“Visiting stately homes, art galleries and historic towns makes people happier than taking part in sports and other activities according to a report from English Heritage. The research found that visiting historic buildings had the greatest impact on wellbeing.”
It couldn’t have been more rewarding to all of us at Sudeley to see this statistic in The Times and other publications recently. We often have this sort of feedback from our visitors, but to have it officially recognised that we are in the business of making people feel happy gives us a warm contented glow.
Writing this also brings to mind another great compliment Sudeley received in 2012, the year of the Olympics, from the-then-director of VisitBritain. I had received an invitation to attend a press conference hosted by Boris Johnson in London, entitled ‘Lords and Ladies Welcome You’. The intention was the opportunity to give the international hordes of Olympic journalists a glimpse of what English stately homes had to offer to the world of tourism. Pleased to be asked, but not knowing what to expect, and anticipating a large representation from the many owners of important Historic Houses throughout England, I tentatively set off one hot day in July with all of my Sudeley brochures and information to join the party.
On arriving at the conference hall in Victoria I was shown into a large auditorium room, to a table on stage with five microphones placed, while the room was filling with journalists. Glancing either side of my place labelled Lady Ashcombe, Sudeley Castle, to my left was the Duke of Devonshire representing Chatsworth. To my right, the Head of VisitBritain, and to his left, the Duchess of Northumberland representing Alnwick Castle, and finally Lord and Lady Carnarvon representing Highclere Castle (better known as Downton Abbey). Before our briefing as to what was expected of us, I nervously asked our host; “Why has Sudeley been included at the high table amongst the most notably famous stately homes of England?” He briefly answered; “Well as far as VisitBritain is concerned, Sudeley Castle ticks all of our boxes for ‘Monarchy Tourism’, the principal campaign of our world marketing. You are a historic Castle* a prime destination outside London, the quintessentially English Cotswolds*, with associations to our most famous monarch Henry VIII and his six wives*, award winning rose gardens*, and privately owned* (tourists love the eccentric idea that our castles are still lived in) and topped off by a ghost!*.”
Well, what an unexpected and encouraging accolade. I have always gazed in awe at the great houses of England. To think that Sudeley is considered such an important component in welcoming visitors to Britain and the Cotswolds is one of the most rewarding achievements of my long stewardship of this fascinating historic property. It gives my family and those who work here hope for preserving it for future generations to enjoy.
Next month I will be writing about Tulah’s new pet project to open in June. She will be sponsoring a charity donation from the sales of Vintage Items in our Visitor Centre to the excellent Cheltenham Dogs Shelter.
We look forward to seeing you there.