Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Lichfield: A Royal Album

Photography exhibition now open

Tuesday - Sunday until 2 November

An exhibition of photographs by one of Britain's most renowned photographers has arrived at Beningbrough for autumn, as part of Royals: then and now.
In collaboration with Lichfield Studios we're playing host to an exhibition of the Lichfield Studios’ photographs of the Royal Family. The selection includes formal portraits as well as some more informal moments, for which Lichfield is so notable.

(c) Photo by Lichfield

First cousin once-removed to The Queen, the 5th Earl of Lichfield, Patrick Lichfield, as he was known professionally, was invited to photograph the Royal Family on numerous occasions. He had an easy personality and his subjects invariably felt relaxed in his presence.

In one picture to be shown at Beningbrough, The Queen is caught in an off-duty moment, laughing and relaxed aboard the Royal Yacht, Britannia.

(c) Photo by Lichfield

In another, a young Prince Charles at Balmoral opens his arms to Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones in a tender gesture of affection.  And at the Kent wedding in June 1968, The Queen Mother is engrossed in conversation with Sir John Betjeman; the scene is as natural as any image from our own photograph albums.

A photograph of the reclusive Duke and Duchess of Windsor, relaxed and smiling at the camera is also part of the selection. Lichfield played court jester to get the smile; he purposely fell through a cane garden chair, taking the photograph as he went down. The resulting shot was published in Vogue. 

(c) Photo by Lichfield

There are several shots from the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer including the balcony shot from a unique angle.

The exhibition is open Tuesday - Sunday, 11am - 5pm until 2 November. Free entry to National Trust members otherwise normal admission prices apply. For full details visit the website

Access note - the Hayloft room can only be reached by a staircase.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Secret places at Beningbrough

This look at some of Beningbrough's hidden places has been written by Rosie, a work experience student with us this week, bringing a fresh perspective to looking round the gardens.

Many visitors come to Beningbrough Hall regularly and only visit the main attractions like the Hall, Walled garden and Restaurant, but there are so many hidden gems which are often overlooked.

The new bower
There’s a brand new secret place at Beningbrough for you to enjoy, with the recently built garden bower in the American Garden. Feel free to just take a minute on your next visit to sit down and enjoy this peaceful spot to listen to the sounds of the wildlife around you.

Story telling tree
Here’s one for the kids, the story telling tree is a great place for children of any age to explore. There are little wooden chairs hidden inside the tree to sit on while enjoying a story. The tree is also great for older children to climb and explore the canopy.

Fairy house
There are also little magical features hidden on site like this miniature door, which has to be kept very secret as we don’t want to disturb the gnomes and fairies that might be living in there. Why don’t you see if you can find it on your next visit?

Fish pond
The fish pond in the East Formal is visited by many people so it might not be seen as a very secret place; however, there are still some visitors that simply walk past it, which is a shame as it is a beautiful area to explore. Enjoy watching the fish swimming around while listening to the calming trickle of the water.

Insect hotel
The Community Orchard is also a great place, with many hidden features such as the camouflaged Insect Hotel - although it may not seem like a secret place to us, it is certainly secret to the insects that live inside it. See how many different species of insects you can find.

Willow spider
While exploring the Orchard you may also happen to come across this huge creepy crawly creature hidden in the yew trees. Don’t be frightened by it like Little Miss Muffet!

Next time you come to visit, see if you can find some of the secret places you might have missed, so you can get the most out of your visit.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

A quilt that tells a story

Quilt to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Royal Canadian Airforce at Beningbrough 1943-1945, by Susan Hill

As part of the Country House at War celebrations in 2013, Beningbrough volunteer Susan Hill made this wonderful sampler quilt. It was to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Airforce at Beningbrough Hall 1943 - 1945. Two Canadian squadrons were billeted at Beningbrough during this part of the war, flying out on missions from the airfield at Linton-on-Ouse, and the quilt tells their story.
Canadian Airmen at Beningbrough
The squares 'Pierced Star', 'Crazy', 'Flying Geese' and 'Card Trick' tell the story of the Canadian airmen at Beningbrough
The first square on the row above is 'Pierced Star' as the pilots would fly out at night in starry skies, often navigating by the stars.

The second is named 'Crazy', which refers to the quilting style, but also has a Beningbrough story behind it. Lady Chesterfield was Beningbrough's owner during the war, and she frequently complained about the airmen's behaviour. On her list of gripes were graffiti, theft, and riding a motorbike up the cantilevered staircase! Most of the men were very young, facing dreadful missions (47% never returned) and obviously needed to let off steam. Nevertheless, they drove Lady Chesterfield 'crazy'.

The third square is 'Flying Geese' for 408 Flying Goose Squadron at Beningbrough, and the fourth is 'Card Trick' as gambling helped the airmen pass time between missions. These are just four of the ten quilt squares which relate to the Canadian airmen.

The story of Gipsy and Olie

A particularly poignant story is told by the square 'True Lovers' Knot' where a block pattern surrounds the embroidered graffiti '1942 Gipsy and Olie' - the original of which is carved on the sitting room fireplace mantel in the Hall. For some reason, Lady Chesterfield never had it removed after the war.

Gipsy was a WAAF stationed at Beningbrough and Olie a Canadian air gunner. Olie's plane was shot down over Germany and he remained a prisoner there. On his release, he wrote to Gipsy, asking her to meet him at Southampton where his boat would dock on its way back to Canada. Sadly, she was too late. The boat had sailed, and they were never to meet again. 

The story behind the graffiti was a mystery at Beningbrough until a visit from a lady during the 1980s. When shown the graffiti by a room guide, she was overwhelmed to see it, and revealed that she was 'Gipsy'.  

Canadian women during the war 
Canadian Red Cross
As well as telling the airmen's story, the quilt also remembers the effort of Canadian women during the war. Women made quilts which were distributed by the Canadian Red Cross to families, refugees, nurses and the services. It was these Canadian Red Cross quilts and the stories of how much they meant to recipients in a time of fear and shortages inspired Susan to undertake her project. Some of the squares in her quilt use patterns which were popular with the Canadian women at the time.

A quilt made at Beningbrough 
Susan made the quilt over a year and a half, while on duty as a room guide at Beningbrough, mainly  in the "war room" which was set up to tell the story of Beningbrough at war, and also in the saloon, sitting on a window seat  - where the light was ideal.  It was a great talking point for visitors as she was making it, many of whom shared their own war recollections with her.

We're hoping to display the quilt in the Hall some time in the very near future. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Spreading the love of gardens one flower at a time.....

Today I joined colleagues from across Yorkshire to surprise passers-by in York with the gift of a free flower.

 Photo by Barry Pells
Yorkshire has 8 gardens owned by the National Trust covering over 1300 acres. Roses were given to represent formal gardens, larkspur for wildflower and wildlife gardens and rosemary to represent the kitchen gardens growing fruit, vegetables and herbs.
Today it was lovely to spread a little brightness and hear 'you've made my day'.
For further inspiration of where to visit in Yorkshire there are a series of garden articles here:
For more about the gardens as Beningbrough including a short video showing the pear arch through the year visit:
If you're in Newcastle tomorrow we might just see you there!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Useful items to maximise play time!

Below is a map to help direct you to the best places in the garden to tick off some of the 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4 this spring.

The full list of 50 things on a handy chart:

This half term pick up a free scrap book from the bothy and collect stickers at reception for the adventures you complete.

Have fun!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

'50 things to do' is back in time for half-term

The award-winning play campaign is back, ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ will be re-launched at Beningbrough for the Spring Bank holiday weekend just in time for half-term. 

Most activities will be self-led this year, come and see how many you can tick off
Image: NTPL/John Millar

Did you know that children are now spending 60% less time outdoors than their parents did at the same age? The '50 things’ campaign is part of the National Trust’s response to findings such as this in the ‘Stephen Moss Natural Childhood Report’ (2012). 

Now in its third year, the campaign encourages children to enjoy the outdoors using a ’50 things’ bucket-list of fun and exciting outdoor activities. It includes traditional favourites such as ‘climb a tree’ and ‘build a den’, the more high tech ‘find a geocache’ as well as items suggested by children themselves such as ‘hold a scary beast’ or ‘go on a really long bike ride’.

This year at Beningbrough, the emphasis is on letting families see how much they can do together, so activities will be self-led, with ideas provided on where the best places are for say, building a den or climbing a tree. However, over the Bank Holiday weekend from 2-3pm, there will also be a chance to discover what’s in a pond with Beningbrough’s wildlife expert Mark Pethullis. Tadpoles, newts, frogs, toads, insects, larvae, common leeches, freshwater worms and snails are among the possible finds, and Mark will also be investigating the general habitat of the creatures.

Beningbrough wildlife expert Mark Pethullis will be leading pond dipping

Common newt in the American Garden pond
And for those familiar with geocaching, there are 6 caches hidden in the Beningbrough parkland; for families wanting to have a first go at the hi-tech treasure hunt, GPS units can be borrowed, subject to availability.  

There are 6 geocaches hidden in Beningbrough's parkland
Image: NTPL/John Millar
In addition, free ’50 things’ scrap books will be provided, where children can record their adventures and collect stickers for each item they complete.

We hope to see you over half-term!


Monday, 19 May 2014

From 1500 to 14 Finalists - Celebrating the achievements of one of our own

Sue Jordan (Learning Officer) and Louise Robinson (York St John Student Volunteer)
On Tuesday 13th May, we went along to the Higher York Student Volunteering Awards 2014, which was held at the National Centre of Early Music on Walmgate in York. The annual awards set out to celebrate the achievements of student volunteers from York University, York St John University, York College and Askham Bryan College.

14 finalists were selected from many nominations from a variety of organisations across York. The city has over 1500 student volunteers, who alongside their studies, give their time to a variety of projects, as well as roles that are public facing and behind the scenes. Last year student volunteers gave over 65,000 hours - which is a huge amount of time!

In April, I was asked if I had a student/s who I felt would qualify for an award for their volunteering.
Prior to the summer in 2013, Louise Robinson, joined the Learning Team as part of a 'Setting Other Than School' placement. The placement seeks to give trainee teachers the opportunity to experience learning outside of the classroom and to find out about the work that happens in these settings. Following Louise's placement, she was keen to build on her confidence and to gain further experience for both her personal development and her professional development. She began volunteering at Beningbrough in June and helped to support our brand new 'Beningbrough at War' learning programme, through taking on the role of a Land Girl and delivering an element of the programme to a variety of children. She threw herself into the volunteering, got stuck in and even went along to the Countryside Days Workshops held at the Yorkshire Show Ground. She also got involved in our informal families programme and was a huge help in the delivery of the activities throughout the summer. She used the skills gained through her degree, her passion and enthusiasm for learning and everything she had learned whilst volunteering with the Trust and put it into practice. She was a great advocate for the Trust, as well as representing herself and York St John well, both on site and at off site events.

From left to right: Louise Robinson, Wendy Taylor & Cathy Thornton at the Countryside Days Workshops in Harrogate.

Louise's support throughout this time was greatly appreciated and enabled learning to take place across a number of events.

So in April, when I was asked if I had a student who I felt would qualify for an award, it didn't take much thought. Louise and I worked together, I helped to support her with her confidence, created opportunities for her to use her gained skills and knowledge and Beningbrough was the perfect place to get her passions flowing. For the Trust, we gained a like minded, young person, with new ideas, energy and a passion for learning, as well as wanting to help others learn. As a result, the nomination was successful and Higher York also recognised Louise's achievements with us.

Elly Fiorentini interviewing Henry, aged 3
The evening was wonderful, well organised and gave plenty of opportunity to catch up with others. Those who were selected to a receive an award, featured on a slide show displayed in the entrance area, explaining what they had been involved in, with quotations from their colleagues. The students, who attended with supporting friends and family, were invited to join BBC Radio York's presenter, Elly Fiorentini as she asked them questions about the work they had been involved with. The students received their award from the Lord Mayor of York, who is a huge supporter of voluntary work and work in the community. As Louise made her way up to receive her award, Elly noticed her little boy who was very excited that his mum was stood in front of everyone. She invited him up and conducted her own interview with him too! He stole the show with his very cute reponses and he certainly captured the hearts of the civic party, who invited him to have a little chat after the event.

Elly Fiorentini interviewing Louise about the work she is involved with at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery & Gardens

The evening was a huge success and we felt very fortunate to be a part of it. It is fantastic that the voluntary work of the students of York is recognised and that their contributions and achievements are celebrated in this way. As an organisation who rely on their volunteers heavily, it is great to know York as city supports this work and does what it can to support those who chose to give something back.

The winners of the Higher York Student Volunteering Awards 2014

From left to right: Elly Fiorentini, Louise Robinson and Sue Jordan (Learning Officer)
Lord Mayor of York Cllr Julie Gunnell with Louise