The vibrant cluster group, Cumbria’s Living Heritage, has cautiously emerging from coronavirus lockdown, with differing timescales for opening from each member, but with some amazing things for people to see and do, in line with government guidelines.
The 38-member strong group has not been idle during lockdown, taking its wonderful heritage offering out to people via virtual means. The group created its own Post-It Note tree of positivity, detailing something special that each member could offer to visitors. It created an online Heritage Quiz that went down a storm, followed by its own CLH Flower Show – online images of members gardens at the time of the Chelsea Flower Show.
This was then followed by the group creating its own CD of uplifting songs, all linked to member properties.
Now, it will be enticing people back to its amazing heritage gardens and member properties, in the shape of museum, galleries, historic homes and castles, monuments and religious sites for real – welcome news for the group. Whilst some members had already opened their gardens a few weeks ago, now all at least have the chance to open, or put strategies in place for reopening.
Each member will decide what it can and cannot do and there will be adherence to rules such as taking only contactless payments and keeping visitors the required distance apart. This will make it easier for some than others to open their doors but at least there is some light at the end of the heritage tunnel.
The group’s advice is to check each member’s individual website, for precise details of how things will operate. As booking in advance will most definitely be required, such website visits should be part of the pre-visit process anyway.
Members who have already opened doors to their gardens only, include Dalemain Mansion & Gardens and Hutton-in the-Forest, both near Penrith, Holker Hall, Mirehouse, Muncaster and Sizergh Castle. Visitors need to be aware that tickets need to be booked in advance for most, whilst Hutton-in-the-Forest is operating via an honesty box system. The houses to these properties will open when safe to do so, so the experience is outdoor only, at the present time.
Levens Hall has opened both its gardens and its house, with a 30-to-40-minute house tour running every half an hour, for no more than 8 people at a time and bookable at the kiosk, on arrival. There is also a takeaway menu and a Levens’ picnic lunch available.
Cumbria’s Living Heritage’s Chair, Peter Frost-Pennington, says: “We hope it is not too long before we can say that all of our members are open to at least some degree. Some of our venues with outdoor spaces are welcoming visitors and dog walkers already. Some venues will take a little longer to work out what they can and can’t do. We just ask for visitors to be a little patient, as we need time to make sure we can keep everyone safe.”
Reconnecting with the past through the county’s heritage attractions is likely to be a popular thing for many to do this year. A nostalgia for the past almost always accompanies turbulent times and helps people make sense of the world around them. Cumbria’s heritage attractions will be providing that connection and helping their visitors adapt to life within the leisure sector once again.
More information about the group can be found at www.cumbriaslivingheritage.co.uk