Travel

Visiting the Museum of Carriages with kids – a day out in Maidstone

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We were having a lovely Saturday in front of us and no plans. I decided to look on the map as we love to travel (I’ve shared our travelling adventures here). I picked a town in which we hadn’t been before: Maidstone. The family didn’t know how to feel about this at first. Then the kids got curious when I told them about the Museum of Carriages (official website here).

Visiting the Tyrwhitt-Drake Museum of Carriages in Maidstone, UK

The 14th-century stables of the medieval Archbishop’s Palace complex houses the museum. It is home to a unique collection of horse-drawn vehicles and transport curiosities.

The entrance to the Museum of Carriages - a day out with kids in Maidstone
Museum of Carriages (Maidstone) – the entrance

When you enter the museum, the ticket office is on your left. That’s where you can also borrow (for free) a torchlight. You will need it to see inside the carriages, like this:

Kids need a torch (available to borrow) inside the Museum of Carriages
A torch is needed at times

The museum has a ground floor and a first floor.

On the ground floor, there are big carriages. Each of them has a stand with information about it. There is also a small shelf on which are “Did you know” facts and “Look closer” hints (sort of an “I spy” for the kids).

The view to the left of the entrance - exploring the Museum of Carriages with kids
The view to the left of the entrance
The view to the right of the entrance - exploring the Museum of Carriages with kids
The view to the right of the entrance
Details from a British Sedan chair from around mid 18th century - Tyrwhitt-Drake Museum of Carriages
Details from a British Sedan chair from around mid 18th century

The next photo is of a travelling chariot (carriage of the wealthy) from 1817 from London. Back then, one had to pay around £344 for a construction of this type of carriage.

Travelling chariot at the Tyrwhitt-Drake Museum of Carriages - exploring Maidstone with kids

What you see below is a travelling coach (also called “carriage of the wealthy”) from around 1830. It was built for John, 12th Earl of Moray, to be used for his honeymoon. Six horses were to take him and his bride on their Grand Tour of Europe. The wedding never took place so this coach hasn’t been to Europe.

Below is a photo of a Lonsdale Wagonette from around 1890 from Leicester. It is the only type of wagonette that can be an open or a closed vehicle. The owners would have used it for shooting trips and attending country races.

At the Museum of Carriages, you can also see Queen Victoria’s 5th State landau from the late 19th century from London. It is quite impressive and couldn’t fit in a photo. Here are some facts from its information stand:

After studying and looking inside every carriage on the ground floor, we climbed up the stairs to the first floor. There we could see smaller carriages, sledges, carriages for kids which were pulled by dogs, and horse harnesses. It’s an interesting collection of vehicles.

So this was our visit to the Museum of Carriages in Maidstone, with 2 young kids. They enjoyed the visit in their own way. My son (4 years old) was very curious about the vehicles and enjoyed looking with the torchlight inside them and imagining how it would have been to travel with those carriages. My daughter (22 months) enjoyed playing with the torchlight and the leaflets and studying the big wheels of the carriages.

If you decide to go and visit the place, come back here and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Useful information when visiting the Tyrwhitt-Drake Museum of Carriages with children:

  • the car park is behind the museum (not free)
  • there is no toilet or baby change facility available inside the museum
  • we paid £5.00 per ticket for 2 adults and 2 children [2017]
  • opening times are 2 May – 2 Sep – Wed-Sun, 12 noon – 4 pm
  • behind the museum is a small park with a great tree, perfect for kids to climb in

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