Elsham Hall is not too far from Mudville but in the 14 years we’ve lived here, we’ve only visited it once and that was some 8 years ago, when little Mudlet was not quite two and Middle Mudlet was a mere slip of a thing at just 4 years old. So we were curious to see just how much it had changed when we decided to visit it on Easter Sunday. Every year the Hall hosts a Lambing event over the Easter Weekend and we thought that this would be a great opportunity to combine the spectacle of lambing with a meander around the grounds.
Driving up in Annie, we certainly looked the part and had no difficulty navigating the ruts and bumps of the parking field. Stewards directed us to the area they wanted filling up first and as per usual, Annie dwarfed everything around her – we certainly wouldn’t have any trouble locating her when it came time to leave. The girls scrambled out of the back and we headed over to the ticket booth to purchase a family ticket for around £18 I think.
The Lambing shed was the first stop and the girls were amazed by the number of ewes and lambs accommodated within the pens. Dotted around the shed were 3 or 4 members of staff who were more than happy to answer any questions and there was opportunity to hold or feed a lamb but only if you happened to be in the right place at the right time. We stayed in the shed for around 10 minutes and just as we were about to head towards the courtyard which leads to the grounds, we spotted a just born little lamb and watched as it struggled to its’ feet and took its’ first faltering steps towards its’ mother and tried to feed. She however was far to busy trying to deliver a second lamb to let the first one have its’ drink and after a few minutes we left her to it and exited the shed.
Walking into the main Courtyard Mud and I were instantly transported back to our own childhood by the magnificent sight of an old-fashioned, highly decorated carousel which dominated the space. The girls immediately asked to be allowed to have a ride and so we paid the £2 per ride for each of them and they scampered off to find a pair of horses adjacent to each other. We watched as they sailed past us several times, each with an enormous grin on their face, enjoying every second of their ride, although both admitted that they had found it a little scary to start with, especially Middle Mudlet who was on the outermost horse.
Once the girls were back on terra firma, Mud decided that we should have a bite of lunch in one of the cafes before setting off on our ramble around the paths that meandered through the trees and ponds. I have to say that I didn’t think the food was that good for the money we paid but it did the job.
The entrance to the actual parkland is through the gift shop (clever or what?) and on the way through, the girls each picked up a clue sheet for the Easter Bunny Hunt. Some of the clues were a bit ambiguous but by the time we arrived back at the shop, an hour or so later, they had located and correctly identified all the Bunnies.
Sadly the years since our last visit have not been kind to the grounds and even allowing for the fact that it was the start of spring and most of the flowers and trees were still in winter mode, you couldn’t help but notice the general state of neglect. This was most noticeable in the walled area which contains animal pens, the majority of which were empty, overgrown, containing nothing more than tired looking shelters. Mud and I were saddened by this and would like to think that it’s merely a case of not getting everything done in time but I can’t help but feel that first time visitors would not have been overly impressed with the general standard on show.
The girls each received a small creme egg as a reward for completing the Bunny Hunt and we headed for home after the requisite purchase of a small gift from the shop. All in all while the state of the grounds was disappointing, the girls thoroughly enjoyed the visit and we spent a pleasant couple of hours in the fresh air.