'Hey mum, let's have a gruesome time'

We Brits go on one billion family days out each year – which is incredibly brave. I'm not just talking awful weather or traffic jams: for more than 60 per cent of us, the thing that ruins day trips is "bickering" (the polite term for a family row), according to a survey from English Heritage.

If you're going to have a gruesome experience, you may as well do it properly. The bank holiday weekend provides the chance for the entire family to endure one of the Worst Days Out in History, a special event at Dover Castle and the Secret Wartime Tunnels in Kent (01304 211067; english-heritage.org.uk), where you're guaranteed a truly horrible time examining the goriest aspects of the past. Meet some worryingly realistic characters, including a 17th-century surgeon who uses live leeches, and, as a treat, you can have your faces painted with the pox.

For a proper fight, the Lancastrians and Yorkists will be battling it out in a re-enactment of the Wars of the Roses at Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire today and tomorrow, while at Corbridge Roman Town, Northumberland, the Imperial Roman Army is spending the bank holiday galloping through its horseback skills (01434 632349; English-heritage. org.uk). With falconry, centurion displays and Roman burial rituals to keep everyone busy, with any luck you won't have time to fit in the family row until you're safely home.