The UK Heritage Awards reveals Britain’s finest historic houses, hotels, gardens and museum


From the best family day out to the most wonderful places to stay, the UK Heritage Awards 2019 has honoured Britain’s finest heritage experiences.

This year’s UK Heritage Awards winners are crowned across 12 categories, which also include hidden gems, best festival, best wedding venue and outstanding customer service.

The gongs have been allocated by Norman Hudson OBE, who led a panel of judges formed of National Trust manager Annie Reilly; food critic William Sitwell; architectural historian Jeremy Musson; Gary Swarbrooke, director of Visit Heritage, and Paul Bridle, the CEO of Excellence Squared Group. Scroll down for the winners…

The best family day out: Hever Castle, Kent

Hever Castle in Kent has been named as the best family day out. The castle was once the childhood home of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn

Hever Castle in Kent has been named as the best family day out. The castle was once the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn 

The best family day out, declare the judges, is a visit to Kent’s Hever Castle and Gardens – once the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, and which harbours 700 years of history.

They noted that there’s plenty to do for everyone, from exploring the splendid rooms to roaming the 125 acres of grounds and gardens.

For children, there is a playground as well as the challenge of finding their way through a water maze and a 100-year-old Yew Maze.

The panel are also impressed with the fascinating collection of miniature model houses, the boating lake and the warm welcome in the shops and restaurants.

Great place to eat: The Treehouse Restaurant at Alnwick Garden, Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

A once forgotten plot, Alnwick Garden was transformed by Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberland, into a space the judges say is now a 21st-century experience that's full of imagination, inspiration and fun

A once forgotten plot, Alnwick Garden was transformed by Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberland, into a space the judges say is now a 21st-century experience that’s full of imagination, inspiration and fun

There are more than 4,000 plant varieties to discover, thousands of seasonal blooms and stunning water sculptures

There are more than 4,000 plant varieties to discover, thousands of seasonal blooms and stunning water sculptures

According to the judges, eating at The Alnwick Garden is a wonderful experience, thanks to the Treehouse Restaurant – complete with wobbly rope bridges, wooden walkways and twinkling lights – and its superb mix of Northumberland fare from locally sourced ingredients.

The Alnwick Garden itself is praised for being one of the world’s most ambitious new gardens.

A once forgotten plot, it was transformed by Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberland, into a space the judges say is now a 21st-century experience that’s full of imagination, inspiration and fun. 

There are more than 4,000 plant varieties to discover, thousands of seasonal blooms and stunning water sculptures.

Highly commended great place to eat: Askham Hall, Cumbria

Askham Hall is home to 3AA Rosette restaurant Allium, where the menu is dictated by the cycle of life in the gardens and fields

Askham Hall is home to 3AA Rosette restaurant Allium, where the menu is dictated by the cycle of life in the gardens and fields 

Allium works with the seasons and grows, sources and preserves the produce from its gardens, surrounding farms and woodland

Allium works with the seasons and grows, sources and preserves the produce from its gardens, surrounding farms and woodland

Set in the beautiful Lake District, Askham Hall is a secluded, luxurious place to visit and relax, say the judges.

It is best known for its 3AA Rosette restaurant, Allium, where the menu is dictated by the cycle of life in the gardens and fields. 

The restaurant works with the seasons and grows, sources and preserves the produce from its gardens, surrounding farms and woodland.

Wonderful place to stay: Thirlestane Castle, Scottish Borders 

Thirlestane Castle is hailed as the best place to stay. It's set in a quiet meadow landscape and is brimming with dramatic portraits and tactile soft furnishings

Thirlestane Castle is hailed as the best place to stay. It’s set in a quiet meadow landscape and is brimming with dramatic portraits and tactile soft furnishings

Thirlestane is described as a magnificent 16th century castle set in a quiet meadow landscape in the Scottish Borders.

The judges say it is one of the finest castles in Scotland and a simply stunning place to stay, with a fairy-tale façade.

There are eight en-suite bedrooms in five apartments, and all are furnished with a beautifully eclectic mix of contemporary furniture and original items from the castle collections, including dramatic portraits and tactile soft furnishings.

The castle can be let on a self-catered basis or groups can choose to be catered for in the castle’s Victorian kitchen or in one of the state rooms.

Most improved heritage development: St Giles House, Dorset  

Following the Second World War, St Giles House fell into a period of disrepair and appeared on the English Heritage 'Buildings at Risk' register. In 2010, a project to bring the house back to life began

Following the Second World War, St Giles House fell into a period of disrepair and appeared on the English Heritage ‘Buildings at Risk’ register. In 2010, a project to bring the house back to life began

St Giles is a family house with a long and rich history spanning over 400 years.

Following the Second World War, St Giles House fell into a period of disrepair and appeared on the English Heritage ‘Buildings at Risk’ register. In 2010, a project to bring the house back to life began.

What started as a simple plan to move the resident Ashley-Cooper family back into the house developed into a full restoration project that is still ongoing.

The house is now open by arrangement and judges were impressed that it runs events to share the vibrancy of the house.

Hidden gem joint winners: Harvington Hall, Worcestershire, and 78 Derngate House, Northamptonshire

The panel was impressed with Harvington Hall, a moated manor house, thanks to its ingenious secret priest hides - it has more than any other building in the country - and a rare collection of original Elizabethan wall paintings

The panel was impressed with Harvington Hall, a moated manor house, thanks to its ingenious secret priest hides – it has more than any other building in the country – and a rare collection of original Elizabethan wall paintings

In the hidden gem category, judges jointly awarded the prize to Harvington Hall in Worcestershire and 78 Derngate House in Northamptonshire.

The panel was impressed with Harvington Hall, a moated manor house, thanks to its ingenious secret priest hides – it has more than any other building in the country – and a rare collection of original Elizabethan wall paintings.

Originally built in the 1300s and developed magnificently in the late 1500s, the hall brings to life the fascinating history of the survival of Roman Catholic families and clergymen during the Reformation of the late 16th century.

Meanwhile, 78 Derngate House is the only house in England to have been designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

78 Derngate House is the only house in England to have been designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

78 Derngate House is the only house in England to have been designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

The building was sensitively restored, while 80 – next door – was remodeled into a visitor centre and exhibition space

The building was sensitively restored, while 80 – next door – was remodeled into a visitor centre and exhibition space

It is described as a small terraced house that is home to a wonderful history.

It was radically transformed at the hands of Mackintosh between 1916 and 1917 and sensitively restored between 2002 and 2003. 

The house next door, No80, was remodeled into a visitor centre and exhibition space.

Best event, exhibition or festival: Castle Howard, North Yorkshire 

The Castle Howard Christmas event in 2018 highlighted historical traditions and, according to judges, the theme was expertly interwoven with the Howard family history

The Castle Howard Christmas event in 2018 highlighted historical traditions and, according to judges, the theme was expertly interwoven with the Howard family history

Castle Howard is one of Britain’s finest stately homes

Castle Howard is one of Britain’s finest stately homes

Castle Howard is one of Britain’s finest stately homes in the heart of North Yorkshire and the winner of the best event award for its 12 Days of Christmas festival.

The Castle Howard Christmas event in 2018 highlighted historical traditions and, according to judges, the theme was expertly interwoven with the Howard family history, bringing to life stories such as the 12 children of Lady Georgiana, 6th Countess of Carlisle.

The house was professionally decorated by theatre designers Charlotte Lloyd Webber and Bretta Gerecke, with each room reflecting an element of the classic song. There was also a 26ft tall Christmas tree.

Over 2,000 children were able to meet Father Christmas and there were gourmet festive afternoon teas and a roaring fire.

The award panel said it was ‘exceptional organisation’ with ‘all of this plus live music, magic shows and the Christmas market executed to the highest standards’.

Contribution to heritage: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire 

Historic gem: A £40million restoration plan will be put into action at Blenheim Palace, pictured

Historic gem: A £40million restoration plan will be put into action at Blenheim Palace, pictured

Winner of the contribution to heritage award is the historic Blenheim Palace, which has recently set out a new 10 year plan for the evolution of the estate.

Judges were impressed with its £40million restoration plan and its proposal to acquire key items lost from its collection.

It is hoped that the establishment of an endowment fund for the palace will triple Blenheim’s contribution to the local economy.

Best wedding venue: Adlington Hall, Cheshire

Adlington Hall is a totally unique place to get married thanks to two beautiful indoor venues - the magnificent Great Hall and welcoming Hunting Lodge

Adlington Hall is a totally unique place to get married thanks to two beautiful indoor venues – the magnificent Great Hall and welcoming Hunting Lodge

Adlington Hall has been described as one of the most beautiful country homes in England

Adlington Hall has been described as one of the most beautiful country homes in England

Described as one of the most beautiful country homes in England, Adlington Hall reflects both the history of English architecture and the 700-year story of a single family, the Leghs, say the judges.

They found that as a wedding venue, Adlington Hall is a totally unique place to get married thanks to two beautiful indoor venues – the magnificent Great Hall and welcoming Hunting Lodge.

There are also two outdoor areas in which to hold the ceremony – the historic walled courtyard or the English Rose Garden.

Judges were also impressed with the dedicated team of wedding coordinators that ensure that everything runs totally smoothly.

Best corporate experience: Broughton Hall, Yorkshire  

The judges say that Broughton Hall is one of the most exquisite event venues in the UK

The judges say that Broughton Hall is one of the most exquisite event venues in the UK

Broughton Hall dates back to 1597 and has belonged to the Tempest Baronet family for 900 years.

Judges say it is one of the most exquisite event venues in the UK and one of the only exclusive hire historic houses in Yorkshire.

They add that the historic home creates a uniquely memorable impression for any corporate brand as associating with a house of such legacy offers the perfect backdrop for product launches, celebrations, training or corporate retreats.

It was also praised for the recent addition of The Land Rover Experience to the estate, which gives an added extra for team building and incentives.

Must visit: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Judges were impressed with just how much there is to discover at Blenheim Palace, pictured

Judges were impressed with just how much there is to discover at Blenheim Palace, pictured

Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and home to over 300 years of history, scoops a second award by winning the must visit category.

Judges say there is just oodles to discover, from the Palace State Rooms and a Winston Churchill exhibition inside, to formal gardens, pleasure gardens and a butterfly house outside.

They also praised the eating options and tempting shops.

Highly commended: The Malvern Hills, Malvern

The Malvern Hills boasts exhilarating climbs with fantastic views as well as gentle strolls through colourful wildflower meadows

The Malvern Hills boasts exhilarating climbs with fantastic views as well as gentle strolls through colourful wildflower meadows

Judges advise walking, cycling or horse riding through the area, praised as a 'cherished cultural landscape'

Judges advise walking, cycling or horse riding through the area, praised as a ‘cherished cultural landscape’

Meanwhile coming highly commended in the must visit category is the Malvern Hills, which boasts exhilarating climbs with fantastic views as well as gentle strolls through colourful wildflower meadows.

Judges advise walking, cycling or horse riding through the area.

It is also described as a place where man’s activities can combine with nature in a cherished cultural landscape.

Outstanding customer experience: Adlington Hall, Cheshire

Adlington Hall, pictured, won the best wedding venue gong and the customer service prize

Adlington Hall, pictured, won the best wedding venue gong and the customer service prize

The winner of the outstanding customer experience award is based on not only the judges’ experiences with the venue but also from outstanding client feedback.

Adlington Hall came out on top across all areas including: organisation, food and service.

It adds the accolade to its other prize for the best wedding venue.

Judges discretionary award: The Guild Chapel, Stratford-upon-Avon

The Guild Chapel's history dates back to the 13th century when it was built by the Guild of the Holy Cross, a prominent social and religious organisation

The Guild Chapel’s history dates back to the 13th century when it was built by the Guild of the Holy Cross, a prominent social and religious organisation

The Guild Chapel, winner of the judges award, is described as one of Stratford-upon-Avon’s most iconic and important historic buildings.

Its rich history dates back to the 13th century when it was built by the Guild of the Holy Cross, a prominent social and religious organisation.

As the Guild grew and prospered, so did its chapel, becoming central to medieval life in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Today, almost half a millennia later, the Chapel’s rare and special wall paintings offer a unique glimpse back to that medieval past.

The judges were impressed with the dedication of the trust in securing Heritage Lottery funding to renovate these rare and icon paintings and the efforts to encourage and educate the local volunteers to ensure visitors enjoy this vital piece of Shakespeare’s history.

Individual award for contribution to heritage: Dr Christopher Ridgway, Castle Howard

Chris Ridgway has worked at Castle Howard since 1984 - and championed it as a historical and architectural gem

Chris Ridgway has worked at Castle Howard since 1984 – and championed it as a historical and architectural gem

Winner of the individual award is Chris Ridgway, who has worked at Castle Howard since 1984.

Chris has published works on Castle Howard’s collections, architecture, landscape and history and told its story through lectures both nationally and internationally.

The judges wanted to recognise this and his work as the chair of the Yorkshire Country House Partnership.

The Partnership has a core of 12 major country houses across the region and associations with others in relation to specific projects. 

Spanning more than six centuries in origin and an impressive range of architectural styles, the houses are united by both their geography and their historical roles at the heart of rural society. 

It also provides a practical support network for house curators, which has resulted in many coordinated exhibitions for visitors to enjoy in Yorkshire.

THE FULL LIST OF UK HERITAGE AWARD WINNERS 2019 

Family Day Out

Winner: Hever Castle, Kent

Great Places to Eat

Winner: The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland

Highly commended: Askham Hall, Cumbria

Wonderful Places to Stay

Winner: Thirlestane Castle, Scottish Borders

Most Improved Heritage Development

Winner: St Giles House, Dorset

Hidden Gem

Joint winner: Harvington Hall, Worcestershire

Joint winner: 78 Derngate House, Northamptonshire

Best Event, Exhibition or Festival

Winner: Castle Howard, North Yorkshire 

Contribution to Heritage 

Winner: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Best Wedding Venue

Winner: Adlington Hall, Cheshire

Best Corporate Experience

Winner: Broughton Hall, Yorkshire

Must Visit

Winner: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Highly Commended: Malvern Hills, Malvern

Outstanding Customer Experience

Winner: Adlington Hall, Cheshire

Judges Discretionary Award

Winner: The Guild Chapel, Stratford-upon-Avon

Individual Award for Contribution to Heritage

Winner: Dr Christopher Ridgway, Castle Howard

Source: UK Heritage Awards 2019

 

 



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