Having heard about the Stockwood Discovery Centre in Luton on The Smallest of Things blog, we decided to check it out on a rainy weekend day. With it only being a 25 minute drive from Watford, it was a handy, FREE, indoor place to visit with an energetic toddler.
First stop was the Discovery Hall, which featured exhibits charting people’s lives from birth to death. I managed to read about ceramic baby bottles causing a lot of infant deaths due to problems cleaning them and how the arrival of glass bottles dramatically reduced them, before being torn away by an eager toddler wanting to sit in one of the carriages on display.
The Mossman collection is the main attraction. It houses the largest collection of carriages in the UK (according to their website) and it really is rather special. There were ample opportunities to sit in a carriage and I made a special look out for carriages that would have been used in Jane Austen’s time, like the barouche-landau, to indulge in a bit of Mr Darcy day-dreaming.
Another indoor area full of excellent displays was the Discovery galleries, situated in the former stable block of Stockwood House (the main part of the house was sadly demolished). Exhibits here explored the history of the area from prehistoric times to the present day, and there was lots to take in, including items recovered in archaeological digs and other quirky artefacts.
There seemed to be so much to see and explore that I don’t think we managed to look round everything. And, as it was raining, we didn’t really get a chance to wander round the gardens, which are extensive, ranging from wider, open spaces to formal and walled gardens (see the gallery below).
The weather, however, didn’t stop our toddler sampling the delights of the large playground! Some of this was astro-turfed, so quite handy to avoid getting muddy on wet days. There were other exciting bits of equipment (like a climbing wall – see gallery) that older kids were playing on.
There’s a cafe onsite as well as picnic benches. We’re looking forward to visiting on a sunnier day where we can discover the other areas of the centre we didn’t really get a chance to see this time.
Mr New To Watford went a bit mad taking photos; I’ve popped them in a gallery below!