Wall-to-wall history

11th July 2008 at 01:00
Although the origins of Callendar House date back to the 11th century - with the section of the Antonine Wall that runs nearby going back another 900 years - the mansion that stands today owes most to the Georgian period of 1740 to 1830

Although the origins of Callendar House date back to the 11th century - with the section of the Antonine Wall that runs nearby going back another 900 years - the mansion that stands today owes most to the Georgian period of 1740 to 1830.

Now a first-class visitor attraction, modelled on the lines of Colonial Williamsburgh in the United States, Callendar House has been fitted out with recreations of a typical Georgian clockmaker's, a general store and a printing shop.

The "living history" kitchen in the basement is in full working order, with costumed members of staff on hand to demonstrate what kind of food the folk "upstairs" would have eaten in Georgian times and how it would have been made. Visitors can have a go at making - and tasting - ice cream at 2pm every Thursday throughout July and August.

As well as a programme of temporary exhibitions, Callendar House offers serious, permanent displays on the history of the mansion and of William Forbes, its owner for much of the Georgian period, during a time of industrial and social revolution; with both exhibitions set in a local and national context.

A third permanent display looks at the construction and function of the Antonine Wall, a section of which can be seen from the house. Built by the Romans as the frontier of their empire, Callendar Park's portion of the Antonine Wall has been nominated for inclusion on UNESCO's World Heritage Site list.

Callendar Park itself, with its beautifully kept lawns and magnificent trees, is stunning and, like the house, was mainly designed in the late 18th century. As well as walks in the woods and rides in swan boats on the lake, the park's attractions include a very un-Georgian play area with a bouncy castle, crazy golf, go-karting and a giant slide. Add in the snacks kiosk plus a tea room (with a Georgian cottage garden in the back) and you have a whole day out.

The Callendar House education programme offers schools and the wider community an interesting mix of learning opportunities, both indoors and out; past workshops having focused on herbal medicines, looking after the environment and the Romans. This summer, film and media taster sessions for 12 to 18-year-olds are being held in the mansion's education suite.

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