This term, Libby has been learning about Grace Darling and the RNLI. Occasionally, a topic really captures a child’s imagination and it’s a great way to encourage learning. So, when we found ourselves near Bamburgh in Northumberland a few weeks ago, we decided to go to the Grace Darling Museum. It wasn’t until we arrived in Bamburgh that we realised what a lovely family day out it was. A dog friendly beach and pubs combined with some fascinating attractions made it a great place to visit.
At 4am on a stormy morning in September 1838, a ship called SS Forfarshire hit a rock off the Farne Islands. At the time, Grace Darling was in the Longstone lighthouse with her parents. She saw the wreck of the Forfarshire at 4.30am and let her father William know, but they couldn’t see any signs of life until first light. At that point, they spotted movement on the rocks and rowed out in their cobble to rescue survivors.
On reaching the sailors, William got out of the boat onto the rock, leaving Grace to keep the boat in place by rowing single-handedly. Nine people were alive on the rock and Grace and William took five of them back to the lighthouse. Here, Grace remained with her mother to tend to the survivors. William and one of the people they had rescued rowed back to get the others.
The fame of Grace Darling was based around the fact that she was a 22 year old female. At the time, her gender made her a very unlikely hero. Grace sadly died four years later from Tuberculosis. She is buried in the grounds of St Aidan’s Church in Bamburgh. A monument has also been erected in the churchyard in her memory.
The Grace Darling Museum
The Grace Darling Museum was set up 100 years after the rescue. Initially, its purpose was to look after artefacts relating to Grace, including the coble boat she had rowed in. The museum was refurbished between 2002 and 2007, reopening as the museum you see today.
The building itself is light, airy and environmentally friendly. From the upstairs, panoramic window there’s an amazing view out to the churchyard where Grace Darling is buried, and on out to sea. The museum has the coble on display, as well as several personal artefacts and diaries. There are numerous activities for children, including art and crafts and a lighthouse that lights up if you press the buttons in the right order.
This isn’t somewhere you’d spend a full day, but it’s well worth a visit. Afterwards, we went to visit Grace Darling’s grave and memorial stone in the churchyard before exploring the rest of Bamburgh.
A vast expanse of sand greets you when you walk down to the coast at Bamburgh. Sand dunes are a great place for a game of hide and seek, or find one without too much grass on (we recommend heading towards the castle) and have hours of fun sliding down them.
The beach is dog friendly and when we were there, the sea wasn’t too rough. There are no lifeguards but the sand slopes gently into the sea, so it’s safe for paddling and I took Bubbles in for a reasonable swim. The sea was warmer than expected, perhaps due to the particularly lovely Summer we’ve had this year!
Last time we were in Northumberland, my husband took the girls on a boat trip while I stayed with the dogs. He saw Bamburgh Castle from a distance that day, and has wanted to look around it ever since. The castle sits at the top of the hill overlooking the town of Bamburgh and its beautiful beach.
Sadly, it’s not dog friendly so we didn’t manage to go in while we were there. Fortunately, we all fell in love with Bamburgh and the surrounding areas and we fully intend to go back soon. Next time, we’ll definitely make it into the castle.