The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont

Dear Mummy, we can’t believe that the Gruffalo is at Mottisfont this summer! We headed down to one of our favourite National Trust properties to follow the summer trail and see Gruffalo artwork hanging in the gallery. The Gruffalo and Friends: the Art of Axel Scheffler runs from 15 July – 3 September, 11am – 5pm.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Mottisfont, Romsey, Hampshire

Alongside the exhibition in the house there is also a fantastic outdoor family trail with additional Gruffalo-themed activity days on 29 – 30 August. You don’t pay any extra for the exhibition or the trail and normal property admission applies. Luckily we are National Trust members so we couldn’t wait to attend.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Finding the Gruffalo in the cellar!

Julia Donaldson books illustrated by Axel Scheffler hold a very special place in our hearts. Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo were the first books that my mummy used to read to me and I now can recite them word from word. Imagine our delight finding out we could see the original drawings from the books up close. It was an exhibition we didn’t want to miss.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Original artworks

What made it even more special was that Mottisfont put on a great activity trail for kids around the grounds which included attraction points with art installations from the books. On the day we visited it was sunny but showery so we followed the trail around the grounds using our map, ducking in and out of the house during showers and spent the whole day at Mottisfont.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Donating money for the trail

We picked up a map from the visitors reception to start the trail. There where physical, creative and puzzle activities to try along the way, with a craft activity to take home. It’s was great fun for all the family with my mummy and grandparents having a giggle trying to spot the clues and characters.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Finding Snake on the trail

We spotted the Snake from the Gruffalo books curled up on his log pile and he nearly scared me out of my wits. We followed the numbers around the site, stopping to answer questions and complete tasks on the guide.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Casting scary shadows on the walls

We had fun spotting signs of the Gruffalo and tracing clues to find his den in the Mottisfonts cellar. In the dark room I played with the lights casting huge shadows like my mouse friend from The Gruffalo’s Child. It was great fun.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Looking for Stick Man

There’s plenty of space to run, jump and play around Mottisfont, and always something for families to do. I tested my limits playing in the wild play areas, including the boggy climbing area and my mummy was glad she brought my wellies with us!

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Playing the Monkey Puzzle game

The trail had fun activities to complete which included games set up around the grounds and we loved the take on the Monkey Puzzle book with a hoop game to play. One of the areas had been transformed into a Stick Man climbing area, with stick men hidden in the trees, which we all found amusing! We stopped to play pooh sticks on the wooden bridges across the rushing river and found an area converted into Tiddlers underwater world.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Finding the Highway Rat

We spotted The Highway Rat in the courtyard while having lunch in the restaurant and opposite was a room dedicated to arts and crafts. I made a medal after I completed the trail to take home with me as a souvenir of the day.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Sitting on the broom from Room on the Broom

Afterwards we made a beeline for the Room on the Broom attraction on the map and found a magnificent broom in the grounds of Mottisfont. This was a great area for photo opportunities and there was a fancy dress box with witches hats, wands and capes so the whole family could dress up! It was great how the National Trust made Axel Scheffler illustrations come to life through props.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Guests at the Scarecrow’s Wedding

Another point on the map which we loved was the depiction of the Scarecrows Wedding and we were extra guests at Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay’s wedding. The attention to details was amazing with pink flowers and white feathers on Betty’s dress, just like the book!

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Artwork upstairs in the house

Upstairs in the house we found the exhibition featuring original artworks and some sketches by Axel Scheffler. He’s perhaps best-known for his collaborations with Julia Donaldson, including the modern classics The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child. The exhibition was very family focused and was laid out to suit younger audiences, with lower-hanging pictures, a child-friendly guide, and cosy reading spaces dotted throughout filled with pillows.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Reading books with my mummy

My mummy and I enjoyed reading books by Julia Donaldson full of expressive characters by Scheffler and his ink-wash and pencil style is instantly recognisable. Scheffler collaborated with Donaldson for 25 years.We saw illustrations from Stick Man, The Snail and the Whale, Room on the Broom, Zog and many more. There was no fear of being told off for getting close to all the exhibits and I had fun playing with cushions made to look like a woodland in the Gruffalo Room. We loved the quotes from the books which decorated the walls.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
The Gruffalo Room

There was so much artwork to see from the Zog stories and Room on the BroomSuperworm, The Smartest Giant in Town, The Highway Rat, Tabby McTat, The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Stick Man and The Scarecrow’s Wedding. Tucked into a tiny cupboard is a ‘window’ into the house of A Squash and a Squeeze, Axel Scheffler’s very first collaboration with Julia Donaldson. We were fortunate enough to have read all the books at home so I recognised all the work from the Julia Donaldson books.

The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont
Goodies in the gift shop

At the end of the day we headed home via the gift shop. The shop had all the books for sale and was full of Gruffalo and friends goodies! With plenty more Gruffalo fun to be had at Mottisfont and time to enjoy the Axel Scheffler exhibition until 3rd September, we will most certainly be back.

Love Bella x

Country Kids

22 thoughts on “The Gruffalo and Friends at Mottisfont

  1. We love the Gruffalo and Julia Donaldson we missed the trail nears us last year. This had made determined to go next time, lovely review with great pictures.

  2. we love national trust but haven’t been here before! we have a gruffalo lover so will have to check this out

  3. My children loved (still love, but they are too old to admit it) the Gruffalo and all the stories. It sounds like a well thought out trail which means lots of fun for all. Mottisfont is one my list to revisit. Love the photo of the woodland cushions with the pink boots. Is that you, by any chance? #CountryKids

  4. It’s great that there’s so many well loved characters to spot as you explore the grounds, this looks like the perfect activity to encourage younger visitors. I’m impressed by how many characters they’ve hidden away around the grounds, although I might not have liked to see the snake sat on the logs myself! It’s fab that the whole exhibition was targeted towards a younger audience too so that they could really appreciate it all.

    Thanks for linking up with me on #CountryKids.

  5. Ooh that snake is realistic and scary! Love all the other books that are included in the visit. I’m not sure where this is so will go and look to see if it is near us 🙂

  6. This looks amazing, and so well put together. We went to a Julia Donaldson Exhibition at Chatham Dockyard about 3 years ago which included quite a few of the original artworks that were so lovely to see. Hiding the characters is a great idea and I agree that snake looks scarily realistic! #countrykids

  7. It was only a photo and yet I still jumped a bit when I saw the snake! What a wonderful way to make a children’s storybook come to life.

  8. Oh Wow! This is such a lovely visit. My kids is a big fan of Gruffalo too – but then again I haven’t meet a kid that doesn’t like the Gruffalo yet. lol! I’d love to go and see the original artworks of Axel Scheffler up close and personal. It’s amazes me how story comes to life. That snake looks so real – it would have scared me too! Mottisfont is such a lovely place to told such a trail event. Looks very engaging and educational too.

    Thank you again for linking up with us on #ExplorerKids Linky xx

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