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……..talks and walks

Walpole and I

Walpole and I

I adore Spring, but with unpredictably changeable weather, we must always have a range of indoor and outdoor activities on hand to keep ourselves occupied! This month, I am recommending a whole series of Talks and Walks. So there’s plenty to keep you busy, whether the sun is shining or we’re experiencing more of those April showers! Bluebell Watch has begun. Bluebells are a sure sign of the arrival of spring and there are opportunities to see gorgeous displays from now until mid May. Two of my favourite viewing spots are Basildon Park in Berkshire and Hartland Abbey in Devon.

Bluebell Walk at Hartland Abbey, Devon

Bluebell Walk at Hartland Abbey, Devon

If you’re after something exciting and new, treat yourself to an guided tour of Westonbirt House in Gloucestershire, followed by a leisurely stroll through 28 acres of formal and pleasure gardens. This will be the first season that the house and gardens open for tours, book your tour now! Bookish types looking for a unique experience should head for the Bodleian Library in Oxford to one of their extended ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ guided tours. The tour takes you to parts of the buildings only very recently opened to the public. You will also see the vaulted ceiling of the Divinity School and the famous Radcliffe Camera. A day out at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, is so much more than just a visit to an historic house. The estate encompasses acres of parkland, a beach and a nature reserve. Join the team at Holkham for a guided walk around the nature reserve and spot the many species of wildlife living on the landscape.

Spring at Compton Verney

Spring at Compton Verney

Compton Verney in Warwickshire is famous for its incredible art collection but also features stunning ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped Parkland. Join in with this trail of the grounds and search for birds, insects and animals in the beautiful grounds. Worcester Cathedral are celebrating and commemorating the 800th anniversary of King John sealing the magna carta in June 1215 with a series of events and talks. Book quickly to reserve your place on one of these historic talks. For Mums and Dads looking to enjoy the outdoors with little ones, Nostell Priory in Yorkshire is the place to be! Take the buggy through the Tranquil Gardens on even paths and finish your relaxed day with a cup of tea in the café. Pontefract Castle in West Yorkshire recently secured Heritage Lottery Fund investment to open up never-before-seen parts of the castle to the public. If you’re interested in the fascinating history of the castle, pop along to this evening talk for an introduction to its history and conservation. Abbot Hall Art Gallery is one of Kendal’s most important buildings containing a wonderful permanent collection plus an imaginative temporary exhibition programme. Join a member of the curatorial team for an informal look at the gallery or take a guided walk around the exhibitions.

Abbot Hall Art Gallery in the sunshine

Abbot Hall Art Gallery in the sunshine

Abbotsford in Roxburghshire is the home of Sir Walter Scott and much of the stunning gardens and landscape remain as they were when Sir Walter created them between 1811 and 1825. Explore this landscape on a late spring bird song and binoculars walk. If you have ever fancied a different view of Chirk Castle, join one of their monthly rambles around the castle’s parkland with one of the rangers. Each month the walk will take a different route and all are different lengths and difficulties. Phew! I do hope you find a Talk or Walk here to inspire you! Remember to let me know if you attend any, and tweet me your pictures, I do so love receiving them!

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

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!

Doddington Hall is a gorgeous backdrop to this Snowdrop Walk

6 of the Best Snowdrop Walks

Here’s our pick of the six snowdrop walks across the country. So, grab your partner, the kids or the dog and take a stroll in the fresh air.

Dunham Massey, Cheshire
Deer Park Gardens open 11am-4pm daily. Guided walks available.

Forde Abbey, Dorset
10am-4pm throughout February

The delicate white flowers at Forde Abbey

The delicate white flowers at Forde Abbey

Rode Hall and Gardens, Cheshire
12pm-4pm daily 2nd February-10th March

Painswick Rococo Gardens, Gloucestershire
Daily from 11am-5pm

Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire
17th February onwards 11am-4pm

Doddington Hall is a gorgeous backdrop to this Snowdrop Walk

Snowdrops at Doddington Hall

Goodnestone Park Gardens, Kent
24th February-24th March

Which Snowdrop walk is your favourite? Don’t forget to send us your pictures!