over.
From the top of the tower you could see quite far, although it was a little cosy with all the other people on the tour up there as well.
Once we came back down we got to join Lisa and Jack again, and were taken on a tour of prison cells, creepy cellars/crypts where there is a corner that supposedly ghosts appear and a lot more. The prison didn’t actually close until 1996!
Our guide had us laughing a lot on our tour, especially when he threw a ‘rat’ towards everyone and made us all jump. All of the guides seemed to be real characters, who had a lot of fun with their role play.
There was a lovely looking tea room outside, a gift shop with lots of quality gifts rather than some of the rubbish some gift shops try to entice your children to buy. The boys bought a bow and arrow set between them, which they’ve had a lot of fun with at home since.
There was also an outside area, that had different fun events going on that day as well, but we had to head off to get some lunch and to our next stop – the Natural History Museum, which I will tell you about in another post very soon. There may have been a quick visit to Paperchase who had a sale on as well…
I would definitely recommend the Oxford Castle Unlocked experience, but mostly for older children so that they can do the tower with you, and I’d imagine they’d enjoy the stories etc a lot more.
*I was not asked to write this review, and we paid for our own family ticket that was just over £30*