The first thing you wonder as you approach Wray Castle is, is it a real castle? The answer might be disappointing. There are plenty of medieval castles in the UK, but Wray Castle isn’t one of them. It’s actually a rather spectacular replica, build in the 19th century. The benefit is that small, dark, pokey rooms are replaced with a maze of high-vaulted Victorian ones. More good news for parents, there’s no need to worry about the kids running riot and destroying dusty, old furniture and antique collectables. Wray Castle was left to the National Trust without its contents. This gave them an opportunity, instead of making it just like every other Victorian property in their collection, they turned it into a giant playground. The kids can run as many riots as they like.
Wray Castle – Quick Answers
Yes, Wray Castle is owned by the National Trust so your card will get you in for free. National Trust members can also park and explore the grounds for free.
£11 for and adult and £27.50 for a family. Check here for up to date prices and concessions.
Yes, it is free, although you will have to pay for parking.
Wray Castle was built in 1840.
Wray Castle was built by James Dawson, a retired surgeon.
National Trust car parks are free for members. For non-members, there is a parking charge. This fee varies from site to site.
Yes, Wray Castle has a cafe. The inside seating is relatively small (in National Trust terms) but there is some space outdoors.
Wray Castle Tour
The entrance and library on the ground floor are traditional National Trust. The once stylish wood panelling hint at the grandeur once enjoyed by this house. It doesn’t last long, though. On your right is the trademark National Trust gift shop.
On the left is the first playroom. The beautiful, well-lit room is set up as a for a woodland photo scene, complete with butterfly and bee dress-up. For my two children, the dress-up caused extreme excitement. I believe there are other related activities in this room, but we didn’t try them.
At the top of the central grand staircase, you will find a random assortment of playrooms. If your children are like mine, then they will immediately head for the Build a Castle Room on the left. This is a simple soft play area. We were there at the same time as another family, and there was some remarkably competitive castle building going on.
The next room on this level is an education room. I really enjoyed all the displays in this room, and I can see a group of older children getting a lot out of it. Ted (age 4) liked building a dry-stone wall, but May (age 2) pulled the tree over on top of herself (true story), so we had to leave swiftly.
The room at the end contained a snooker table. Cool but not really of interest to our children. The next room is a room full of cafe style tables. While there is no food available here, this room is still worth popping into to read up on Beatrix Potter’s history at the castle. I found it a fascinating read, but again it didn’t capture the kid’s attention. The final room on this Floor is currently empty.
The Secret Rooms
I don’t know what Wray Castle actually terms this area. To me, it felt like a secret because it could only be accessed via a ‘secret’ staircase which can be found next to the Build a Castle Room. If you discover this area, you will find a whole maze of rooms for the children’s entertainment.
The room at the bottom of the stairs is the Boat Room. This has some fun boat and lake-related things to do, including fish and a knot activity. I actually learned a lot in this room from another mum who was talking to her slightly older children. I’ve forgotten it all now.
The opposite room is a magical camping role-play room. It is such a simple concept, but the kids absolutely loved playing here.
Also in this part of the house, is a baby room, a colouring room and a room with a table tennis table in it.
We spent the most time in the even more secret room upstairs. This is a Castle Dress-up room, complete with a wooden castle and a full range of medieval-style clothes to wear. Don’t worry, they have adult sizes too.
Peter Rabbit Adventure
A rather discreet sign points you down the hall to the Peter Rabbit Adventure, but it’s a place you don’t want to miss if you are exploring Wray Castle as a family. Unfortunately, the upstairs rooms were not open when we visited due to a damaged roof. The two accessible rooms were brilliant.
First, we found Mrs Rabbit’s House, where the children spent time role-playing in the kitchen. Here, we were served multiple cups of tea and cake. The second room was a re-creation of Mr McGregor’s Garden. The kids could have spent all day here, picking vegetables and loading them into the wheelbarrow, then planting them again for the next children to harvest.
Real-Life Family Travel Moment
We’ve all been there. You’ve had a fun morning, but it’s lunchtime, and everyone is starting to get hangry. This is what happened to us at Wray castle. We usually pack sandwiches for the kids and buy ourselves something. A treat for us without having to shell out for the fussy kids. On this occasion, we did not have food for the kids. It was also raining, and the tiny cafe was packed with people who would usually be enjoying a picnic. Oh, and the children went into full meltdown, causing chaos and refusing to eat. At least the soup was delicious, despite the stressful circumstances.
Is Wray Castle Worth Visiting?
I think a lot of traditional National Trust members might be disappointed with Wray Castle. It is not a house filled with do not touch signs and pine cones indicating furniture which you are not allowed to sit on. I really like that the National Trust has taken a risk here to do something different and created the ultimate children’s’ play area. As a child, I always wanted to play in a house I could get lost in, like the house from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. For families, Wray Castle is the ideal National Trust property.
Thinking of Becoming a National Trust Member
If you are planning a visit to the Lake District you should definitely consider becoming a member of the National Trust. The trust owns 23 properties and 30 car parks in the Lake District which means you can easily get your money’s worth on a short trip!