The beginning of March sees many of the regions much loved visitor attractions open for a new season, and this year there are lots of new things to discover.
While the grounds and gardens at places like Wallington and Gibside remain open all year round, it’s typically this time of year when the historic buildings in the care of the National Trust open their doors to visitors full time after a winter of conservation and shorter opening hours.
In the year ahead, visitors to the National Trust can enjoy new exhibitions, events and celebrations including events to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Capability Brown, exciting new World Book Day events at Souter Lighthouse and later in the year the opening of a new and interactive electrical room at Cragside.
Sadie Parker, PR & Communications Consultant for the National Trust said:
“We have some fantastic new things for people to discover at National Trust attractions in the North East this year. In addition, we’ve extended our opening hours at Cragside so that people can enjoy visiting for longer, and Souter Lighthouse and the house at Wallington will now be open seven days a week. We’re continuing to improve our visitor experiences each year so that supporters feel able to make the most of their membership by having great reasons to return again and again.”
With a new visitor season just around the corner, here are just some of the highlights you can expect from the National Trust across the North East in the year ahead….
Wallington, Cambo, Northumberland
This year Wallington is hosting a number of events to celebrate the fact that it’s 300 years since the birth of Capability Brown. Events include guided walks, expert talks, tours of Rothley Lake where Brown advised on the design, and exhibitions of original Brown designs and textiles produced by the Embroiderers’ Guild. This spring you can also take a peek inside the Owl House in the Walled Garden for the very first time. Capability Brown was born at Kirkharle near Wallington and went to school in Cambo village. He left Northumberland in 1739 and went on to become England’s most significant landscape gardener.
Gibside, Rowlands Gill, Gateshead
The Walled Garden at Gibside is set to host an innovative and playful exhibition this summer to mark the 300th anniversary of Capability Brown. The exhibition ‘Landscape and Gardens of Gibside’ opens in June and creatively makes use of use of both indoor and outdoor space. In the Walled Garden visitors will be able to see a colourful display of hand embroidered tea towels and aprons while inside the Palladian Chapel there will be an exhibition of more traditional and intricate embroidered pieces. All of the textile works are being created by Gibside’s Sewing Circle made up of local community groups, schools and members of the regional Embroiders’ Guild.
Souter Lighthouse and The Leas, South Tyneside
As ever, family fun is on the cards throughout the year at Souter Lighthouse with lots of events and activities on weekends and during the school holidays. In March a new event ‘Stories at Souter’ is set to celebrate World Book Day where families can hear stories from the Mad Hatter at his tea party, attend Hogwarts School to make wands, and hear stories about the Hungry Caterpillar told by the butterfly or from a lighthouse keeper and his cat Hamish. Later in the year Souter will also host their annual Kite Festival, Marine Wildlife Roadshow and pirate themed fun days.
Cragside, Rothbury, Northumberland
This year the house at Cragside will be opening from 11am instead of 1pm. From Easter onwards, visitors who’d like to explore the home of Lord Armstrong will now be able to do so at their own leisure as the National Trust have removed the traditional set visitor route in favour of a more relaxed approach. The Trust are also pushing back the roped boundaries in Lord Armstrong’s study so that people can explore more, and discover new objects which tell the story of the room’s previous uses. Perhaps most exciting at Cragside this year is the opening up of the electrical room in the summer which is set to be an interactive space where the Trust plan to bring Lord Armstrong’s experiments to life.
Washington Old Hall, Tyne & Wear
It has been 60 year since Washington Old Hall has been in the care of the National Trust. The hall has a long history dating back centuries and to mark the occasion, the Trust has created a small exhibition tracing the highs and lows of the building, the people who lived there and some famous visitors. You’ll be able to find out how the hall was saved from demolition in the 1930’s by the foresight and determination of a local man - Fred Hill. And through film and photographs you will see some key moments in the last 60 years including a visit from President Jimmy Carter. There will also be the opportunity to share your pictures and memories of Washington Old Hall.
Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland
This spring, find out more about Seaton Delaval Hall past and present with introductory talks from the gardeners and house team. You can meet a gardener every Monday to discover what’s new in the garden, what they’re working on and learn more about the surrounding landscape. And on the first Saturday of every month find out more about the flamboyant Delavals who lived at the Hall, and the dramatic history of the place in new front of house talks.
Nestled in amongst the Tyne Valley in Northumberland is Cherryburn, the birthplace of Thomas Bewick. He was the original “wild child” and loved being in the great outdoors studying wildlife for hours. Bewick went on to become one of Northumberland’s greatest artist, wood engraver and naturalist well-known for his intricately hand-carved wooden and copper pieces. He even had the honour of engraving the first bank note for Northumberland Bank. Now, for the first time, you can explore his birthplace seven days a week learning about his craft in the museum, watching traditional print techniques in the press room and cosying up by the newly lit range.
To discover more about the National Trust in the North East visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/northeast