15 Fun, Family-Friendly History Events in Kent during May 2015

They escaped! Fort Amherst
They escaped! Fort Amherst

It’s half-term – again – and that means lots of time with my boys. Days out are getting harder to plan though as one is 11, thinks he knows everything and believes he is ‘too old for kid’s stuff’.  My youngest is nearly 9 and not into typically ‘boy’ themed events so it can be tricky to find something they will both enjoy. I’ve also noticed that although younger children are well catered for within the museum and heritage sector, events for the slightly older group, say those aged 9-12, are much harder to find. I know that every event takes an enormous amount of planning and resources but there must be something other than dressing up and cutting and sticking that can be run safely for the older group within a museum environment!  That said I’ve recently been told about the new Escape Plan LIVE event taking place at Fort Amherst and it sounds brilliant for those with older children and teenagers.

Once again though, I have trawled through the internet and papers to find some fun, history themed events that hopefully your whole family will enjoy and I hope you have a wonderful half-term.


Escape Plan LIVE – Fort Amherst, Dock Road, Chatham, ME4 4UB

Various times throughout half-term

Get ready for an atmospheric, fully interactive family game that leads you through the Napoleonic tunnels of Fort Amherst.  There are four different game scenarios to choose from and with names such as ‘Air Raid’, ‘Asylum’, ‘Murder Scene’ and ‘Hostage Rescue’ it gives you a good idea of what you will be facing.  Each game takes an hour to complete and ‘trapped’ contestants are asked to test their nerves as they search for clues and overcome challenges in order to escape in a ‘movie like’ situation. As you can guess this event is most suitable for older children and teenagers but adults and couples are invited to join in the fun too.

Booking is recommended and charges apply. Please visit www.escapeplanlive.com for further information. If this event isn’t for you but you would still like to visit Fort Amherst then please click www.fortamherst.com for full visitor information – it’s free to enter.

Fossil fun at the Guildhall Museum, 17 High Street, Rochester ME1 1PY

Fossil Roadshow – Sat 23 May, 10am-4.30pm

This special event is being run by the Medway Fossil and Mineral Society to show off their fossil displays and engage children in hands-on activities. There will also be examples for sale.

Admission is free.

Special children’s workshops are also taking place throughout half-term and children can make:

Plasticine fossils on 25 and 28 May between 10.30am – 3.30pm and

Cast fossils with Wendy Daw on 26 and 27 May, 10.30am – 3.30pm.

Free of charge, no booking is necessary.

A self-guided Fossilised Quiz will also be taking place on 29 May when families are invited to collect a sheet, locate objects and answer questions.

Free of charge, no booking necessary.  For further details please visit http://www.medway.gov.uk/leisurecultureandsport/localhistoryandarchives/museums/guildhallmuseum.aspx

The Masters Historic Festival, Brands Hatch, Longfield DA3 8NG

Sat 23-Sun 24 May

Brands Hatch will be filled with the sound and sights of classic car racing this weekend and children under 13 are welcomed free of charge.

Adult admission charges apply and full details can be found at www.brandshatch.co.uk (Tip – if you have ear muffs/defenders you might want to take them along for your younger family members as it gets loud!)

History Detective Challenge, Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, Sevenoaks, TN15 ORR

Sat 23-Mon 25 May, 10.30am-4pm

Follow in the footsteps of the original plant-hunters as you explore the gardens, hunt for clues and learn about the last 150 years of garden planting.

Admission charges apply and further details can be found at www.riverhillgardens.co.uk

Discover Edwardian Life at Hever Castle, Hever TN8 7NG

Sat 23-Mon 25 May.

Meet costumed characters and discover what life was like for the Astor family as they lived at Hever Castle just before the First World War.

Admission charges apply and further details can be found at www.hevercastle.co.uk

Pharaohs and Mummies are coming to Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery, ME14 1LH

Mon 25 May, 12.30-3.30pm

This special afternoon session reveals how Egyptians were mummified and invites children to make their own mummy or become an Egyptian Pharaoh or Queen for the afternoon by making their own headdress and jewellery.

Charges apply and further information can be found at www.museum.maidstone.gov.uk

Make a War Horse at Royal Engineers Museum, Gillingham, ME4 4UG

Thurs 28 May, 10.30am-3.30pm

The Duke of Wellington rode into the Battle of Waterloo on Copenhagen, his favourite chestnut coloured war horse. Youngsters are now being invited along to the museum to create their own mini hobby horse which is just one of the Napoleonic family activities being held during half-term.

Admission charges apply and further details can be found at www.re-museum.co.uk

Dockyard History Detective Trail, The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, ME4 4TE

Sat 23-Sun 31 May, 10am-6pm

Hone your detective and investigative skills to locate objects located around the dockyard before you guess their original purpose.  If you correctly guess the use of one mystery object you could also win a prize.

Admission charges apply and further information can be found at ww.thedockyard.co.uk

Life and Legacy Trail, Chartwell, Westerham, TN16 1PS

Sat 23 May to Sun 28 June, 10am-4pm

Celebrate the life of Sir Winston Churchill as you follow this family trail around his former home.  If you’re lucky you might also spot Jock, the house cat.

Admission charges apply and full details can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell

The Clangers are Coming! Canterbury Heritage Museum, Stour Street,Canterbury CT1 2NR

Clangers are Coming! Canterbury Heritage Museum
Clangers are Coming! Canterbury Heritage Museum

Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 May 11am to 5pm

Count down to the launch of the new Clangers TV series with an outer space gallery trail and drop in creative activities, including balloon rocket making and Clangers art. See original Clangers on display and episodes from the original TV series. Suitable for children age 3-12.

£8 per adult, children go free (up to two per paying adult). Includes museum entry.

For further details please visit – http://www.canterbury.co.uk/Canterbury-Canterbury-Heritage-Museum/details/?dms=3&venue=3030489

WWII Weekend at Dover Castle,Castle Hill, Dover, Kent CT16 1HU

Sat 23 – Mon 25 May, 10am-5pm

For a few days the castle returns to the 1940s offering you the chance to walk through military encampments, get up close to a full-size replica Spitfire and step inside Mr Smith’s bombed-out shop.  There will also be lots of music, dancing and hands-on activities for children as well as a very special Spitfire flypast and an explosive battle!

Charges apply and booking is recommended.  Find out more at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/whats-on/wwii-weekend-Dov-23-05-2015/

Wellington Boot Camp at Walmer Castle, Kingsdown Road, Walmer, Deal, CT14 7LJ

Tues 26 – Fri 29 May, 10am – 5pm

Step forward this half term and join the ranks of Wellington’s army. Train as a soldier for the Redcoats in musket drills. Hear tales of bravery and intrigue and take part in the Kids Battle of Waterloo.

Booking is not necessary

English Heritage Members are Free. Charges for non-member apply and you can find out further details at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/whats-on/wellington-boot-camp-Walm-26-05-2015/

Discover with Darwin at Down House, Luxstead Road, Downe, Kent BR6 7JT 

Tues 26 – Fri 29 May, 11am – 5pm

Have you ever wondered why giraffes have long necks? Why a penguin can’t fly? Why a monkey has a tail? Discover all this and more as you grab your lab coat, dust off your craft kits and join Charles Darwin to delve into the mysteries of science.

Booking is not necessary.

English Heritage Members are Free. Charges for non-member apply and you can find out further details at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/whats-on/discover-with-darwin-Hom-26-05-2015/

Medieval Weekend at Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford, DA4 0JA

Sunday 24th & Monday 25th May – 11am – 5pm

On the late May Bank Holiday Lullingstone is transformed into a medieval village – step back in time to experience the authentic sights and sounds with ‘living history’ displays, character dress, campfires, tents and medieval weapons, courtesy of the remarkable Woodvilles medieval re-enactment group.

Admission charges apply and full details can be found at www.lullingstonecastle.co.uk

Hear the secrets of Dame Ellen Terry’s Wardrobe, Smallhythe Place, Tenterden TN30 7NG

30 May (also 6, 13, 20 and 27 June) 2.30pm-3pm

Smallhythe Place was once the home of Dame Ellen Terry, a famous theatre actress during the late 19th century and early 20th century.  Many of her costumes are held on site and this special event gives you the chance to go behind the scenes and hear the stories related to some of her incredible costumes.

Charges apply and further details can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/smallhythe-place

The not so small print

Please note that this information has been gathered from a variety of sources and may be subject to change. I am not affiliated with any of the organisations mentioned and cannot be held liable for the accuracy of the information. This listing has been accumulated in an effort to promote family-friendly, history events and if you have any enquiries please contact the organisation listed.

If, on the other hand, you have a historically-related family event you would like me to include in a future post, please email me the details at rachael@historymagpie.com

I’d love to hear from you.


Medieval Weekend at Lullingstone Castle
Medieval Weekend at Lullingstone Castle

Published by

Rachael Hale (Homes and History Magpie)

Freelance home interiors and Kent history writer. Member of the Society of Authors. Find me via Twitter - @rachaelhale1 Read my home interiors and history blog - www.historymagpie.com

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