The shortlist for the 2016 Hudson’s Heritage Awards has been announced!

Hudson's Heritage Awards Logo 2016The shortlist for the renowned 2016 Hudson’s Heritage Awards, celebrating the best visitor experiences at heritage attractions in the UK, has been announced. Established in 2011, the awards are an independent scheme judged by an expert panel chaired by Norman Hudson, OBE. The winners and the highly commended will be presented at Goldsmith’s Hall in London on 1st March 2016.

Best Family Day OutBestFamilyDayOutSBT Processed

  • Chester Cathedral, Chester
  • Newby Hall, North Yorkshire
  • Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-Upon-Avon
  • The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland

Best Eating Out

  • Glansevern Gardens, Mid Wales
  • Northern Ireland Assembley, Belfast
  • Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye
  • Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

The Best ShoppingBestShoppingCotehele Processed

  • Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts Centre, Cumbria
  • Dartington Hall, Devon
  • The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire
  • Cotehele, Cornwall

Best Accommodation

  • Leeds Castle, Leeds
  • Bruisyard Hall, Suffolk
  • The Churches Conservation Trust
  • Frampton Court, Gloucester

Best Loos

  • The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland
  • Lowther Castle, Cumbria

Best New DiscoveryBestNewDiscoveryBletchleyPark Processed

  • Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes
  • The Judge’s Lodging, Presteigne
  • Woburn Abbey and Gardens, Bedford

Best Innovation

  • Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire
  • Attingham Park, Shropshire
  • Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
  • Croome Park, Worcester
  • Woburn Abbey and Gardens, Bedford

Best Wedding VenueBestWeddingVenueChiddingstoneCastle

  • Wentworth Conservatory, Barnsley
  • Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire
  • Chiddingstone Castle, Kent
  • Combermere Abbey, Shropshire

Best Event/Exhibition

  • Dunham Massey, Greater Manchester
  • The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland
  • Houghton Hall, Norfolk
  • Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
  • Woburn Abbey and Gardens, Bedford

Best Hidden GemBestHiddenGemStMarys Processed

  • Winterbourne House & Gardens, Birmingham
  • Keats House, London
  • Painshill Gardens, The Crystal Grotto, Surrey
  • St Mary’s House & Garden, West Sussex

The Best Picnic Spot award is the only award which is by public nomination. The nominated lunchtime locations are:

  • Lowther Castle, Cumbria
  • Clearburn New Lanark, Lanarkshire, Scotland
  • Durham Cathedral Woodlands, Durham

Congratulations to all those shortlisted!


Mrs Hudson recommends……..popping onto our events calendar

Walpole and I

Walpole and I

What wonderful weather we are experiencing! Now surely it’s time to get outdoors and find some beautiful places to visit. In fact, I’m doing so much visiting at the moment I’ve had no time to write a proper blog recently!

However, I imagine you’re all missing my recommendations hugely. So here’s one to keep you going; pop onto our events calendar here and have a gander at all the wonderful bits and pieces going on in the heritage world at the moment!

Have fun dears……and do remember to tweet me your pics @HudsonsHeritage

Mrs Hudson recommends…………………………a bank holiday bonanza

Walpole and I

Walpole and I

I’ve been so very busy lately I’m afraid I’ve neglected my recommendations somewhat. So here’s a lovely long quickfire list of suggestions for this bank holiday weekend. No excuses not to get out and about now my lovelies!!

Fancy a tipple? Clovelly are celebrating their local ales and ciders all bank holiday weekend.

Tips and tricks for the green fingered. Visit Helmingham Hall Garden’s Heritage Spring Plant Fair on Sunday.

Keep the kids entertained on a minibeast hunt at Holkham Hall  on Monday.

Crafts, antiques, food, entertainment and displays; something for everyone at Lamport Hall’s  festival of country life on Sunday and Monday.

Have some vintage family fun at Eastnor Castle  on Sunday and Monday with tea, jazz, garden games and Punch and Judy.

Shop for delicious food and crafty gifts at Weston Park’s Spring Food and Craft Fair on Monday.

Farmers market, vintage cars and tractors, finest Yorkshire farm produce- it’s all happening at Duncombe Park’s  Country Fair on Monday.

The Muncaster Festival  starts on Sunday and runs til Thursday. Daily shows, workshops, crafts and giant outdoor games- what more could you want?!

Well there’s my whistlestop tour of bank holiday recommendations. Don’t forget to let us know where you’ve been @HudsonsHeritage


Mrs Hudson Recommends………….more and more to do in May!

Walpole and I

Walpole and I

Gosh, what a wonderful month for heritage activity! There is so much to do and see in the UK’s beautiful castles, country houses and stately homes that I’ve had to write my recommendations over 2 blogposts! Wonderful!

Knebworth House has a plethora of exciting things happening in May, including a ghost tour and bat walk, Dino Day and a Mini and VW Car Show. Quite literally something for everyone!

Oxburgh Hall are running an architecture exhibition starting this month. You can learn all about the architectural history of the hall during your visit.

If you love Chamber Music then book your tickets for Holkham Hall’s concert on 10th May now! The Gould Piano trio will be performing in the Marble Hall and your ticket price includes a glass of wine served in the Saloon in the interval plus the opportunity to view some rooms in the Hall.

Hylands House have a packed programme this month. From creative jewellery making and creating enamel stencils to wedding preview days and the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a horse logger, this really is the place to be for fun, new and eclectic events!

Compton Verney are opening late on 16th May for you to see Moore Rodin. Join the curators tour of the exhibiton, stroll around the grounds and join the campfire fun in the woods.

Kiplin Hall and Fairfax House are also taking part in Museums At Night and opening their doors til late for you to explore and enjoy special and enjoy special candlelit performances.

Foutains Abbey and Studley Royal are offering the chance to travel back in time and unlock the secrets of a hidden herb garden and discover more about their herbal heritage.

Go pond dipping at Hopetoun House. A fun, family session during which children can learn all about frogs and toads and other beasties that live in Hopetoun Pond.

Phew! I need a sit down! Believe it or not, this is only a selection of what the heritage world has to offer this month, if you need more inspiration, go to and choose a region.

We love hearing from you when you’ve attended an event or visited an historic venue, we also love to see your photos. Tweet us @HudsonsHeritage  or find us on Facebook

World War One Centenary

HHHANDG_1This year marks the First World War Centenary. For so many of us the atrocities of World War One seem distant and unreal, but a great deal of the UK’s country houses have very personal and historically important connections with wartime. The famous quote from the Ode of Remembrance, ‘We will remember them’, has never been more prolific or important than it is today, 100 years after the beginning of the Great War. Many of the stately homes and country houses affected by war are remembering the events of 1914-1918 with special exhibitions, trails and events this year.

As the war progressed, Britain’s hospitals became overcrowded and unable to deal with the extreme volumes of severely wounded soldiers returning to Blighty from the front. More military hospitals and convalescence centres were desperately needed and many of the country’s stately homes opened their doors to the wounded heroes of the war. Country houses could offer plenty of interior and exterior space for convalescence and respite, and with the men away at war, often the ladies of the houses revelled in being able to play their part in the war effort by opening their homes to recovering soldiers.

The advent of conscription meant Britain’s aristocratic families waved their boys off to fight alongside every other family in the country. Societal position often meant men from the UK’s stately homes joined the army in higher ranking positions, but regardless of status many did not survive the war. Many of the exhibitions occurring this year examine the effects of war on soldiers, families, tenants and servants in the country houses and stately homes of the early 20th Century. Stories are told through letters, photographs, artefacts, memorabilia and personal belongings, although this is history it seems surprisingly more recent than we generally consider.

Dunham Massey Hall in Cheshire was one of those properties transformed into a military hospital, becoming a sanctuary from the trenches for almost 300 soldiers. This year Dunham Massey takes us back in time, transforming the hall and recreating Stamford Military Hospital. Visitors can discover what life was like in wartime, for patients and for the staff who lived and worked at Dunham. Go to Dunham Massey on

Belmont House have created an exhibition to show snippets of life at Belmont during the Great War. The exhibition contains artifacts which have been discovered in the House and information on family members and men of the Parish who were involved in World War One. Go to Belmont House on

Holkham Hall’s 2014 exhibtion tells a small part of the story of the impact of the Great War on the Coke family and Holkham Village. The Coke family was, as many others, very personally affected by the war and the story is told through personal letters, archives, books, photographs and atrefects in this touching exhibtion. On display in the courtyard is a two thirds scale profile of a Mark V tank and a replica 20 ft section of Somme battlefield trench. Go to Holkham Hall on

Duty Calls is a series of exhibitions and events in Yorkshire which explores the effect and impact of war on country houses and their communities. The linked exhibitons, trails and events, at 9 of Yorkshire’s country houses, share stories about the effect of war on the properties over the centuries. It examines these effects on a personal level, as well as exploring the social and economic consequences of wartime on the country house. Exhibitions feature paintings, photographs, arms and militia, as well as archival and oral histories.

Castle Howard’s Duty Calls exhibtion explores the stories of the castle in wartime. The experience of war at Castle Howard was shared with family members, staff and tenants. The Castle saw many apsects of war, taking in refugees and evacuees, coping with crashed aircraft and losing family members, staff and horses to the Front. Go to Castle Howard on

Many of the owners of Kiplin Hall, family members and local commuities have by touched or affected by war. The Duty Calls exhibiton at Kiplin recounts the effect of war on the Hall and community through a series of trails and events throughout 2014. Go to Kiplin Hall on

Nostell Priory’s exhibitions allows vistors to listen to the stories of the house’s war, brought to life by local actors. Nostell has made it their mission to discover the small stories of the Great War from landowner to labourer. Go to Nostell Priory on

There are 9 houses taking part in Duty Calls altogether, follow the links below for much more information.
Brodsworth Hall
(Go to Brodsworth Hall on
Beningbrough Hall
Newby Hall
(Go to Newby Hall on
Fairfax House
(Go to Fairfax House on
Lotherton Hall
(Go to Lotherton Hall on
Sewerby Hall

There are so many more exhibitions, trails and walks happening in country houses and stately homes around the country to commemorate the centenary. We would love to hear which ones you have visited, tweet us @HudsonsHeritage

Mrs Hudson’s Recommends . . . . Halloween & Guy Fawkes events

Walpole and I

Walpole and I

Thank goodness for all our autumn and winter festivals! I can go and join the ghosts jostling for space at an historic house nearby to celebrate Halloween one week and then swap my witch’s nose for woolly gloves and hat for the first really wintery evening of the year on Guy Fawkes Day the next. 

Here are some Halloween and Guy Fawkes events we can all enjoy (except my poor dog Walpole, of course, who will be cowering in the cupboard throughout; such a sensitive fellow). Don’t forget to dress up! 

Muncaster Castle
Is this the most haunted castle in Britain? Halloween week is a big deal here. I fancy the Spooky Owl Tours and the Cannon Firing, though I might need some extra sustenance to survive the Grim and Grisly Trials of Thomas O’Shea in the maze. All topped off, of course, with a firework spectacular on Friday 1st November.

Exbury Gardens
Put on your cloak or your steeple hat to join the Ghost Train for a Halloween ride and learn something about the darker history of our trees. What is the Chinese Coffin Tree, I wonder? Lots of Halloween food here too.

Alnwick Castle & The Alwick Garden
Or is this the most haunted castle in Britain? Alnwick Castle is always a great place for dressing up and Halloween doesn’t disappoint. This is where to learn to ride a broomstick (Harry Potter did), delve into the Dark Cellars or tackle the dragon. The Alnwick Garden is being taken over by ghosts and it’s a good week for the Poison Garden. Nothing too scary here (apart from the Cellars) so I might take some young nieces and nephews.

Blenheim Palace
The maze is the centre of Halloween fun at Blenheim. The Ghost and Goblin Halloween Hunt will start us off nicely before trying out some Halloween crafts. Spine chilling tours of the State Rooms might turn out some of the Palace’s creepier aspects too.

Hoghton Tower
Or is this the most haunted castle in Britain? Actually it claims to be the third most haunted so the two Ghostly Evenings there this Halloween sound promising. Some underground chills here too!

Chillingham Castle
But surely this is the most haunted castle in Britain? A fun filled evening is planned here with pumpkin carving, bouncy castles and ghost stories for children. But don’t forget Chillingham is famous for its serious Ghost Tours and overnight Vigils seeking the truth about some of the ghosts monitored by the Castle’s own Paranormal Team. The family crest is a bat after all, so the bat flags will be flying.

The clocks go back on 27 October so darker evenings should make Guy Fawkes Day all the brighter. I shall be shouting ooh and aah at one of these firework displays.

Beaulieu, Hampshire
Sat 26 Oct 3pm-9.30pm.

Leeds Castle, Kent
Sat 9 & Sun 10 Nov 2pm till late.

Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
Sat 3rd November 5.30pm till late.

Chatsworth, Derbyshire
Sat 2 & Sun 3 Nov 6.30pm-9pm.

Lydiard House, Wiltshire
Sat 2 Nov 5.30pm till late.

Sherborne Castle, Dorset
Sat 9 Nov 5pm till late.

Houghton Hall and the Hermitage

Sir Robert Walpole

Sir Robert Walpole

The key art event in Britain this year will be at Houghton Hall in Norfolk. British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole had one of the greatest art collections ever assembled in Europe. In 1779 most of the paintings were sold to Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia.

The collection, which includes masterpieces by Van Dyck, Poussin, Rubens and Rembrandt, are today held at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg but for five months this year they will once more grace the walls of the great Palladian house, built by our first Prime Minister to house them.

Houghton Hall built by our first Prime Minister

Houghton Hall built by our first Prime Minister

The paintings will return to the State Rooms at Houghton, into the magnificent interiors designed by William Kent, along with original silver and furniture. The loan celebrates the 250th anniversary of Catherine the Great’s accession to the throne of Russia and a long history of Anglo-Russian cultural co-operation.

It is a unique opportunity to step directly back to a moment in history when Houghton was at its peak. Don’t miss it from May to September 2013.