Hey! Sorry it’s been so quiet over here! Cal has been quite poorly, and I’m in trouble for not keeping up with the blog! So I’m just giving you a little report from a couple of weeks ago, when we had a Harry Potter themed visit to Alnwick. As well as the usual castle visit, which you might have seen a bit about in our Sunday Photo and Instagram, we also called to the Bailiffgate Museum.
“Where??” I hear you cry! Well yes, it’s a slightly less famous attraction that it’s giant neighbour, the fabulous Alnwick Castle, but glance just along the road, looking for a little converted church with big flags outside, and you’ve found somewhere which is quite a treasure! At the moment, the Bailiffgate Museum has an Exhibition called ‘Illustrating Harry Potter’, showcasing illustrations from ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ re-imagined by illustrater Jim Kay, and recently published by Bloomsbury Press. Our boys have both of the illustrated Harry Potter books, and they are such a special and beautiful keepsake.
Here’s a little secret I want to share with you….. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will be the third illustrated book, and is launched on 3rd October. It’s available for pre-order via Amazon now! – (affiliate link)
Anyway, back to the museum…. From the reception desk manned by a most helpful assistant encouraging us all to dress up in Hogwarts cloaks and Harry Potter glasses, and giving the children a quiz and ‘Spot the Dragon Egg’ challenge, onwards and upwards. Everything we encountered was a treat. After the exhibition of drawings and paintings, there is a fabulous section of everything Harry Potter. It is small, and I imagined we would be round it in 10 or 15 minutes, but I was totally wrong! Everything there is perfectly placed to spark the imagination. I love museums like this, where children are encouraged to interact, to touch, use and experience the exhibits, not just to look.
The other thing I loved was that our children were being children in the truest sense. Not stuck to gadgets, not thinking about what was ‘cool’, but totally immersing themselves in the experience. They dressed up in costumes, performed puppet shows, had magic wand battles.
Hugo excitedly hunted through a treasure chest, finding artefacts relating to the movies. He then tried on a Horcrux necklace and described how it was making him feel! Meanwhile, Toby hid in the cupboard under the stairs, waiting for his owl to arrive with mail.
It was all a bit beyond me if I’m honest. Cal usually reads the Harry Potter books with the kids, and has watched most of the movies. I didn’t mind being the outsider though, as the boys were having such a good time. I didn’t really need to know why there were keys with wings flying around everywhere.
The downstairs section of the museum is dedicated to the local history of Alnwick. Although interesting, I think the kids had worn themselves out with all of the Harry Potter excitement upstairs! They were also desperate to spend their pocket money in the souvenir shop! So, we probably didn’t give this section the attention it deserved. It was still an interesting and quite interactive exhibition though, and we learned a lot about local industries and work in the past. Also, the boys tried on some very heavy armour, and Hugo got to stab his brother in a photo!
Therefore, if you are visiting the area, the Bailiffgate Museum is well worth adding to your list of stops. The Illustrating Harry Potter exhibition runs until Sunday 18th June. Entry fees are only £4 for adults and £1 for children, which we feel is really good value.
Harry Potter fans will also be excited to know that, as a celebration of 20 years of Harry Potter magic, four special editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone are being published. They will be available from 1st June. These stunning editions will feature the individual house crest on the jacket and line illustrations exclusive to that house, by Kate Greenaway Medal winner Levi Pinfold. Exciting new extra content will include fact files and profiles of favourite characters, and each book will have sprayed edges in the house colours. Again, they are available to pre-order from Amazon, in hardcover or paperback editions (affiliate link).
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