Something a little bit different (Mrs Hudson is having a half term break, so someone else at Hudson’s wrote this for her)

Hudsons2015covershopHere at Hudson’s we love historic buildings, of any kind.  We all know that our beautiful country is full to bursting with beautiful stately homes, open to the public for visiting days but what about the hidden treasures? The stunning buildings housing our nation’s museums, town halls and shopping markets often get forgotten while we concentrate on their new purpose instead of enjoying the history of the actual bricks and mortar (or stone and wood in some cases!)

The Wisbech and Fenland museum is one of the oldest purpose built museums in the United Kingdom. Opened in 1847, the building’s exterior is a grand Victorian facade. Inside, features include the original 19th century showcases, which line the walls, and tell the history of this fascinating part of the world. The main exhibition room has the splendid Upper Gallery, reached by two beautiful curved wooden staircases. Home to many curios, scientific specimens and local antiques, the museum displays a wonderfully comprehensive local history.

Chester has been offering double the retail therapy to its visitors for 700 years! The facade of the two tiered shopping gallery the Rows was built in the medieval period to house the flourishing markets of the Middle Ages. Much restoration has been done to the Rows over time, and alterations have been made to make way for newer buildings. There are, however, some wonderfully preserved examples of the original medieval buildings, the most famous of which is known as Three Old Arches and is designated as a Grade 1 listed building by English Heritage.

The Theatre Royal at Bury St Edmunds is one of the last surviving examples of a working Regency Playhouse in the country. Built in 1819 and designed by renowned architect William Wilkins, whose other work includes the National Gallery in London, the Theatre Royal still has many original features intact, and is now Grade 1 listed. It is also included in National Trust’s portfolio. There are several ways to experience this intimate and historic building; guided tours are available and free flow self explore is also a possibility. During the Summer months, an interactive exhibition ‘Backstage Past’, featuring live actors, tells the 200 year history of the building.

Manchester Town Hall is an iconic landmark and one of the most important Grade 1 listed buildings in England. One of the country’s finest examples of Neo-Gothic architecture, the building was completed in 1877 and contains many grand and intricately decorated ceremonial rooms. The Great Hall features the famous Manchester Murals by Ford Madox Brown; a series of 12 paintings depicting Manchester’s history, and the Sculpture Hall contains statues of people who made significant contributions to the city. The clock tower which rises to 280 feet and houses Great Abel, the clock bell, is now open for tours during which you will enter the dial room behind the clock face and have the chance to take in the wonderful panoramic city views from the summit of the tower.

Lady Waterford Hall Interior2 cr

Lady Waterford Hall

What comes to mind when you think ‘village hall’? Lady Waterford Hall in North Northumberland breaks every preconception! The building was commissioned as a village school in 1860 by keen artist Louisa Anne, Marchioness of Waterford, who was associated with John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Lady Waterford spent 21 years decorating the inside of the hall with stunning Biblical scenes to act as a teaching aid for the school’s pupils. The history of these paintings is astounding; many of the villagers and schoolchildren were used as models and can be seen clearly depicted on the walls to this day.  Lady Waterford Hall is now used as the village hall in Ford and visitors can see many more of Lady Waterford’s artworks on display, as well as pages from her original sketchbooks.

Britain’s heritage is a diverse, rich, cultural tapestry. We love the unexpected history behind some of our more practical buildings. Are there any historic buildings near you with surprising or interesting stories? Tweet us @HudsonsHeritage


Places to Visit Before You Are 99½

Places to Visit Before You Are 99½

Places to Visit Before You Are 99½

We’ve been talking in the Hudson’s Heritage office about all the wonderful heritage sites and attractions in the UK. We have come to the conclusion that we are very lucky in the UK to have so many beautiful, historic places waiting for us to discover them, but there are loads we haven’t had the chance to see yet.

That got us thinking about the places that would be on our own ‘love to see’ lists. We’ve put the results together to create our ‘Places to Visit before You Are 99½’ list which we thought we would share with you. This list is the personal opinion of some of the Hudson’s Heritage staff, in no particular order and is not, by any means, exhaustive – we would have been writing it for days if it was!

Burghley House, Lincolnshire

    • What – Elizabethan prodigy house with baroque Verrio murals.
    • Comment – Burghley House embodies how world-beating Elizabethans felt and how powerful the Cecil family had become. The lusciousness of the Verrio murals are surely the most confident expression of interior design ever. The Hell staircase at Burghley is also on the list. Fiercely menacing, a real work of art. The detail is quite something and a stark contrast to the Heaven room next door.

West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire

    • What – Elegant Palladian house with Hellfire Caves where Sir Francis Dashwood’s Hellfire Club met in the 1760s for partying and practical jokes.
    • Comment – The contrast between the cool elegance of the house and the eccentricity of the caves just sums up that the 18th century was just the best century for fun!

Warkworth Castle and Hermitage, Northumberland

    • What – A ruined fortress that has a Hermitage hewn out of the cliff which housed a series of hermits.
    • Comment – Just such a romantic concept to keep a hermit in a chapel on a cliff that can only be reached by boat.

A la Ronde, Devon

    • What – Bijou cottage decorated by the Misses Parminter with shells and silhouettes in the early 1800s.
    • Comment – Thoroughly girly and charming. There is nothing else quite like it!

Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire

      • What – Central to Scottish history and home to the Earl Marischal of Scotland
      • Comment – Arguably the most spectacular site of any castle in Britain; leaks history from every stone and a great picnic spot!

Manderston, Scottish Borders

        • What – Edwardian elegance and a staircase made of silver!
        • Comment – Shows how wonderful life was for the privileged in the decades before World War I.

Eltham Palace, London

        • What – 1930s style at its most luxurious.
        • Comment – We love the Art Deco and Courtaulds interiors – makes us want to slip into something glamorous and satiny!

Newby Hall, North Yorkshire

        • What – The complete Grand Tour house with sculpture gallery and Robert Adam’s classical elegance.
        • Comment – The home of a Grand Tourist complete with classical references, sculpture gallery and portraits by Pompeo Batoni.

Parham Park, West Sussex

        • What – Elizabethan perfection in the lee of the Sussex Downs.
        • Comment – A house with an atmosphere like no other and a testament to good taste and sensitive restoration in the 20th century. A good example of how society changed as the wealth of the monasteries created a new landed class.

Traquair House, Scottish Borders

        • What – All the misplaced romance of the Jacobite world but now the gates will never be open.
        • Comment – One of our staff was taken there by her Jacobite mother and she lapped up all the romance of a lost cause. The gates which will only be opened for the return of a Stuart king are the stuff of legend.

Lindisfarne Priory, Northumberland

        • What – Original home of the Lindisfarne Gospels, beautiful, remote but also a reminder of the Border wars.
        • Comment – The place to go for a sense of the early Christian Church in Britain. Beautiful and remote and fortified not against Viking raids which no one expected but against the Scots after Edward I’s incursions into Scotland.

Arbury Hall, Warwickshire

        • What – The fan vaulted ceilings are the best of Strawberry Hill gothick.
        • Comment – Horace Walpole, bitchy, gossipy and vivid, is a bit of a hero of one of the staff here. The style he invented at Strawberry Hill survives in a house that is still full of class and atmosphere. Strawberry Hill itself is also one for the list.

Brighton Pavilion, West Sussex

        • What – Wild extravagance of the Prince Regent, like a stage set for weekend parties.
        • Comment – Nothing quite like it anywhere for vitality, originality and gilding. Reminds us how many global influences came into Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Rousham House, Oxfordshire

        • What – Gardens by William Kent, one of the geniuses of the country house scene.
        • Comment – Follow the rill for an idea of what a mystery full of surprises an 18th century garden can be. There are grander gardens, but none so unexpected.

Castell Coch, South Wales

        • What – William Burges interiors
        • Comment – Another mad imagination at work on the interiors and worth it for the flush of exotic birds and stars on the ceiling.

Beaumaris Castle, Isle of Anglesey

        • What – Edward I castle on Anglesey
        • Comment – The ultimate castle design from the greatest age of castle building and one for the purists.

Hadrian’s Wall, North of England

        • Comment – Really feels like a frontier of the civilised world with an amazing range of Roman forts, baths, temples, towns and artefacts, both military and domestic. Every Briton should visit!

Holkham Beach, Norfolk

        • What – Part of the Holkham Estate.
        • Comment – One of the most unspoilt and beautiful stretches of sand in the country on the doorstep of one of the country’s grandest homes.

The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland

        • What – The Poison Gardens
        • Comment – Especially licensed to grow some dangerous and intriguing plants. Things that you wouldn’t see elsewhere in the UK.

Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim

        • What – Natural land formation
        • Comment – Magnificent and nowhere else quite like it in the UK and Ireland, it has inspired artists and captures the imagination of all that see it.

National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire

        • What – Botanic garden
        • Comment – Themed gardens with something for everyone. Also has the largest single-spanned glasshouse in the world which houses the best display of Mediterranean climate zone plants in the Northern hemisphere.

Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland

        • What – Most northerly of Scotland’s great houses, dating back to 1300s.
        • Comment – Simply a perfect castle – exactly what we imagined a fairytale castle to look like as children!

Leeds Castle, Kent

        • What – Started its life as a Norman castle and has stood the test of time, refurbished over the years.
        • Comment – Dubbed as the ‘loveliest castle in the world’ this castle has the moat, black swans and the style of a proper castle and is one of the few that is still in one piece.

Dumfries House, Ayrshire

        • What – Palladian country house described as an 18th century time capsule.
        • Comment – The unique, refurbished collection of Chippendale furniture is a ‘must-see’.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

        • What – Stately home dating back 500 years, and through 16 generations of the Cavendish family.
        • Comment – So much to see, from the water jet at the front of the house and the amazing trompe-l’oeil, to the amazing art collection and magnificent interiors.

Pendennis Castle, Cornwall

        • What – Fortress built by Henry VIII.
        • Comment – Brings the coastal defence of Britain and English Civil War to life in a breath-taking cliff top setting.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

        • What – A medieval fortification said to be the birthplace of King Arthur.
        • Comment – Evocative ruins of a legend in a dramatic coastal landscape. Lets your imagination run riot!

We have a rich tapestry of heritage in the UK, where would you add to this list and why?

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