Read our past weekly e-bulletins
If you enjoy reading our weekly e-newsletter, you can now read all our past installments in one place
The Historic Houses weekly e-bulletin launched in February 2019 and has since become a source of enjoyable news and entertainment consumed by Historic Houses members, journalists, historic house owners and heritage enthusiasts alike. Below, you can see a full archive of all our previous issues of the weekly bulletin.
If you’re not yet a reader do consider signing up here to receive it straight in your inbox every Friday at 4:30pm.
Weekly Bulletin #214
Women | 10 March 2023
It was International Women’s Day this week, on Wednesday 8 March, and we’ve been taking a look at and celebrating the women in heritage who make our brilliant sector tick.
From Julie Biddlecombe-Brown (curator at Raby Castle) to Julie Montagu (TV presenter and entrepreneur, Mapperton House) to our wonderful president Martha Cobbold (managing director at Knebworth House), we spoke to six women working at historic houses about their experiences and advice for other women. Read here.
This week, a visit to Kiplin Hall is on the cards, there’s a book talk at Benjamin Franklin House, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!
Weekly Bulletin #213
March | 3 March 2023
It’s March! The spring equinox is just over two weeks away, and the spring edition of the Historic House magazine is beginning to land at doors. Our favourite castles and gardens are slowly starting to open back up for visitors. We’re pretty excited here at Historic Houses. Can you tell?
In the spirit of visits to beautiful landscapes, we’ve put together a list of some of the best houses and gardens to visit in the Cotswolds, sprinkled with some mildly interesting facts about the area. The Cotswolds is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the country, covering 787 square miles across six counties. Beautiful countryside, picturesque villages, and vibrant market towns make it one of the most enjoyable places to visit – a true tourist’s dream.
This week, Hoveton Hall is our recommendation of the week, a murder mystery evening takes place at Roswarne House, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Oh, and we’ve also got some footage of the northern lights illuminating the grounds at Blenheim Palace. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #212
Chapels | 24 February 2023
The earliest Christian places of worship are now often referred to as chapels, as they were not dedicated buildings but rather a dedicated chamber within a building. Most larger churches had one or more secondary altars which, if they occupied a distinct space, would often be called a chapel.
Generally, today, a chapel is a place of worship that is not a church which belongs to a parish in a village or town, but is more private or has a special purpose. It’s usually smaller than a church—sometimes just a room—and can be within a church itself or in a secular place like a hospital or airport.
Chapels can be found in many of our historic houses. For 900 years, Auckland Castle (pictured above) was the home of the Bishop of Auckland. Now, after being a beneficiary of an ambitious restoration project, the chapel, castle, and gardens are open for visitors to explore.
Visit Auckland Castle & Gardens Wednesdays to Sundays, 10:30am – 4pm. Members of Historic Houses can enjoy free entry to the gardens.
This week, Elsham Hall is our recommendation of the week, Hall in Bishops Tawton claims tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!
Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #211
Cafés | 17 February 2023
Who doesn’t love a café? Many of our houses run cosy and intimate cafés on their grounds for visitors to explore, grab a hot drink, and take a break. They’re hubs of life, a place for general chit-chat, light-hearted mingling, and the odd harmless gossip. You may meet a fellow Historic Houses member, you may get chatting to the friendly staff, or you may even bump into the house owner casually popping in say hello.
As the days become ever so slightly brighter and warmer, cafés are slowly opening back up across our houses. The café and gardens at Browsholme Hall, Lancashire, re-open to the public on 1 March, while the Stables Kitchen at Burton Constable is open daily. Down in the south, the tea room at The Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village is open daily and is known to be a place of bustling energy and community, while Goodnestone Park’s Old Dairy Café is open Wednesdays to Sundays.
Get yourself down and have a brew as we all look forward to spring!
This week, Athelhampton House is our recommendation of the week, Talliston claims tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #210
Valentine's Day | 10 February 2023
The most romantic day of the year is coming up next week, and our houses are pulling out all the stops. Some special Valentines offers at the Falconhurst Estate farm shop caught our eye, Burghley House are encouraging you to spoil someone special courtesy of a splendid afternoon tea experience for two, while Painshill Park are inviting you to Surrey to explore their romantic landscape before sitting down to a delicious spread of sandwiches, scones, and cake – topped with a glass of Painshill’s very own sparkling wine. Does it get much more romantic than that?
If you’d rather spend the day indoors, we don’t blame you. Love is in the air, whether that’s warm insulated air or cold, breezy, fresh air. It’s all about the company you’re with. Do keep your Historic House magazine and handbook to hand, though. We wouldn’t want you forgetting about us.
This week, Quy Hall is our recommendation of the week, Llanerchydol Hall in Wales claims tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #209
Snowdrops | 03 February 2023
Is there anything more charming than a leisurely walk through a garden surrounded by snowdrops? They evoke a sense of cheer, flowering when little else does, marking the end of winter and the beginning of longer days and, hopefully, some kinder weather.
Easton Walled Gardens is well-known as one of the prettiest snowdrop gardens in Lincolnshire and they open specially for visitors to enjoy them too. Opening on 15 February this year, the gardens, courtyard shop, and coffee room can be visited Wednesdays to Sundays, 11am – 4pm.
Keep your eyes peeled to our events page, as many of our houses prepare for special snowdrop themed events during the spring season. Snowdrop walks can be booked at Wentworth Woodhouse and Deene Park, while special openings occur at Hopetoun House and Chawton House for Snowdrop Sundays. It’s all happening in February!
This week, Camden Place is our recommendation of the week, Brinton Hall claims tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #208
Calendar Houses | 27 January 2023
Earlier country houses were built in eras of looser planning controls with more lavish budgets, and hence could more easily reflect the whims of the owner. One indulgence were houses which incorporated horological elements, creating the phenomena of the ‘calendar house’.
The principle of the calendar house is that the number of external doors, windows, chimneys, staircases or other elements should total either four (the number seasons), seven (days in a week), twelve (months in a year), or 365 (days in a year). The concept was popular during Elizabethan years, due to the widespread fascination of horology, astronomy, and mathematics.
Boughton House, home to ancestors of the Buccleuch family for centuries, is one of only a few remaining calendar houses in the UK. It has 365 windows, 12 entrances, 7 courtyards and 52 chimneys! If you don’t believe us, feel free to count them up yourself. We’ll probably be entering a new year by the time you finish.
This week, The D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum is our recommendation of the week, Dorfold Hall is tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #207
Storytelling | 20 January 2023
National Storytelling Week is coming up, beginning on 28 January. This is a time to share the pleasure of your favourite stories.
Godinton House & Gardens has 600 years of stories to tell but a particular book in the Study brings pleasure to house manager Chloe Hearn:
“Since I was young my favourite book has been Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. A classic for a reason! This coming-of-age story resonates with a lot of people as the characters all follow their own individual path. I found a lot of similarities between the close bond of the four sisters and their mother and my own relationship with my sisters and mum. The book also holds a special place for me as my mum gave me her copy to read as a teenager – inside was a note in her handwriting with her name and the year she had first read the book.”
“At Godinton House, when cleaning some of the books in the Study and returning them to their rightful place I found a copy of Little Women with a bookplate in the front showing it once belonged to Geraldine Ward” Chloe added, “She was the mother of Alan Wyndham Green, the last owner of Godinton House.”
“As with all well-loved books it is slightly worn on the spine but it gave me great pleasure to come across my favourite book in the collection here.”
Godinton House opens on Friday and Saturday afternoons from 7 April.
This week, Burton Agnes Hall is our recommendation of the week, Camden Place host tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #206
Sofas | 13 January 2023
The word “sofa” dates back to 2000BC in Egypt, and is derived from the word “suffah” which roughly translates to “bench”. Originally, sofas were intended as furniture to perch on – not lounge on – until the 1680s. Canapés were the first chairs intended to seat more than one person, and their arrival marked the dawn of a new era of comfort.
According to Joan DeJean, author of The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual — and the Modern Home Began, the evolution of seating from purely pragmatic to comfortable heralded perhaps the earliest iteration of a casual private life. The same decade the sofa debuted, people began to read for pleasure, cotton textiles became widely available, and the first concept of “casual dress” hit the scene in France.
“They loved their sofas and other new types of comfortable seating because they saw them as giving a new ease to daily life,” explained DeJean.
Well, it’s fair to say sofas are now very much in fashion. Many of our houses feature designs from the most critically acclaimed furniture makers in British history.
This week, Chawton House is our recommendation of the week, Burton Constable Grounds is welcoming visitors, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #205
Landscapes | 6 January 2023
Garden landscaping has always been a big deal for country homes and estates in the UK. It’s essential to have a garden that matches the aesthetic beauty of the house itself, designed and maintained with an equal level of attention and care.
Step forward Lancelot Brown (more commonly known as ‘Capability’ Brown), the most prolific and famous eighteenth-century garden landscaper and designer. It’s estimated that Brown was responsible for designing more than 170 gardens surrounding country homes in the UK.
Brown’s style was built on three main principles: comfort, economy, and elegance. His nickname came from his fondness for describing country estates as having great ‘capabilities’ for improvement. Some of his most impressive work can be seen at many of our houses, such as Harewood House (pictured above), Blenheim Palace, and Stowe House.
This week, Montalto Estate is our recommendation of the week, you’ve just got time to catch the Twelve Days of Christmas exhibition at Bamburgh Castle if you can’t bear to let go of the festive season, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #204
Romjul | 30 December 2022
Yep, that wasn’t a typo. Romjul, the Norwegian name for the period between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, is our theme this week. That all too familiar sleepy, muddled state that we find ourselves in for those days following Christmas, slowly ploughing our way through the leftover mince pies and turkey, while the biggest issue on our minds is what day bin day is this week.
In Britain, we’ve struggled to find a name for this period – only adding to the state of disorientation and ‘”ah, whatever” attitude we learn to embrace. Technically, it falls under the 12 days of Christmas (which captures the period between 25 December and 6 January) but that just doesn’t quite do these four or five days justice. It truly is a feeling like no other – not knowing what day of the week it is, whether you should be up early or lie in, whether that slight hangover you’re carrying is acceptable or not. A sort of blissful ignorance to end the year.
The term Romjul was invented in Norway in the mid 2000s, and refers to the idea of taking a break and reflecting on the past during this period. It’s all about spending time with loved ones and embracing the languidness of these few days.
So, Happy Romjul to everyone, and see you in 2023!
This week, West Dean Gardens is our recommendation of the week, Chawton House’s New Year’s Day Brunch is event of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #203
Christmas | 23 December 2022
As we enter the festive weekend, we’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas from all at Historic Houses. For once, we’re going to tell you stay indoors, stay warm, and enjoy the weekend with your loved ones. Those houses can be visited another time…
This week, Haddon Hall is our recommendation of the week, the wonderful Laura Diggens returns with her final painting of the year, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #202
Snow | 16 December 2022
It’s been a snowy week to say the least at some of our houses across the country. While some escaped, many were left with thick blankets of snow covering every acre of land.
As pretty as this may look, it’s been a week where staying indoors has been most people’s preferred option. Scented candles and cosy blankets are a must right now, with temperatures of -15.7C being recorded in parts of Scotland, while Balmoral recorded a low of -13.1C.
Montalto Estate, pictured above, is embracing the winter season with its specially decorated Christmas Shop. All sorts of gifts and accessories are available, but be quick, it closes for the season this Sunday.
Check out our directory of online gift shops offered by our houses here. ‘Tis the season…
This week, Clawson Old Manor is our recommendation of the week, a snowy Ushaw House and Gardens welcomes you to its grounds, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #201
Treehouses | 9 December 2022
There’s nothing quite like a treehouse retreat. The feeling of being at one with nature and surrounded by leaves is a feeling like no other, and this exposure to nature is scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Our houses are catching onto this, and are using their acres of land to provide you with different ways to enjoy overnight trips at some of the country’s most historic homes.
Elmore Court, the award-winning wedding venue in Gloucestershire, has announced details of its ambitious rewilding plans which include the opening of six unique treehouses in Spring 2023. The new treehouses will operate as a sophisticated self-serviced holiday let, running separately to the wedding business whilst extending availability to wedding guests.
“As part of the rewilding project it was always a passion of mine to be able to sleep and relax within nature on the estate” said Anselm Guise, owner of Elmore Court, “This was the main driver to build the treehouses as sustainably as possible and allow more people to come and stay and see what we are doing here.”
Read the full story here.
This week, Harvington Hall is our recommendation of the week, there’s an opportunity to meet Father Christmas at Abbotsford, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!
Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #200
Falconry | 2 December 2022
The use of birds of prey to hunt dates back thousands of years, across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, but in England and other western European countries is most closely associated with the aristocratic and courtly culture of the Middle Ages.
These majestic birds were closely associated with social status, and uses of the larger and grander species were jealously guarded privileges. The 1486 Boke of St Albans sets out a fifteen-level ranking:
Emperor: Eagle, vulture, and merlin
King: gyr falcon and the tercel of the gyr falcon
Prince: falcon gentle and the tercel gentle
Duke: falcon of the loch
Earl: Peregrine falcon
Knight: sacre and the sacret
Esquire: lanere and the laneret
Young man: hobby
Poor man: tercel
Holy water clerk: musket
Knave or servant: kestrel
Today, you don’t have to have a place in a social pecking order to get up close and personal with some magnificent birds. Lots of our member places have owls and raptors and there are plenty of daily flying displays and chances to learn the skills of falconry hands-on. Try, for example, the Hawk and Owl Centre at Muncaster Castle, or buy someone the chance to be a falconer for a day at Bolton Castle – the perfect gift for Christmas!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #199
Christmas Trees | 25 November 2022
No, it’s not too early. It’s never too early. December is just around the corner and ’tis the season to start your Christmas tree shopping. Never has the corner of your living room looked so vacant.
As always, our houses have you covered. Boughton House, home to the Duke of Buccleuch, will be helping visitors craft their perfect Christmas by opening its gates to sell premium real Nordmann Fir Christmas trees this winter. Visitors can choose from a selection of trees ranging from 4ft to 9ft, with smaller potted trees available too. Handmade wreaths, tree stands, and unique gifts will be available from 26 November.
Read more about it here.
This week, Burton Agnes Hall is our recommendation of the week, Laura Diggens returns with her November painting, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #198
Winter Artisan Markets | 18 November 2022
Who doesn’t love a festive market? Many of our houses host their own markets featuring the most creative and enthusiastic locals in the region.
Over recent years, Haddon Hall has become renowned for its artisan markets. It brings together some of the finest artisans in the country in a beautifully curated event set in the grounds of the Haddon estate. This festive season, Haddon will be hosting its Mercatum Winter Artisan Market over three long weekends, with visitors invited to weave their way round the grounds, starting in front of the Stables before moving into the Lower Courtyard and the Banqueting Hall.
The hall will be decorated to create a wonderfully festive atmosphere, with music, winter scents, twinkling lights, and décor bringing each room to life. Read more about it here.
This week, Parham House & Gardens is our recommendation of the week, Glemham Hall’s festive tour claims tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #197
Chandeliers | 11 November 2022
Chandeliers have always been synonymous with luxury and wealth. First emerging in fourteenth century France, the earliest chandeliers were simple in design and consisted of a wooden cross with small spikes positioned at each end on which the candles were placed. From the fifteenth century they became popular decorative features in palaces and were also used to illuminate medieval churches and abbeys. Metal and gilded gold chandeliers appeared in homes of the wealthy and were seen as a symbol of status.
The stunning sixteen-arm chandelier at Drumlanrig Castle features mermaids and serpents and is made of 54kg of solid silver. It came into the Buccleuch Collection when the 5th Duke of Buccleuch bought it in 1835 – before that it was part of the Royal Collection. Originally it is thought to have been bought for Catherine of Braganza, Charles II’s Queen, for her Whitehall Palace drawing room. It was then enlarged for James II’s Queen, Mary of Moderna, in 1686. It was sold from the Royal Collection in 1832.
Discover the luxury interiors of our houses and take a trip through history on our Invitation to View tours, designed to give visitors a true peek behind the curtains of a historic house.
This week, Hook Norton Brewery is our recommendation of the week, Carlton Towers claims tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!
Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin #196
Fireworks | 04 November 2022
It’s Bonfire Night this weekend and, as always, our houses are looking to welcome you into their grounds and share the celebratory spirit.
Don’t miss a dazzling night out on Sunday 6 November at Weston Park’s annual Bonfire & Fireworks Night. Taking place in the historic parkland, it remains one of the region’s largest and most spectacular bonfire celebrations with entertainment for the whole family. Two amazing firework displays will be brought to you by the award-winning MLE Pyrotechnics with each display lasting 15 minutes. There will also be a traditional funfair and tasty street food on offer.
This week, Bolton Castle is our recommendation of the week, Clawson Old Manor claims tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #195
Halloween | 28 October 2022
There’s something supernatural brewing at our houses this week. Ghosts, pumpkins, and spooky costumes are on the horizon as a weekend of frights and scares dawns upon us.
Borde Hill Garden is calling all young ghost hunters to come and investigate what’s spooking the Powers family in a daily story trail running until 31 October. The trail is suitable for children aged three to eight, and everyone completing the trail will receive a prize.
Elsewhere, a series of spooky talks and activities continue to run at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester, Lullingstone Castle is bringing some Halloween magic to the Kent countryside, and Chawton House is bringing gothic garden trails to Hampshire.
There is so much on this weekend. Our events page has all the info on what’s going on near you, and you can filter events by region, date and category.
Bear in mind that special events usually aren’t free with your Historic Houses card. Always check before you go.
This week, Harvington Hall is our recommendation of the week, Pitchford Hall’s festive tour is tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #194
Prime Ministers | 21 October 2022
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it takes to be a good leader. While some prefer a strong, outspoken individual others prefer a more laidback, friendly approach to leadership. Despite the drastic differences in UK prime ministers old and new, we’ve identified a historic connection between our houses and past prime ministers.
It’s only right to start at the beginning, with the beautiful Houghton Hall which was built in the 1720s for Britain’s first ever prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole. The need to maintain his networks of influence meant Houghton was a centre for entertaining and showing off on a grand scale.
Time in the office was often short (but not that short) in the eighteenth century, but at least the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, brought up in the family home of Wentworth Woodhouse, had two shots at it. He secured his place in history by laying the foundations of reconcilliation with the rebellious American colonies, and died only weeks into his second term as Prime Minister.
The 1st Duke of Wellington owed his fame, title, and even house at Stratfield Saye in Hampshire to the grateful nation for whom he fought against Napoleon, while the successor to his principal period in office, the 2nd Earl Grey, really ought to be remembered for the Great Reform Act and the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, but for most of us lives on chiefly in the flavoured tea to which he lends his name. He spent his retirement at Howick Hall in Northumberland, still the family seat.
The connections go on. While political chaos seems to dominate the media at the moment, a curious and innocent look back in time might be welcomed.
This week, Sudeley Castle is our recommendation of the week, Carlton Towers claims tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!
Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #193
Ghosts | 14 October 2022
Ghosts have been sighted at the Charles Dickens Museum…but don’t panic – they’re meant to be there!
Last week marked the start of the eagerly anticipated exhibition ‘To Be Read At Dusk: Dickens, Ghosts & the Supernatural‘. They’ll be exploring Dickens’ long held interest in ghosts, looking at his own thoughts on the supernatural, how his interest impacted his writing, and how Dickens himself came to help shape the supernatural literary genre.
To Be Read at Dusk continues to run until March 2023. Read more about it here.
This week, Highcliffe Castle is our recommendation of the week, Acton Scott Hall is tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #192
Stays | 7 October 2022
While a visit to a historic house is enough for some, a stay in a historic house for others really is the cherry on top. Many of our most iconic houses offer you the opportunity to book overnight accommodation in their most spacious rooms, with unique features and picturesque views.
One of the special houses which offers this is Acton Scott Hall, in Shropshire. Not only do the Acton family offer rooms in the house exclusively available for guests on Invitation to View tours, but there is also a glamping site hidden away in the woods which offers an escape from everyday life. Each encampment has comfortable beds, running water, a BBQ, and even a hot tub. Find out more here.
This week, Laura Diggens returns with her October painting, Knowsley Hall is our recommendation of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #191
Beavers | 30 September 2022
Four centuries after their extinction in Britain, beavers have returned to Mapperton Estate in West Dorset.
As part of the Mapperton Wildlands project, a pair of adult beavers have been relocated from Scotland to an eight-acre enclosure near Mapperton House, home to Luke and Julie Montagu, Viscount and Viscountess Hinchingbrooke.
Luke Montagu, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, says, “The arrival of beavers is a major milestone for our rewilding project, Mapperton Wildlands. They are such impressive animals and within a few days have already got to work building dams and creating new wetland.
“And while we recognise that they can cause problems when not properly managed, our beavers are safely contained in a well-constructed enclosure.”
The next guided tour of Mapperton Wildlands – including the beaver enclosure – will take place on Sunday 2 October. Read more about it here.
This week, Eastnor Castle is our recommendation of the week, a flock of illuminated sheep head to Bamburgh Castle, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!
Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #190
Autumn | 30 September 2022
The autumn equinox occured last night, officially launching us into a new season full of change and growth.
While the kids are heading back to school, and 6pm daylight slowly becomes a thing of the past, it’s not only the trees which are preparing for the colder months. Our houses are also embracing the change and making sure there’s a full schedule of events to keep you occupied and in anticipation as you wake up to those chillier mornings.
Forde Abbey & Gardens invites you to its gardens which are open daily throughout the autumn season, while their popular Pumpkin Rolling event returns to the gardens this October.
This week, Breamore House is our recommendation of the week, Camden Place is our tour of the week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!
read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #189
Gift Membership | 16 September 2022
If you’re wondering what to get a friend or family member as a reminder of how much they mean to you, or you’re planning very ahead for Christmas, have you considered a Historic Houses gift membership?
Historic Houses membership is the perfect gift for a loved one who enjoys learning, visiting, and ultimately supporting Britain’s wonderful historic houses, castles, and gardens. From free access to over 300 heritage sites right across the UK, to monthly online lectures, a fabulous quarterly magazine, and a special members area on the website with competitions, promotions and relevant discounts, our membership scheme comes with all sorts of benefits for lovers of history and heritage.
Find out more about gift membership and how to purchase it here.
This week, Hutton-in-the-Forest is our recommendation of the week, a brand new country fair takes place at Weston Park, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed.
Please note that now more than ever, it’s important to check the website of the house or garden you intend to visit before travelling. Some of our houses and gardens will close during the period of mourning (and many will on the day of the State Funeral), but others remain open. Our information is advisory.
Enjoy!read the weekly e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #188
HM Queen Elizabeth II | 09 Sep 2022
Historic Houses is saddened by the death of Her Majesty the Queen and extends its condolences to the Royal Family.
Her Majesty was an exemplar of public service and an inspiration to millions of people around the Commonwealth and the world. The Queen provided stability through decades of remarkable change.
We welcome the accession of our new sovereign, wishing His Majesty a long and happy reign.
God save the King.
This week, Plas Brondanw is our recommendation of the week, there’s a specialist autumn plant fair at Borde Hill Garden, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed.
Please note that now more than ever, it’s important to check the website of the house or garden you intend to visit before travelling. Some of our houses and gardens will close during the period of mourning (and many will on the day of the State Funeral), but others remain open. Our information is advisory.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #187
Royalty | 02 Sep 2022
Royal connections and ancestry seem to be a common feature of many of our houses. What do beautiful, period homes that form the roots and historical framework of a nation have in common with the British monarchy? Well, pretty much everything.
While many of our historic houses were once childhood homes of some of the most influential women in British history (Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, while Althorp raised a young Diana, Princess of Wales), many remain today as country retreats of none other than Her Majesty The Queen (Sandringham in Norfolk for example, or Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire).
The list goes on. It often feels as though nearly every other historic house has a close royal connection. Perhaps this encourages you to take a visit to a house near you. You never know who you might bump into…
This week, Goldsborough Hall is our recommendation of the week, Scone Palace hosts a dog-themed event, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #186
August Bank Holiday | 26 Aug 2022
The summer bank holiday was introduced in 1871, and was originally intended to give bank employees the opportunity to participate and attend cricket matches. Exactly 100 years later in 1971, the bank holiday was moved to the last Monday in August for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland while remaining at the beginning of August in Scotland.
You may not be into cricket, but these days there is so much to do on your summer bank holiday weekend. Our houses have a great range of events to keep the whole family occupied. Whether it’s a summer fiesta at Weston Park, a royal bank holiday at Holdenby House, a harvest seasonal market at Raby Castle , or a Plant Hunters Weekend at Lullingstone Castle, there’s something for everyone.
Our events page has all the info on what’s going on near you, and you can filter events by region, date, and category.
Bear in mind that special events usually aren’t free with your Historic Houses card. Always check before you go.
This week, Stratfield Saye House is our recommendation of the week, we look forward to Sion Hill Hall’s upcoming tour, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #185
Fundraising | 19 Aug 2022
The work our houses do for their local communities often goes unnoticed. Many of our houses, castles, and gardens not only provide locals and tourists with fun days out, but they also run large scale fundraising events and open days to encourage charitable donations.
For example, Smedmore House, one of Dorset’s finest Georgian manor houses, is holding an open day in aid of Wessex Cancer Trust on Sunday 25 September. Well-known author and historian Dr Philip Mansel will be leading guided tours of the house, and explained, “We wanted to do something to help raise awareness and funds for this wonderful charity because cancer affects many of us, and Wessex Cancer Trust is there when people most need support.”
Read more about the open day at Smedmore House here, and browse all news from our houses here.
This week, Holker Hall is our recommendation of the week, The Jungle Book comes to Goodnestone Park, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #184
Guided Tours | 12 Aug 2022
Would you like a peek behind the curtains of some of our houses? Well, not to worry, take this as your formal invitation…
‘Invitation to View’ offers exclusive tours behind the closed doors of some of the country’s most remarkable places. As part of a small group of like-minded people, you’ll have privileged access to some of Historic Houses’ most private homes.
Tours are usually led by the owners, and you’ll hear fascinating stories about the heroic or villainous exploits of their ancestors or the joys and struggles of caring for a historic building. As honoured guests, you’ll be offered something to eat and drink – from a cream tea to lunch with wine – and have a chance to socialise with the rest of your group and the owner, who will be happy to answer all your questions.
There are so many tours happening right now. Browse upcoming tours here, and subscribe to our monthly tours bulletin here to keep up to date with them.
This week, Rode Hall & Gardens gets a recommendation, Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens in North Wales is open for visitors, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #183
Filming | 5 August 2022
The film and TV industry takes full advantage of the beauty of our historic houses. Many of our most scenic houses, castles, and gardens offer their services as filming locations, bringing some of the world’s most famous actors and directors to their doorstep. Anyone with a Netflix subscription is bound to have come across a historic house on their screen at some point, with popular series such as Poldark (Chavenage House), Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle), and The Crown (Burghley House / Belvoir Castle) all tapping into the beauty of UK heritage.
The list goes on. And let’s not even get started on the huge films (Batman, Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice to name but a few) which have done the same.
Explore our filming and photography page to find out which houses welcome requests for filming.
This week, Traquair House gets a recommendation, Capesthorne Hall are taking us back to the 80s at Rewind Festival, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #182
Gift Shops | 29 July 2022
Whether you’re looking for a birthday gift, a Christmas present, or just fancy surprising a loved one who deserves a treat, our houses have you covered. Have a browse through our directory to view the online shops of our historic houses, offering a diverse range of quirky gifts and accessories.
Whether it be Harry Potter themed ties, luxury hampers, or Jane Austen inspired fridge magnets, there’s just about something for everyone. Take a look for yourself here.
This week, The Manor, Hemingford Gray gets a recommendation, Glemham Hall is our Tour of the Week, and last week’s Mystery House is revealed. Enjoy!read the e-bulletin online here
Weeky Bulletin Issue #181
Weddings | 22 July 2022
Not only is summer the season for beach trips, family days out, and 38 degrees heatwaves (!), but it’s also peak wedding season. There is no better time for a grand celebration of love than the summer time, and this is why many of our most scenic historic houses tend to be very busy in this period.
Perhaps the ultimate experience at a historic house is getting married. There’s no doubt that gorgeous views and breathtaking architecture make for perfect wedding venues, and our places have these in abundance. Whether its Deene Park, Arley Hall, or Blenheim Palace, consider spending your special day at a historic house.
This week, Muncaster Castle gets a recommendation, Vann hosts our event of the week, and we reveal last week’s Yorkshire-based Mystery House. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #180
Exhibitions | 15 July 2022
While many of our historic houses are known for their beauty and historical significance, a growing number are becoming more popular due to the range and quality of exhibitions they put on. Turner’s House, in Twickenham, is a great example.
Its latest exhibition, Between the Sheets: Turner’s Nudes, has been commanding rave reviews in the media, even being awarded the prestigious Exhibition of the Week accolade by The Guardian. The exhibition was opened by eminent author and playwright Michael Frayn accompanied by his wife, award winning writer, Claire Tomalin, and focuses on the private life and work of landscape artist JMW Turner.
Between the Sheets will be open to the public from Saturday 9 July until Sunday 30 October, Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm. Pre-booking is essential via turnershouse.org.
Who doesn’t love an exhibition?
This week, Picton Castle gets a recommendation, Raby Castle hosts our event of the week, and we have a look at Pitchford Hall’s upcoming chocolate-themed tour. There’s also a swanky new job vacancy up for grabs. Enjoy!Read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #179
Art | 8 July 2022
Historic houses offer all kinds of arts and crafts, from sculpture exhibitions to painting retreats to life drawings. If you’re a fan of art, then a visit to a historic house is one of the best ways to spend your free time. Not only are all of our houses great examples of elegant architecture, but many of them possess an interior with antiques and furniture dating back hundreds of years, providing a glimpse into the fashion and taste of centuries ago.
This week, we put a spotlight on our June painting as we hear of Laura Diggens’ visit to Sezincote, we check out a sneak peek of the sculpture exhibition taking place at Doddington, and we recommend a visit to a house in Northampton with very strong royal links…read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #178
July | 1 July 2022
Many say that July is the best month of the year. The sun comes out, school holidays start, more family days out – it’s hard to disagree, isn’t it? With Wimbledon in full wing, and the cricket season well underway, let’s try and be as active as possible this July and do as many family sports and activities as possible. We’re approaching the official halfway point of the year (2 July) so it’s time to put those New Year’s resolutions to get out of the house more into practice, before it’s too late!
See how our houses can get you out of the house by attending some of their great outdoors events, ranging from gardening courses to garden festivals to live music and theatre; view all events info here.
Also this week, Stanstead Bury is our tour of the week; a snippet from Arley Hall’s jazz-infused garden festival is our video of the week; and we recommend a visit to the quintessentially English Dorfold Hall. We hope you enjoy the bulletin, and start July with an adventurous spirit!read the e-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #177
Livery Companies | 24 June 2022
The 110 livery companies comprise London’s ancient and modern trade associations and guilds, and have been the heartbeat of the capital for hundreds of years. Many livery halls, such as Stationers’ Hall, can be hired for social and corporate functions, and they also make great wedding venues!
As we approach the much-awaited reopening of Stationers’ Hall in July 2022, find out more info about City of London Livery Companies on the hall’s website, and explore all the events and private tours it has to offer.
This week, Earsham Hall is our featured tour, Mysevin receives a recommendation, and Elmore Court brings us our video of the week.Read the E-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #176
Summer Solstice | 17 June 2022
Yes, it’s really happening. The summer solstice on 21 June is approaching and we’ve had seven days of consistent sun. As you sun-cream up and take full advantage of the lovely weather we’re all being treated to, why not check out what our historic houses are up to and see if there are any events that tickle your fancy? Our events page has all the info on what’s going on near you, and you can filter events by region, date and category.
Bear in mind that special events usually aren’t free with your historic houses card. Always check before you go.
This week, Island Hall is our featured tour, while the gorgeous Chillingham Castle receives a recommendation, and we put a spotlight on Bramall Hall in Cheshire.Read the E-bulletin online here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #175
Drama | 10 June 2022
With some better—albeit unpredictable!—weather recently, we hope you’ve been able to get out to see some of Britain’s incredible historic houses and gardens. This week, we’re putting the spotlight on live theatre and music. What could be more magical than an immersive experience in an historic setting? From the Battle Proms at Burghley and Blenheim to a production of Awful Auntie at Raby, our places are staging something for everyone this summer. Browse a selection of events here.
One performance you won’t want to miss is Pipe Major Stuart Liddle’s wonderful Jubilee bagpipe tune, which he played at Inveraray Castle last week. It’s linked below as our video of the week. Our featured tour of the week is Bressingham Hall and its world-famous gardens near Diss, at the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Finally, you might consider adding Bickleigh Castle in Devon, with its fascinating royal history, to your list of must-see places. Enjoy today’s bulletin, and have a lovely weekend.Read the E-Bulletin Online Here
Weekly Bulletin Issue #174
Platinum Jubilee Weekend | 3 June 2022
It’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Weekend, and historic houses and gardens up and down the country are abuzz with activity! Our events page is a useful tool to discover what is going on near you, as you can filter events by region, date and category. Many houses began a weekend of celebrations by taking part in the Jubilee beacons event last night, which you can read about below.
This week, Brinton Hall in Norfolk is our featured tour; renowned sculptor Martin Jennings discusses his current exhibition at Arundells in our video of the week; and there’s a brand new mystery house to identify.
Have a lovely long weekend and enjoy the bulletin!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #173
Collecting | 27 May 2022
We announced the shortlist for our inaugral Collections Award this week, and we hope you’ll be interested to learn about the fascinating collections that our judges will be considering over the coming weeks.
Our ‘newsletter artist in residence’, Laura Diggens, visited Combermere Abbey this month, and she certainly experienced an atmospheric arrival at the Gothic mansion! Her wonderful painting of the house is above, and you can read more about her artwork below.
Also this week, we were lucky enough to hear from three head gardeners in our members’ lecture yesterday. If you’re a member and didn’t catch it, you can view the recording on the website now. Our tour of the week is a chance to visit Rousham House and Ditchley Park together, and this week’s featured contender for Garden of the Year is Wentworth Woodhouse.
Have a lovely weekend, and we wish you sunny skies wherever you are. Enjoy the bulletin!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #172
Summer magazine out | 20 May 2022
The summer issue of Historic House magazine has hit the printing presses and will be winging its way to doormats in a couple of weeks (distribution can take up to 9 June, so don’t panic if you don’t get it earlier). Logged-in members can read it right now online, but if you’re yet to join, you’re missing out. The main feature is all about the long-awaited reopening of the beautifully restored Kelmscott Manor (pictured), the riverside retreat of artist, designer, writer, social thinker, and cultural critic William Morris. We’ve also got a royal slam for the Jubilee, from Georgian thrones and Tudor portraits to Scottish progresses and the Stone of Scone.
In this week’s free bulletin, we learn that the hidden Monmouthshire gem Treowen is open for an exclusive owner-guided tour, and we recommend visiting Restoration Award-winning Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye if you want to make the most of long, light Scottish evenings and Gulf Stream summer temperatures. If you can’t get out just yet, try a video tour of the wonderful Browsholme Hall in Lancashire in the company of the Bowbearer of the Forest of Bowland himself!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #171
Planting for the future | 13 May 2022
It’s Plant Health Week, and this week we’re looking at the sustainability efforts of Historic Houses places. Read about the innovative ways that historic estates are planning for their, and the planet’s, future. Members can now sign up for this month’s lecture, which is an unmissable opportunity to hear from the Head Gardeners of three award-winning gardens on 26 May.
Also this week, Pashley Manor Gardens is our featured candidate for Garden of the Year; Earsham Hall in Suffolk is offering a special tour of the house; we recommend visiting the romantic Chillingham Castle in Northumberland; we hear how Hindringham Hall inspired an intriguing fictional house in our featured video; and we reveal last week’s Mystery House. Enjoy the bulletin and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #170
Adventures | 6 May 2022
If you’re on the lookout for Historic Houses places where children can have endless fun exploring, you may want to peruse our small selection of activities for kids. Scroll down the newsletter to find a link to the blog article. Of course, age is no barrier to adventure. This week’s featured contender for Garden of the Year, Parcevall Hall Gardens, has plenty to offer explorers within its 24 acres of formal and woodland gardens.
Also this week, Crow’s Hall in Suffolk are offering a special tour of the house; Caerhays Castle in Cornwall is our recommended place to visit; we view Hever Castle from the sky; and we reveal last week’s Mystery House. We hope you enjoy the bulletin, and have a great weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #169
May Day Weekend | 29 April 2022
May Day celebrations have a long history, going at least as far back as the Roman Republic’s festival to honour the goddess Flora. We hope that you have a chance to celebrate the height of spring outside this weekend, perhaps with a trip to a Historic Houses garden. This month’s painting by our ‘newsletter artist in residence’ Laura Diggens, of Houghton Lodge Gardens, is certainly inspiring us to seek out some greenery.
Also this week, Mount Ephraim Country House and Gardens is our featured candidate for Garden of the Year; our video of the week is an atmospheric tour of Abbotsford, in the beautiful Borders countryside, from the sky; and we recommend a visit to the vibrant Borde Hill Garden. We hope you enjoy the bulletin, and have a fantastic long weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #168
Sharing the beauty | 22 April 2022
Following the bank holiday weekend and the spell of good weather, our members have been sharing gorgeous photographs of historic house gardens in bloom. If you’re on Facebook, you can join our Historic Houses Supporters Club to see a great range of personal recommendations.
Yesterday, we held April’s monthly lecture for Historic House members, on the subject of The Politics of Country House Preservation. We were delighted by the great questions and feedback from our members who watched live. If you’re a member and didn’t catch the lecture, you can see it now on our website.
Also this week, we enjoy a tranquil tour of the spring gardens at Minterne in our video of the week; Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire is this week’s featured Garden of the Year candidate; and our tour of the week is at Poulton Hall in Wirral. We hope you enjoy the bulletin, and have a wondeful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #167
Easter Weekend | 15 April 2022
Welcome to the Easter weekend! We hope it brings you an opportunity to visit one (or a few!) of Britain’s superb historic houses and gardens. Members of Historic Houses can take a look at our map to see all the places they can visit for free (linked below). There are many special events taking place this weekend, so it’s particularly important to double check both the admission details on our website and the information on the house’s own website before making any travel plans.
This week, Bressingham Hall in Suffolk is our featured candidate for Garden of the Year, we’re discovering Wentworth Woodhouse in our video of the week, and we have a new Mystery House. Looking ahead, our April online lecture for Historic Houses members is coming up on Thursday 21 April, when we’ll be hearing from Historic Houses’ collaborative doctoral candidate on the history of the association and historic house preservation policy.
Enjoy the bulletin, and have a lovely weekend from us all at Historic Houses.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #166
Waking up for spring | 8 April 2022
As more houses open their doors for spring, the school holidays get underway, and gardens wake up, it’s the perfect moment to explore a house or garden that you’ve yet to visit. The weather may be unpredictable, but you can rely on our member houses to host exciting activities over the coming Easter weekend for all the family to enjoy. Take a look at our round up of Easter activities for a small selection of those upcoming events.
Also this week, we highlight a tour of the extraordinary Norfolk power house that is Wolterton Hall, and we get a chance to see the secret garden at Doddington Hall in Lincolnshire. This week’s featured garden is Abbotsford’s, in the beautiful Scottish borders. Don’t forget that voting for Garden of the Year 2022 is now open to Historic Houses members and non-members alike.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #165
Vote for Garden of the Year | 1 April 2022
“Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
The start of April brings with it the launch of the annual Historic Houses Garden of the Year Award, now in its thirty eighth year! As Historic Houses members and regular readers of our weekly newsletter know, the Garden of the Year Award is your chance to vote for one of eight selected gardens among our member estates, and below you can see which gardens are competing for the 2022 award. Last year, Gordon Castle Walled Garden won with almost four thousand votes, and we can’t wait to see which of our contenders this year proves most popular with you.
Also this week, we highlight a special tour of Hall, Bishops Tawton, Lullingstone Castle in Kent open their gates for the new season, you’ll learn about the Bear Gates at Traquair House, and Alan Castree recommends a visit to Athelhampton House & Garden in Dorset. Enjoy the bulletin and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #164
Exploring the South West | 25 March 2022
This week, we’re setting our gaze on the Historic Houses and Gardens of Somerset and Dorset. Above, you’ll see this month’s painting by our ‘newsletter artist in residence’, Laura Diggens, who’s painted this wonderful illustration of Forde Abbey, on the Somerset/Dorset border. You can read more about her artwork below. We’re also taking you on a curated tour of five stunning gardens in the region in our latest blog article. We hope it inspires you to start planning your next adventure there.
Also this week, Stanstead Bury near Ware are offering a special tour of the house, Painshill Park in Surrey are our recommended place to visit this coming week, Waddesdon Manor in Bucks share a trailer of their new exhibition, and we reveal last week’s rather challenging Mystery House. We hope you enjoy the bulletin, and have a wondeful sunny weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #163
The Hides of March | 18 March 2022
Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.
Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.
A warning of doom and gloom to come, Shakespeare’s famous line from his play, Julius Caesar, refers to the 74th day in the Roman calendar, which corresponds annually with 15th March. The ides of March was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts and of course was the date of Julius Caesar’s assassination. Our theme today, as you might have guessed, refers instead to the priest hides you’ll find at many Historic Houses places, and below you’ll find a few examples of such.
This week, we were also delighted to hold our March online lecture for Historic Houses members on the history and collections you’ll find at Scotland’s Bowhill House, and below you’ll find a link to watch a recording of that lecture. Today, we’re also highlighting a special tour of Netherhall Manor, Steve Brown shares his love for Englefield House, and we highlight Cumbria’s Lowther Castle as a place to visit in the coming days. Enjoy the bulletin and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #162
The Remarkable Women | 11 March 2022
This week the world celebrated International Women’s Day (Tuesday 8 March) which led to many of our member houses hailing the remarkable women who have shaped both the past and present of Britain’s historic houses. So, in today’s bulletin, we’re going to be looking at a few examples of stories we’ve seen posted by our member houses. Stories like the remarkable women shaping the future of West Dean Gardens in West Sussex (above), and of Alice Rose, the Programme Curator at Yorkshire’s Kiplin Hall, who secured the Collections Trust Award for them last year. Scroll down to see these and more stories.
Also this week, we highlight information about next week’s lecture for members, Paula Aubrey tells us why she loves Hagley Hall, there’s a special tour of Birdsall Hall on the horizon, and Raby Castle is our place to visit this coming week. Enjoy the bulletin, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #161
Through the archives | 4 March 2022
This week we look back into history at a moment when Britain’s independent heritage was in real danger of being lost forever. You’ll learn how the ‘Historic Houses Association’, as it was originally known, became a formidable campaigner during the early 1970’s fighting to ensure that the public, and MPs, understood the economic and cultural value of independent heritage, in a campaign that raised well over a million signatures sent in a petition to Parliament.
Also this week, we showcase the legacy of that campaign, with Historic Houses around the country opening their doors and gates to the public this month. We also highlight a special tour of two houses that feature protective symbols, and there’s a new Mystery House for you to solve. Enjoy the bulletin, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #160
Dathlu Cymru | 25 February 2022
In anticipation of St David’s Day next week, today we’re celebrating the wonderful country houses and castles in Wales. If you’re a Historic Houses member, you might have joined us yesterday to discover the houses of North Wales, in this month’s lecture. That recording is now available to watch on the website, while further down this week’s bulletin we show you a video of Picton Castle in Pembrokeshire and reveal an extract from our members’ magazine from 2014 examining the Welsh houses in our collection of member houses.
Also this week, Carol Abbott recommends a visit to London’s Spencer House, Camden Place becomes our Tour of the Week, we recommend visiting Harvington Hall over the next week, and we have a Mystery ‘Garden’ for you to guess. It’s another busy week, so enjoy the bulletin and have a wonderful St David’s Day.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #159
Weathering the Storm | 18 February 2022
It was wet, it was wild, it was pitch dark. Within the dormitory they gathered round the night-lamp in consternation, praying loud.
― from Villette, by Charlotte Brontë
As this bulletin is being written, it’s hard not to be distracted by the howling wind outside, and we hope you’ve battened down the hatches as Storm Eunice sweeps violently across the UK. Our member houses have been posting updates on access arrangements and safety measures across their websites and social media channels, with Burghley House, above, showing a striking image of the oncoming storm on their Instagram feed.
This week, we’re highlighting a range of Historic Houses places across the UK, including Brancepeth Castle in Co Durham, Norfolk’s Brinton Hall and Hoveton Hall, Glenarm Castle in Co Antrim, and Boughton House in Northamptonshire. There’s also a Mystery House for you to solve. Enjoy the bulletin and take care.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #158
Visiting | 11 February 2022
We’re still early days in 2022, and the weather’s still somewhat on the chilly side, but that’s not to say all the houses and gardens have their gates closed, especially with all those glorious snowdrops now taking the stage. So, this week, we’re starting another regular feature, highlighting a place you can visit over the next week. We hope it inspires you to start planning your next visit to our member houses around the UK.
Also this week, we’re delighted to publish the second painting by artist, Laura Diggens, who we’re working with through 2022 to illustrate our member houses. Her subject for February is Syon Park in Middlesex, seen above. This week also saw the premiere of the new season of American Viscountess on YouTube, which you can watch below. Howick Hall makes our Recommendation of the Week, and there’s another difficult Mystery House for you to solve. Enjoy reading, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #157
Kitchens | 4 February 2022
“Grandma, he had often wanted to say, Is this where the world began? For surely it had begun in no other than a place like this. The kitchen, without doubt, was the center of creation, all things revolved about it; it was the pediment that sustained the temple.”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
This week, we’re looking at the kitchens within Historic Houses around Britain, and you’ll find a few examples of such further down this bulletin. The image above shows the kitchen at Bowhill, in Selkirk, a house which will also be the subject of our online lecture for members on 16th March.
Also this week, we take a visit to the Landscape Room at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, there’s a special tour of Carlton Towers in Yorkshire, Bowood House, in Wiltshire, start planting trees for the Queen’s upcoming Jubilee, and the gardeners among you will be interested to watch the latest video from The Charterhouse in London. It’s another busy newsletter, and we hope you enjoy reading on.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #156
Dining Rooms | 28 January 2022
Our focus this week is on Dining Rooms, and below you’ll read about two wonderful examples of these at Godinton House and Drumlanrig Castle. We also link to a short video from Hever Castle’s Head Gardener, and reveal an interview with artist, Paul Middleton, who spent the lockdown in 2020 drawing fabulous artworks of Historic Houses member houses.
This week we also held our first online lecture for Historic Houses members, on the subject of Country Houses in the Novels of Jane Austen. We were overawed with the level of interest in this lecture, as well as the enthusiasm members showed in their feedback afterwards. If you’re a member and didn’t catch the lecture on Wednesday, you can watch it now on our website. Enjoy today’s bulletin, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #155
Jane Austen | 21 January 2022
The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of its proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendour, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings.
Elizabeth Bennett’s first visit to Pemberley House in Jane Austen’s 1813 novel, Pride & Prejudice
This week, we announce the opening of registrations for our first members lecture of 2022, looking at Country Houses in the novels of Jane Austen. We’ll be joined by guest speaker, Lizzie Dunford, Director of Jane Austen’s House in Hampshire to give the talk, which members can register to watch by scrolling down this newsletter.
Also this week, we’ll heading to Scone Palace with Coronation Street actress, Sally Lindsay, we link to an upcoming series of lectures about Irish Country Houses, and newsletter reader, Lindsay Henson recommends a trip to Bramall Hall in Cheshire. It’s another busy bulletin, so we hope you enjoy reading on and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #154
Paintings | 14 January 2022
It has a lot of very small windows so that was mainly an exercise in counting. The gatehouse is also rather tall, so you need to stand back and give it room to breathe.
Artist, Laura Diggens, on her painting of Layer Marney Tower
Today is a particularly special Historic Houses bulletin. After months of planning, we can at last reveal our fabulous collaboration with the artist, Laura Diggens, who will be going around the UK through 2022 making paintings of our member houses specifically for this bulletin. Laura will be making twelve paintings over the year, published one per month, starting with today’s beautiful painting of Layer Marney Tower in Essex, above. To celebrate the launch of the partnership, our Digital Officer and Newsletter Editor, Dominic Head, has interviewed Laura about her work, which you can read below.
This week, we also look at fountains at Historic Houses, Sarah Gallagher recommends visiting Montalto Estate, a beautiful wedding at Dorfold Hall, and a special snowdrops tour of Hoveton Hall with lunch. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #153
Dr Jenner's Legacy | 7 January 2022
I hope that some day the practice of producing cowpox in human beings will spread over the world – when that day comes, there will be no more smallpox.
Dr Edward Jenner (1749-1823)
Happy New Year, and welcome to your first Historic Houses bulletin of 2022. This week, with the pandemic still very much with us, we were interested to see posts on social media about the legacy of Dr Edward Jenner (whose Gloucestershire house Historic Houses members can visit for free). As most of you will know, Dr Jenner was the brains behind the smallpox vaccine, a discovery that by 1980 had effectively wiped out the disease. We’ll be looking at his life and legacy below.
Also this week, we hear of the toboggan of Rockingham Castle, Chrina Jarvis recommends a trip to Pencarrow House, we link to a glorious video of Boughton House through the seasons, and Mystery House returns in its usual format. Enjoy, and have lovely and safe weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #152
New Year's Eve | 31 December 2021
And so passes another year. It’s been challenging, to say the least, but we hope these weekly bulletins have proved a moment of light relief in all the chaos. A year ago, with the first vaccines already being dished out, our 100th weekly bulletin looked on optimistically to a year of socialising at less than 2 metres. Well, it wasn’t quite as smooth as we’d hoped, but we’re hopeful that 2022 will be a year in which we can spend more time with family and friends, where the shadow of lockdown seems a distant memory, and where you’re able to get out and about, visiting Historic Houses all across Britain.
In our final bulletin of 2021, we therefore look onward to next year by revealing the opening times of our member houses through the year. We also look back to all our previous bulletins, listed on a single web page. We stay in the present, with a new Mystery House for you to solve. And we move through the past, present and future, with a look at the ghosts of Historic Houses, in an extract from our members magazine.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #151
Christmas Eve | 24 December 2021
Merry Christmas, everyone. It’s Christmas Eve, and all through Historic Houses, not a thing was stirring, except for your weekly bulletin. And this Christmas Eve, we’ve a wonderful collection of news and games to keep you entertained over the festive season, starting with our annual Christmas Quiz, which you can enjoy below. We’ll also be celebrating the announcement of our Art Competition: People’s Choice Award winner, and highlighting a special Christmas Carols Concert recording at The Charterhouse in London.
We really hope you enjoy the bulletin, and thank you to all our members and readers who’ve supported us through another difficult year. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and we’ll see you next week in our New Year’s Eve bulletin.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #150
Christmas Feasts | 17 December 2021
Happy 150th edition of our weekly bulletin! Voting has now closed for our Historic Houses summer art competition, and over the next week we’ll be tallying up the votes to determine who is the ‘People’s Choice’ for our 2021 award. With only a week to go until Christmas, it’s all getting rather busy here at Historic Houses, and we’re looking forward to publishing our official 2021 Christmas Quiz here in the bulletin when it falls on Christmas Eve next week. For now, though, we hope you’re able to take inspiration in the kitchen from this week’s bulletin, where we publish selected recipes from previous issues of our members’ magazine for you to make. If you are considering making anything from our list of recipes, please do take a picture and send it to us. We’d love to see what you’re cooking up.
Also this week, we hear of a January tour to Carlton Towers, we publish an extract of an article about Thomas Howard’s collection in Yorkshire, you can learn to make a wreath with Doddington Hall, and Duchess the podcast has published a special Christmas episode. Enjoy this week’ bulletin, and see you on Christmas Eve!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #149
Deck the Halls | 10 December 2021
Two weeks to Christmas, and Historic Houses members around the UK are gearing up for what will be another strange festive season for everyone. This week, we’re highlighting a few of the fun festive light shows that you can view at different houses around the country, all conducted in a covid-safe way of course. We’re also highlighting a magnificent video by K Media of Scone Palace in the snow. It’s certainly worth a watch, so scroll down to find it now.
Also this week, thankfully no tragedies at Lullingstone Castle in Kent – just the new music video by Steps, we link to the fascinating online lecture for members that we held on Wednesday this week, and there’s a wintry Mystery House for you to solve. And, with just a couple of weeks to go, we’d of course love for you to give a loved one Historic Houses Gift Membership if you think they would love a year exploring the UK’s historic houses, both in person and online! Enjoy the bulletin, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #148
Let it Snow | 3 December 2021
In a rather unexpected turn of events, our newsletter last week, featuring an archive image of Highclere Castle – on the Hampshire/Berkshire border, covered in snow, preceded a weekend in which the white stuff covered Highclere and many other Historic Houses across the UK, as Storm Arwen hit our shores. Above, you’ll see a wonderful photo of Mapperton House in Dorset, covered in snow, while below, we’re celebrating some of the wonderful Christmas events you can attend this month at our member houses.
Also this week, we hear from the newlyweds at Boconnoc House, Layer Marney Tower reveal their Christmas Tour, we announce next week’s lecture (open to all), and we hear of Phil Downing’s 36 hour stint in a priest hide. It’s a busy week of stately news, and we hope you enjoy reading it over the weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #147
Advent Weekend | 26 November 2021
Our newsletter this week welcomes in the first weekend of Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year in Western Christianity. The name ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin, adventus, meaning ‘Coming’ or ‘Arrival’, and is the season when Christians anticipate the second coming of Christ. Many of us will be familiar with a typical custom that comes with the season: the Advent calendar. These can be traced back to the 19th Century when families would mark every day in December until Christmas Eve with a chalk line, with the first printed version attributed to the German-born Gerhard Lang in the early 20th century. You can read a little more about their history here, while scroll down this email to see a link to Waddesdon Manor’s stunning 2021 Advent Calendar, alongside many other wonderful Christmas cards and gifts from Historic Houses member places.
We hope you enjoy this weeks newsletter, and have a wonderful Advent weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #146
Awards Week | 19 November 2021
This week, we celebrated our National AGM at the QEII Centre in London, the most important day for Historic Houses in the calendar year. The ceremony saw the announcement of the winners of four of our annual awards, and today we’re especially delighted to share with you the winner of our Garden of the Year Award, that so many of you voted on between April and September this year.
Also this week, you can watch a video tour of Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire, the Duchess of Rutland visits Compton Wynyates in Warwickshire, we share a great review of Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, and our Tour of the Week is Clawson Old Manor’s special Christmas tour. We hope you enjoy the bulletin and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #145
The People's Choice | 12 November 2021
On Wednesday this week we were delighted to announce the winner of the 2021 Historic Houses Summer Art Competition, following a meeting between a panel of expert judges from our member houses. You can find out who the winner was below. With hundreds of entries received, it seemed a shame to finish the competition there, so we are excited to announce the launch of a People’s Choice Award, giving you the chance to vote for your favourite artwork among seventy eight works chosen by our judging panel. Find out more below.
Also this week, Historic Houses members can login to watch the lecture on ‘The Magical Protection of Buildings’ that we staged on Wednesday. Jackie Robinson recommends visiting Arundel Castle Gardens. The Duchess of Rutland visits Glin Castle in Ireland. And we’re advertising for a new Policy Officer to join the team at Historic Houses. Could it be you? Enjoy the bulletin and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #144
Not-so magical protection | 5 November 2021
On Wednesday next week, Historic Houses members will be treated to a fascinating lecture on the magical protection of historic buildings, by academic and owner of Bedfield Hall, Timothy Easton. For centuries, people have been protecting their properties with various apotropaic symbols to ward off dark forces. These days, the enemy is not so much witches as a worsening climate, and with COP26 well under way, this week we’re looking at the challenges faced by historic properties that are already vulnerable to hostile weather and the ways they’re adapting to ensure their survival.
Protecting heritage extends to other parts of this week’s bulletin. Harvington Hall are taking an unusual approach to fundraising for the restoration of their bridge, Raby Castle benefit from Culture Recovery Fund Money, and Pitchford Hall stage a special Christmas tour to continue the restoration of the Tudor house. We hope you enjoy all this and have a lovely weekend and Bonfire Night.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #143
Halloween | 29 October 2021
“Once again…welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring.”
― Bram Stoker, Dracula
Halloween Weekend has come around once again. As this bulletin is published, Bamburgh Castle are staging their own performance of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, while many other Historic Houses member places are gearing up for a weekend of harrowing tales, spooky ghost trails, and, above all, a lot of fun. Below, we’ve selected a few special events happening this weekend, while you can find over a hundred listed events on our website now.
Also this week, we continue the Halloween theme with a look back at the bats of Woodchester Mansion. Lady Gerald of Carlton Towers (in Goole) speaks of the ‘happy harp-playing ghost’ there. If you’re interested in the history of textiles, you’ll enjoy our Tour of the Week. Historic Houses members can enjoy a special offer at Belvoir Castle. And Mapperton House reveal a new book. Enjoy, and have a lovely Halloween weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #142
The Custodians | 22 October 2021
This week, we’re looking once again at the extraordinary women looking after some of Britain’s most important historic estates, with the return of Duchess, the Podcast, for Series Two. Having started in September, below we’ve linked to the first six episodes of the new season for you to enjoy.
Also this week, we hear of the updates to Houghton Hall, former home of Sir Robert Walpole. Bedfield Hall in Suffolk offers a special All Hallows’ Eve tour. Famous gardens presenter, Alan Tichmarsh, visits Bowood’s exquisite garden. And we reveal last week’s Mystery House to be… Scroll down to read more. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #141
Events Season | 15 October 2021
This week, we’ve been busy scrolling through the websites of Historic Houses places to collate all the special events coming up over the next few months, and there are now 500 listed special events at historic houses and gardens right across the UK listed on our website. With Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas now just round the corner, we invite you to explore our website to find special events happening near you.
Also this week, we look at the seventeenth century interest in Chinoiserie, Kelly House have a new tour, Kiplin Hall officially welcomes drones, and Weston Park look forward to their fireworks display. We hope you enjoy the bulletin and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #140
Rock 'n' Roll | 8 October 2021
“Fans fainted and had to be carried into the house, where Lord Bath’s daughter in law had to administer first aid.”
― Author, Adrian Tinniswood on Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas’ concert at Longleat House, May 1964
The swinging 60’s found an unusual home in Britain’s historic houses, with the Rolling Stones at Longleat, Ronnie Scott at Beaulieu, and the joint purchase of Socknersh Manor by Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdink in 1962. And, with stories about a surprisingly useful lion attack and the 1958 ‘6th World Naturist Congress’ at Woburn Abbey, yesterday’s online lecture for Historic Houses members was full of wonderful anecdotes about the moment stately homes embraced pop culture, a tradition that continues to this day. Members can now watch a recording of the lecture on the Historic Houses website.
Also this week, we meet the alpacas of Harewood House, Blair Castle stages their delayed Highlands Parade, American Viscountess previews its third episode, and Raby Castle hunt for a Head Gardener. We hope you enjoy the bulletin and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #139
October | 1 October 2021
The cool, wet weather might have reappeared this week but, like Montgomery, we love October at Historic Houses, with events galore in the build up to Halloween and Bonfire Night, the wonderful variety of warm colours on show at our parks and gardens as the leaves turn, and, today, the announcement of our October lecture for Historic Houses members: Adrian Tinniswood on the fall and rise of the post-war country house.
Also this week, Her Majesty and Prince Charles plant a tree at Balmoral Castle to start ‘The Queen’s Green Canopy’ project, Julie Montagu gets deeper into Iford Manor, Ursula Cholmeley visits Coton Manor in Northamptonshire, and Yale University Press launch a new competition. We hope you enjoy the bulletin and have a lovely October.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #138
Deadlines | 24 September 2021
This is our final e-bulletin of September, and with that the last chance to mention our two summer competitions, both which close for entries on Thursday next week! With so many beautiful artworks entered for our Summer Art Competition, and over 10,000 votes cast so far for our Garden of the Year Award, we’re thrilled to see you getting involved with our initiatives celebrating our wonderful heritage. If you haven’t submitted your artwork yet, or voted for your favourite garden, follow the links below to get involved before it’s too late!
Also this week, Mannington Hall is our featured Recommendation of the Week, Glynde Place holds an exhibition of contemporary art, Julie Montagu launches a new series called American Viscountess, and we showcase beautiful new drone photos from Drummond Castle Gardens. Enjoy, and have a wonderful end to September.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #137
Re-living the past | 17 September 2021
Lovers of jousting, re-enactments and horses are in for a treat in this week’s bulletin, after we were delighted to receive photographs from last weekend’s epic ‘Festival of the Horse’ event in the grounds of Belvoir Castle. Many of our member houses stage spectacular summer events such as these, and they are always a wonderfully enjoyable day out. Scroll down this newsletter to find the link to the blog article and image gallery from Belvoir’s event.
Also this week, Lydiard Park’s archive of art and objects is temporarily free to view, our magazine extract looks at the patchwork inside Levens Hall, Lord Barnard of Raby Castle announces some exciting developments, and we hear our first reader view on where’s best to visit in our new Recommendation of the Week feature. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #136
Recommendations | 10 September 2021
While it’s one thing for the team at Historic Houses to sit here and write each week about the houses and gardens that we think you’d enjoy, it’s another when those recommendations come from our readers and members themselves. So, this week we’re launching a brand new feature: ‘Recommendation of the Week’, where you have the chance to tell our community of readers who love visiting Historic Houses places which house or garden you think they’d particularly enjoy visiting. Scroll down the newsletter to find out more.
This week, we were delighted to have Philippa Wood, curator at Burton Constable Hall, speak to our members about the history of the East Yorkshire home, which members can now watch as a recording on the website. We also feature an extract on Floors Castle from the brand new members magazine, we look at some examples of Saloons at Historic Houses, Lullingstone Castle stage a Mexican Weekend, and we highlight a video from the Collections Care Team at Harewood House. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #135
Modern Looks | 3 September 2021
This week’s bulletin confronts the old and the new, as we highlight an article from our spring magazine on how Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire (pictured above) hopes to bring together ‘eighteenth-century stucco with superfast broadband’, while we also officially unveil a new Historic Houses app, and announce the next in our series of online lectures.
Also this week, Hole Park in Kent looks forward to a fabulous new event at the end of the month, Lady Ashcombe of Sudeley Castle speaks about the story of Historic Houses (a must watch!), and the 12th Earl of Northumberland of Alnwick Castle speaks about his new book, ‘The Lions of the North’. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #134
Fables | 27 August 2021
I sing those heroes, Aesop’s progency,
Whose tales, fictitious though they be,
Contain much truth. Herein, endowed with speech –
Even the fish! – will all my creatures teach
With human voice; for animals I choose
To proffer lessons that we all might use.
This week, we highlight a fascinating video by the team at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire on their current exhibition of watercolours illustrating the 17th century Fables of Jean de la Fontaine. The watercolours were made by Gustave Moreau, a 19th century painter famous as one of the major figures in the French Symbolist movement, and who would often paint Biblical and mythological scenes. Scroll down this week’s newsletter to watch the video.
Also this week, we look the restoration work that took place a few years ago at Iscoyd Park, our magazine extract looks at how 19th century artists were drawn to the Cotswolds and Rodmarton Manor, we profile the Rock family at Burghley House, and we study the collection of objects left by Alfred, Lord Tennyson at Farringford on the Isle of Wight. Enjoy, and have a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #133
Education Matters | 20 August 2021
This week, we’re putting a focus on how Historic Houses across Britain aren’t dusty old museums but are living, breathing estates at the centre of their communities and supporting a new generation to understand and love our shared heritage. Together, the houses and gardens we represent welcome around 400,000 schoolchildren and older learners annually, and support learning in subjects from filming & arts, to specialist courses for dyslexia and other disabilities, and of course to learning about history and heritage.
The education theme continues this week with an historic recipe for folding sherry and lemon flavoured syrup into whipped cream, the team at Hever Castle spotlight the places featuring in the new BBC drama about Anne Boleyn, learn to fish at Deans Court, and discover the icon paintings at Quex House’s Powell-Cotton Museum. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #132
Behind Closed Doors | 13 August 2021
This week, we held the latest in our series of ongoing lectures for Historic Houses members, looking at the extraordinary history of Harewood House in Leeds. The lectures have proven a huge success with members and allow them to learn about the UK’s independent heritage from wherever they are in the world. On Wednesday, our regular guest speaker, Nicholas Merchant, discussed how each new custodian of Harewood since its founding in the 18th century shaped the house we all know and love today. If you’re a member, you can login to watch a recording of that lecture on our website now.
Also this week, we highlight an article from the current members’ magazine on what social distancing has meant for country houses this past year, we look at a series of ‘Master Tours’ online at The Charterhouse in London, we start our feature looking at the families who care for our houses, and we study the beautiful elephant vases of Waddesdon Manor. Enjoy this week’s bulletin and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #131
Orangeries | 6 August 2021
From the 17th to the 19th centuries, if you were building a country house you’d probably consider adding an orangerie within the grounds. The orangerie, which of course gets its name from the oranges and fruit trees grown within, provided a luxurious extension to the normal range of woody plants, and originated in the gardens of Renaissance Italy. This week, we’re looking at three examples of orangeries at Historic Houses places, picked from among a series of houses featured in our Summer magazine for members.
Also this week, we reveal this month’s lecture for members, James Probert visits Penshurst Place, we explore the Tapestry Room of Newby Hall, and there’s another Mystery House for you to guess. Enjoy the bulletin and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #130
Betrothals | 30 July 2021
While the so called ‘pingdemic’ has more or less replaced the restrictions in Britain this month, Historic Houses member places have, thankfully, been able to resume their efforts to help couples celebrate their most special day (albeit very tentatively). Historic Houses across Britain have played host to some extraordinary ceremonies down the years, and this week we hear of one such marriage; of Cecily Nevill and Richard Duke of York at (most likely) Raby Castle in County Durham. From what we hear, none of the guests had to self-isolate.
Also this week, our regions focus is the East of England, author Adrian Tinniswood reflects on country house history, Bowhill House reveals a gorgeous new trailer, and we take a look at what’s so special about our Invitation to View scheme. It’s another long read, so put on a brew, sit back, and enjoy this week’s edition of the Historic Houses e-bulletin.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #129
Sporting Heritage | 23 July 2021
With the Tokyo Olympics kicking off today, this seems to have been the perfect week to stage our latest members’ lecture, covering ‘England’s greatest sporting estate’, Goodwood House in West Sussex. As members found out, the Dukes of Richmond, who’ve occupied the estate since the 17th Century, have been innovators in the world of sport; from the second Duke who was involved in creating the ‘laws of Cricket’, to the 11th, and current, Duke who founded the world famous ‘Festival of Speed’. If you’re a Historic Houses member, you can now login to watch a recording of the lecture.
Also this week, we look at the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott, the Earl of Sandwich enjoys 17th Century ice cream, Wentworth Woodhouse hosts a screenwriting competition, and we have a new offers and discounts page for Historic Houses members. It’s another busy bulletin, so we hope you enjoy it.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #128
Art & Culture | 16 July 2021
After last week’s launch of the new Summer Art Competition, we’re continuing the theme somewhat this week, following the announcement, on Wednesday, of our new partnership with Google Arts & Culture (GAC). Historic Houses now have an official profile on the GAC website, with eight insightful stories available for you to enjoy. Below, we’ve highlighted one of those stories on the history of Balmoral Castle, while you can also read stories about Mapperton House, Floors Castle, Plas Brondanw, Newby Hall and Glenarm Castle. Happy reading!
Also this week, we look at the ‘bookbenches’ of Hodsock Priory, a new sculpture trail appears at The Bishop’s Palace, we virtually explore Cholmondeley Castle Gardens, and we look back on an article about life at Rockingham Castle during lockdown. It’s another busy newsletter, so enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #127
The Summer Competition | 9 July 2021
“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
― Vincent Van Gogh
After the roaring success of the Short Story competition last year (you can read many entries from then here), today we’re officially announcing the launch of our Summer Art Competition. With first prize including an evening in one of London’s finest private members’ clubs, we hope you’re ready to get your canvases, sketchbooks, cameras or whatever medium you prefer and respond to one of the over seven hundred houses and gardens listed on our website through art. Read more below.
We’re also continuing the artistic theme this week with a look at previous articles on Cheeseburn Grange and Marchmont House, while Anne Boleyn gets her football boots out to wish England well on Sunday. It’s another busy bulletin, so we hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #126
Summer Gardens | 2 July 2021
As we move into July, there’s no better place to relax than in an historic garden, and this week we’re featuring several images and articles to get you inspired to venture out and explore some of these gorgeous gardens, starting with this beautiful picture above of Mapperton Gardens in Dorset, taken by their Head Gardener, Steve Lannin.
We start with a podcast interview with Head Gardener of West Dean Gardens, Tom Brown, discussing the planting of gladioli. Further down, we remember Timothy Easton’s story of the Midsummer Rose, before exploring an extract from the current members magazine on the trees of some of our member houses. Our video of the week then takes you on a tour of Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, before highlighting Leighton Hall’s collaboration with a local business to plant many new trees. Enjoy this week’s bulletin and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #125
The Picturesque | 25 June 2021
“It is not enough to photograph the obviously picturesque”, said the American photographer, Dorothea Lange, famous for her work capturing images of depression-era American life. But how about printing the picturesque? This week, we reflected on the 18th century artistic tradition in Britain of printing images of picturesque landscapes, filled with examples of many of our member houses, including Blenheim, Harewood and Belvoir, in the latest of our online lectures for Historic Houses members, led by historian Jasper Jennings.
Also this week, we showcase the best places to visit in the East Midlands, we hear about the first known English recipe for an iced chocolate desert, we’ve expanded our jobs page to help those looking to work in heritage, and Demetra Lindsay explores the ghosts of Hedingham Castle. It was also wonderful to see that the Historic Houses Wessex AGM was able to take place in-person (socially distanced of course) at Iford Manor in Wiltshire on Tuesday this week (see above). So, enjoy this week’s bulletin, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #124
Tours Galore | 18 June 2021
With most houses and gardens now operating semi-normal opening hours, and following some updates to the website, we thought we’d dedicate this week’s bulletin to our special private tours; ‘Invitation to View’. Unlike a standard visit, a private tour is often an opportunity to meet the owner of the house, to enjoy cakes and scones with them, and to see parts of the houses you’d never see on a standard visit. If you’ve never done one of these tours then it really is a special experience, and there are 195 currently listed on the website.
Also this week, ahead of an historic sporting clash this evening, we focus our attention on where you can visit in Scotland, we feature episode eight of Chats with the Chatelaine, we look back on the smuggling away of the Honours of Scotland, and we publish an extract from our members’ magazine about Golden Grove in Carmarthenshire. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #123
Spectacular views | 11 June 2021
With the G7 meeting in Cornwall this weekend, introducing world leaders to the stunning cliffs, bays and picture perfect towns of the region, we thought we’d look at stunning views you can find at historic houses and gardens across the UK in today’s bulletin, and we’ve had several houses send us their pictures. We’ve also been delighted by the reception to our new Historic Houses Supporters Club on Facebook, with so many of you posting your pictures of visits to our member houses in recent days and weeks. Do join the group to see what everyone’s posting if you haven’t already.
Also this week, our Director General, Ben Cowell, refects on 40 years of the Nationl Heritage Memorial Fund, Belvoir Castle opens its new Brasserie, the best places to visit in Yorkshire, and there’s a call-out for records of vintage ports. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend filled with stunning views of historic houses and gardens.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #122
Coaches & Carriages | 4 June 2021
On the 68th anniversary week of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, and to celebrate this week’s Historic Houses Feature Fridays theme on coaches and carriages, Penshurst Place in Kent found a way to blend the two, with this “replica Coronation Coach, complete with four riders and eight horses. This popular silver model was Matchbox’s first major sales success.” Later in this bulletin, you’ll read about some somewhat larger examples of historic coaches and carriages.
Also this week, we continue our look at the best places to visit in each region around the UK, we link to the sixth episode in the Chats with the Chatelaine video series, we reveal a new Mystery House to guess, Kelmarsh Hall jumps to 3rd place in our Garden of the Year leaderboard, and we draw your attention to our events page, now that houses and gardens across the country are emerging from lockdown. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #121
All about the art | 28 May 2021
Now that indoor spaces are able to open again to the public, we’ve been delighted to hear about a series of art exhibitions that have opened their doors at our member houses. On Saturday, broadcaster and art evangelist, Andrew Marr, opened the new show of Turner’s English Coasts at Turner’s House in Twickenham, Wentworth Woodhouse have re-started a show displaying work by a Pakistani women’s art collective (cancelled last year because of Covid), a new exhibition on women in history has started at Berkeley Castle, and Burton Constable Hall have launched a show looking at the house’s history as a social hub in Hull.
Today, we also celebrate the birthday of King George I, who has turned the ripe old age of 361, having been born on 28 May 1660, and we’re looking at his legacy and influence on some of our member houses. Also this week, we’ve episode five of Chats with the Chatelaine, we reveal the best places to visit in the South West of England, and we launch a new Facebook group so you can share your photos and visiting recommendations as the visiting season kicks off in earnest. Have a wonderful bank holiday weekend from us all at Historic Houses.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #120
New discoveries | 21 May 2021
It’s been quite a week at Historic Houses, with the official awards ceremony of the 2020 Garden of the Year Award to Mapperton in Dorset, a lecture for members on the Grand Tour in the Ottoman Empire and the re-opening of indoor spaces for visitors. On Wednesday, though, the big news was that a former Hever Castle steward, Kate McCaffrey, has discovered never before seen names and words in the pages of Anne Boleyn’s prayer book, with the news announced on the anniversary of the former Queen’s death. Watch a video below.
This week, we also highlight a few clock towers at Historic Houses, the cygnets of The Bishop’s Palace in Somerset have official names, and you can have a go at this week’s Mystery House. Enjoy, and have a wonderful, dry, weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #119
Architects | 14 May 2021
Our focus for this week’s Feature Fridays is architects, and we’ve been delighted to have many of our member houses get involved with the theme on social media. Below, you’ll read about some of the inspired architects who shaped the great building of Britain, including a look at Augustus Pugin, whose legacy you can see at Ushaw in Durham (above).
This week’s bulletin is as busy as ever, with features on the podcast series at Chawton House, episode three of ‘Chats with the Chatelaine’, the electric vehicle charging points of our member houses, and our first look at the Garden of the Year 2021 leaderboard. Also this week, we’ve a fascinating lecture that members can sign up to, and you can register for next Tuesday’s Garden of the Year 2020 discussion about how Mapperton in Dorset was voted your favourite garden in last year’s competition. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #118
Celebrating Gardens | 7 May 2021
This week we’ve an almost exclusively gardens focused e-bulletin for you, starting with this glorious photo of the bluebells at Hole Park in Cranbrook, above. From our final Garden of the Year nominee, to your memories of visiting Kiftsgate Court Gardens in last week’s Mystery House, if you love gardens and exploring the great outdoors then you’ll enjoy reading on.
Also this week, we focus on the Rose Gardens at our member houses for Feature Fridays, Hedingham Castle publish their second episode in their new video series about life at the castle, we detail the news that Plant Health Week runs throughout next week, and our regular speaker on our online lectures for members, Nicholas Merchant, announces a new lecture about Elton Hall in Peterborough next week. It’s a busy bulletin again, and we hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #117
May Day | 30 April 2021
Welcome to the bank holiday weekend. On this last day of April, with Covid-19 levels continuing to fall, many of you will be venturing out and taking this opportunity to explore the spectacular gardens of Britain’s historic houses. All across the UK, gardens are providing a refuge for those looking to unwind from a long, harsh winter. Members of Historic Houses, too, can of course take a look at our map to see all the places they can visit for free (linked below), although please always double check both the admission details on our website and the information on the house’s own website before making any travel plans.
Also this week, we look at Lowther Castle’s candidacy for the Garden of the Year Award, a new poster project starts at Van Gogh’s House, our Feature Fridays theme is Literature, and we move from Duchess the podcast to Duchess the video series, as Demetra Lindsay of Hedingham Castle starts a weekly video tour of the ancient Essex estate. Enjoy the bulletin and have a lovely bank holiday weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #116
Birthdays | 23 April 2021
Happy Birthday to one William Shakespeare, who turns the grand old age of 457 today, after his birth on 23 April 1564. Shakespeare, who died at the age of 52, wrote at least 37 plays and over 150 sonnets and poems during the course of his life, and today we celebrate his legacy in our Feature Fridays segment towards the end of this week’s newsletter.
Also this week, following the huge success of the Duchess Podcast series, the team behind the series announce a special live Q&A online involving several previous guests and Lady Kinvara Balfour, we highlight Doddington Place Gardens – one of our eight Garden of the Year nominees for 2021, Sudeley Castle appears in our Video of the Week, and we reveal last week’s Mystery House. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #115
Walking in a Spring Wonderland | 16 April 2021
Earlier this week saw the easing of lockdowns, and with that the feeling that, in Britain at least, life is at last returning to a semblance of normal. That said, the advice remains that outdoors is best and, with many historic gardens opening up across the country, why wouldn’t you want to spend time walking with loved ones in the grounds of Britain’s Historic Houses. So, this week, we’re turning our Feature Fridays eyes to some examples of gorgeous walks you can enjoy around Historic Houses. Read more below.
Also this week, we continue our focus on the nominees for Garden of the Year 2021. Have you voted yet? We look at Hedingham Castle’s new front door. Blenheim Palace shows us another of their recent restoration efforts, and we’ve a new Mystery House for you. Enjoy the bulletin, but if you’re too busy spending time walking around Historic Houses places we won’t mind! Have a lovely weekend from us all at Historic Houses.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #114
Memories | 9 April 2021
We must start this week’s newsletter by acknowledging the sad news that His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, passed away this morning at Windsor Castle. The Duke was an extraordinary and charismatic member of the Royal Family, with a relentless and proactive energy pursuing causes important to him and to the nation, as the patron of some eight hundred organisations, particularly focused on the environment, education and sport. He will be deeply missed and we wish the family our very best wishes at this difficult moment.
As a tribute to His Royal Highness, our header image this week shows Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, one of the several homes frequented and beloved by the Duke.
This week’s bulletin looks at the third nominee in our Garden of the Year award contender list, we highlight the Duchess podcast’s last episode of the current series, there are daffodils galore at Cholmondeley Castle Gardens, and we highlight some of the news at our member houses. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #113
Good Friday | 2 April 2021
Despite its jolly sounding name, Good Friday isn’t a particularly happy day in the Christian calendar, the word ‘good’, according to Fiona MacPherson, a senior editor at the Oxford English Dictionary, instead meaning ‘a day on which religious observance is held’. Good Friday of course remembers the Crucifixion of Christ, with W.H. Auden even saying “the reality [of Good Friday] is so horrible it is not surprising that people should have found it a stumbling block to faith.” Today it also marks the start of the Easter bank holiday weekend in many countries. In Germany, dancing and gambling are prohibited on Good Friday, while the day has been declared a Bank Holiday in Cuba since 2012, when President Raúl Castro of the Communist Party decreed it so following a request from Pope Benedict XVI.
Easter weekend is nonetheless a time of reflection and celebration and in this week’s bulletin we’re celebrating many more of our member houses, including the discovery of a rare species of Red Herring at Kiplin Hall (it is early April after all!). We hope you enjoy the newsletter and have a very good Easter weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #112
Gardens | 26 March 2021
“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
Over the last year, gardens have become, perhaps, ever more important in the British psyche. Confinement within our homes and a long, cold winter have made us dream of the chance to wander among the spring flowers and smell the scent of fresh blossom. But with many of our member houses’ gardens opening up to local visitors, the time for only dreaming of a visit is nearing its end and houses are beginning to update their websites with their new opening times and arrangements. With the advice remaining to travel locally only though, please do always check the latest government guidance before planning any trips.
This week, following the launch of our new website and the opening of votes for the 2021 Garden of the Year Award, we begin to profile our eight wonderful nominees, starting with Riverhill Gardens in Kent (above). We also hear the latest Duchess podcast – at Kinnaird Castle, a stained glass window reveals a dark past at Burton Constable Hall, and we finish off Sustainability Month with a look at how preserving existing buildings could help towards our Net Zero commitments. We hope you enjoy reading on and that you have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #111
Changes | 19 March 2021
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft, Frankenstein
It’s been quite a week at Historic Houses. On Tuesday morning, we finally published our brand new website that we’ve been working on for the past year which you can now view at historichouses.org. While you will inevitably need to relearn where to find different things on the website, we hope it proves much easier to navigate. It has also been shaped around the array of rich content that we and our member houses produce, some of which you read each week in this newsletter. So do visit the website now and start exploring. We hope you enjoy it.
Today, we are also announcing that voting for our Garden of the Year competition is officially open. The gardens, which you can read about below, can be voted on by anyone, with the competition ending on 30 September. Feel free to vote now, or wait until you’ve visited a few over the coming months.
Also this week, we continue our look at the sustainability initiatives of our member houses, with a focus on tourism. We also take a look at last week’s Highly Commended houses for the 2020 Restoration Award. Browsholme Hall features as our video of the week, and we return to Mystery House! Have a wonderful weekend from all the team at Historic Houses.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #110
Mothering Weekend | 12 March 2021
“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”
― George Washington
The words of George Washington, whose ancestors lived at one of our member houses, Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire, echo the sentiment many of us will feel this weekend, ahead of Mothering Sunday on 14th March. We hope your family is able to celebrate this special day too, online or offline, especially after such a challenging year.
This week, we can finally reveal the winner of our 2020 Restoration Award, an award that was made much more challenging to judge during the pandemic. In the South West, the Duchess of Rutland speaks to the Countess of Devon in the latest episode of the Duchess podcast. On Monday, we’ll be launching a brand new website, so look out for that early next week. And this week we’ve been covering the initiatives to power our member houses with sustainably sourced energy. It’s another busy bulletin and we hope you enjoy reading on.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #109
Biodiversity | 5 March 2021
“Wildness is the preservation of the World.”
― Henry David Thoreau, ‘Walking’
This week, we begin our month-long look at the sustainability efforts of our member houses, with a focus on biodiversity. Lived-in historic houses are, of course, continuing to evolve under the custodianship of their current owners, with many particularly keen to do their bit to support the natural world in the face of escalating environmental crises. Today, we’ll hear about ambitious initiatives at Somerleyton Hall, Elmore Court and the Knepp Estate among others.
This week’s bulletin also features highlights on the latest Duchess podcast, Iscoyd Park’s history and snowdrops at Deene Park, while the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, opens a new exhibition at Kiplin Hall. It’s a busy newsletter, so we hope you enjoy it and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #108
Lectures at home | 26 February 2021
“The greatest joy of my life has been to accomplish original scientific work, and, next to that, to lecture to a set of intelligent students.”
― Jean-Baptiste Dumas (1800-1884)
This week, we were delighted to host another of our online lectures for our very intelligent students, Historic Houses members, on the history of Newby Hall & Gardens in North Yorkshire. As with all our lectures so far, you can view these on the website now, while we’re looking forward to scheduling many more over the course of the year. Furthermore, this week’s bulletin highlights a new series of lectures from Turner’s House in Twickenham.
Earlier this week, the Government’s roadmap to unlocking the country has come as a big relief to our member houses, who are now evaluating when and how they can reopen to the public, with our policy team working hard to keep them informed with the specific guidance. We’ll keep you updated here on the latest reopening news as and when it comes in to us.
This week’s e-bulletin includes features on Religious Ornaments at our member houses, we reveal last week’s Mystery House, The Duchess Podcast moves into its fourth week, and we preview our month-long focus on Sustainability initiatives at our member houses. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #107
Pottery and Ceramics | 19 February 2021
“And now indeed this substance with its precious humility becomes, through its indestructibility, the most faithful bearer of man’s message.”
― Bernard Leach, A Potter’s Book
If you’re a long-time member of Historic Houses, you’ll probably have seen many examples of beautiful ceramics and pottery at our member houses. This week, we’re highlighting a couple of houses who have written blog pieces for our ceramics theme today.
We’ve also got two opportunities to listen in on what life is like running an historic estate; at Blenheim Palace and Lullingstone Castle. In our video of the week, Middleton Hall shares the beautiful scenes of snowdrops in the grounds, while we end, as always, with another chance to guess a Historic Houses member dusted in snow. We hope you enjoy it and have a warm and dry weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #106
Valentine's Weekend | 12 February 2021
“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
This weekend sees a celebration of love and affection, as we welcome in St Valentine’s Day on Sunday, and we’re certainly all in need of a little TLC these days. Today, we continue our spotlight on those house owners loving and caring for their historic homes in challenging circumstances as Emma Manners, the Duchess of Rutland, visits Ripley Castle in North Yorkshire.
Speaking of North Yorkshire, today we’re also announcing our next online lecture for Historic Houses members, as Nicholas Merchant takes us to Newby Hall, built on the proceeds of the Industrial Revolution. We also take a virtual trip up to Selkirk to hear about the Smoking Room at Bowhill House. And we’ve a rather wintry Mystery House for you to guess. We hope you enjoy it, and that you’re able to spend your weekend with someone you love (even if that be via Zoom!).
Weekly Bulletin Issue #105
The Duchesses | 5 February 2021
“We bring our own passion to the homes while we are custodians of it. Which is a moment in time. When you look across to the keep that’s been here for 900 years it’s just a breath.”
― The Duchess of Rutland
This week, we highlight a brilliant new podcast published by The Duchess of Rutland, highlighting the extraordinary women taking on the immense task of running historic estates across the UK. In her first podcast, published yesterday, Emma visited Hedingham Castle (seen above), in Essex, to meet the custodian of the castle, Demetra Lindsay. The episode is the first in a ten-part series, which we’ve linked to below.
Also this week, we visit the Gothic Library at Stowe House in Buckinghamshire, we look at some of the fascinating features at Combermere Abbey in Shropshire, snowdrops are beginning to appear at many of our houses, and we’ve another Mystery House for you to guess. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #104
Blankets of Snow | 29 January 2021
“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking-Glass
Many of us saw a dazzling blanket of snow fall last week and over the weekend, which, for the owners and teams at Historic Houses across the country, meant the chance to get out with the camera and photograph their houses and gardens in all their winter glory. We were therefore delighted to have the team at Drummond in Perthshire send us some spectacular drone images of the gardens there, which you’ll see further examples of below.
Also this week, the team at Bamburgh Castle reflect on our Feature Fridays theme of Libraries with a fascinating article on their own example, Elmore Court has been in the news for their ambitious rewilding project, we look at eight examples of libraries at our houses, and there’s a new Mystery House to have a go at. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #103
Elaborate Decorations | 22 January 2021
“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”
― Coco Chanel
This week, our Feature Fridays theme is ‘Chandeliers’ and we’ve a range of elaborate examples to show you below. We’ve also taken an extract from our current members’ magazine on a visit to Burghley House in Lincolnshire, a house decorated with the most magnificent artworks and decorations. On these cold January days, we hope this taste of luxury whets the appetite for when we can all venture out and explore these incredible historic houses.
Also this week, we explore the history of Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, The Bishop’s Palace go early on their snowdrops walks, and we’ve a new Mystery House for you. Enjoy, keep warm, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #102
Virtual Journeys | 15 January 2021
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― St. Augustine
Mid-January has never been a particularly good time to go out and explore Historic Houses places, not least because this is the season for seeding new plants, repairing roofs and polishing the staircases in anticipation of the visiting season ahead. This year, going out is that much more difficult, but in this week’s newsletter we’re inevitably going to strive to take you on a virtual journey around the houses, and the world.
Our Feature Fridays theme this week is Maps and Globes, and, below, you’ll see a selection of examples of these at our member houses. Historic Houses members are also treated to a journey around Holkham and Houghton Halls in Norfolk, with a recorded lecture from Nicholas Merchant. Our House of the Week is Bowhill, in Selkirk, and we reflect on the bold sustainability efforts of Kiplin Hall. It’s a busy bulletin, and we hope it proves an enjoyable escape as we reach another weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #101
Keeping Warm | 8 January 2021
“Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four o’clock, warm hearthrugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.”
― Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater
Brrr. It might be a time of lockdown and limited socialising, but with the UK experiencing a particularly cold spell, there’s little incentive to leave the comfort and warmth of our homes. This week, we’re therefore celebrating the incredible fireplaces you’ll find at many of our member houses. Scroll down to see more examples below.
This week’s bulletin also pays a visit to Rodmarton Manor in Gloucestershire, explores the park at Blenheim Palace, highlights Harewood House in West Yorkshire and hears news from Chawton House in Hampshire. We hope you enjoy the newsletter and have wonderful, warm weekends.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #100
A New Year | 1 January 2021
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Happy New Year from us all at Historic Houses. With a new year brings hope of new beginnings after a year that most of us would like to forget. And there is justified optimism that, as it rolls on, 2021 will offer a return to a world in which meeting friends and family can be done at a distance of less than 2 metres.
You might notice that, by coincidence more than design, our 100th e-bulletin happens to fall on New Year’s Day. These weekly updates have evolved over time since its launch in February 2019 and we hope you continue to enjoy them through 2021. Among the items to look forward to this year, we’ll be placing significant emphasis on the extraordinary projects among member houses to support sustainability and biodiversity issues ahead of COP26 in November. We’ll be hosting in depth online lectures about the houses, with invited guest speakers. And we’ll be keeping you up to date with openings and events as they happen.
With the Historic Houses team currently off until Monday, this week’s bulletin is significantly shorter, but with an interview with a furniture conservator and a video on the tapestries of Doddington Hall, as well as an exciting announcement of our own to make, we hope you enjoy reading the bulletin and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #99
Christmas Day | 25 December 2020
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Merry Christmas! With the big day finally here, for many of us it has been a Christmas unlike any other. Of course, while we will still open our gifts and indulge in copious amounts (perhaps too much) of food, it is difficult not to acknowledge our missing friends and family. In this spirit of a less-than-ideal Christmas, this week we’re looking at the 1925 Christmas tragedy at Hagley Hall, and its subsequent miracle restoration. Let’s hope the new year brings its own miracle renewals!
Also this week, we travel back in time to discover Tudor Christmas traditions at Hever Castle (seen above), our guest editor, Sam Bott, has written an article on the Evolution of Christmas Dinner, we announce a host of events to get you through the remainder of the festive period, and The Bishop’s Palace make notice of their hugely popular snowdrop walks for the new year.
Finally, we’re excited to share with you our Historic Houses Christmas Quiz 2020, to test your knowledge on the houses we all love. Enjoy, and have a wonderful Christmas.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #98
Festive Menus | 18 December 2020
“It is now Christmas, and not a cup of drink must pass without a carol;
The beasts, fowl, and fish come to a general execution, and the corn is ground to dust for the bakehouse and the pastry.”
― Nicholas Breton, English poet (1555-1626)
With one week to go to Christmas, our weekly bulletin finds itself again in the kitchen of our member houses. This week, festive menus from the past hundred years have been shared with us, so take a look below to discover what was served to the guests of Ushaw in 1903, while Bowhill in Selkirk shares images of their Dinner Book and Victorian Kitchen (above) to whet your appetite for the days ahead.
Also this week, a painting of Patrick, 3rd Earl of Kinghorne at Glamis Castle, beautiful photos of houses in the snow, a carol service at the Charterhouse, and some very bright, socially-distanced Christmas jumpers! Enjoy, and have a wonderful build-up to Christmas.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #97
Feasts | 11 December 2020
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
The run-up to Christmas traditionally involves sitting down, drinking and eating with family and old friends as we think back fondly on the year that was. In this week’s bulletin, while such traditions are sadly not possible, we’re looking at dining rooms within Historic Houses member houses, such as Ugbrooke (above), rooms that have seen one or two pre-Christmas feasts in their time.
Also this week, we take a video tour around the gardens at Abbotsford, we announce news of a new lecture for Historic Houses members, Pitchford Hall are running one final tour of 2020, and we’ve got a fabulous deal with Phaidon on their new book about gardens. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #96
In the Bleak Midwinter | 4 December 2020
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
From ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, by Christina Rossetti
Happy Birthday to Christina Rossetti, who was born on 5th December 1830 and who wrote romantic, devotional and children’s poems, including the words to the famous Christmas Carol ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’. The poem was then set to music in ‘The English Hymnal’, 1906, by Gustav Holst. With much of the UK covered in snow this morning, historic houses like Ballindalloch Castle in Banffshire, as per James Day’s photo above, have, in quite the reverse of a bleak midwinter, never looked more beautiful.
This week, we’re excited to announce that the Historic Houses member magazine is published and on its way to members, so we’ve got an entertaining extract from the issue on the bears of Somerleyton Hall. We’re also highlighting a video tour of Traquair House, linking to member houses selling Christmas cards, celebrating games and pastimes at Hever Castle, and much more. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #95
Advent | 27 November 2020
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.
From ‘Christmas’, by John Betjeman
This Sunday, 29 November, sees us head into Advent, a term Christians give to the period of expectant waiting ahead of the Nativity, and is the beginning of the liturgical year. The term comes from the Latin adventus meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’ and, although its origins as a tradition are murky, according to Saint Gregory of Tours, the celebration began in the fifth century when Bishop Perpetuus introduced a fasting from 11 November (St. Martin’s Day) until Christmas, which is why Advent is often referred to as ‘Lent of St. Martin’.
This week’s e-bulletin takes a look at our Judge’s Choice for Garden of the Year, Gresgarth Hall. We also take a look at some of the clocks you’ll see at member houses and share a video with you taking a look at Kirstead Hall in Norfolk. For those of you who love our member houses in Scotland, a new, bi-weekly newsletter covering these houses is on its way, and Boconnoc share their blog article on planting acorns for every couple who’d had to postpone their wedding this year. It’s a busy newsletter as always, so enjoy and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #94
Stir-up Weekend | 20 November 2020
It might not quite be beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but this weekend, the last before the season of Advent, sees what’s known as Stir-up Sunday, a date traditionally associated with the making of Christmas puddings (said to have been introduced to Britain by Prince Albert, although the meat-less version was actually introduced by George I in 1714). In any normal year, it would be a chance for families to get together to mix and steam the puddings, teaching children how to mix the ingredients, with the mixture stirred from East to West, reflecting the journey of the Three Wise Men on the road to Bethlehem. This year, while your stirring efforts might be a Zoom affair, it’s certainly worth giving the recipe a try, so here’s a short video from the Queen of Christmas cooking; Delia.
This week, the big announcement is the winner of our Garden of the Year Award. Thank you to everyone who voted, and we encourage you to get out your diaries and schedule a visit to this truly remarkable garden in 2021. In equally important news, we announce that Martha Lytton Cobbold, of Knebworth House, has been elected as the new president of Historic Houses. You can read about these items, and much more, in this week’s e-bulletin. Have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #93
Remembrance | 13 November 2020
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
― From ‘For the Fallen’, a poem by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
This week the nation stopped for a moment as we remembered those who have given their lives for their country in past and current wars. Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, paid homage in a powerful and touching display of two hundred life-size Armistace Day soldier figures, reflecting also their own connection with British military history dating back to the 18th Century. You can read more about their display and watch a video below.
This week’s bulletin will suit anyone with a liking for stained glass windows, with many of examples of these below. We’re also looking into a priest hide at Harvington Hall, highlighting a fascinating podcast on the connection between King Arthur and Bamburgh Castle, and revealing this week’s Mystery House. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #92
Lockdown Life | 6 November 2020
“Let us love this distance which is thoroughly woven with friendship, since those who do not love each other are not separated”
― Simone Weil (1909-1943)
And here we are again, lockdown life has returned for many of us this week. As always though, we hope your weekly bulletin will offer some inspiring news and stories to keep you entertained as the couch beckons us back for another period of enforced isolation. If you are in search of ways to get out and about, however, we are delighted to publish, below, a list of all the parks and gardens that are legally able to open over November.
This week also saw a very much tempered celebration of bonfire night, 415 years after the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the House of Lords, and King James I with it. Our Feature Fridays theme on Treason & Plot, below, looks at the earlier case of Thomas Howard, who was involved in a plot to remove Elizabeth I. We’re also taking you on a tour of Eastnor Castle, highlighting a wonderful short article on the seals of Dunvegan Castle, and reveal this week’s Mystery House. Enjoy, keep warm, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #91
A Spooky Weekend | 30 October 2020
“Once again…welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring.”
― Dracula, by Bram Stoker, 1897
Tomorrow we welcome in All Hallows Eve, the most spooky day of the year and something that Historic Houses places are particularly equipped to celebrate. With tales of mysterious happenings and reappearing ancestors, there are many stories to share, while many of them have been staging special events throughout October. Read below two stories of spooky happenings at Historic Houses.
But for those of you who aren’t particularly enthused about Halloween, this week’s bulletin also reflects on the wonderful project at Marchmont to nurture the future of creative talent, Drumlanrig Castle share their latest trailer, Historic Houses members can watch a fascinating lecture on Boughton House, and we let you know about places to visit this weekend. Enjoy and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #90
Rich autumn glows | 23 October 2020
“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cézanne
We thought that this wonderful picture of High Beeches Garden in West Sussex by Historic Houses member, David Clark, perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to visit a Historic Houses garden at this time of year, and makes for the perfect introduction to this week’s bulletin. High Beeches have since sent us a selection of beautiful photographs of the garden which you can see below.
Also in this week’s bulletin, Deene Park tells us about their conservation work on the White Hall, we visit the Balvenie Walk around Blair Castle, Netflix release their new adaptation of ‘Rebecca’, with Mapperton House starring as a film location, and there are many houses to visit and tours to look forward to.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #89
Sitting on pumpkins | 16 October 2020
“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
― Henry David Thoreau
This week’s e-bulletin doesn’t necessarily echo the sentiment of Thoreau’s words, but certainly features a lot of pumpkins, as we reveal all the spooky Halloween events that are going on in Historic Houses across the country this month. Like Forde Abbey’s pumpkin picking from their kitchen garden (above), there are more than a few events to choose from. Where better to spend Halloween than at a Historic House?
Also today, our Feature Fridays theme is ‘weddings’, and we’ve three segments on the theme for you to enjoy. We also reveal another virtual reality house to explore, mention a major project at Longleat, and share a few of our top pick houses to visit over the next week. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #88
Going Virtual | 9 October 2020
“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”
― Pablo Picasso
This week, The Charterhouse in London announced the completion of its refurbished Great Chamber. Like many places this year, the room itself is sadly closed to the public for safety reasons, but out of necessity often comes the most exciting innovations, and on Wednesday they revealed that they’d been working with designer, Artfletch, to create 3D virtual reality models of the Great Chamber, Chapel Cloister, Gatehouse, Chapel and Norfolk Cloister. Read more below.
Today, we also reveal the government support scheme helping to save independent heritage, highlight the spooky Halloween Week at Burton Constable, post a fascinating article from the curator of Bamburgh Castle, and of course include all your weekly features. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #87
October Begins | 2 October 2020
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
With a pretty poor weekend of weather forecast, Montgomery’s words might sound a strange choice to introduce this week’s e-bulletin, but there is plenty to be positive about as we enter October. For one, houses and gardens across the country are still providing a refuge to escape the house despite the uncertainty, with Knebworth and The Gibberd Garden extending their opening seasons (and we expect more to follow suit if possible), and many gardens remaining open throughout the winter. Over the coming weeks, we’ll continue to let you know where you can escape next.
Another reason to be positive is that today’s Feature Fridays theme is pets and resident animals! It’s proven a particularly popular theme with houses, and they’ve sent us many photos of the creatures that you can see onsite. Unsurprisingly, as most Historic Houses are actually family homes, there are a lot of pets to mention, so we’ve highlighted some below and built a webpage where you can see them all.
Enjoy the theme and all our other features on this week’s bulletin.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #86
Voting Closes | 25 September 2020
“It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson
With only a few days left to go, the competition to name the 2020 Historic Houses Garden of the Year is almost over and, depite the most challenging of periods anyone can remember, this has also been the most successful Garden of the Year competition on record – with almost 9,000 votes cast so far, a staggering 3,000 jump on last year (itself a record year for voting). Thank you to everyone who has voted so far, and to everyone who will get their vote in before Wednesday’s deadline. This year has certainly shown us all the value of beautiful gardens.
Today’s bulletin is as busy as ever, so make sure you’ve a cup of tea at hand before you sit down to read it. We’re off to Markenfield Hall, to hear what it’s like to live in a historic house. We’ve a bumper Feature Fridays segment on letters & documents. Potfest in the Park starts at Scone Palace today. We sadly hear of the crisis for wedding businesses. And we’ve all your other regular features. As we close of September, we hope you can find the time to enjoy this week’s bulletin.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #85
Remaining Vigilant | 18 September 2020
If you receive BBC News notifications from your smartphone, you are probably feeling quite numb now to the constant stream of breaking news updates (other news providers are available). These past couple of weeks certainly haven’t let up, with the North East now managing increased restrictions on how we live our lives. Thankfully, Historic Houses places across the country are remaining vigilant and keeping their doors open for as long as possible. Alnwick Castle, above, have announced guidance on how you can visit, as have other places like Bamburgh Castle. If you’re planning on visiting a Historic Houses place soon, always make sure you check their website before heading out.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. This week, we highlight a video of Head Gardener, Martin Ogle, talking about the courtyard at Lowther Castle. In Scotland, Inveraray Castle have announced their event, BRICKLIVE, ahead of the October Half Term break. We look at some examples of herb gardens at member houses, and, of course, there’s this week’s Mystery House. In these dark times, we hope our e-bulletin provides something enjoyable to read. Have a lovely weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #84
Results Day | 11 September 2020
“There is nothing to writing.
All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway
The day has finally come when we can announce the results of our Short Story Competition that so many of you entered. It really has been a pleasure to read such beautifully written and imaginative stories set at Historic Houses and, although a winning three (turned four) inevitably had to be chosen, we’d like to congratulate everyone who entered and hope you, our dear e-bulletin subscriber, enjoy reading through some of the many stories entered in our 2020 competition.
This week’s e-bulletin also reflects on the amazing response we had from you for our Mystery House last week (Kelmscott Manor), discover the history of Kiplin Hall in our Video of the Week, Bamburgh Castle have unearthed an ancient Roman roundhouse, and we highlight our photo of the week from you. If you’re wondering why Feature Fridays is missing, we’ve postponed this week’s theme, ‘Sustainability’, to a future time when we can give the subject broader coverage. In the meantime, enjoy reading this week’s bulletin.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #83
Remembering 1666 | 4 September 2020
“I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower, and there got up upon one of the high places, Sir J. Robinson’s little son going up with me; and there I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge.”
– Samuel Pepys, 1666
354 years ago a fire ravaged London (from 2-6 September 1666), gutting the medieval part of the city inside the Roman city wall and destroying 13,200 homes, 87 parish churches and St Paul’s Cathedral. In the aftermath, plans for a grand Baroque rebuild, that would have had London look much like Paris, failed to materialise due to infighting and compensation complexities, but the significant improvements in hygiene and fire safety through houses built of brick and stone helped lay the foundation for a safer city, giving hope to the idea that our current tragedies will guide the preparations for a safer tomorrow.
Today, our e-bulletin takes on a certain Tudor theme, with references to Hever Castle, Katherine Parr Weekend at Sudeley Castle, and Bolton Abbey (home to Mary Queen of Scots for 6 months). We also look at armour & costume for our Feature Fridays, and select various tours we think you’ll love. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #82
September | 28 August 2020
“Crown’d with the sickle, and the sheaten sheaf,
While Autumn, nodding o’er the yellow plain,
Comes jovial on.”
– From ‘Autumn’ by James Thomson, 1730
With the August Bank Holiday Weekend upon us, we, next week, enter into September, and Autumn. With the leaves beginning to turn, there are few better months in the year to visit the gardens and grounds of Historic Houses across the UK. You’ll find that most houses and gardens that have been able to reopen this year will continue to be open through September, but we’ll do our best to let you know of any ‘last chances’ as they come up, and should anything need to close because of changing circumstances.
This week, we’re looking at Musical Instruments at Historic Houses places, Belvoir Castle prepares for a day of jousting on Monday, we’ve a list of tours and houses you might want to consider, and we’ve a new Mystery House. Enjoy, and see you in September!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #81
Bosworth Fields | 21 August 2020
Tomorrow (22 August) will mark 535 years since King Richard III lost the throne at Bosworth Fields in Leicestershire, marking the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses – a civil war fought between the Houses of Lancaster and York. Won by the Lancastrians, led by Henry Tudor, the Earl of Richmond, Henry was able to take the crown as the first Tudor monarch, establishing a dynasty that would become the most famous in British history.
With this summer of the staycation rolling on, this week we offer you a list of four houses and four tours that we think you’d love while the weather remains warm (and hopefully less wet!). The Charterhouse will be holding an online lecture on Wednesday next week, which we definitely recommend you joining. Meanwhile we revisit Penshurst Place for our Feature Fridays segment. Many thanks to everyone who got in touch last week on our error – Penshurst is indeed to be found in the South East! As always, we hope you enjoy this bulletin, and don’t forget to get in touch if there’s anything you’d like to see in future weeks.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #80
Love Heritage | 14 August 2020
Next week is officially ‘Love Culture Week’; an initiative by the UK Government to promote museums, galleries, heritage sites, libraries, cinemas and cultural organisations across the UK, and which is part of their ‘Enjoy Summer Safely’ campaign. The big event will be on Thursday (20th August) where they are asking the public to share photos from their UK staycations on social media. If you’re interested in taking part, simply share your photos on any social media channel together with the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday as well as using #LoveHeritage. Hopefully, with your help, we can help promote and support UK heritage when it needs it most.
Today’s newsletter has some fascinating segments for you. We visit Penshurst Place in the South West, we look at the origins of croquet and our Feature Fridays theme looks at chapels. This week, to save you from endless scrolling, we’re instead highlighting four picks of places you can visit, as well as linking you to our webpage so you can search for places to visit by region. We hope you enjoy!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #79
Ecology Matters | 7 August 2020
“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D Roosevelt’s name has appeared quite frequently in recent months in reference to his New Deal of 1933 that helped the United States recover from the Great Depression through long-term strategic projects and reforms. In the face of significant new crises – economic, social and environmental, that long-term policy-making is needed again, and Historic Houses member houses are doing their bit (and more!) to ensure the incredible ecology and biodiversity of the British Isles can be enjoyed for generations to come. Today, our Feature Fridays theme looks at some exciting examples of their wildlife and habitat conservation at work.
This week, we also look at Houghton Lodge Gardens, The Charterhouse, Burton Constable Hall and Middleton Hall, while we’ve listed all the places you can visit and other opportunities at the bottom. Enjoy, and have a lovely, warm weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #78
Choppy Waters | 31 July 2020
“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too”
― Vincent van Gogh
On this day in 1819, J.M.W. Turner sailed off from from Dover at the start of his first tour of Italy, finally fulfilling his dream to visit the places that his masters had painted before him. You can see an exhibition of Turner’s work at Turner’s House in Twickenham from 6th August.
This week marked choppy waters for heritage bodies too, with the National Trust announcing 1200 job cuts, and the government’s updates today delaying wedding ceremonies of up to 30 people until 15th August – with a number of our member houses dependent on income from weddings to survive. Furthermore, the government also announced that the public will soon be required to wear face coverings when visiting museums and galleries (including the interiors of historic houses), so if you’re thinking about visiting somewhere soon, don’t forget to bring your face mask!
In this week’s bulletin we look at Dunvegan Castle as it re-opens, we reveal a video of Bowhill House on our re-energised YouTube channel, you can read an article by the Heritage Manager at Powderham Castle, and we let you know which places are re-opening. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #77
Keeping Safe | 24 July 2020
Dear! of all happy in the hour, most blest
He who has found our hid security,
Assured in the dark tides of the world that rest,
And heard our word, ‘Who is so safe as we?’
We have found safety with all things undying,
The winds, and morning, tears of men and mirth,
The deep night, and birds singing, and clouds flying,
And sleep, and freedom, and the autumnal earth.
We have built a house that is not for Time’s throwing.
We have gained a peace unshaken by pain for ever.
War knows no power. Safe shall be my going,
Secretly armed against all death’s endeavour;
Safe though all safety’s lost; safe where men fall;
And if these poor limbs die, safest of all.
– Safety, by Rupert Brooke
As you’ll know, from today you’ll be required to wear a face mask when visiting shops in England. While this rule doesn’t necessarily extend to cultural venues like theatres and heritage attractions, you may be required to wear a mask at the discretion of the venue you’re visiting. If you’re making a visit to any Historic Houses places this weekend, don’t forget to bring a mask – as perfectly demonstrated by this gargoyle (above) at Knebworth House today.
This week, our Feature Fridays theme looks at the curious mazes at our houses. We return again to Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull, to be shown around their garden. Brancepeth Castle have embraced pandemic innovation by launching, today, their first ever virtual craft fair – certainly worth a look if you love craft and supporting makers. On a similar aesthetic to mazes, this week’s Feature Article looks at topiary from an article in our Spring Magazine. All this, and, of course, your opening listings and Mystery House features.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #76
Secrets and Mysteries | 17 July 2020
“Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants willing to be dethroned.”
― James Joyce
Historic Houses places are littered with secrets from the past, waiting to be unearthed. In this week’s Feature Fridays segment, we’re looking at the Secret Passages among a couple of these places. Meanwhile, those of you who played our Mystery House segment last week will have discovered that Palladian bridges almost exactly like the one above are more common than you might think.
This week, we’re also showing off the glorious Gibberd Gardens, Middleton Hall is our House of the Week, we highlight the second of two articles by Public Historian, Joshua Daniels, and we give you the latest update on house and garden re-openings across the UK. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #75
A Lifeline for Culture | 10 July 2020
“The soul takes nothing with her to the next world but her education and her culture. At the beginning of the journey to the next world, one’s education and culture can either provide the greatest assistance, or else act as the greatest burden, to the person who has just died.”
― Plato, The Republic of Plato
On Sunday evening (5th July), the UK Government announced a £1.57 billion package of investment to ‘protect Britain’s world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions’. It was a moment celebrated by arts and heritage institutions across the country, and we’re hoping that some of the Historic Houses places most in need of support can benefit from it. Reflecting on this, we’re including two features here that shine a light on the plight of heritage attractions; Duart Castle’s appeal to aid its essential restoration work and an interview with Hugh Macleod of Dunvegan Castle, Isle if Skye, on the surprising issues of re-opening.
This week, we’ve also published a piece by Joshua Daniels, highlighting his research of Wentworth Woodhouse, our Feature Fridays segment looks at Bedrooms, we highlight Sezincote gardens – which you can now visit, and we list all the places that have announced reopening plans. Have a wonderful weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #74
American Connections | 3 July 2020
“My mind may be American, but my heart is British”
― T.S. Eliot, poet, essayist, literary critic and editor born in St, Louis, Missouri.
The celebration of July 4th in the United States will unfortunately be somewhat subdued this year, but today’s e-bulletin takes the opportunity to shine a light on the important and fascinating connections that British country houses have with our friends across the pond. William Waldorf Astor, seen above, was a prime example of this. Considered, at one time, the ‘Richest Man in America’, Astor purchased Hever Castle, in Kent, in July 1903. After growing increasingly disenchanted with America announcing that it was ‘no longer a fit place for a gentleman to live’, in 1891 he moved to England with a reputed $100 million and was instrumental in the essential restoration of Hever. You can read the full story on the Hever Castle blog.
Astor isn’t the only American connection mentioned this week, with a look at Sulgrave Manor, Raby Castle and Combermere Abbey too. We also unveil a video taken a couple of months ago at Blair Castle (soon to re-open) and list all the places you can visit ahead of major changes in restrictions across the UK from tomorrow. Enjoy, and have a wonderful, but careful, July 4th weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #73
The Gowers Report | 26 June 2020
“No feature of our country contributes more to its beauty and character than the historic houses of which it has such profusion. They constitute a national asset whose loss would be irreplaceable. While other countries can show vaster and more splendid palaces than in any in this country, none can rival in number and beauty the English country houses in their familiar setting of gardens, avenues and parkland.”
― Extract from The Gowers Report on Houses of Outstanding Historic or Architectural Interest, published on 23rd June 1950.
The banner image here shows Easton Hall in Lincolnshire, a grand Victorian country house with origins dating back to 1592, when it was a medieval manor house. During the early 20th Century, the house was requisitioned twice; once as a convalescent home following World War I, and then again as a barracks during World War II for the extremely brave 2nd Parachute Battalion. Unfortunately, with rounds and grenades tested in the house and greenhouses, the house was in a sorry state when it was passed back to the owners, to the extent that, in 1951, with colossal and unpayable repair bills, the heartbreaking decision was made to pull down the house altogether.
At the time, such a fate befell hundreds of the UK’s historic houses and so the Chancellor of the Exechquer, Sir Stafford Cripps, set up a committee to investigate how to save these irreplaceable cultural assets. The report, lead by Sir Ernest Gowers, was published in June 1950 and made the surprising recommendation that, to save the historic country house, it was necessary that the owners of these places remain their custodians, supported through targeted tax breaks for repairs and maintenance, so to avoid either acquisition by a state without the means to finance such a move or, ultimately, their demolition.
The Gowers Report, as it’s now known, can be credited with the survival of the historic country houses we see and love visiting today. So, on its 70th anniversary, this week’s e-bulletin pays homage to the report, with an online lecture you can view below and an extensive tour of Easton Walled Gardens, where Easton Hall once stood. Our House of the Week, Powderham, benefited from Historic Building Council grants in 1953 as a result of the Gowers Report while our Article of the Week was written this week by Timothy Easton of Bedfield Hall to celebrate Midsummer. We hope you enjoy the bulletin.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #72
Midsummer | 19 June 2020
“It is not night when I do see your face,
Therefore I think I am not in the night;
Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,
For you in my respect are all the world:
Then how can it be said I am alone,
When all the world is here to look on me?”
― from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare
On Wednesday next week we mark Midsummer, the period of time centred upon the summer solstice. While the 24th June has been historically important for many cultures and religions, in Christianity it marks the Feast Day of St John the Baptist, with the evening before known as St John’s Eve (much as we celebrate Christmas Eve and Day six months later). All across northern Europe, people would celebrate the day with processions, banquets and plays. We hope you’re able to celebrate in your own way next week.
An important bit of news this week comes from Scotland, where we heard yesterday that garden attractions will be allowed to re-open and outdoor weddings take place from 29th June. Of course, numbers are limited in the latter case, while houses will need to consider their ability to allow the public in safely before opening up. We’ll keep you updated here.
This week’s e-bulletin looks at the Orchards of Historic Houses places, we find out how to make shortbread at Duart Castle, Hergest Croft Gardens is our House of the Week, we’ve another Mystery House for you, and of course list all the places you can now visit. Enjoy, and happy Midsummer!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #71
The Hides | 12 June 2020
“With incomparable skill Owen knew how to conduct priests to a place of safety along subterranean passages, to hide them between walls and bury them in impenetrable recesses, and to entangle them in labyrinths and a thousand windings.”
― from Secret Chambers and Hiding Places, by Allan Fea, 2004
Nicholas Owen was a Jesuit lay brother, famous as the principal builder of priest holes during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. He was finally arrested in 1606 and tortured to death at the Tower of London, but his legacy lives on in Britain’s historic houses, with today’s Feature Fridays theme looking at these fascinating places of refuge for Catholic priests. Scroll down to read more.
This week, we’re delighted to hear that Sutton Park will be opening exclusively for Historic Houses members from Monday, it’s the final weekend to get your Short Stories in, we take a trip down to Penshurst Place, and we of course detail all the parks and gardens you can visit in England at the foot of this email. Have a lovely weekend, and hopefully we’ll all be coming out of hiding soon!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #70
The Field of Cloth of Gold | 5 June 2020
“Towering in magnificence above all the persons in this vast assembly was the Lord Legate Wolsey, whose retinue consisted of 12 Chaplains, 50 Gentlemen, 238 other servants, and 150 horses, whilst the Archbishop of Canterbury and the great Duke of Buckingham had the comparatively trifling attendance of 5 Chaplains, 10 Gentlemen, 55 other servants, and 30 horses.”
― John Henry Manners Rutland, The Rutland Papers, Original documents illustrative of the courts and times of Henry VII. and Henry VIII., 1842 – detailing the journey to the Field of Cloth of Gold, June 1520
On Sunday (7th June) it will be exactly 500 years since the start of one of the most sumptuous spectacles of the sixteenth century. Held in Northern France, the Field of Cloth of Gold was a site in Balinghem that hosted a tournament field as part of a summit between the young Kings Henry VIII of England and Frances I of France, which was intended to mark a new dawn of good relations between the rival nations. The tournament lasted until 24 June 1520.
This week we’re looking at some of the beautiful follies you’ll see at various Historic Houses places, while we share with you an article from the very latest Historic Houses members’ magazine. Painshill (a Garden of the Year nominee) is our House of the Week, and don’t forget to cast your vote for your favourite garden this year! Our Video of the Week is a glorious tour of Bamburgh Castle, and you only have one week left to write your short stories for a chance to win a year’s Wine List subscription. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #69
The New Normal | 29 May 2020
“Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
It was with great relief that on Friday night/Saturday morning last week that the Government at least eased the restrictions on ticketed outdoor attractions in England. That meant that over the past week many parks and gardens have been making preparation to re-open (enforcing social distancing of course!). This is invaluable news to so many places that haven’t had any income for so long, and at the foot of this bulletin, and every week henceforth, we’ll be listing places that have announced re-opening arrangements. Please always check their individual websites for the latest information.
This week, we’re serving up a delicious menu of stories for you to digest. Our Feature Fridays segment looks at some of the historic cooking utensils you’ll still find in various places, while our Article of the Week looks at the pantry of Belvoir Castle (and a tasty partridge risotto dish). Voting is now open for Garden of the Year 2020, while Hindringham Hall, a nominee for GoYA 2020 is our House of the Week. We hope it proves a tasteful ensemble of news to stick your teeth into.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #68
An Untimely End | 22 May 2020
“Death, rock me asleep,
Bring me to quiet rest,
Let pass my weary guiltless ghost
Out of my careful breast.
Toll on, thou passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Let thy sound my death tell.
Death doth draw nigh;
There is no remedy”
― Extract from the Tudor-era poem, usually attributed to Anne Boleyn, written shortly before her execution in 1536. Read the full poem here.
On Tuesday we marked 484 years since the beheading of Lady Anne Boleyn. Queen of England for only three years, her execution for treason and other charges made her key figure in the political and religious upheaval that marked the 16th Century. This week, while Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne, paid particular attention to her life, they have also highlighted their beheading swords, as part of our Feature Fridays theme on Weapons. Read more below.
In today’s bulletin, we continue the royal theme with a look at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, and the state bedroom at… well you’ll have to guess! We also feature a video overview of the Hercules Garden at Blair Castle, and celebrate the Bank Holiday in style, with a recipe for cranberry and orange G&T. We hope you have a lovely long weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #67
Gulliver's Travels | 15 May 2020
“When I came to my own house, for which I was forced to enquire, one of the servants opening the door, I bent down to go in (like a goose under a gate) for fear of striking my head. My wife ran out to embrace me, but I stooped lower than her knees, thinking she could otherwise never be able to reach my mouth. My daughter kneeled to ask me blessing, but I could not see her till she arose, having been so long used to stand with my head an eyes erect to above sixty foot; and then I went to take her up with one hand, by the waist. I looked down upon the servants and one or two friends who were in the house, as if they had been pygmies, and I a giant.”
― Extract from Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift, 1726
In the week that restrictions were eased (somewhat), you might think that we’ve themed our e-bulletin around the Irish 18th Century writer and clergyman, Jonathan Swift. The answer, instead, lies further down this newsletter.
In today’s bulletin, we also explore houses and gardens including Easton Walled Gardens, Acton Court and Mapperton House. Kiftsgate Court Gardens features as our Video of the Week, while today we launch our first Feature Fridays segment, looking at specific objects and architecture among our member houses each week. It’s a busy bulletin as always, so enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #66
VE Day | 8 May 2020
“My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole. We were the first, in this ancient island, to draw the sword against tyranny. After a while we were left all alone against the most tremendous military power that has been seen. We were all alone for a whole year.
There we stood, alone. Did anyone want to give in? Were we down-hearted? The lights went out and the bombs came down. But every man, woman and child in the country had no thought of quitting the struggle. London can take it. So we came back after long months from the jaws of death, out of the mouth of hell, while all the world wondered. When shall the reputation and faith of this generation of English men and women fail? I say that in the long years to come not only will the people of this island but of the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in human hearts, look back to what we’ve done and they will say “do not despair, do not yield to violence and tyranny, march straightforward and die if need be-unconquered.”
― Extract from Prime Minister, Winston S Churchill’s address to the crowds gathered in front of the Ministry of Health on 8th May 1945.
75 years ago today, Winston Churchill stood on the balcony at the Ministry of Health to address the huge crowds below on the unconditional surrender of the Nazis, marking what became known as Victory in Europe (VE) Day. Historic Houses places across the UK were of course full participants in the war effort, and this week we’ve highlighted a few of the houses that have special connections to the period.
VE Day celebrations themes run through much of this week’s bulletin, and we also feature a new video on the bears of Muncaster Castle preparing their own celebrations, some letters from children evacuated to West Horsley Place, and an article about life at Ushaw during the war. We also reveal this week’s Mystery House, a special tour of Newby Hall and give you the chance to name some cygnets. Enjoy, and have a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #65
May Day | 1 May 2020
“And after winter folweth grene May.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde
While the PM yesterday announced that Britain was past the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, Chaucer’s winter still looks like it’ll be with us for a while longer, and it is thanks to the incredible work of those on the front line, in the NHS, and all essential workers, that we know we can get through this. As a tribute to their work, Historic Houses places all over the UK turned blue this week to say thank you, with many houses shining blue floodlights on the castle walls, others planting avenues of lavender, and others finding further creative means to show their appreciation. Find out more below.
This week’s e-bulletin hopes to get your creative juices flowing, as we announce our spring Short Story competition, with some excellent prizes. You’ll smile when you see the news from the Bishop’s Palace. On a similar note, our Article of the Week tells the story of two young kittens at Johnby Hall. Boo MacLeod Matthews takes us around the gardens at Chenies Manor House, and there’s much more. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #64
Significant Anniversaries | 24 April 2020
It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o’er the green cornfield did pass,
In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.
Between the acres of the rye,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
Those pretty country folks would lie,
In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.
– Extract from As You Like It, by William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
There were two potential themes for this week’s e-bulletin. Yesterday was, of course, the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death 404 years ago, while it also marked St George’s Day, the patron saint of England. Saint George, who died on 23rd April 303 AD, was a soldier in the Pretorian Guard for Roman Emperor Diocletian, sentenced to death for failing to renounce his Christian faith. It wasn’t until 11th Century that any mention of the famous dragon appears though, and was expanded upon in the Golden Legend, a 13th Century text that sought to compile traditional lore about various important saints, ordered according to their feast days. We’ve included the tale here should you wish to read on.
This week’s e-bulletin reflects on the launch of our weekly Tudor Tuesdays campaign, takes a look at three more stories of what houses are doing under Lockdown, we reveal an article from last year on the pigs of Kirklinton Hall, our Mystery House is, we hope, somewhat easier this week, and our Video of the Week explores the glorious gardens of Hole Park. Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #63
Spoken Tales | 17 April 2020
When that April with his showers soot
The drought of March hath piercéd to the root
And bathéd every vein in such liquor
Of which virtue engendered is the flower
And small fowls maken melody
That sleepen all the night with open eye
(So pricketh them Nature in their couráges)
Then longen folk to go on pilgrimages
– Extract from Michael Murphy’s translation of the General Prologue to The Cantebury Tales, by Sir Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 1400)
Today marks 633 years since Sir Geoffrey Chaucer (according to scholars) read aloud his Canterbury Tales for the first time in the court of King Richard II. It is believed that Chaucer read The Tales (on 17 April 1387) in English, in the hope of having the language accepted as a courtly language, instead of the Norman French normally spoken.
While all these years later we can afford no pilgrimages, and neither has April offered showers to quench the drought of March (quite the reverse in fact!), we hope this week’s bulletin will offer some stimulus to relieve the boredom and challenges of a life in lockdown. Below, we hear some spoken tales of life at Harewood House and at Hodsock Priory, we find out about the history of cricket (at Goodwood), we walk around the gardens of Penshurst Place, we observe a painting by Isaac Oliver, we reveal this week’s Mystery House, and much more. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #62
Good Friday | 10 April 2020
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
– from A Shropshire Lad, by A. E. Housman (1859 – 1936)
Today is Good Friday; a solemn day in the Christian calendar, and for all, given the current circumstances. While our Easter break plans may be somewhat different to our expectations only a few months ago, the festival also brings with it connotations of resurrection and renewal, and we hope that this difficult period proves shorter lived than we imagine.
This week’s bulletin looks on at some of the range of gestures Historic Houses members are making in response to COVID-19 and the nationwide lockdown. You’ll notice that our banner image this week shows Peter Frost-Pennington’s ‘NHS Heroes, Happy Easter’ lawnmower creativity, and, below, Powderham Castle shone blue for the NHS last night while we clapped. This week, we also head down to the Isle of Wight to visit Lord Tennyson’s house, Farringford, we explore the house where George Washington’s ancestor lived, we reveal our second Video Tour, encounter Napoleon’s Death Mask, and publish this week’s Mystery House. Have a wonderful Easter, and see you next week!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #61
Now that April's there | 3 April 2020
Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England – now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent
spray’s edge –
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
– Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
– Home-thoughts from abroad, by Robert Browning (1812 – 1889)
April is here at last, although not as we imagined. When Browning wrote his poem, Home-thoughts from abroad, 1845, he was thinking back fondly, and perhaps enviously, to an England marked by spring flowers and birdsong while on a trip to distant northern Italy. This year, while we’re all locked inside our homes, April seems to bring the promise of hope for better days ahead.
In this week’s bulletin, we’ll be visiting the home of William Morris, The Bishop’s Palace shows us a live stream of their nesting swans, we look at a shuffleboard dating back to 1625, we introduce our very first virtual tour behind closed doors, the Thorn Tree of Cawdor Castle is our Object of the Week, and we reveal the third in our Mystery House series.
Many thanks to everyone who gave us feedback and shared ideas following last week’s call-out. It’s been a very busy week, so we’ve not got round to replying to everyone yet, but know that we’re thrilled by the enthusiasm you’ve all shown, and we hope to put many of these ideas into action over the coming weeks. From all of us at Historic Houses, stay safe and hope you enjoy this week’s bulletin.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #60
Anniversary of a King | 27 March 2020
“In grave difficulties, and with little hope, the boldest measures are the safest. Livy Never make a defense or apology before you be accused.”
– King Charles I (1600 – 1649)
Today marks 395 years since Charles I was made King of England, Scotland and Ireland; crowned on 27 March 1625. Charles’ reign, as we know, wasn’t a particularly peaceful one, coinciding with the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and culminating in the English Civil War (1642-1651) that saw his execution and the start of the Interregnum. Our leading image this week shows a cut of Anthony Van Dyck’s painting of Charles I with M. de St Antoine (1663), depicting the king on horseback together with his riding master. The prime version of this painting is held in the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace, but those of you who’ve visited Highclere Castle will know that a second version by the Flemish painter also exists at the Hampshire estate, hung in the State Dining Room.
This week, we’re looking at four Historic Houses places that have been touched by Charles I while also exploring some of the early history of Belvoir Castle. From Anthony Van Dyck to Lady Zoe Hart Dyke, we then look at Britain’s only commercial silk farm. Chatsworth House features as our video of the week, and we share with you the second picture in our Mystery House series; can you guess it? Have a safe and enjoyable weekend, from all of us at Historic Houses.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #59
Saving Heritage | 20 March 2020
It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter. Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that, he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be just influenza. I’m curious of his sources. The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us. You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball. Z. says it’s no excuse to drink, but I just can’t seem to steady my hand. In the distance, from my brooding perch, the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.”
― F Scott Fitzgerald, during his quarantine in the South of France on the outbreak of Spanish Flu, 1920
It’s not been an easy week for any of us. At Historic Houses, we are witnessing many of our houses unavoidably closing their doors for the next few weeks and months, while we battle to ensure their survival for future generations to enjoy. On the bright side, many of the parks and gardens are still open to the public, and we are doing our best to keep you aware about what’s still possible.
At the same time, we’re also aware that many of you are now confined to your homes, and so we’ll be doing our best to keep you entertained through fascinating content and insights into the world of Historic Houses. For our members, we’ll be posting significantly more articles and insights on our members’ area of the website, while our quarterly magazines will be expanded, with further stories and news.
In this week’s bulletin, we’re highlighting some of the extraordinary parks and gardens that you can still visit over the next week, Raby Castle takes centre stage as our History of the week, we take a look around Muncaster Castle with its owner, we’ve a link for you to watch all eight episodes of a new TV series filmed in our houses, and we’re introducing our new segment: Mystery House. We hope you enjoy the bulletin and that it proves an entertaining read despite the circumstances. Enjoy!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #58
Going Green | 13 March 2020
“[God] watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son.”
― Saint Patrick
Next Tuesday marks St Patrick’s Day, celebrating the patron saint of Ireland. The day was made the official Christian feast day in the early 17th Century and commemorates Christianity’s arrival on the island of Ireland. Traditionally, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated with processions, céilis and the wearing of green attire and, although the current circumstances mean celebrations will likely be more tempered this year, we hope you’ll find your own way to celebrate.
This week’s newsletter takes our St Patrick’s Day theme and emphasises houses which are taking on particularly green projects and campaigns. We start with a visit to Northern Ireland, where we list three places you can visit as a Historic Houses member. We also encounter Blenheim and Holkham, who are setting the standard for going green. Brancepeth Castle features as our place to stay, and we highlight fascinating tours, events and open houses on the horizon.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #57
Women's Weekend | 6 March 2020
“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Sunday 8th March marks International Women’s Day. To celebrate the day, this week’s bulletin looks at the women who’ve left – and are leaving – important legacies at some of the UK’s finest Historic Houses.
Our first feature looks at five famous women who’ve been instrumental in the history of Historic Houses places. We then tell you about how The Charterhouse are making some important steps towards gender equality. Our Article of the Week finds us at Leighton Hall in Lancashire, to the home of Lucy Arthurs, while our Video of the Week sees its house owner, Jane Hasell McCosh take you around Dalemain House. We hope you enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #56
Celebrating Wales | 28 February 2020
“Whatever else may come to pass, I do not think that on the Day of Direst Judgement any race other than the Welsh, or any other language, will give answer to the Supreme Judge of all from this small corner of the earth.”
― Gerald of Wales (c. 1146 AD–c. 1223 AD), The Journey Through Wales
Sunday marks the beginning of March, but also St David’s Day, celebrating the patron saint of Wales. Saint David, who died on that day in 589 AD, was born in Caerfai, South Wales, and founded a Celtic monastic community in Pembrokeshire at the place where St. David’s Cathedral stands today. Traditionally, since 12th Century, festivities include wearing daffodils and leeks, eating cawl and Welsh rarebit and the staging of parades.
To celebrate St. David’s Day, this week we’ve a Welsh theme running through the bulletin, with our House, Video and History of the Week highlighting Historic Houses in ‘God’s Country’. Meanwhile, we consider the influence of Japan on British gardens, take in a glorious view from Halecat House, and unveil a very special membership offer. Enjoy your weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #55
Starting to Plan | 21 February 2020
“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.”
― Robert Burns, Collected Poems of Robert Burns
Historic Houses members will, this week, be receiving their Spring magazine and 2020 handbook. It’s an exciting moment when you can sit down and start planning your year, finding out which houses are open and where. The members’ magazine this season features some fascinating articles on Wolterton Park, Sulgrave Manor, the clocks of Belmont House, the silk farm (Britain’s only one!) of Lullingstone Castle, and other insights into the world of Historic Houses.
In this week’s newsletter, we’re heading up to Blair Castle in Perthshire, we find out about the candlestands of Fairfax House in York, our team look into how Historic Houses across the UK are becoming more environmentally friendly, and we look at where is open over the next week. Enjoy, and happy planning!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #54
Valentine's Day | 14 February 2020
“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.”
― Alfred Tennyson
Love is in the air this Friday, as we celebrate St Valentine’s Day. Established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 as the Feast of Saint Valentine of Rome (who was killed on 14th February AD 269 for marrying soldiers who were forbidden to marry, and ministering to Christians persecuted by the Roman Empire), the day has since become associated with romantic love, notably within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century, when the notions of courtly love were first established. The tradition of giving flowers and cards (known as valentines) wasn’t established until 18th Century.
This week we’re celebrating this wonderful annual festival of love by highlighting Historic Houses places that are notable for their wedding facilities. The official release of the new adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ in cinemas today is our Video of the Week. We hear about the marriage of Lachlan and Mary at Duart Castle. And, as always, we highlight various houses, tours and accommodation you simply must visit. Happy Valentines from us all at Historic Houses.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #53
Februinary | 7 February 2020
“Shame on those who remain unmoved, whose pace fails to quicken, on entering one of these old habitations, a manor-house falling to wrack and ruin or a desecrated church!”
― Petrus Borel, French writer of the Romantic period
Welcome to February. Or, as is the theme of this week’s bulletin, Februinary. This week we’re celebrating the beautiful ruins within the Historic Houses collection, highlighting places of extraordinary beauty right across the country, from Cowdray in West Sussex, to Penicuik in Midlothian. Penicuik takes pride of place in the bulletin, also featuring in our video and fact of the week segments. As always, there’s much to enjoy.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #52
Snowdrops | 31 January 2020
“Everyone looks for the first snowdrop as proof that our part of the earth is once more turning towards the sun, but folklore maintains that we should be wary of bringing them into the house before St Valentine’s Day, as any unmarried females could well remain spinsters!”
― Carole Carlton, ‘Mrs Darley’s Pagan Whispers’
This week saw the start of the official Snowdrops Season, with parks and gardens all across the UK inviting the public to take in the cool winter air and stroll among the extraordinarily beautiful and diverse range of snowdrops springing up. To celebrate this month-long period of national celebration around a small but important flower, first brought to Britain by the Romans, this week’s bulletin observes the Historic Houses places you can visit to make the most of this precious season.
This week, we continue the snowdrops theme, visiting the gardens of Bennington Lordship and Walsingham Abbey, we head to the Tyne Valley to explore Cheeseburn Grange, stay at Pentillie Castle and, of course, list forthcoming tours and house openings for places we think you’d love to visit.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #51
Celebrating Vanbrugh | 24 January 2020
Mr. Barn. What will become of me? Since I bought this damn’d country house, I spend more in a summer than wou’d maintain me seven years.
Col. Why, if you do spend money, han’t you good things for it? Come they not to see you the whole country raund? Mind how you’re belov’d, Measter.
Mr. Barn. Pox take such love——How now, what do you want?
– From Sir John Vanbrugh’s play ‘The Country House’
1664 wasn’t just a ‘good year for beer’, on this day that year the great English architect, dramatist and herald, Sir John Vanbrugh, was born. Perhaps best known as the designer of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, Vanbrugh was also involved with other Historic Houses places including Grimsthorpe Castle and Kings Weston House, while in 1712 the 1st Earl of Cholmondeley asked Vanbrugh to prepare new designs for the facade of Cholmondeley Castle but which were unfortunately never executed. Vanbrugh was also a prominent member of London’s ‘Kit-Cat Club’, a club committed to the furtherance of Whig objectives, within which many owners of other Historic Houses places would have also been associated. So, Happy 356th Birthday Sir John.
This week we keep our focus on the works of Sir John Vanbrugh, exploring Castle Howard as our House and Video of the Week. We delve into the history of Vanbrugh’s influence on Grimsthorpe Castle. We discover the legacy of Napoleon on British Country Houses. And we take a trip to Cornwall to discover the Rabbit Warren at Caerhays Castle. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #50
Regal Sleeping | 17 January 2020
Have you ever wished to sleep inside one of the historic houses you see in this newsletter each week? If you’ve been visiting our website recently you’ll know that we now list historic places where you can sleep within the walls of various historic houses. From the Anne Boleyn Wing at Hever Castle, to a crimson damask state bed at Harlington Manor. There will be more places you can stay listed each week, so take a look at the list and start planning your regal sleep!
This week, find out whether a portrait of Richard Vaughan, Earl of Carbery, at Golden Grove was, or was not, painted by Peter Lely. Celebrating Wentworth Woodhouse’s forthcoming snowdrops walks, we share a video of the significant restoration project at the Yorkshire house. We interview Lady Laura Cathcart of Upton Cressett Hall in Shropshire, and we take a look at where you can visit over the next week.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #49
Royal Birthdays | 10 January 2020
It’s been a mixed week for the royals, but we’d like to extend our birthday wishes to the Duchess of Cambridge, who celebrated her 38th birthday yesterday. Catherine is one of only three women in history to have held the title of Duchess of Cambridge despite there having been eight Dukes (five didn’t marry).
This week, we go in search of famous artworks at Belchamp Hall and Auckland Castle, we recommend taking in a breath of cool winter air on a walk around Painswick Rococo Garden, and we look ahead to a couple of events in the distant future to put in your diaries. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #48
A New Decade | 3 January 2020
“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”
― Benjamin Franklin
Welcome to 2020. We hope you’re excited for another year exploring the nation’s finest heritage with the help of our weekly e-bulletin. On the day in which George Washington’s revolutionary army defeated the British forces at the Battle of Princeton, on 3rd January 1777, our Video of the Week explores Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire, which was home to George’s ancestors, and which will feature in our Spring edition of Historic House magazine.
This week, we also take a look at a fascinating painting by Antonio Pellegrini at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, we hear how Edward VII visited Highcliffe Castle in Dorset, we cross the water to the Isle of Man, to Milntown, the only publicly open country house on the island and, of course, we highlight some of the exciting places you can visit over the next week. Enjoy!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #47
Farewell 2019 | 27 December 2019
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
So long to 2019, and to the ‘twenty-tens’. As we enter a new year, and a new decade, we’d like to take this reflective opportunity to thank you for your continued support. Whether you’re a Historic Houses member, you visit heritage attractions or you’re simply passionate about history and British heritage, you are helping us in our mission to preserve our extraordinary historic land and buildings for generations to come.
We’d also like to take this opportunity to welcome all our new members who’ve joined over Christmas and have signed up for our weekly e-bulletins. Since we started these in February we’ve been thrilled by the enthusiasm for weekly updates on news, events and places you can visit and would welcome your feedback on anything you’d like to see more of in future weeks. We hope you enjoy many visits to Historic Houses places over 2020.
This week’s newsletter is somewhat slimmer than normal, given the office is currently closed until Thursday. It includes a fascinating article from our Winter Members’ Magazine on the plight of Red Squirrels, some fun facts about Blenheim Palace, and a video on Italian contemporary artist, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and his 2016 exhibition, also at Blenheim, as well as all your regular recommendations on where to visit over the next week.
From all of us at Historic Houses, we hope you enjoy this last e-bulletin of 2019 and have a wonderful New Year.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #46
Christmas | 20 December 2019
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prarie
This is our last e-bulletin before Christmas and we hope you’re all prepared for the festivities. If you’re thinking about finding a way to walk off the turkey, parsnips and vino (and entertain/escape the relatives) there are still a few Historic Houses places open over the next week to enjoy. See below for our highlights, while we’d also recommend checking their own website or calling in advance to make doubly sure they’re open.
This week we reveal the story of Hagley Hall’s Christmas Eve fire, we visit Doddington Hall’s Enchanted Forest, Painshill Park becomes our penultimate 2019 House of the Week and we share with you an article from our most recent members’ magazine on the ‘difficult’ stories that Historic Houses places often have to tell about their past and foundations. It’s a packed week as always, so we hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful Christmas.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #45
Setting Sail | 13 December 2019
“There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.”
― Sir Francis Drake
On this day in 1577, Sir Francis Drake set sail from Plymouth on a voyage that would take him around the world aboard his ship, the Golden Hind. The voyage saw him claim what is now California and start an era of conflict with the Spanish on the West coast of the Americas. On his return in 1581, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I, while the Spanish gave him the nickname “El Draque” (The Dragon) for his regular privateering exploits on their ships (King Phillip II allegedly offered a reward for his capture or death of 20,000 ducats).
This week we’re staying grounded on terra firma as we continue our build-up to Christmas. Festive events are exceptional opportunities to see historic houses in all their glory and there are a few of our highlights listed below. We of course couldn’t send this bulletin without reference to this week’s election, so today we reveal six historic places that acted as polling stations in yesterday’s vote while, in these divided times, we’re building bridges as we highlight some of the various types of historic bridges you’ll see at Historic Houses places. There’s much to read and enjoy in this week’s newsletter.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #44
Sharing Stories | 6 December 2019
“The sum of things to be known is inexhaustible, and however long we read, we shall never come to the end of our story-book.”
― A.E. Housman, Selected Prose
(Lecture as professor of Latin at University College, London, 3 October 1892)
The UK is blessed to have such a vast and thriving heritage, and at Historic Houses we represent over 1,500 historic places across the country with a story or two to tell. If you’re a member of Historic Houses, you’ll this week have received your winter edition of Historic House magazine, where you’ll have read tales of what it’s like to manage a castle, of the inspiration behind George Eliot’s Middlemarch, of how historic houses are telling their often ‘difficult’ stories, and much more. Members can also read the magazine on our website (with a few free to view articles there for non-members too). So enjoy this week’s bulletin which is, as always, jam-packed with fascinating stories.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #43
Giving Month | 30 November 2019
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of others”
― Charles Dickens’ ‘Doctor Marigold’
In Dickens’ heartwarming novella, Doctor Marigold is a travelling salesman, a Cheap-Jack, who sells inexpensive articles to the poor. After losing his wife and daughter, he adopts a young deaf and dumb girl, Sophy, and teaches her to understand and communicate with him as they travel across the country selling their wares. When she meets a young boy, Doctor Marigold struggles with not wishing to let her go, but eventually gives them his blessing. Years later, she returns with her healthy, unbounded daughter, his granddaughter, lighting up his world and rewarding him for having given her his blessing all those years ago.
As we enter Advent, we turn towards that time in the year when giving becomes forefront in our minds. While cookery books and M&S ties are often an easy go-to for Christmas gifts, the magic has already faded by the time the sprouts have been digested. Instead, why not spend a year with them, going on adventures to many of the fascinating historic castles, palaces, gardens, parks and manors that you see every week in this newsletter, by giving them Historic Houses membership. By doing so, you’d be giving experiences to remember together for a lifetime, while helping Historic Houses to preserve these incredible historic places for generations to come. Why not give them history this Christmas.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #42
Education Week | 22 November 2019
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire”
― Plutarch, from ‘On Listening’
Following on from our Awards Week in your last bulletin, this week we celebrated the presentation of the Frances Garnham Award to Bell House in Dulwich. Our award for member houses that have demonstrated a particularly innovative approach to education and community engagement work was justly won by Bell House, who impressed our Learning Advisory Panel by the reach and creativity of their offer to the local community, specialising in dyslexia support, but also offering cookery classes, film-making, garden volunteering and so much more! Congratulations to them and to all our houses giving back to their communities.
This week, we highlight the oak tree that Elizabeth I was meant to have lost her jewellery under, there are Christmas events galore at our member houses, and we share six of the best places you can visit over the next week. We also continue this week’s theme by visiting Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester, and explore Bell House in more detail in our Video of the Week. It’s a packed bulletin, but we hope you enjoy it!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #41
Awards Week | 15 November 2019
“We are over the moon to win this award, particularly as the votes were cast by members of the public. To be the first garden to have won it twice makes it even more special. Our team of gardeners should feel very proud as they work tirelessly in all weathers to keep Newby always looking first class.”
― Lucinda Compton of Newby Hall on winning Garden of the Year 2019
This week we staged our National AGM at the QEII building in London, welcoming over 600 Historic Houses members to the event in what was a celebration of another exciting year at Historic Houses. As always, the day was noted most for the announcement of three of our four annual awards. Many of you will have voted in this year’s Garden of the Year poll, and you can read all about this year’s winner below.
This week we also have some fascinating facts on Cheshire’s Adlington Hall, there’s a host of events in the pipeline as we hurtle towards Christmas, Pitchford Hall and West Stow Hall are offering delicious festive Invitation to View tours, and, of course, we highlight where you can take your membership card over the next week! And if you’re still wondering what to give for Christmas, look no further than giving someone a year’s Historic Houses membership.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #40
Remembrance Day | 8 November 2019
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
― Laurence Binyon, For The Fallen
This coming week marks Remembrance Day, 101 years since Armistice Day. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the nation will join together in silence to reflect upon and honour the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces.
In this week’s newsletter, we head down to West Dean Gardens in Sussex, and then hear what links football and the Charterhouse in London. In our video of the week, we discover Dunnottar Castle, while it’s never too early to begin Christmas shopping at Holkham Hall in Norfolk.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #39
Navigating November | 1 November 2019
“The river this November afternoon
Rests in an equipoise of sun and cloud:
A glooming light, a gleaming darkness shroud
Its passage. All seems tranquil, all in tune.”
― Cecil Day-Lewis, The Complete Poems of C. Day-Lewis
As the bonfires are lit, and the fireworks spiral off into the darkness above, the Historic Houses weekly newsletter will help shine a light on what you can see during November, a time when many houses close their doors to clean up and start preparations for the new season early next year. There’s still much to see over the next few months though, with open houses, incredible events, fascinating stories and new opportunities for you to enjoy.
This week, we travel down to Somerset to visit The Bishop’s Palace, and then up to Cambridgeshire to hear about Lord Orford of Chippenham Park. Our video of the week takes us down to Kent to explore Hever Castle, while you’ll not want to miss Lord Hopetoun’s talk at Bonhams in Edinburgh later this month.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #38
Agincourt at 604 | 25 October 2019
“Can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?”
— from William Shakespeare’s Henry V
It’s 604 years to the day since the Battle of Agincourt, one of the greatest English victories in the Hundred Year’s War. The battle was renowned for the use of the English longbow, with English and Welsh archers making up over 80% of Henry V’s army. This week has been relatively calmer for us at Historic Houses, and in today’s newsletter we’ll be showing you some of the houses that you’lll need to visit over the next week to catch them before they close for the winter. Ushaw College also features after having agreed to open for Historic Houses members in 2020, while we also pay a visit to Scone Palace as our House and Video of the Week. There’s much to read and enjoy, and we hope you have a great weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #37
Famous Battles | 18 October 2019
“William next invented a system according to which everybody had to belong to someone else, and everybody else to the King. This was called the Feutile System”
— from the book ‘1066 and All That’, by W. C. Sellar & R. J. Yeatman, 1930
With the Prime Minister about to engage in a heated battle in Parliament this weekend over the future of the United Kingdom, 953 years ago this week England was then effectively in the hands of William Duke of Normandy following his victory over Harold Godwinson at Hastings, on 14th October 1066. If you’ve been thinking of venturing down to the South East to visit the famous site, we’d recommend you take your Historic Houses membership card with you and visit the wonderful gardens of Great Dixter nearby, which is open until 27th October. So whether you’ll be glued to the TV or crusading around some of the Historic Houses places mentioned below, we hope you have a triumphant weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #36
Relishing Autumn | 11 October 2019
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”
— Albert Camus, author
It’s easy to look out the window at the cooling air and darkening nights and decide it’s time to shut up shop for the approaching winter. If you’re a member of Historic Houses though we’d certainly encourage you to take in some of the simply delicious colours of the falling leaves at historic houses and gardens across the country. Many of these places will close at the end of the month, so you’ll need to hurry, but don’t worry, we’ll be informing you every Friday through the winter which places you can visit, as well as announcing some very exciting additions (and re-entries) to the Free for Members scheme!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #35
Spooky October | 4 October 2019
“The moon gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding places.”
— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
You might be thinking, why does this week’s e-bulletin take a Halloween theme when we’re still a few weeks away from the day itself? Well, with so many Historic Houses places across the UK hosting Halloween-themed events throughout October, you’ll need to get your calendars out and start booking yourself on to some of them. Historic Houses places are, of course, the ideal place to enjoy Halloween, with many celebrating their spooky pasts (and presents!?). From a Ghost Hunt at Bolton Castle, to a Murder Mystery Evening at Rockingham Castle, plus lots more below, let’s make this October the spookiest yet!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #34
The September Harvest | 27 September 2019
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
The end of September signals the start of the harvest season, with all kinds of foods falling and being picked from trees and bushes across the country. Some of our Historic Houses places will be celebrating this delicious time of year with harvest festivals on their grounds.
450 years ago the disenfranchised people of the north of England rose up to take on the might of Queen Elizabeth I. As the centre for meetings of these people in anticipation of the ‘Rising of the North’, as it became known, this week’s House of the Week is Brancepeth Castle. You can also read our blog article about the uprising on our website.
Finally, it’s the final weekend to get your photos in for our Summer Photo Competition, while it’s also the final weekend to vote for one of our eight Garden of the Year nominees!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #33
Seasonal Changes | 20 September 2019
“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cézanne
Autumn officially begins on Monday, and is a wonderful time of year to go out and explore Historic Houses places. With many of the houses themselves closing at the end of September, it’s time to start taking in the glorious earthy colours of the trees and leaves in the surrounding grounds. Take a visit to Chatsworth, Waddesdon or Blenheim’s world-renowned parks, or perhaps explore the gardens of places closer to you; Great Dixter, Spetchley Park or Stody Lodge. It’s time to breath in that fresh autumnal air by paying a visit to Historic Houses places this weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #32
Heritage Open Days | 13 September 2019
Established in 1994, Heritage Open Days is England’s contribution to the European Heritage Days and has since grown into the country’s largest heritage festival.
Today marks the start of Heritage Open Days 2019. Celebrating it’s 25th year, the 10 day event features over 5,000 events right across England and reflects the rich and cultural heritage of the country and its communities. The events staged include lectures, workshops, walks, tours and so much more. Plus, entry to ALL events is completely free. So this week we’re spotlighting some of our Historic Houses member houses and gardens that are getting involved in the festivities.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #31
Archwiliwch Gymru | 6 September 2019
“Dychwelyd i wlad eich hynafiaid; gwaed yn galw i waed.
Return to the land of your fathers; blood calls to blood.”
― Horton Deakins, author
This week, we look to Wales and their beautiful historic houses and gardens, with gems such as Gregynog Hall, Bodrhyddan and Stradey Castle among them, as well as one of our nominees for Garden of the Year; Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens in Anglesey. If you’re in northern Wales this weekend there are 6 places free to visit for Historic Houses members, while you can see all the wonderful Welsh houses and gardens in our collection by following the link below. Finally, we can also unveil a new About Us page on the Historic Houses website written in the Welsh language (click here to view it). From us all at Chester Street, mwynhewch!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #30
Capability Brown's Legacy | 30 August 2019
“He was inferior to none in what related to the comfort, convenience, taste and propriety of design, in the several mansions and other buildings which he planned”
― Humphry Repton on the work of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown
On the 203rd anniversary of Brown’s baptism at Kirkharle in Northumberland, we focus our newsletter this week on a man who is remembered as perhaps Britain’s greatest landscape architect. To celebrate the anniversary, Dr. Sarah Rutherford and Ceryl Evans, former Director of the 2016 Capability Brown Festival, have published a new research report with Historic England aiming to raise the profile of Brown’s work as a buildings architect. Read our blog post for more information below.
Meanwhile, as we enter the autumn months, it’s all change at Historic Houses, with some houses entering their final month open to the public, while others celebrating the extraordinary aesthetic changes that unfold across their grounds. It’s a wonderful time to be a Historic Houses member, and if you haven’t tried it yet, follow the link below to see for yourself.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #29
Adventures in the Garden | 23 August 2019
“The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you don’t want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don’t have a soul.”
― Sir Thomas More
It’s set to be a glorious Bank Holiday Weekend, with temperatures likely to reach the high 20’s. While we of course encourage you to visit stately homes, why not soak in the rays and enjoy explosions of colour by opting instead for one of the glorious gardens in the Historic Houses collection? This week we’ve highlighted the eight contenders for Garden of the Year 2019 and, with voting closing on 30 September, there’s still time to pay each a visit and cast your vote while you can. So, wherever you choose to spend your long weekend, we hope you’re able to feed your soul with a trip to a historic house or garden!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #28
Remembering Peterloo | 16 August 2019
“Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
We are many, they are few”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Masque of Anarchy. Written on Occasion of the Massacre at Manchester
On this day 200 years ago, approximately 60,000 people congregated at St Peter’s Field (now St Peter’s Square) in Manchester, to join a gathering calling for reform of parliamentary representation. They had come to listen to the leading radical orator Henry Hunt. Shortly after the meeting began, the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry charged into the crowd, to arrest Hunt and disperse the crowd, killing at least 18 people and leaving an estimated 600 to 700 people injured. Muncaster Castle in Cumbria are taking part in the Peterloo Anniversary Weekend across Manchester to remember the disaster. Read our blog post below on the history of Peterloo and of the events at Muncaster this weekend via the link below.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #27
Wandering Wessex | 9 August 2019
“Is it necessary to add that the echoes of many characteristic tales, dating from that picturesque time, still linger about here, in more or less fragmentary form to be caught by the attentive ear? Some of them I have repeated; most of them I have forgotten; one I have never repeated, and assuredly can never forget.”
― Thomas Hardy, Wessex Tales
As the storms batter our shores this Friday, we’re setting out to explore the South and South West of England and the extraordinary range of beautiful historic estates there. There are 86 Historic Houses places in this part of the world, 46 of which are free to visit for members and many others offering special behind-the-scenes tours. From Longleat to Lulworth Castle, Chawton House to Forde Abbey, there’s many places you’ll have heard of, and many others you should visit. So enjoy this week’s bulletin and we hope it inspires you to take a trip south.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #26
Yorkshire Week | 2 August 2019
“A farmer once told me one of the greatest luxuries of his life was to wake up early only to go back to sleep again.”
― James Herriot, from All Creatures Great and Small
Yesterday (1 August) was officially Yorkshire Day 2019, so this week we’re celebrating this magnificent region by highlighting its great estates. We have 31 estates in our collection in Yorkshire, with 22 of these free to visit for Historic Houses members. From Newby Hall to Fairfax House, Scampston to Castle Howard, it’s a treasure trove of Great Estates waiting to be explored!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #25
Scottish Highlights | 26 July 2019
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”
– Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832)
This week we’re paying a visit to Scotland to celebrate the wealth of beautiful historic estates the country has to offer. From Abbotsford to Duart Castle, Balmoral to Mellerstain, there’s so many places to visit, so follow the button below to see all our Historic Houses member estates in Scotland.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #24
Famous Births | 19 July 2019
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
― Nelson Mandela, born 18 July 1918
It’s certainly been a popular week for famous births, with Nelson Mandela, Rembrandt van Rijn and Emmeline Pankhurst, among others, having started their respective journeys to reshaping our futures this week in history. Pankhurst, notably, is mentioned among many women to have shaped the futures of our historic estates in our blog article ‘Campaigners, Champions, Crimials: Exploring ‘Herstory” from last year, which you can read below.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #23
Wimbledon Weekend | 12 July 2019
As mid-July rolls around we enter the final weekend of Wimbledon. Whether you’re a tennis fan or not, we’re serving you up some ace houses in this week’s bulletin that we think are certainly worth a visit. If you haven’t seen it yet, the trailer for the new Downton Abbey film is out ahead of it’s September release. Scroll down to watch it now. So enjoy this week’s bulletin and have a smashing weekend.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #22
American Independence | 5 July 2019
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable Rights; that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…”
― Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776
Lord North may take issue with us making this week’s newsletter theme a tribute to American Independence, but of course many of our beautiful estates across the UK have substantial links with our American brethren; from estates built by the ancestors of historically important American figures, such as this week’s House of the Week, to estates that housed American troops during the Second World War. We wish our friends reading this from across the pond a very happy July 4th.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #21
Henry's Birthday | 28 June 2019
“Of all losses, time is the most irrecuperable for it can never be redeemed.”
― Henry VIII
On this day in 1491 one of Britain’s most notorious monarchs was born, a monarch who arguably re-shaped the political landscape of Britain beyond any royal before or since. His legacy lives on in many of our houses, notably at extraordinary Tudor estates such as Layer Marney Tower in Essex, Athelhampton House in Dorset and Pitchford Hall in Shropshire, among many others. Click below to view dozens of Tudor estates across Britain.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #20
Summer Solstice | 21 June 2019
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’
At 15:56pm today, in fact as this week’s e-bulletin lands in your inboxes, we officially reach summer solstice 2019, and the start of summer! We hope you’ve got many plans to go out and visit historic estates across the UK this summer, together with booking yourself onto some behind-the-scenes tours. Looking for ideas on what you might do? Read on, and have a great start to your summer!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #19
Fathers Weekend | 14 June 2019
“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
― Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum
If you’re asking us what you should be doing to celebrate Father’s Day 2019, then how about a trip to visit an historic estate. This weekend, with houses open right across the UK, it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and about, with many houses offering special deals to dads and grandads. So enjoy this week’s newsletter, and we hope you’re able to celebrate Father’s Day in style!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #18
Dutch Dreams | 7 June 2019
“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”
― Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh – letter to his brother Theo
This week we’ve partnered up with Visit Holland to launch a month-long competition for you to have the chance to win a free trip to Holland to visit some of their most impressive historic estates! Scroll down to read more about the offer of free accommodation, ferry travel and selected meals, or click immediately below to enter the competition. Fijn weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #17
Sporting Weekends | 31 May 2019
“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.”
― Billie Jean King
From the Derby, to the Rugby, to the Football, it’s set to be a very busy (or lazy) weekend for you sports fans out there. For everyone else though, with the high temperatures and so many incredible historic estates open, it’s time to get out and exploring our rich heritage. We hope this newsletter can give you some ideas!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #16
Victoria's Birthday | 24 May 2019
“I would venture to warn against too great intimacy with artists as it is very seductive and a little dangerous.”
― Queen Victoria
200 years ago today Princess Victoria was born at Kensington Palace. She would grow up to become one of the UK’s, and the world’s, most historically important and influential monarchs. So, as we enter another Bank Holiday Weekend, we wish her a very happy birthday! To commemorate the great lady, we’ve made a little blog post highlighting some of the Historic Houses places that you can visit where her legacy lives on. Enjoy, and have a great long weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #15
Epic Adventures | 17 May 2019
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
It’s not just Game of Thrones: Series 8 that should be giving you your weekly fix of epic castles, stunning landscapes and thrilling adventure. With so many houses and gardens open across the UK at the moment there’s no excuse not to, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “taste experience to the utmost” by taking yourself away from the TV screen and out into the world to start your own epic adventure!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #14
New Additions | 10 May 2019
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
― Mark Twain
Congratulations to Harry and Meghan on the birth of Archie! And it’s been a week of new additions here at Historic Houses too. With new behind-the-scenes tours available on our upcoming tours page, the start of development around a new members’ app, new competitions and opportunities for our readers, and much more. It’s certainly an exciting time to be a member of Historic Houses!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #13
Long Weekends | 3 May 2019
“There is little chance that meteorologists can solve the mysteries of weather until they gain an understanding of the mutual attraction of rain and weekends.”
― Arnot Sheppard
While the weather doesn’t look especially seasonal, there’s ample opportunity to venture out this Bank Holiday Weekend and explore some of many houses and gardens open to the public. This week we’ve highlighted a few great days out below! Also this week; Dickens at Rockingham, High Stakes at Highclere, some fantastic new competitions, and much more. Have a great long weekend!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #12
Birthday Celebrations | 26 April 2019
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts”
― Jaques to Duke Senior in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It Act II Scene VII
Happy Birthday Bill Shakespeare! The world’s most admired poet and playwright celebrated his 455th birthday this week and we’re offering our own celebrations in our Friday e-bulletin. From events across our houses, to our House of the Week, to some spooky fun facts at Muncaster Castle and a comedic Video of the Week, there’s a sense of drama at Historic Houses this week!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #11
Saving Heritage | 18 April 2019
“Love is like a tree: it grows by itself, roots itself deeply in our being and continues to flourish over a heart in ruin. The inexplicable fact is that the blinder it is, the more tenacious it is. It is never stronger than when it is completely unreasonable.”
― Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
It was a sad week for world heritage, following the fire that ripped through Notre Dame. As millions grieved for the loss of such important and iconic heritage in the aftermath, Historic Houses members clubbed together and have decided to offer their help in the way they know best. Read about our offer below.
Also this week, the English Mission at Stonor Park, Belvoir Castle is our House of the Week, how York Minister can inspire the rebuild of Notre Dame, and more!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #10
Capturing Moments | 12 April 2019
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” ― Aaron Siskand, Photographer (1903 – 1991).
This week we announce a brand new photography competition for the Spring and Summer. Whether you’re a Historic Houses member or not (yet), we’re inviting your submissions of photographs from your trips to our member houses, with a great prize for the winner! Read more below.
Also this week, the ghost of Ripley Castle (carrying on the week’s Halloween theme!), the rescue of Elmore Court, James Gilroy’s Savage Satire, and more!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #9
Celebrating Heritage | 5 April 2019
“During English Tourism week it was humbling to see first-hand, the hard work and talent that goes on behind the scenes at one of our most iconic and popular days out. ” ― MP for Copeland, Trudy Harrison, on her visit this week to Muncaster Castle in Cumbria.
This week saw a few of our houses hosted MPs as part of English Tourism Week 2019. Tissington Hall, Muncaster Castle, Scampston Hall, Holkham Hall and others welcomed local MPs to showcase the economic, social and cultural importance of independently owned heritage.
Also this week, the true author behind the Shakesperian canon?, Blenheim Palace staff raise £14,000 for charity, a gunmaker at Belvoir Castle, and more!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #8
Mothers Weekend | 29 March 2019
“Because I feel that, in the Heavens above / The angels, whispering to one another, / Can find, among their burning terms of love / None so devotional as that of ‘Mother’” – Edgar Allen Poe, ‘To My Mother‘.
Amid all the political turmoil, this weekend represents an opportunity to re-focus and pay tribute to that special lady in our lives. And it comes at a timely moment for other reasons, with our recent blog post on the recent Women & Power conference, the upcoming exhibition ‘Difficult Women of Burton Constable’, and Glamis Castle’s new exhibition ‘The Women of Glamis’ which starts tomorrow.
This week, mothers day events galore, a maternity unit at Pentillie Castle, London’s Grand Historic Houses, and much more!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #7
Spring has Sprung | 22 March 2019
“I can still bring into my body the joy I felt at seeing the first trillium of spring, which seemed to be telling me, “Never give up hope, spring will come.” – Jessica Stern, Denial: A Memoir of Terror, 2010.
Well spring has indeed sprung at last, at least officially, and with that we’re seeing our member houses across the UK begin to open their doors to the public. Godinton House will also be celebrating by inviting the National Garden Scheme over for a special event this Sunday, with all money raised going to the NGS.
This week, a cursed skull at Browsholme Hall, the Women of Glamis Castle, a flyover of Lydiard Park, a podcast on Sudeley Castle, and so much more!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #6
Gardens Galore | 15 March 2019
“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1979.
Indeed, Douglas Adams was right, who needs fairies when you have magnificent gardens to visit right across the UK, gardens which are now coming into season! This week, we also celebrate the opening of voting for the 2019 Garden of the Year Award, which we’d love for you to get involved in. Spring certainly is in the air, so get some fresh air in your lungs this March and start exploring our incredible gardens in the Historic Houses family!
This week, vote for Garden of the Year 2019, the fool of Great Fulford, upcoming Invitation to View tour highlights, and much more!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #5
International Women's Day | 8 March 2019
“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” – Jane Austen, Persuasion.
Yes today is International Women’s Day and to celebrate we’re headlining our e-bulletin this week with this wonderful silhoutte that you can see at Chawton House in Alton, Hampshire. Chawton hold a large and important collection of English women writers, given by a past donor, while also having strong connections with Jane Austen, who lived in a cottage nearby. The house now promotes a Jane Austen Garden trail, as well as retaining a collection of Mary Lawrence’s sketches of flowers, and a painting by John Hoppner of Mary Robinson (1758 – 1800).
This week, Charlotte Carew Pole discusses her fight to change the laws of succession, Syon House is our House of the Week, pineapples and affairs at Dorney Court, Tatton Park‘s 1897 Costume Ball, and much more!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #4
A time for discovery | 1 March 2019
“We love a genius for what he leaves, and mourn him for what he takes away.” – Thomas Gainsborough; letter to Henry Bate, 20 June 1787.
Gainsborough’s portrait (above) of Thomas William Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester, hangs in the dining room at Holkham Hall in Norfolk. This spring, visitors to this magnificent Palladian hall will also be able to visit two newly opened rooms, and have the chance to discover an array of secret passages. Read more below.
This week, Picton Castle is our House of the Week, an origins story to Cawdor Castle, how to make a Pigeon Pie (Victorian style!), and much more!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #3
A time for contemplation | 22 February 2019
“Without courage there cannot be truth, and without truth there can be no other virtue.” – Sir Walter Scott
Scott has affiliations with many of our houses, not least Abbotsford in Roxburghshire, built by Scott in the 19th Century. The poet, novelist, playright and historian’s life and work is now also partially the subject of an exhibition at another of our member houses; Turner’s House in Twickenham, London. Scroll down for more information.
This week, a cabinet of curiosities at Burton Constable, an unlikely pairing of Little Mix and Knebworth, Chawton House features as our House of the Week, our selection of houses to visit next week, and much more!
Weekly Bulletin Issue #2
Valentine's Week | 15 February 2019
“We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.” – William Gladstone
Clearly Gladstone was getting into the Valentine’s spirit, and so are we this week as we share with you the news, stories and houses that we’re sure you’ll love! This week, Raby Castle takes the spotlight, while Benington Lordship stars on the cover of Country Life, Sudeley Castle share some exciting news and Historic England discover Witch marks galore in a cave.
Weekly Bulletin Issue #1
Welcome | 8 February 2019
With the 2019 season now here we’re excited to release a brand new weekly e-newsletter detailing what’s going on in the world of historic houses. If you’re a current member don’t worry, you’ll still receive your monthly newsletter every first Tuesday of the month.