Sudbury Hall (and the National Trust Museum of Childhood) has launched plans to model itself as the ‘Children’s Country House’.
The hall, museum and garden is entering a new phase of its existence as part of a two-year programme of changes that will see it become a country house with a child-centric outlook.
The project aims to reimagine, reinvent and reinvigorate Sudbury’s entire programme and approach and – most importantly – its engagement with visitors.
Sudbury’s family audience has grown substantially in recent years and engaging with children has therefore become a key priority.
Sudbury Hall was originally the country home of the Vernon family during the 17th century and passed into the National Trust’s care in 1967.
Like many country houses, the hall has undergone structural changes over the years, and the Museum of Childhood which sits in the old servant’s wing, was established in 1974.
Children and families
Today, Sudbury welcomes a large family audience, so the move towards becoming a heritage experience for children is an apt development.
The team at Sudbury is working towards a future where the whole property, including the garden and museum, offers a day out and experience where children are put first.
The next few years will see a phase of testing, trialling and piloting to determine what the future of Sudbury will look like and how to make children the primary audience.
Children and families will be at the forefront of the testing and learning phase – which will enable a collaborative approach to making decisions on what the Children’s Country House will look and feel like.
Jodie Lees, creative programme manager
Jodie Lees, creative programme manager at Sudbury Hall, comments: “We are working with children and families to ensure that they are the driving force of their visit.
“This will involve more engagement and interaction throughout the hall and museum, whilst also reinventing spaces with input from children and families.
“The changes won’t happen over night, we will work closely with families and children over the next few years and are currently developing a space where people can tell us about their visit and what they want from us.”
Nikki Kirby, general manager
Nikki Kirby, general manager at Sudbury Hall, comments: “When we began looking at how we could reinvigorate Sudbury and bring it into the 21st century, we knew children and families needed to be at the heart of everything we do.
“Our ambition is to become an immersive heritage experience where children feel engaged, important and empowered.”
Places for everyone
The new project at Sudbury is underpinned by the National Trust’s core values of looking after special places, for everyone.
The Children’s Country House is the first of its kind for the National Trust and the child-centred approach offers a great opportunity for the Trust to create a place and experience specifically for a younger audience.