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 Recommends…………………..May (as the month to go and do everything)

Walpole and I

Walpole and I

April showers bring forth May flowers, and special events, and music festivals and craft fairs and so so much more (that’s not quite how the original goes!) The heritage world has so much to offer this month, Walpole and I can’t work out where to begin!

This is a wonderful opportunity to view the private gardens at Holkham Hall which are normally closed to the public. See the spectacular aboretum with its many rare and specimen trees as well as new foliage emerging on the acers. Led by Deputy Landscape Manager, Jonathan Taylor, there are 3 tours on 18th May at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

Plants and Crafts- something for all the family! Belmont House will be running a plant and craft fair all weekend on 4th and 5th May. Take a moment to look for the perfect gift, sample some locally produced food or select a beautiful plant from their specialist nurseries.

 Love arts and crafts? The head for Lamport Hall use this opportunity to pick up some fantastic unique handcrafted products and treats on 4th and 5th May.

Join Haddon Hall for a musical spectacular on 19th May. The Haddon Hall Festival Orchestra will lead the way through the Proms in the Garden, so sit back relax and unwind to your favourites.

 Love a festival with a werid name?! Then you need to be at Bearded Theory festival at Catton Hall. The Midlands largest performing and creative arts festival takes place 23rd-25th May

What more could you want on a warm sunny May weekend than a cider celebration?! Clovelly Village are celebrating their local ciders and ales on 24th, 25th and 26th May. Pop along, raise a glass, and enjoy some musical entertainment too!

 The Muncaster Festival runs for 5 days from 25th to 29th May and takes place on the front lawn outside the castle, offering something for all the family. The festival boasts circus skills workshops, face painting, archery, and an Interntational Jesters Tournament – I can hardly wait!

We love a birthday party! And so do Compton Verney. On 5th May, they’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of opening their doors to the public. Games, music and arty activities are on offer to celebrate the last decade.

My word, what an exciting month! Let us know if you make it to these events, we’d love to know what you’re up to! Remember to tweet us @HudsonsHeritage

Mrs Hudson Recommends………………..Easter activites for all the family!

Walpole and I

Walpole and I

It’s officially spring time! Easter is upon us and Walpole is desperate to start visiting some historic properties. The good news is, Easter signals opening season! Over the next few weekends we will see many of our favourite historic houses, gardens, castles and heritage sites opening up once again and offering a fabulous range of fun and exciting events to kick off the 2014 season!

Blenheim Palace have a full weekend of Easter Entertainment from 18th-21st April. Youngsters can expect appearances from Peppa Pig and Fireman Sam and can take part in the Easter Egg Hunt around the Pleasure Gardens. There will also be a bouncy castle, face painting, crafts and traditional fairground rides to keep the little ones entertained.

Alnwick Castle start their tours today. Choose from a tour of the state rooms, the sumptuous rooms decorated in lavish Italianite Renaissance style, within the castle’s walls. Or, if you fancy some fresh air join the castle’s guides for a tour of the grounds, taking in the architectural views and surrounding ‘Capability’ Brown landscape. For those who are not afraid of heights, join Alnwick Castle’s wizarding professors and take part in a broomstick training session! I am very pleased to learn there is no upper age limit for broomstick training! Walpole informs me however, that he will be keeping his paws firmly planted on the ground!

Weston Park is open this Easter for crafting fun. Children can decorate themed gifts, make a bonnet or design an egg shaped candle to take home. Green fingered types should join Head Gardner, Martin Gee, on Sunday 13th April for a guided walk around ‘Capability’ Brown’s historic parkland.

Youngsters visiting Beaulieu during the Easter holidays can follow an egg-citing trail around the estate and enjoy a sweet treat at the end. There is also Easter themed face painting and if you’re very lucky you might even meet the Easter Bunny! Grown ups, pop into the ‘For Britain and The Hell Of It’ exhibtion while you’re there and learn about the story of Beaulieu’s land speed record cars.

The Lindt Gold Bunny has escaped and is hopping around Hever Castle’s Gardens, kids can explore the gardens and follow the trail to discover where the gold bunny is hiding. Children can also make Easter bonnets at the daily craft workshops and meet Henrietta Hen in the display of rare breeds of bunnies and hens. If you’d at Hever Castle this weekend, the 12th and 13th April, don’t miss the longbow archery display. In fact if you’d like to take part you can pre-book a lesson and the take part in the competition! How thrilling!

Cadbury and the National Trust have teamed up this Easter to create Easter Egg trails at a huge selection of National Trust historic properties and gardens. Here are a few of our favourites:

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal
Ickworth House, Park and Gardens
Lyme Park
Osterley Park and House

Head to the National Trust website for more information on National Trust events. Click here for more information on Cadbury Easter Eggs trails.

My word, what a list! Walpole is exhausted just reading it! We’d better start packing or we’ll never make it round them all! Where will you visit? Tweet us your pics and Easter activites @HudsonsHeritage. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Mrs Hudson recommends…………….something a bit different.

Walpole and I

Walpole and I

Walpole and I have discovered a wonderfully wide range of activites at the nation’s stately homes and gardens so far this year. Spring has sprung and we have been lucky enough to stumble across a new selection of fabulous, and slightly unusual, events .

This April would be William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is celebrating with a month of family activites every day from 5th-27th April 12-3pm. Visit the houses, invent your own Shakesperian words at the Birthplace, create your own characters in the mini theatre at Nash’s Place and transform yourself into a plague victim with face paint at Hall’s Croft. Grisly.

Take a trip on a vintage tractor at Blair Castle and explore hidden parts of the grounds. Children will love visiting the animals on the estate including Highland Cows, Ponies and Red Deer. If you’re feeling even more adventurous join a land rover dawn or dusk safari to see the best of the wildlife on the estate. Take in views of the whole estate from over 3000ft and look out for Red Deer, Black and Red Grouse, Mountain Hares and Birds of Prey.

Looking to take to the waters? Boating season is fast approaching, so head to Beaulieu on 27th April for Beaulieu Boatjumble. Beaulieu Boatjumble is a great way to pick up some bargains for the new season. With up to 1000 stands of boating bits, new trailerable boats, dinghies and equipment, you are bound to find what you need. If you are looking for a used boat, the Boatmart is a unique opportunity to browse around a wide range of used craft for sale, from classics to nearly new and those in need of restoration.

In the market for a bit of culture? Hatfield House are holding a Fundraising and Launch Chamber Concert on 11th April in the Marble Hall at the house. Lord Salisbury will host an evening of sumptuous music with international artists. BBC Radio 3’s Sean Rafferty will introduce the performance. Book now to avoid disappointment!

What an eclectic selection! Something for everyone. Don’t forget, Walpole and I are always looking for inspiration and places to visit. Remember to tweet us your pics!

Mrs Hudson recommends………………treating your Mum

Walpole and I

Walpole and I

If you’re looking for a special way to surprise your Mum this Mothering Sunday, look no further! Walpole and I have been doing our research and we’ve found some wonderful events to inspire you.

Make Mother’s Day memorable this year at Hever Castle in Kent. Take the whole family on Sunday 30th March, treat your Mum to a delicious 3 course lunch or afternoon tea at the Guthrie Pavilion in the Castle’s elegant Italian Gardens. Youngsters will be able to make a gift for Mum at the craft and cupcake decorating workshops.

Treat your Mum to an exquisite lunch on Mother’s Day at Weston Park. Served in the Victorian Orangery, the meal will be prepared by Head Chef at Weston Park, Guy Day. Finish your day with a stroll around the beautiful formal gardens.

Comtpon Verney Art Gallery is celebrating Mother’s Day this year by offering free admission to Mothers and Grandmothers all day on Sunday 30th March. Compton Verney is home to six diverse collections, plus a children’s adventure playground, nature trails and there are plenty of indoor activities in the resource and discovery rooms. There’s something for all the family!

Make sure Mum feels like a Queen this Mother’s Day, at Bolton Castle in Yorkshire. Book a Special Afternoon Tea at the Castle and indulge in sumptuous sandwiches and scones. Ooh gosh, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

Spend some quality time with your Mum at Gibside. Take a Springtime walk through the Georgian landscape garden or go looking for wildlife in the woods. Stop for a tasty cream tea in the Potting Shed Cafe and visit Gibside’s resident artists at the stables where you can make a special gift for Mum.

Remember a simpler time this year and make your Mum a posy with colourful Spring flowers at Glendurgan Gardens in Cornwall. Wander through the garden, to the beautiful hamlet of Durgan, watch birds and boats, skim stones and build sandcastles. Full of fun, natural beauty and amazing plants, take in the stunning surrounding, relax and unwind.

Which will you pick? Tweet us @hudsonsheritage and let us know how you plan to treat your Mum this Mothering Sunday.

Mrs Hudson recommends………something Springlike

Walpole and I

Walpole and I

Spring is in the air and Walpole and I are desperate to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. There are lots of wonderful, interesting events happening across the country during March.

If you’re in the South West on the Shrove Tuesday,  4th March, head to Clovelly to experience an old town custom. Lentsherd begins at Dusk, the children of the village gather at the top of the cobbles, each child carrying a tin can attached to a long string. They set off down the street whooping and clattering their cans behind them, chasing bad spirits away before Lent. What a wonderful opportunity to witness an ancient tradition!

The East is alive with early spring activities! Holkham Hall are starting their monthly ‘Walking Women’ events on 4th March. If you love walking but don’t like to venture too far alone, join Holkham’s walks, enjoy the spectacular estate and meet some new friends along the way!

If you missed the snowdrop walks in February there is still time to catch a glimpse in the woodlands at Oxburgh Hall on the 8th and 9th March. There is a guided walk available but the estate is also open for free roaming.

In the East Midlands, treat the children to a day out at Chatsworth Farmyard and Adventure Playground. Open every day from 10th March, explore this working farmyard with cows, pigs, sheep, horses, chicken and fish. Keep your eyes open for some younger animals as well! There is a milking demonstration at 3:30pm every afternoon and opportunity to cuddle some of your furry friends too. The Adventure Playground is fun for all, with trampoline, rope slide and secret passage (I may stick to the farmyard on this visit, I’m not sure I’m the trampolining type!).

For those in Warwickshire on 6th March, pop over to Compton Verneyfor the Head Groundsman’s Tour. Lasting one hour and taking in some of the key locations around the grounds, the Groundsman will talk you through the development of the Capability Brown landscape to its current form. Learn about the history of the gardens, the restoration and take in the varied art installations dotted around the grounds. Delightful.

If you’re heading further North, Burton Agnes Hall & Gardensare celebrating the beautiful Orchid on 1st and 2nd March. One of my favourite flowers; pay a visit to the hall to see a stunning exhibition and sale and gain advice about growing your own orchids.

Now this sounds wonderful; The World’s Original Marmalade Awards at Dalemain. A full weekend of events on 1st and 2nd March, watch the judging of the jars of marmalade, experience the food fair, crafts, music and children’s activities. Someone fetch me some toast!

For all our friends over the Welsh border, Bodnant Gardenis expanding. Join them on 12th March for a walk around previously unseen areas and hidden gardens, how very exciting!

Walpole thinks that’s enough for now, plenty to keep you all going! Keep your eyes peeled for Mother’s Day recommendations very soon. Don’t forget to tweet me your photos and any ideas for days out @hudsonsheritage.

Mrs Hudson recommends…..Snowdrop Walks

Walpole and I

Walpole and I

Tis the season for Snowdrops! Thank goodness, Walpole and I are desperate to stretch our legs with a wintry walk after a long January huddled up in front of the fire. Here are five of our favourite Snowdrop walks.

Oxburgh Hall is offering guided snowdrop walks every weekend throughout February and the early part of March so no excuses to miss this spectacular event.

Stokesay Court will be open on Sunday 23rd February. Spend your afternoon enjoying a crisp walk through the snowdrop carpeted woodland  and end your day with tea and home made cakes in the Old Kitchen.

Kiplin Hall is opening its gardens on Sundays through to Wednesdays from the 2nd February until the 26th March. Plenty of opportunity to spend a lazy day wandering around the stunning grounds, taking in the stunning snowdrops and budding spring flowers.

Deene Park’s gardens will be open on 16th and 23rd February for Snowdrop Sundays and the Old Kitchen Tearoom will be serving hot food and drinks to warm you through after a chilly stroll.

Burton Agnes Hall and Gardens’ Snowdrop Spectacular is not to be missed. Visit between the 8th February and the 2nd March and take the beautiful woodland walk, finishing your trip with a visit to the cafe for a warm meal and a lovely cup of tea.

Well, I must dash, Walpole’s ready to leave and I must locate my wellies! Which are your favourite snowdrop walks? Don’t forget to tweet us your photos @HudsonsHeritage