Creating the First Children's Country House
During the past three years the team at Sudbury Hall and The Museum of Childhood in Derbyshire have been developing plans to transform the property into the world’s first Children’s Country House. This is a unique opportunity to create something completely new - a heritage experience especially for children - while also developing a plan that safeguards fragile and precious objects.
Sudbury Hall (1660-1690) was the home of the Vernon family from its creation until the property was given to the Treasury in 1967. It is one of the most idiosyncratic great houses of Charles II’s reign, with a peculiar marriage of old-fashioned Jacobean features and more up to date classical styles.
The property is also home to The Museum of Childhood which was installed in the Victorian wing of the Hall in 1974 by Derbyshire Country Council and the collection was later transferred to the National Trust.
Largely due to the Museum of Childhood, Sudbury is a popular destination for families, with those numbers growing quickly in recent years. We want to better serve our family audience and appeal to new, more diverse families, and it felt like a natural step for us to think more deeply about how children experience historic country houses.
The Children’s Country House at Sudbury sees all three components of the property - the Hall, Museum and Gardens - coming together under one core proposition. We have considered every aspect and asked, how can we make this a place where every child feels comfortable, welcome and can lead their own visit?
To ensure we stay true to our ambition, The Children’s Country House is being created with, for and by children, underpinned by a range of expertise and research. We have recruited a group of 90 child ambassadors to help us and their enthusiasm and creativity has blown us away.
We want to engage children with our collections, with stories and with history by providing a playful, heritage day out where children can use their natural curiosity to safely explore the property without barriers.
At the moment, while we make the transformation and carry out conservation work, the property is closed to the public, however we are working with our child ambassadors to Trial and Test some of the activities and learn how children explore and experience the space.
Over the coming months, as we get closer to reopening to the public in early 2022, we will share further updates with you so you can join us on the journey.