VISITORS to National Trust properties in Worcestershire during the summer holidays are being invited to play along with the fun and games of yesteryear.

The trust is throwing down the gauntlet to anyone going along to its historic houses and estates in the area to try traditional games and past-times enjoyed by our ancestors.

Sports such as tennis, bowls and archery became hugely popular among the upper classes in the late 1700s, while croquet was a big craze in the 1860s and would have been played avidly at many houses and estates currently in the charity’s care.

Hanbury Hall visitors can try their hand at bowls on the trust’s only playable bowling green, which was part of George London’s original garden design.

The hall was built at the beginning of the 18th century by the wealthy chancery lawyer Thomas Vernon as a summer house – he lived in London the rest of the year.

His work and society life meant he was well connected in the capital and it is thought these associations led him to employ the most eminent garden designer of the time, George London, to create the grounds at Hanbury.

London’s garden layout at Hanbury Hall with its sunken parterre formal garden, a topiary and fruit garden offering vistas across the surrounding countryside, a bowling green, wilderness area and other features like the summer house and gazebos indicates the start of the landscape movement for which Capability Brown became renown.

Over the years many of the garden’s features disappeared until head hardener Neil Cook recognised the lost legacy and began work to restore it to its former glory. The bowling green is available for games from May to October.

Visitors to Greyfriars, in Friar Street, Worcester – adjoining the Franciscan friary and built in around 1480 by Thomas Grene – can have a relaxing game of croquet. Grene was a member of Worcester’s social elite and was a merchant brewer by trade.

Nicky Boden, visitor experience consultant at the trust, said: ‘While many things have changed over the years, the ways in which we like to relax and enjoy our free time have stayed remarkably the same - whether that’s playing a traditional garden game or just getting out into nature and building a den or climbing a tree.

“Each place in our care is unique so we design the activities, trails and games to reflect the history of the place they’re in. This allows us to bring the stories of the people who once lived and worked there to life, in hands-on and most of all, fun ways.”

This summer, visitors to National Trust places in Worcestershire can have a go at playing games old and new. Visit for details of events and activities across the county.