• Adventure and play at National Trust places throughout the summer holidays
  • Get active with cricket, hoola hoops, sack races and more
  • Discover hay bale pirate lairs and castles  
  • No need to pre-book and under 5s go free
  • Summer of Play activities included within standard admission (free for National Trust members)

The National Trust’s Summer of Play, sponsored by Starling Bank, invites families to have fun and experience local places in new and unexpected ways.

Taking place throughout the summer holidays, Summer of Play activities will have a family-festival feel.

Give new (and old) sports at go at places like Polesden Lacey and Nymans. Or put your skills to the test with den building and hay bale castles. Play pirates at Hatchlands Park and hunt for giant animal art Sheffield Park and Garden.

Designed with families in mind, Summer of Play activities will be dotted around large fields, woodlands and garden areas. There will be plenty of space for picnicking, shady rest areas and cafés close by.

Richard Grudzinski the National Trust’s South East Experiences Curator said: “National Trust houses, gardens and countryside have inspired people for centuries and it’s in that same spirit that we’re throwing open the doors and inviting families to have fun at Trust places this summer and let their imaginations run wild.

“Take Hatchlands Park in Surrey where nautical history comes to life with a hay bale pirates’ hideout and a hunt for hidden treasure. Or playful activities at Polesden Lacey all inspired by a griffin statue in the garden, named Grizwald. At Bodiam in Sussex join a Medieval knights’ training camp, complete with a mini jousting and hobby horses.”

Colin Eadie, Operations Manager at Starling Bank said: “We are thrilled to be sponsoring the National Trust’s Summer of Play for the second year running. Our partnership is not only focused on conserving natural habitats but also on improving access to nature for children and helping them discover a love for nature. Whether it’s through Kwik cricket at Sheffield Park and Garden, den building at Nymans or Tudor games at Petworth, we want to encourage everyone, young and old to take part and explore what the Summer of Play has to offer this year.”

Choose from 15 National Trust places across Surrey and Sussex. For more information visit nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/surrey and nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/sussex


Hatchlands Park, Surrey

  • Summer of Playy until 1st September
  • Pirate themed games, activities and family trail
  • Hay bale pirates’ hideout
  • Wizard Wix’s Willow Warren – the natural adventure area

With 400 acres of rolling parkland and woodland, Hatchlands Park is one of the largest country estates in the area. Inspired by naval hero Admiral Edward Boscawen who had Hatchlands Park built, families can enjoy nautical adventures this summer. Search for treasure chests hidden in the parkland, enjoy pirate themed games and activities, dressing up boxes and even play in a hay bale pirate hideout. Families can also enjoy games on the lawn, including volleyball, badminton, football or tennis. Wizard Wix’s Willow Warren will be open – the natural adventure area is complete with balance beams, bug burrow, sculptures and a tree house. There are also picnic benches and shady spots dotter around the parkland. The newly reclaimed walled garden will become a sanctuary, where visitors can relax on deck chairs surrounded by the delicate scent of sweet peas, fruit blossom and vegetables destined for use in the cafe.

Normal admission charges apply/free for National Trust members   

Polesden Lacey Surrey

  • Join Grizwald the Griffin for Summer of Play until 8th September
  • Pop-up Children’s Theatre, on Saturdays 3rd and 10th August – People’s Theatre Company will present A Treasure Hunt Adventure Story. On Saturdays 17th and 31st August, The Cat’s Grin Theatre company return with their wonderfully creative and funny interpretations of scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. Each performance will last for 15 minutes.
  • Natural play area made using wood from the Polesden Lacey estate now open

A country retreat, only four miles from Dorking and junction 9 of the M25, Polesden Lacey has glorious views across the rolling Surrey Hills and acres of countryside to explore. Head to Crab Apple Orchard for a whole host of playful events and activities all inspired by the fantastical world of Grizwald the Griffin. Families start their journey by entering through a Fantasy Castle Archway, before they step into a large castle made out of straw. Inside the castle they can find a variety of play items suitable for creative, active, and performance activities. Following on from this, they can find a maze with a podium and additional play equipment to enjoy hours of fun surrounded by nature.

Normal admission charges apply/free for National Trust members   

Join in the fun and adventures throughout the school holidays at National Trust places across Surrey:

Claremont Landscape Garden
Discover the pleasure ground where the young Queen Victoria played. Run around its winding paths and secret spaces, find the nine-pin alley, float in a boat on the lake and enjoy games in the garden.

Winkworth Arboretum
Get stuck into fun Summer of Play activities. Take part in Wild Craft Wednesdays, clamber on the Tree Adventure play area and pick up a spotter sheet to look for butterflies.

Box Hill
Explore the natural play trail in the shady woodland at Box Hill and enjoy free games and activities at this summer. Take part in the ever-popular welly-wanging, try your hand at quoits and challenge friends and families to a game of boules. Plus there’s spell-binding puppetry performances by award-winning theatre company Smoking Apples.

Dapdune Wharf
Join in with fun Summer of Play activities for families every day in August at Dapdune Wharf. From Big Camp on 27th July to daily boat trips and water sports as well as the Astolat Model Railway open day on 17th August, there’s plenty to get involved in on the River Wey Navigations this summer. Check website for activity dates and timings:

  • Water days and paddleboard sessions with SOLD
  • Gel plate printing with Alison Saunders and sensory play and crafts with Natalie from ArtVenturers.
  • Photography sessions with Sam Ivin. Watercolours, acrylics and friendship bracelets with Sarah Rawlins.
  • Augmented reality sandbox with Alistair from the River Wey Trust.
  • Guildford Shakespeare Company drama workshops.
  • ROAR Outdoors sports and crafts including a climbing frame.
  • Mythical creatures free crafts and trail
  • Crafts with the Community Wellbeing team from The Hive.

Frensham Little Pond
Enjoy a day at Frensham Little Pond this summer. Explore the heathland on a family-friendly trail and have a go at games and sports every weekend. And don’t miss the puppertry performance by award-winning puppetry and theatre company, Smoking Apples.

Hindhead Commons
Get into the sporting spirit at the Devil’s Punch Bowl. The green near the viewpoint has a variety of free sporty fun where you can challenge friends and family to sports games such as volleyball, football or bowls. Look out for puppetry performances by award-winning theatre company Smoking Apples.

Leith Hill Place
Bring the family to Leith Hill Place this summer for fun and creative play. Relax in the welcoming house, enjoy giant chess on the terrace, croquet on the lawn or compose your own tunes on the musical instruments, 21 July to 1 September, weekends only. On 3rd August join local author, Marielle Bayliss, for a reading from her book Frog’s Bog, plus fun frog facts jokes and activity sheets.


Nymans, West Sussex

  • Summer of Play until 1st September
  • Comber’s Field with active challenges and games
  • Play Glade featuring den building, a play stage and a woodland cabin.

Nymans is a grade II listed garden set around a romantic house and ruins. Discover hidden corners through stone archways, play hide and seek along tree-lined avenues while surrounded by the Sussex Weald countryside.  The adjoining woodland, with its dappled light and lake makes Nymans a perfect spot for picnics.

The Play Glade by the bookshop is just the spot for families to enjoy playing in nature. As well as den building, stepping logs, natural art and the play stage, there are some exciting new additions to look out for too, especially for the summer.

Comber’s Field will once again host a range of fun and active play opportunities. Challenge your friends and family to a race, manoeuvre your way through the obstacle course or take some quieter time out in the nature zone. There’s badminton and soft archery to try too.

Normal admission charges apply/free for National Trust members    

Sheffield Park and Garden, West Sussex

  • Summer of Play until 1st September
  • Exotic Spots family trail
  • Kwik cricket for children
  • New: Standup paddleboarding on the lakes

Balmy summer days are made for exploration, laughter and family adventures at Sheffield Park and Garden.

Eight colourful animals are hanging out in Sheffield Park and Garden with their favourite exotic trees and plants. Can you spot them all? Designed by artists Tom Sears and Tori Flower, look for the larger-than-life illustrations, from monkeys in palm trees to anteaters ambling past giant gunneras.

Away from main lakes, you will find large garden games and activities. Or head up to the Cricket Pitch for free Kwik Cricket sessions every Wednesday during the holidays.

Get a ducks-eye-view of Sheffield Park and Garden with stand up paddleboarding (SUP) on the far lake for the first time. SUP is a peaceful yet active way for all the family to enjoy the water whilst following in the footsteps of the Third Earl of Sheffield who loved nothing better than using the lakes for sport.

Normal admission charges apply/trail free for National Trust members/additional charge for paddleboarding 

Bodiam Castle, near Robertsbridge 

  • Medieval Fair with hobby horses, quoits, straw bale hurdles and more
  • New skills and hands-on history at Knight School (select dates)
  • Have-a-go at longbow archery (throughout August, fee applies)
  • Family-friendly outdoor theatre (select dates, fee applies)
  • 24th July to 2nd September

Roll up, roll up! The Medieval Fair is back at Bodiam Castle for Summer of Play, packed with family games and activities. Try mini jousting, hobby horses, straw bale hurdles and quoits.

Drop in to Knight School and train up as a brave defender of the realm. Experience action-packed tournament duels, arming the knight and get involved with storytelling shows and armour handling (18th to 26th August, free with admission). Plus:

  • Storytelling and medieval armour displays throughout the holidays
  • Try longbow archery (throughout August, fee applies) and solve puzzles along ‘The Castle the King Built’ trail (daily, £3 plus admission)
  • Join Chapterhouse Theatre Company for a magical evening of Beauty and the Beast, in the atmospheric castle courtyard. Bring a picnic to enjoy with family and friends (booking advised, fee applies).

PetworthHouse and Park

  • Summer of Play until 1 September. Every day of the holidays there’s free Tudor-themed games to play and activities to enjoy inspired by a real-life Henry VIII archaeological summer dig.
  • Tudor Tuesdays & Thursdays: pop in for ‘make and take’ craft sessions, from swanky swords and Tudor Rose badges to magnificent crowns, miniature catapults and puppet-making (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 20 July to 1 September, free).  Outside, there’s child-friendly archery action (select Tuesdays and Thursdays – check online for dates, free).
  • Daily in the Pleasure Garden: work on your medieval skills with a spot of hobby horse jousting or court jester juggling. Plus, you can act out favourite stories with Petworth’s puppet theatre (daily, 20 July to 1 September, free).
  • Henry VIII on Tour archaeological dig until 31st July
    This summer Petworth is celebrating the Festival of Archaeology with an exciting archaeological dig that we hope will reveal more about Henry VIII’s visit. Suitable for all ages, you can see the trenches, handle the finds, and chat with experts from Historic Royal Palaces, Heritage 360 and DigVentures.

Normal admission charge only, free activities 

Bateman’s, Burwash 

  • Jungle Book-inspired games and challenges
  • Storytelling in the garden (select dates)
  • Ceramic crafts (select dates, fee applies)
  • Until 1st September

Will you succeed in The Jungle Book Games? Have a go at Mowgli’s rhythmic ribbons, keep your balance in the Kaa sack race, score high in the Hathi hoopla and create your own games’ opening song on Baloo’s music station. There’s plenty to keep the whole family busy on this action-packed trail.

Discover new adventures with live, drop-in storytelling sessions in the gardens on select dates too. Or decorate your own ceramic animal plant pot, treasure chest or wooden snake (select dates, fee applies).

Standen, West Sussex

From woodland walks to family trails in the house and grounds, there’s plenty to keep children entertained at this beautiful Arts and Crafts house and garden.

  • Escape to the country at Standen on a family trail around the garden. Try your hand at mini golf & croquet, race to build a train set, play games on the lawn & dress up in the woodland den. 6 Jul – 1 Sept. £3 per trail with a prize.
  • Have fun whatever the weather in the Little Room above the conservatory, where you’ll find toys, games and activities for the youngest members of your family.
  • Try out the adventure play area. It’s designed so that little explorers can make deeper connections to the local landscape and nature through imaginative, natural play. Soar through the air in the accessible swing, clamber over the leaf shaped climbing frame or explore the contours of the willow maze.

Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk for mre information.

Image: Chris Lacey