I first visited the Chedworth Roman Villa when I was twelve years old and I am now 67. At the time it amazed me and I began to cultivate an interest in archaeology. I subsequently too my own two children many years later and they also enjoyed it. Additionally, I took a school party and they derived much interest and although they were fully prepared in advance as to what to see I distinctly recall there being a short film to watch which explained about the villa with real people portrayed dressed in the costumes of the time. Today, we took our grandchildren, one grandson was eight years old and was told all about it before the visit, the other was simply 11 months and in a buggy. On arrival by car, we were directed to the upper car park amongst the trees and to our dismay found we had to carry the baby and buggy down a flight of steps. As a result, my husband now has a bad back. We passed along the lane lined with cars and at the entrance saw two empty disabled spaces but there was no space for people with children with a buggy. The staff on entry were helpful and kind - we paid for a child's ticket and we had National Trust tickets. At first it was good having a useful small elevator to access the dining area and the mosaics of the villa. We then moved on to the temple which was easily accessible but the building next to it was not - only steps. We then went to the silver tent to get our timed tickets for the show which would be in about an hour. Meanwhile, we had our picnic in the grounds but it began to pour with rain. Having finished eating, we rushed to the museum which consists of only a tiny room - this hasn't changed and one wonders why they need such a large Victorian building for offices. Could they not have kept the original film in one of those rooms?! At the appointed time, we went to the dome for the University of Bath film. This consisted of several shots of before the villa was built, when it was in existence and when it finally had fallen into disuse again, accompanied by naked men running. The sensation one had was of flying but very fast and there was no warning for people who might have problems with the speed of this. Any theme park would have had such a warning in place as it can affect blood pressure etc. In ten minutes this was over and we retired to the tea-room. This was a nice addition. Our final event was to take our grandson to the craft room. Again we found there was no access with a buggy or a wheelchair as there was only a flight of steps. My husband had to wait in the café while our grandson and I completed a coaster with tesserae which he proudly brought back to his Mum and Dad. At the end of our visit, the rain was on again and this time, my husband went to retrieve the car and brought it to the entrance to collect us. There was no warning of what was accessible and what was not, neither were we told that we could drop off passengers or have a space for a car with a buggy. If shops and garden centres provide child friendly spaces why can't you?! National Trust, you can do better than this and this is the first disappointment I have had with this site for some considerable time!
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