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The Tropical Past of Blaise Castle Estate

The kids are bored and to go anywhere far away for a day is far too expensive, so my family and I had a debate on where we could possibly go.
“How about we all go exploring somewhere?” I suggested.
“NO, Dad, you always go exploring!” they shouted.
“Okay, then, how about we all go to Blaise Castle? They have a great play area and lots of historical features to look at.”
“Right, if we do decide to go there,” my daughter Mollie (12) said, “you have to make a contract with us not to run off and go exploring or eat tree leaves or go fossil hunting.”
“Seriously?” I said.
“Yes, Dad, seriously.”
“Okay, deal,” I said, so we made a packed lunch and headed off to Blaise.

Linda Bailey [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Blaise Castle House

When we arrived it was packed with families all enjoying the summer sunshine.
“Okay, what shall we do first?”
We decided to have a look inside the main house – very spooky too – looking at the old Victorian doll houses and clothing that was worn back then.

We then looked at the old Victorian bath tubs that were made from steel.
“There is no way I would bathe in one of those!” my daughter, Alice (16), said.
“Of course you would,” I replied.
“Back a hundred or so years ago that’s all there was and you would have been happy too as you would not know any different.”
“So did they have showers back then Dad?”
“No,” I said. “This was it, a tin bath sat on top of a fire to warm the water.”
“Nasty,” Alice replied.
“No, love,” I said. “It’s how things were back then.”

As we then went on to let the kids have a run around, we all sat down for lunch.
“We’re going in the play park for a while.”
“Okay,” I replied. “There are some fossils in the rocks there too.”
They all stared at me and gave a sigh and said, “Just go Dad, but don’t get lost, we will meet you here in a bit.”
“Seriously?” I said, “Can I?”

A shelly form of Carboniferous Limestone, packed full of shells and fossils.

Well off I went, exploring the rocks.

The geology of Blaise Castle is fascinating; it’s Carboniferous Limestone which dates from around 300-400 million years ago and was once a tropical coral reef – pretty much the same as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is today! The rocks are loaded with fossilized corals and some of them have amazing patterns in them.

As promised, we all met up again soon after and sat down for a lovely ice cream in the sunshine.

Did you know?

The larger part of the Mendip Hills are formed from Carboniferous Limestone, showing notable geomorphological* features, including Cheddar Gorge, Burrington Combe and the showcave of Wookey Hole. The Avon Gorge west of Bristol and the coastal cliffs at Clevedon and Weston-super-Mare are cut in this rock. The limestone islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm are prominent in views across the mouth of the Severn Estuary.

*Geomorphology (from Greekge, “earth”;  morfé, “form”; and  logos, “study”) is the scientific study of landforms and the processes that shape them.