When Cogges Manor Farm Museum closed in 2009 due to the funding and financial issues, my heart sank. My older son absolutely loved it, we had a seasonal ticket and visited it very often as it is very near us (takes about 15 minutes to walk there). He used to run through the house, inspect the garden and all the farm animals before we had a little snack in the apple orchard. A beautiful location, very child-friendly and breathing history.
Oxfordshire County Council deemed it a financial burden, and I was following all the reports in the local papers with great unease. Would they sell it to the highest bidder? Will some Russian oligarch (i.e. mafia-cum-businessman) be interested in the old house and grounds and buy it and ruin it by installing the jacuzzi and all mod cons? Thankfully, the new Cogges Heritage Trust took over the running of the site. They secured the lease from the Council, and now Cogges is reopened to visitors.
If you plan to visit the Manor Farm now, you will notice quite a lot of changes. As you enter the main entrance courtyard, there is a new wooden tractor. Eddie was ecstatic, didn't want to get off, though in the evening as I was giving him a bath, he commented: "Mama I was driving but the tractor didn't go anywhere".
The rustic cowshed has been revamped as The Cafe. It used to be a cafe before as well, but the choice of drinks and food was very limited in the past, and to be honest with you, not very inspiring.
What did we try? And was it a good value, you may ask. My husband had a carrot soup with a nice chunk of bread (it was nearly lunchtime when we got there). For £3.99 it is a bit overpriced, though we appreciate the fact that the money goes to support the farm. I had a pork and apple sauce sandwich, it was freshly done and tasted really like homemade. It was also priced at £3.95.
There is a big selection of cold drinks and hot drinks. My Earl Grey cup (from Teapigs) was lovely. I would also suggest having a choice of a less expensive brand of tea for those people who prefer just a strong black tea from Tetley or PGTips.
If you go as a family, paying for the tickets and having a meal might be quite costly.
I'm all in favour of giving money to the worthy cause, and I often say, if I ever won money on Lottery, I would give some of it to Cogges. But in these days of adverse economic conditions, there should be a choice for less affluent families to spend less.
The same goes for the entrance tickets. As my guys were eager to go in, we paid for the family ticket (£17 for 2 adults +2 kids), and only later I realised we would have spent less if we paid for our tickets separately as Eddie is not yet 3 years old so he could still go free (£5.50 X 2 plus £4 = £15).
Another thing to ponder: why are there no concessions for the pensioners and disabled? From what I remember in the past, it used to be different (maybe something to consider, Cogges Trust?)
The running of the house for the visitors depends a lot on the volunteers, so if you want to have a look upstairs, you need to ask permission so that someone could accompany you to have a look. And it is well worth visiting the house, if you have never been there before. The first manor house was built in the 13th century by Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York. The house itself is fascinating, and I particularly love visiting the nursery with its rocking horse and a little side chamber for the nanny. The kitchen is another must to visit. We were offered some warm small ginger biscuits (you are not asked for money, but are most welcome to leave a small donation).
|Nursery and Dining Room|
We loved looking at the animals. There are less animals now than there were a few years ago before the Museum was shut down. But you still see the pigs, goats, a Shetland pony, rabbits, hens, quails and ducks (did I forget anyone else?). They are very lucky to be in such a beautiful environment.
Eddie was thrilled to see the animals and birds but refused to pet the pony.
And then there is a splendid garden and the kitchen garden area. Plus a newly designed play area, Adventure Play.You can climb the Tower which is built on top of the ancient Norman site. Sasha loved going on the zip wire. You can see him sliding in the video, he didn't want to leave the place, alas, it started to rain quite a bit.
Though the boys didn't mind the rain, we decided it would be sensible to leave the play area. Eddie made me giggle, as every time he went down the slide he would utter "That was great fun!".
We always do something together as a family on Sundays, but typically this is a visit to the swimming pool. Changing the scenery and place of visit was the spontaneous decision. Both boys were happy to run around and climb on the wooden structures. And as Papa did the same, it made it extra special. A fun way to spend the Father's day.
We loved the new look of the courtyard area, with the plants on sale. The shop also offers fresh chicken, duck and quail eggs at a very reasonable price. I bought a box of duck's eggs which we had for dinner yesterday. Very tasty. I hope while the summer progresses to see more seasonal produce in the shop. And maybe quinces in the autumn? The garden at Cogges has a couple of beautiful quinces with the most attractive yellow fruit.
So, we hope to come and visit Cogges again, especially that everyone working at the museum is really friendly and welcoming.
|Cogges, splendid in any weather|
And Magic Moments Linky