We are blessed with an abundance of interesting, historic and simply stunning places to visit in Buckinghamshire and with the lockdown restrictions lifting, we are delighted that many of them are opening up their grounds for you to enjoy. Strict guidelines are being observed for your safety and to protect their staff but if you don't fancy going in person virtual tours are still available.
Waddesdon Manor and Estate, the jewel in the crown of the National Trust, has re-opened its grounds (the manor house remains closed) but you must pre-book online. Numbers are restricted to ensure social distancing and the bus is not running from the car park so you need to be happy to walk up to the formal gardens. There you will find hand washing stations, toilets and a coffee kiosk. If you prefer not to visit in person, there is a wonderful selection of virtual tours and online resources so you can explore the beautiful house, exhibitions and gardens in all their splendour. You can even explore some interiors not normally open to the public.
Beautiful Stowe House has also opened in its grounds with an online booking system in place. The house is closed but is being gradually renovated and you can watch videos of the amazing work by the Stowe Preservation Trust on their social media. Next up is the restoration of the Western Suite which includes The State Drawing Room, The State Dining Room and The Small Dining Room. The 3 year project will see the floors replaced, the historic ceilings restored and the original colour schemes reintroduced.
Hughenden Manor, home to Disraeli, is delighted to weclome visitors to its grounds once again. As above, please book online and follow all social distancing guidance.
Beckonscot in Beaconsfield, the world’s first model village, is open from 6th July with social distancing measures in place and some areas closed. Book your tickets online.
The Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway, whose steam and diesel train usually makes a 7 mile round trip for visitors to enjoy, is part of the old Great Western branch line from Princes Risborough to Chinnor. Whilst they remain closed, you can experience the trip through their online video and take in those gorgeous Chiltern views. They have plenty to share on their social media platforms too.
Odds Farm Park and Green Dragon Eco Farm had many baby animals born during lockdown. Now open, why not go and visit the little cuties and support these animal parks which have had such a challenging time? Kew Little Pigs in Amersham is also open for online bookings and are welcoming back visitors now.
For less ‘active’ animals, Tring Natural History Museum houses an enormous collection of stuffed specimens from all over the world, collected by Walter Rothschild in the 19th century. You can discover this fascinating museum online with film, craft tutorials and more.
Amersham Museum, whilst still closed, has plenty of interesting online content for you to enjoy as it tells the story of Amersham’s people and the surrounding villages over the generations. You can listen to stories from the 1930s, get a sense of life in a Tudor home in 1580 and delve into their Metro Land exhibition featuring images and the voices of local people.
The Chiltern Open Air Museum has a fascinating collection of over 30 reconstructed historic buildings from the Chilterns including an Iron Age roundhouse, 1940s prefab, blacksmith’s forge, Victorian toll house, tin chapel, wartime Nissen huts, an earthen cottage and an historic farm which is still worked today. Currently the historic buildings will not be open but visitors can explore the period gardens, ‘Dig for Victory’ allotment, fruit orchards, bodgers area and woodland. COAM’s shop and toilets are open and visitors can purchase takeaway hot and cold drinks and snacks from the Village Kitchen but the Museum’s café will remain closed. There are picnic tables on site and dogs are welcomed on short leads.The museum has also produced 17 free downloadable resources to bring the learning home. They consist of a range of activities and research projects which include how to make an Anglo Saxon broach, how to design wall paper, how to find the melting point of chocolate and how to learn the Runic Futhork Alphabet and use it to write secret messages.
There are more learning resources available from the National Paralympic Heritage Centre, acknowledged by many as the birthplace of the Paralympics. A twenty minute virtual tour of the Heritage Centre gives you the history of the Paralympic Movement, the evolution of the wheelchair and ceremonies of the games. Delve into the story of Dr Guttmann who used sport as rehabilitation at the spinal injuries unit from 1943 and the competitions which would lead to the Paralympic Games. Additional online family fun activities, like how to make a paper crane, are available to download too.
Bletchley Park, home to the Enigma Codebreakers, helped make the 75th VE Day celebrations back in May as fun as possible with lots of online information, bunting patterns and family activities. Better still, they are now open!