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!


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

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


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………………..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!

Heritage News

Woven Wonders

One of the tapestries commissioned for Stirling Castle

One of the tapestries commissioned for Stirling Castle

The next stage in the recreation of the great Renaissance rooms at Stirling Castle will be achieved this year with the delivery of the next in the series of extraordinary tapestries copied from the originals in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The tapestries, which form a series called ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn’, were worked in the tapestries studios at West Dean in Sussex. They will add immeasurably to the lavish interiors of the castle which bring vividly to life the character of the rooms which Mary, Queen of Scots would have known as a small child. The tapestries would have been the major decorative feature of the rooms and highly prized both for their beauty and for the Christian allegory they told. Here the hunting party pursuing the unicorn echo the cruelty of the persecutors of Christ. Go to Stirling this summer and see how the vibrant colours of the tapestries recreate the atmosphere of these rooms in their heyday and how modern craftsmanship can help revive an ancient palace.

Yorkshire at War

Yorkshire at War - Beningbrough Hall

Yorkshire at War – Beningbrough Hall

Watch out for lots of exhibitions and events at properties in Yorkshire in the next two years. The Heritage Lottery Fund is backing a new approach to telling the stories of country houses at war, looking at the impact of World Wars I and II on 8 houses in the county including Castle Howard, Newby Hall and Kiplin Hall. Beningbrough Hall’s new exhibition in 2013 is inspired by graffiti. The members of one RAF crew, billeted in the house in the Second World War, carved their names in the woodwork, wanting to be remembered if they failed to return safely. This glimpse into the 18th century house’s more recent past has inspired fresh interpretation, activities, talks and events that help give the importance of this elegant house a new twist.

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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