Langley Castle Hotel, based near Haydon Bridge in Northumberland, has set the bar for the UK ‘edu-staycation’ – a new 2021 UK family experience, which enables children to make up for time lost in the classroom during the pandemic, by learning whilst on holiday.
The castle, located just a few miles from Hadrian’s Wall and from medieval Hexham, is not only promising children an amazing stay within walls that have experienced 671 years of history, but also delivering some Key Stage-relevant holiday history, in an engrossing and fun fashion, even when some topics are a little gross!
The first thing it has done, to lay claim to the best edu-staycation experience, is to create its own vibrant and edgy ‘Hairy History’ guide, which interprets the castle’s dramatic and turbulent past, since 1350, in a humorous way and even features its reception-based knight ‘Gilbert’ on the front cover.
The second thing is to then link this free resource to other history-focused activities, sure to deliver an important mix of family we-time and learning.
The downloadable ‘Hairy History’ book first walks families through local Roman history (the starting point for a castle whose walls were built with stones taken from Hadrian’s Wall) in a preliminary BL (Before Langley) section.
It then homes in on parts of the castle’s history that are both incredibly dramatic and linked to topics covered in various Key Stages. Langley’s history is rich with connections to the Gunpowder Plot and Jacobite Rebellions but also to Henry IV, Henry VIII, the Black Death, crime and punishment and the fearsome Border Reivers.
The Langley Castle ‘Hairy History’ guide helps kids make sense of the buildings and land around them when they stay and brings it all to life in a cool way. However, it is just the launchpad for the edu-staycation adventure.
Daily Battlement Tours, due to return soon, will be more vibrant than ever, for residents and non-residents alike (with a small charge for non-residents). The tours interpret key features of the castle and include a video, further explaining Langley’s historical backdrop.
Local tour guides, Ancient Britain, will also offer Langley Castle guests some optional tours, to fill in more knowledge gaps. The team are true walking encyclopaedias on Roman history, but equally great at creating bespoke tours based around Iron, Stone Age and Jacobite history. They can pick guests up from the castle’s doorstep for historical tours of varying duration, packed with memorability and insight and not only take families to key historic sites but also allow children to do everything from tasting Roman-style food, to handling weaponry.
Langley Castle’s desire to help children get back into learning and catch up with their historical studies is borne from its experience of seeing young guests transfixed by what they see around them when they walk inside the castle walls.
“It is so much easier to engage children in history when they are already channelling their inner knight or princess,” says executive general manager, Margaret Livingstone-Evans. “We felt that, if we could tap into our castle’s unique ambience, we could play our part in helping children re-engage with their history studies. This is how our ‘Hairy History’ project was born.
“We are not sure how many other hotels are offering guests this sort of edu-staycation experience but it would almost have been negligent not to use our amazing past as the basis of a history holiday. If families then want to supplement our guide and our Battlements Tour with a tour booked with Ancient Britain, we are sure their kids will go home hooked on history.”