It all started a couple of weeks ago, when my son received a great poster with a picture of a gladiator on the front, I think it was distributed at school? Wherever we got it from, it was a good piece of advertising, as it had my son requesting to go. The poster has been stuck on the front of the fridge, and a count down to the day of the Gladiator event at Fishbourne Roman Palace has ensued!
Today was the day, although the event was actually on all weekend, but we went today. The children have never been before despite us living fairly locally, and I vaguely remember visiting on a school trip, which will have been back in the 80s!
As you approach you have to wonder whether you are in the right place as you drive in to a housing estate, and then past a school. All the while you’re wondering if you’re heading the right way, and then you see the sign. It was well organised with people organising the parking, and admission. We paid for a family ticket, and did the gift aid, which entitled us to a season ticket and therefore free admission for the whole year. A couple of dates are exempt, when the other special events are on, but for nothing extra we can go back and visit again, which actually seems a bargain.
There was lots extra going on today, as well as the regular palace things to see. We arrived just before 11am and left at about 4pm,after we had got enticed by a cup of tea and hill rolling at the end!
Our day included, gladiator cut outs, like you get by the seaside, or on piers, but with gladiator scenes. The children loved sticking their heads in these and being different characters, a grown up might have enjoyed it too!
There was a stall were you could have wounds applied, my two chose spear wounds, very realistic they looked too! It didn’t take long to do either, the lady was very skilled. This was a first for my children, and they loved them.
About an hour after we arrived there was a gladiator display which was great, the guy on the PA was interesting and got the crowd booing, and cheering the two sides along. It was a very good show.
After this, very gender stereotypically my children went their separate ways! My daughter found the hair tent, and my son the gladiator school. Although this stereotyping was only imposed by themselves, either child could have done the other activity if they had chosen.
My daughter had her hair plaited in a roman style by a very skilled lady, and there always seemed to be a queue at this tent, she was in demand. My daughter loved it, and it really suited her.
There was also a gladiator school, which was a great idea, with lots of different stations for the children to work through. Running races, catching wild (cuddly) animals with nets. My son loved all this. The main thing he enjoyed was he got to wear a helmet, shield and sword and practise fighting! All be it against a filled hessian sack, twas fun nonetheless!
We also enjoyed a look around the small garden area, and the tents where various Roman times were re enacted and son got to try on a helmet, and also had a look at shields and swords.
There was still more to do, see I told you there was plenty! We had a look around the mosaics, the children liked looking through the glass floors in places to get a closer view. My daughter also had a favourite mosaic, which was actually the most complete, this is her looking at it. I’m not going to show you too much, you will have to come and see it for yourself.
In this building there were also lots of other activities for children, coin, and artefact rubbing, colouring in, building a Roman arch. All of which the children enjoyed.
Overall we had a great day. Fishbourne Roman Palace is definitely worth a visit whether you’re local, or visiting the area. As we have children we particularly liked the special event day, as it helped bring the history to life. There are further special event dates throughout the year, you can check here to see when they’re on. I recommend you get yourself along to the next one, there is lots to see and do.