The Belsay Awakes project has safeguarded the hall and castle for years to come, and brought the gardens back to their glorious best. A new play area and cafe has brought more of Belsay to life. Belsay's history has been opened up for families to enjoy and improved access and vital new facilities mean we can welcome more people than ever before. Exciting new opportunities for volunteers and the community has put local people right at the heart of Belsay's brilliant future.
This project has been made possible thanks to National Lottery players & The National Lottery Heritage Fund with support from Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation & other generous donations.
Belsay is awakened
In September 2023, the Belsay Awakes project came to an end. The castle complex has been transformed with the new Wild Man play area and cafe in the coach house, along with a new space for learning and education in the old kennels.
The gardens have been rejuvenated thanks to new planting designed by Dan Pearson and implemented by our fantastic Gardens team and volunteers.
Belsay is now a more accessible place, with improved access into the castle and around the gardens along with a changing places toilet too.
There is also new information, including a seasonal trail and Wild Man Trail, throughout and a spectacular animation telling the story of Belsay in the castle.
Major conservation works have also taken place, in particular a brand-new roof for the hall ensuring that it will be around for generations to come.
A large scale project
Belsay Awakes began in autumn 2021, and was completed September 2023. It was a huge project involving specialist conservation, community involvement and exciting new additions for visitors to enjoy.
Click here to find out how the the project developed over the past three years, or read on for an overview of what’s taking place.
Conserving Belsay Hall
During the summer of 2022, scaffolding shrouded Belsay Hall whilst it was reroofed. Leaks in the original roof had caused damp problems for two hundred years. The new roof will help conserve the hall for many years to come. As part of the conservation, tours of the scaffolding to see and learn about the work took place, and visitors were able to descend via a fun, spiralling slide!
New information boards, family trails and activity sets now bring the stories of the hall to life.
Improving the gardens
Belsay’s grounds and gardens have been reinvigorated. Internationally renowned garden designer Dan Pearson created a new plant scheme in the formal gardens. Around the grounds we’ve removed invasive species, adding trails and information and enhancing habitats for wildlife and native plants
The quarry gardens haven't changed much, however, new information panels give you more insight into some of the wonderful plants that thrive in its unique microclimate.
Conservation in Action
Throughout the project, communities were involved through our Conservation in Action activities and other events. We ran scaffolding tours and behind the scenes tours, learning from the specialists who carried out the conservation work. Along with events for all ages around gardens and nature conservation too. Over 50,000 took part in these project activities!
Making Belsay Accessible for all
We want to share Belsay with as many people as possible. Parking and pathways have been improved, and the coach house café and woodland play area are accessible. New ramps give better access to the castle, and new learning resources and education base at the kennels have been created for schools and community groups with a variety of abilities and learning needs. Accessible toilets are available in the Coach House to join the revamped toilets and new changing places facility situated near the hall.
Over 100 volunteers were recruited to help deliver the project. There were a wide range of roles, from gardening to history research to young heritage. The volunteers gave over 3,000 days of their time to help deliver the project. We couldn’t have done it without their help.
We're incredibly grateful for the support we’ve received to reawaken Belsay. Take a look at how you can continue to support the important work we do below.
We would like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, Historic Houses Foundation, The Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust and other generous supporters.
A project made possible thanks to a £3.4m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Please visit The National Lottery Heritage fund website