English Heritage is set to revive the celebrated Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens in Northumberland, thanks to a £1.88m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The property, one of English Heritage’s key sites in the north east, will benefit from a total investment of £5.5m, which also includes support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Foyle Foundation and other donors.
The extensive project includes major work to rejuvenate the renowned gardens, conservation work to the roof of the Hall, the Coach House and parts of the Castle. It also includes the provision of a brand new family-friendly space and facilities and an extensive woodland play-and-learn area with an outdoor classroom. Forming part of the charity’s major programme of interpretation, presentation and conservation at sites in its care, work is due to start in spring 2020, with a phased completion in 2021 and 2022.
Belsay Hall will remain open during the full season of 2020 – with an ambitious conservation-in-action programme – a scheme which allows visitors unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to see the conservation work taking place in situ.
Andrea Selley, Historic Properties Director for English Heritage North says: “Belsay Hall, together with its medieval Castle, and unique 20 acres of gardens, is one of our jewels in the north east. Conservation of this very special Classical Greek Revival hall is a priority, and we see the addition of these new visitor facilities and new interpretation as essential to improve the experience of this special place for visitors.
We are also pleased to be working in partnership with the Belsay Trust, which manages the wider landscape around Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens. The gardens will benefit from restoration work to its acclaimed ‘picturesque’ style landscape, rejuvenating the plant collection and opening up new areas to visitors. We will also invest in an imaginative children’s play area. Our key aim is to ensure that a wide range of people enjoy everything that Belsay has to offer and conserve this gem of a property for future generations.”
The project includes a range of skills training, work experience, traineeships and research opportunities. In addition, there will be exciting volunteer roles designed to include the whole family, from garden volunteers, conservation tour guides and ecological survey volunteers.
John Watkins, Head of Gardens for English Heritage adds: “The picturesque landscape, and gardens including the Quarry Garden at Belsay are unique, this project aims to restore lost views and garden features design and rejuvenate the important plant collection, as well as providing opportunities for apprentices and volunteers to be part of the revival of one of the North East’s great gardens.”
David Renwick, Director, England: North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund says: “As we celebrate our 25th birthday this year, it’s incredibly inspiring to see that our funding continues to impact some of the most unique heritage across the country, of which Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens is a wonderful example. Thanks to National Lottery players, the future of this architectural gem in the North and its picturesque surroundings brimming with exotic plants will be secured, and paves the way for many more visitors to enjoy discovering the heritage of the historic site.