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


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!