From a telephone box to Tatton Park with Roald Dahl

From a telephone box to Tatton Park with Roald Dahl

This review of Roald Dahl at Tatton Park was written by Cheryl Flatman, who you can find on Instagram to see what she and her family have been up to lately. Cheryl and her family took this trip to Tatton Park to visit the Phizz-Wizzing Trails, the Cover to Cover exhibition, and to find Fantastic Mr Fox at the Farm.

Recycled decommissioned telephone boxes

Over recent, years many BT telephone boxes have been decommissioned. It’s a sad sight to see them being removed or left to ruin, but I’m happy to say – not in Mobberley! We have three decommissioned telephone boxes in the village the first in the centre of the village was turned into a book exchange for adults. The parish council appealed to the residents on what to do with the 2nd, it occurred to me that it was on the school route for most village children and I suggested that it should be made into a book exchange for children; I’m pleased to say this is exactly what happened. The third outside the village was turned into an information point.

Decommissioned telephone boxes in the village of Mobberley in Cheshire have been converted to book exchanges and an information point

Book exchange in a telephone box

Harry had recently learned of Roald Dahl after a friend at his school described his father reading the “chapter books” to him. Without further ado Harry started to pester to go to the book exchange to look to look for a new book, he selected a couple of suitable books to swap and one sunny afternoon we headed down the road the short distance to the book exchange. Harry spent some time checking the vast array of books, then up on a high shelf, I spotted some old Roald Dahl books! Harry was sold! Happy with his haul we headed home and he poured over them for the remainder of the afternoon deciding which we were to read first.

Knowing we had already booked to go to Tatton to visit the Fantastic Mr Fox event at the Farm I was delighted that this was the very book he had chosen, more so by the fact I had never read it before! Fantastic Mr Fox is a tale of courage and daring where Mr Fox outsmarts 3 greedy farmers in order to save not only his family but the whole underground animal kingdom.

Roald Dahl at Tatton Park

On entering Tatton Park you see elements of the other installations, a glass elevator, Mr Fox’s tail vanishing down a hole, The Twits upside down sitting room, a chocolate bar, and golden ticket. Already getting a feel for the event we parked and took the pleasant stroll down to the farm past carvings of sheep and pigs, made a little longer by Alice’s 1 year old’s pace; for those who choose there is a regular train doing circuits from the excellent play area to the farm and back.

Wooden carved animals at Tatton park on the way to the farmTatton park railway land train

Fantastic Mr Fox at Tatton Old Farm

You enter the farm through a very well placed gift shop featuring many farm related toys and books through to a small courtyard. Initially, the Fantastic Mr Fox exhibits didn’t seem well signposted. Heading left into the piggery we were greeted by Piggywig – a rather large Sow – being escorted back to her shed having spent some quality time up in the fields. Having never thought we would see roaming animals the children amazed by how close they were to such a huge pig!

Piggywig pig walking about at Tatton Park Farm

I was most surprised in the piggery to see low windows for the younger visitors to watch the action, and we saw and heard quite some action. One of the sows has her 7 piglets with her, who made quite the racket when it came to feeding time, which we just caught.

Piglets feeding at Tatton park farm

Exiting the piggery we happened upon a live hatchery display, where the keeper had 6 chicks on a long picnic table full of children, where the children could pat the chicks of various ages. The other children seemed to be enjoying getting up close and personal with the wandering chicks. As someone who used to have both ducks and chickens as a young girl, it’s a shame my children didn’t quite feel the same!
From this point forward we picked up the Fantastic Mr Fox trail, helped by the most enthusiastic storyteller who told the tale of Mr Fox and his fox cubs digging in the most engaging way, like the Pied Piper she had all the children following her around the farm to the various locations, from Mr Bunce’s duck and goose sheds to Mr Bean’s cider cellar where if you look closely you can see the rat drinking cider from a pipe in a bottle.

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Fantastic Mr fox feast at Tatton park farm Roald Dahl centenary celebrations

Meeting Fantastic Mr Fox

Having seen Mr Fox’s great feast we separated from the storyteller to visit the play barn, a place where you can have a few moments rest with a drink whilst the children ride pedal tractors (with trailers) to their heart’s content. On dragging the children out of the play barn (anyone would think it was the main attraction!) we saw him, in real life, the Fantastic Mr Fox working the crowds down in the lower courtyard, thinking he was making his way up towards where we were and to save Granny’s knee and Alice’s slow pace we spent a few moments on a bench hoping he would make his way to us, but as I’m sure you can imagine – no sooner were the crowds of children clear another would appear without Mr Fox needing to take another step and so not to disappoint our 4 year old we headed to give Mr Fox a high five and take the opportunity for a photo with the man himself!

Fantastic mr Fox at Tatton Park as part of their Roald Dahl Centenary celebrations

Brilliant storytelling

We next decided to hunt for Mr Fox’s den in the woodland garden, and much to our surprise the storyteller appeared as if by magic! Thinking she was about to start the story again (having missed the beginning earlier), we settled in the storytelling area on tree stumps to listen to a fascinating tale of a large chicken with a sense of adventure called Basil and a naughty fox who tried to outsmart him when he was too far from the farm, thankfully Basil wasn’t as daft as he looked and made it back to the farm without being tempted by the fox. Another super story well told and had both children and parents captivated.

Story teller at fantastic mr fox Roald Dahl centenary celebrations at Tatton park farm

Woodland play area at Tatton park farm

Play area at Tatton Park Farm

The woodland play area is a great area. Harry enjoyed the activity trail very much, unfortunately there is not much here for younger visitors, although Alice tried, the obstacles were a bit too tough for her. As well as a wicker hut, and an underground hiding hole, there was den building, which is something I’m sure you enjoyed as much as I did as a child when in a forest!

Underground hole in the woodland play area at Tatton park farm

Carousel at Tatton park traditional farm fantastic mr fox Roald Dahl centenary celebrations Review

Ice cream in Willy Wonka’s factory

After all that on such a lovely May day we decided that an ice cream was in order and so headed to the stable yard. Through Willy Wonka’s factory entrance you are greeted by the most fantastic looking carousel, steering past this we enjoyed our ice creams in the large seating area before enjoying the carousel. Well, when I say ‘enjoying’ for Alice this was at least getting on it, sitting on it with me, before deciding “no likey” and proceeding to try to get off! Harry, however, enjoyed a rise and fall of the ride which seemed to go on for ages waving at every pass whilst Alice and I watched from the ground.

Roald Dahl at Tatton Old Farm Review

All in all the Farm and Fantastic Mr Fox activities at Tatton completely surpassed my expectations. I expected to spend an hour or so in the farm looking at the standard set of animals, lifting both children at every stall and seeing nothing more than a few printed images of Mr Fox, but we spent over 3 hours in total at Tatton, heard fabulously told stories, met Mr Fox, and enjoyed the animals up close – many of which Alice (aged one), in particular, could see for herself (only the horses we behind high barn doors with no low viewing windows).

I can highly recommend Tatton as a fantastic day out.

What’s your favourite Roald Dahl book?



  1. May 17, 2016 / 9:01 pm

    A really lovely read 🙂 my two would love this place, as would I. My favourite Roald Dahl would have to be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  2. May 21, 2016 / 12:27 pm

    What a lovely place to visit! My Littles and I just started BFG and hope to read all of Roald Dahl’s books this summer!

  3. May 21, 2016 / 2:18 pm

    What a lovely way for Tatton Park to adopt the Mr Fox story. I know this was one of Ronald Dahl’s favourites in the minds of my children when they were at primary school. The story teller in his den was a lovely idea. It reminds me of our fairy gardens where the children sit on log seats to listen to stories here. It looks a great day for a whole range of ages and wonderfully inspired by your book exchange phone box. Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

  4. May 21, 2016 / 6:21 pm

    What a lovely idea for the phone boxes – and the Tatton Park event sounds fantastic. I can’t wait for my daughter to be old enough to read the Roald Dahl books to her (and her to read them herself) which I think can’t be too far off. #countrykids

  5. Sharon
    May 26, 2016 / 10:20 am

    Loved the idea of the phone box – book exchange is always great! I must say the farm looks so much fun, the kids would love it!
    I’ve always loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryx

  6. May 26, 2016 / 12:57 pm

    James and the giant peach has always been my favorite

  7. janet b
    June 1, 2016 / 8:39 pm

    i absolutely adored reading Roald Dahl books as a child, and it was always such a treat to get a new book.
    my absolute favourite was The BFG

  8. Victoria Shiel
    June 1, 2016 / 10:20 pm

    The BFG

  9. Catherine McAlinden
    June 2, 2016 / 6:46 am

    We love Matilda

  10. tee simpson
    June 2, 2016 / 7:22 am

    James and the giant peach

  11. Tessa Robinson
    June 2, 2016 / 9:18 am

    It has to be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Would love to win this for my niece, she loves Roald Dahl books 🙂

  12. julie eley
    June 2, 2016 / 2:11 pm

    I love them all but BFG stands out 🙂

  13. James McLaughlin
    June 2, 2016 / 6:52 pm

    Love them all but the BFG was and is my favourite

  14. Lindsay Taylor
    June 2, 2016 / 9:01 pm

    You can’t beat The Twits! A fantastic gross tale about a horrible couple. My favourite bit as a child was about Mr Twit’s beard and how he used to save food in it!

  15. Cara Bemrose-williams
    June 2, 2016 / 10:27 pm


  16. Michaela Hannah
    June 3, 2016 / 5:06 am

    Danny the champion of the world was my story of choice!!

  17. Kirsty Hosty
    June 3, 2016 / 8:58 am

    I love THE BFG but also Matilda is another favourite

  18. Vicky Hawkins
    June 3, 2016 / 3:15 pm

    The BFG

  19. Cupcake R
    June 3, 2016 / 4:38 pm

    James and the Giant Peach

  20. Karen hutchinson
    June 3, 2016 / 9:20 pm

    Charlie and the chocolate factory

  21. Jayne Kelsall
    June 4, 2016 / 11:58 am

    We love The Twits .x

  22. Adrian Bold
    June 4, 2016 / 5:05 pm

    I love THE BFG

  23. Simone Kilshaw
    June 4, 2016 / 7:38 pm

    the Twits for me.fab giveaway, very excited.

  24. Nancy Bradford
    June 4, 2016 / 8:12 pm

    James and the Giant Peach

  25. Lauren Porter
    June 4, 2016 / 8:15 pm

    Matilda 🙂

  26. Olivia Hinton
    June 4, 2016 / 9:17 pm

    The BFG

  27. Christina Cooke
    June 4, 2016 / 9:50 pm

    Definitely The BFG

  28. Natalie Jones
    June 4, 2016 / 10:52 pm

    The BFG and George’s marvellous medicine were my favourites!

  29. Amy b
    June 5, 2016 / 1:12 am

    How could you choose just one every book he wrote was and still is amazing if i really had to choose it would have to be the witches!

  30. Sue C
    June 5, 2016 / 9:29 am

    I used to love James and the Giant Peach but I think I like Matilda best now.

  31. June 5, 2016 / 9:57 am

    My favourite is Charlie and the Chocolate factory too.

  32. emma kinsey
    June 5, 2016 / 10:17 am

    love charlie and chocolate factory

  33. June 5, 2016 / 4:22 pm

    I love matilda and so does my niece who watches it daily lol

  34. June 5, 2016 / 4:35 pm

    Esio Trot is a firm fave of mine – the kids love Matilda

  35. June 5, 2016 / 5:26 pm

    The BFG has been my favourite since childhood and my 6 year old has just started getting into it 🙂 x

  36. Vera Bahounkova
    June 5, 2016 / 5:52 pm

    It has to be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

  37. Katie McGinley
    June 5, 2016 / 7:35 pm

    charlie and the chocolate factory

  38. Christine Beake
    June 5, 2016 / 8:06 pm

    Fantastic Mr Fox

  39. Debra Winfield
    June 5, 2016 / 8:31 pm


  40. June 5, 2016 / 10:05 pm

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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