Agecroft Hall, Richmond, Va, young girls admiring the water garden

Visit Agecroft Hall with Kids

words by Jennifer Bryerton | Photos by Robin L. Bethke
A Visit to Olde England in Richmond Va

Imagine being so taken with the idea of an English country house that you dismantled it piece by piece and shipped it across the Atlantic Ocean. This is just what Virginians Elizabeth (Bessie) and Thomas C. Williams, Jr. did in 1925. They purchased Agecroft Hall, a 16th-century manor house in Lancashire, England, sight unseen, and had it reassembled in Richmond Virginia in the 1920’s. The stained-glass windows, interior paneling, and many other details survived the journey to Virginia, providing additional historical elements that blended an updated floor plan with historic artifacts. Today you can visit this little slice of England on the banks of the James River in all its Tudor grandeur.

History at Family-Friendly Agecroft Hall

Everything about Agecroft Hall is authentic, English, and of the period in which it was built, including the lavish gardens. Enjoy the aromatic fragrance garden, the profusion of color in the sunken garden, and the painstakingly manicured herbs of the knot garden. Kids love the garden maze! Fun Fact: Agecroft Hall has been a popular set for film and television. You may have seen it in The Contender or The New World.

Agecroft

The manor house was first opened to the public on July 5, 1969, after Elizabeth left in 1967. Originally, T.C. and Bessie intended for the rooms to serve as an art museum’s galleries. However, Bessie changed her mind after the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was established in 1934. Rather, her house now tells tales of its English past, including nearly 500 years of history from England to Virginia within its walls, and her 20th-century library, kept as she desired.

Kids Activities at Agecroft Hall

Agecroft Hall

Children will enjoy visiting Agecroft Hall for a taste of history. The dramatic portraits, tapestries and furniture will be sure to impress kids when you take a special family-focused tour of the history museum. Interpreters do a great job of relating history to contemporary life for the youngest visitors. Special events often include living history interpreters too – You may get to dance with Queen Elizabeth I or hear Henry VIII talk about all his wives! 

Many of the indoor parlor games that wealthy kids enjoyed during the Tudor period were also played by their parents. These consisted of cards, riddles, chess, and backgammon and you can learn more about them when you visit Agecroft Hall. Common kids used to play more outdoor games like leapfrog, marbles, hop scotch, hide-and-seek, blind man’s bluff (tag with the “it” person blindfolded), hoops, and quoits (ring throw). Fox and Geese, and Game of the Goose were popular board games. Toys like yo-yos and cups and balls were also well-liked by both groups. Skittles and stool ball were among the ball games that were played outside.

Recent events at this Central Virginia historic site included an evening of British folktales and the annual Shakespeare’s Birthday: A Celebration of the Bard, a free, family-friendly event held outdoors each April. Peter Rabbit was a special ballet performed for children and families by the Concert Ballet of Virginia. Agecroft Hall is also the home of Richmond’s popular Shakespeare Festival where guests can enjoy theatre under the stars. Mark your calendar for the annual Yuletides Open House, free and festive, it is generally the second Sunday of December. Painting events, craft activities, tours featuring myths and folklore, music concerts, storytimes and summer camps for kids round out the calendar of activities. To find out more about this fascinating manor house and read about upcoming events, visit agecrofthall.com

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Tips for Visiting Agecroft Hall With Kids

The best advice for every daytrip is to plan ahead. Check out the Agecroft Hall calendar for special tours and events that could make your visit extra special. Plan a time that works well for your kids. Tired or hungry kids are rarely fun. Make the most of learning by exploring the Agecroft Hall website where you will find great fun activities from coloring sheets to sewing projects that you could do before or after your visit. Since the manor house is a museum, some areas are not stroller accessible so consider a sling or front carrier for baby. This is a museum for all ages—and many exhibits are roped off and don’t touch—if you have very young children you may want to team up and have one parent take the tot to the garden then swap so both parents can enjoy the tour with older kiddos. It is possible to schedule a private tour. Perhaps go with a couple of friends and their families for a customized experience. The garden has many interesting areas to explore and has lots of pretty spots to stop for beautiful photos and even to enjoy a light picnic. Hot Tip! You can purchase just garden admission, which include all of Agecroft’s gardens, grounds, and trails, for a reduced price and skip the house.. Be mindful that there are steps throughout the garden though which makes a stroller extra work.

Agecroft Hall

Kid-Friendly Food And Attractions Near Agecroft Hall in Richmond

Richmond is full of great foodies destinations. Near to Agecroft Hall is Carytown and the popular Galaxy Diner and of course Mellow Mushroom Pizza is a family favorite place to eat. Home Sweet Home, Pho Luca’s, Jalapenos Mexican Grill and Les Crepes Carytown round out the family-friendly restaurant options ensuring you’ll find something everyone, kids and parents alike, will enjoy. For dessert visit Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Gearhardts Chocolates, Kilwin’s or Sugar & Twine to satisfy your sweet tooth.

When you have refueled with some great food, you may have energy for more Richmond Fun with the kids. Some of our favorite places to visit in Richmond with the kids include the Children’s Museum of Richmond, The Richmond Zoo, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Byrd Theatre, Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Maymont Park, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, and of course, the Science Museum of Virginia with its amazing exhibits, Imax, planetarium, bug zoo and more.

 

 

CharlottesvilleFamily.com, a collection of local resources including a popular calendar of events, family services guides and features on education, health and family day trips for parents and teachers in Charlottesville, as well as Virginia Wine & Country Life, a semi-annual life & style magazine, and Wine & Country Weddings, an annual art book celebrating elegant Virginia weddings.