Last weekend we were invited along to Palace House in Newmarket to join in with their Easter Family Event.
Palace House is a National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art and was opened in November 2016 by The Queen.
When Harry was a baby he loved horses and would regularly look out of his bedroom window at the horses on the field opposite.
Charles fell in love with my friends horse when we went to meet him last year and we recently went to a nearby horse sanctuary, so this invite seemed really apt at the moment.
I checked Google before we set off to see the options for parking. There are a couple of car parks nearby, both a short walk. We went to the long stay car park which was easy to find (in fact I set my sat nav to direct us there rather than to Palace House), with lots of spaces and cost £3.50 for all day parking.
Palace House is super easy to find and is very well signposted.
When we arrived we were told that the talk on the horses was about to start so we had a quick toilet stop and then headed over to the yard. Although it was quite busy so we couldn't hear what was being said so there probably needs to be some sort of microphone for the tour/talk.
It was interesting to see where the horses stay and the stables looked amazing. I sometimes find stables can look run down or very basic whereas these ones looked really well looked after and warm.
We walked up and looked at the difference between horse shoes, we looked at the piece of equipment used to exercise the horses everyday, which was really interesting...I actually wish that we'd seen this being put to use as I would love to see how it works properly and to see a horse in there, and then went up to the field to see the horse do some training.
Again, as I said it was quite busy and the seating area was packed. I walked a little further up so missed out on the talk so I think some sort of microphone or booked tours so numbers are limited would be best.
Once this was finished we walked over to meet a couple of horses on nearby fields and then walked back down to the main yard.
We were kindly treated to a Picnic supplied by the onsite restaurant The Tackroom, along with a hot drink of our choice. I was amazed at what was supplied in the picnic! We had a sandwich made with the most delicious bread, a sausage roll, half a scotch egg (which was massive!) a pot of vegetables with humus, a cake and a scone (again, massive) with cream and jam. We were so full that both me and my mum took our scone home for later on.
The boys picnic was just as nice, although seemed really small in comparison to what adults got.
My only criticism for the picnic is that obviously due to the weather we wanted to sit inside and the picnic room was also being used as the arts and craft room. I felt a little uncomfortable sat there eating my lunch whilst other people were sat doing their art work and as it was a bit messy in there it didn't feel quite as enjoyable or relaxing.
The boys knew about some art and craft work they could do and were really looking forward to this. I thought it was a lovely treat and they made their way to the shop and asked for their egg cup. It was a little wooden egg cup and in the picnic room/craft room there were various pens, pencils, glitter glue, stickers, gems and tissue paper to be able to decorate their egg cup.
My mum bought me and her a coffee and a tea to have whilst the boys were busy crafting.
Important note....the tea and coffee served here is delicious! The tea was particularly lovely.
Once the boys had finished decorating their eggs they headed back to the shop and showed their masterpieces to the staff who then treated them to a chocolate egg. I thought this was a really lovely thing to do and to offer to the children, particularly because it was included in the entry ticket and didn't cost anymore.
Palace House is made up of three areas. The National Heritage Centre, Rothschild Yard and Palace House.
Rothschild Yard is where we saw the old horses, and the National Heritage Centre includes the shop and some really interesting information about horses and the sport. I particularly liked the interactive areas which really appealed to the boys, as well as to me.
There was a screen which showed the muscles that work in a horse when it runs. This was incredible. You don't really think about the muscles or work involved I guess when you look at a horse or if you watch racing but my goodness, I certainly have a new respect for race horses!
I also loved the section where you could pick up a [plastic] human brain and horse brain, and a [plastic] human heart compared to a horse heart. Oh it was amazing. Really interesting.
We then walked upstairs and looked at various trophies and medals, as well as history with horses and the royals.
We then went back outside to Rothschild Yard and had a look in the King's Yard Galleries. This was set up with a lot of different information about horses which was really interesting. The boys and my mum had a go on the racehorse simulator. The boys absolutely loved it...and I'm pretty sure my mum enjoyed herself too.
Across the street from the Yard and the Heritage Centre is Palace House. Palace House was originally built for King Charles II as a sporting palace. Harry loved looking at the artwork in here and I actually found it really interesting to see how sporting artwork has changed over the years.
As someone who is into motorbike racing there's definitely a clear difference in how the sports are portrayed and documented.
The boys favourite thing of all when it came to our day out were the miniature donkeys Pip and Plum. They were based out in the yard in a pen and the boys got the chance to give them a little treat. Every time we went past they went over to the donkeys, who were incredibly friendly and so adorable.
I can't write a review of our day out without a special mention to all of the staff at Palace House. Everyone we came into contact with were not only super friendly but so helpful, knowledgeable and welcoming.
Customer service is something I am passionate about so to feel so welcomed by everyone and feeling like everyone went way beyond what we would have expected made the day even better.
Visit the Palace House Newmarket website to see all the upcoming events, workshops and activities at Palace House.