Extending hall access

Howick Hall visitor centre
Howick Hall visitor centre

A new visitor centre which has been created at an iconic north Northumberland visitor attraction opens to the public this weekend.

Restoration work has been completed in the original entrance hall of Howick Hall for the exciting project.

The high-quality visitor centre will display detailed information about Howick Hall, Gardens and Arboretum.

Lord Howick believes it is a coup for the attraction.

He said: “For many years, Howick Hall has provided the backdrop to the gardens, but visitors are often disappointed to learn it is not open.

“Following on from the Earl Grey Tea House, the new visitor centre extends the access of Howick Hall to the general public and we hope that visitors will enjoy what has been created.”

Colin Williams, from Colin Williams Design Associates, in Corbridge, has designed the centre and all the panels which will tell the story of how the gardens and arboretum were developed and how they operate now.

The displays will include some fascinating history about family members and their contribution to the gardens.

There will be interesting facts about unusual trees and plants growing at Howick and tales from plant-hunting expeditions abroad.

The centrepiece is a beautiful, hand-drawn illustrative map depicting key features of Howick Estate.

The visitor centre will be unveiled on Saturday.

Mr Williams said: “We hope the visitor experience will be enhanced by the new centre which tells the stories of how this beautiful place has gently evolved through generations of passionate gardeners and plantsmen.”

The opening of the centre comes at a time when the Woodland Garden is blooming and tulips are dotted throughout the wildflower meadows.

Head gardener Robert Jamieson said the visitor centre provides a ‘unique opportunity’ in the North East for visitors to see and learn about plants from all over the temperate world.

Howick administrator Di Spark believes the centre will respond to visitor needs and will provide a wet-weather option within the attraction.

Howick was the home of the Grey family from 1319. Its most distinguished member was Charles, Second Earl Grey, for whom the famous tea was blended. Howick Hall Gardens has been rated by the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine as one of the top five coastal gardens in the country.

The attraction is currently open noon to 6pm, daily.

For more details, visit www.howickhallgardens.org