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Are Britain’s heritage attractions child-friendly? Print E-mail

Research commissioned by specialist heritage insurer, Ecclesiastical, has revealed just under a third (31%) of parents never visit stately homes and just under 1 in 7 (15%) never visit castles with their children.

Cost and distance to travel are the top two reasons that prevent parents from taking their children to stately homes and castles. While a perception that stately homes are not child-friendly and a lack of quality changing facilities at castles complete the top three.

Many parents have a negative experience while visiting stately homes and castles with their children

Of those parents that do visit stately homes and castles with their children, many have had a negative experience. 42% of parents have had a negative experience visiting stately homes while just over a third (34%) had a negative experience visiting castles with their children.

The research revealed a significant gender gap in attitudes towards visiting heritage attractions, with fathers more likely to report having a negative experience while visiting stately homes (45%) and castles (40%) with their children in comparison to mothers who visited stately homes (40%) and castles (31%).

A lack of play areas and lack of spaces to store buggies and pushchairs were the top reasons that caused parents to have a negative experience, as well as unfriendly staff at stately homes and a lack of quality changing facilities at castles.

How can stately homes and castles encourage parents to visit with children?

Free children’s entry, activities for children and cheaper tickets are the most popular incentives that would encourage parents to take their children to heritage organisations.

Many stately homes and castles are already embracing innovative ways to encourage more families to visit. For example, Alnwick Castle in Northumberland offer medieval dress up and craft making as well as a Dragon Quest and archery lessons to encourage families to visit. While Chatsworth House in Cheshire has a working farmyard with animal handling and milking demonstrations, and a woodland adventure playground.

Faith Kitchen, heritage director at Ecclesiastical said: “As the leading insurer of Grade I listed buildings in the UK, we’re passionate about protecting Britain’s heritage. While it is encouraging to see that the majority of parents do visit stately homes and castles with their children, our research shows that cost, distance to travel and a perception that heritage attractions are not child-friendly or lack activities for children prevent parents from taking their children to visit stately homes and castles. While many stately homes and castles have done some fantastic work diversifying their offering to attract more families, clearly more needs to be done to encourage parents and their children to visit these incredible places. By offering more activities for children stately homes and castles can help to inspire the next generation.”

Lizzie Glithero-West, Chief Executive of the Heritage Alliance said: “It’s encouraging to read that up to 85% of parents are taking their children to castles, but some of the figures show as a sector we can go further. As a parent myself of 7 and 5-year-olds who has spent a lot of time in cultural sites with them, I know the impact that excellent, engaging activities and an authentic welcome can have on us wanting to return. Conversely, a lack of understanding of children’s needs, or poor welcome can certainly have the opposite effect. So many heritage sites are offering innovative and exciting programmes and resources for families and this is clearly crucial in shaping our heritage-lovers of the future and ensuring the sustainability of these destinations.“

Peter Ainsworth, Chairman of the Heritage Alliance said: “I warmly congratulate Ecclesiastical on this work. Our wonderful Heritage is for everyone, of all ages and wherever we live. We were all children once and a love of beautiful and intriguing places, once sparked, never leaves us”.

For further information visit www.ecclesiastical.com

 
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