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Back to school: educational days out in Sutton Harbour

5th September 2019

With summer fading fast, September is all about going back to school for the younger generation – but you’re never too old to learn something new.

Why not encourage the kids to embrace the new school term by learning something new as a family about Plymouth and its fascinating history? Sutton Harbour offers many educational days out to engage the whole family in a fun day of learning and enhancing knowledge, with a hands-on experience outside the classroom to help spark an interest in education.

This September come and immerse yourself in the history of Plymouth in the heart of the city’s waterfront. Here is a round-up of the top educational places in Sutton Harbour and the adjacent Barbican quarter to visit to get back into the swing of learning, with brand new facts to soak up which the kids will want to tell the whole class about.

Go back in time at the Mayflower Museum

The Mayflower Museum is situated right in the heart of the Barbican, opposite the famous Mayflower Steps at the entrance to Sutton Harbour and yet the museum is often overlooked by many a passer-by. The museum and Tourist Information Centre focuses on the history of the legendary voyage of The Mayflower in 1620, which sailed the Pilgrim Fathers to North America.

With the year of Mayflower 400 commemorations set to commence soon ahead of the 2020 anniversary year, there’s no better time to experience what life was like on board the ship and learn about why the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for a new world. This museum offers a real insight into the history of the city and one of its most famous landmarks.

Explore the Elizabethan House and Gardens

Hidden amongst the streets leading to Sutton Harbour, the Elizabethan House offers a hands-on experience that demonstrates what life was like during the 16th century. Take a wander through the building and experience what a kitchen, dining room, parlour and bedroom would have been like to live in during this time period.

Run by Plymouth City Council and Plymouth Museum, the building offers an authentic experience which leaves you feeling as if you’ve travelled back in time. At the rear of the building lies the Elizabethan Gardens, a tranquil spot which showcases more of the beauty from this time period.

The house is currently closed due to essential restoration works and is set to re-open in 2020.

Learn more about the Merchant’s House

Another historical residence on offer is the Merchant’s House. Situated on one of Plymouth’s oldest streets near Sutton Harbour, the building displays a further representation of the quality of life during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The house features seven themed rooms including a recreation of a Victorian classroom, and shows the contrast between the living conditions across the class system. With the Merchant’s House being the finest surviving example of a 16th century house, it’s a must-see when it comes to exploring the history of Britain’s Ocean City.

Dive into the National Marine Aquarium

If history isn’t your forte, fear not. The National Marine Aquarium allows you to explore the underwater world by surrounding you with some of the ocean’s greatest creatures. The aquarium holds the deepest tank in Britain which is filled with a staggering 2.5 million litres of water. The aquarium also holds many exhibitions, displays and workshops to help get all the family involved whilst teaching us more about the importance of underwater conservation.

Through allowing a hands-on experience with some of the many smaller creatures, a trip to the aquarium is one to create lasting memories for all the family. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get to see all of the 4,000 animals in one trip as after you’ve paid once, you can visit all year for free.

Break time

After a full day taking in some of the city’s most educational attractions, take a seat and relax at one of the many restaurants and bars that Sutton Harbour offers up on a plate (literally). The harbour is the perfect spot to enjoy stunning views of the marina and Plymouth Sound over a meal, snack, drink or even an ice cream, and there are plenty of venues to pick from.